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May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, August 2000 Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

"Tendons are one of the things that fail most often and take the longest to heal," says climber Todd Skinner. "So you train for violence." In addition to hands and fingers, the long forearm flexor tendons (stretching from the fingers to the elbow) are vulnerable, as are the tendons of the shoulder's rotator cuff. Because lunges and dynos, in which you leap with both hands to the next hold, incorporate dynamic motion similar to classic Olympic lifts, deep-strength weight routines provide excellent conditioning. Just remember the mantra: heavy weights, low reps. Climbers should also tackle campus-board training (see below)—pull-up-like exercises pioneered by legendary free-climbers like Tony Yaniro during the 1980s.

Make a beeline for your gym's bouldering cave or campus board—a moderately overhanging face with strips of wood or plastic arranged horizontally for holds. Number the strips, or holds, one to eight starting at the bottom; you'll be using them to do pull-up patterns and an exercise known as laddering. Warm up with at least 20 minutes of light bouldering or climbing. For newbies, a basic ladder routine begins with both hands on 1, pop the right hand to 2, pull through with the left to 3, match hands, and let go. Start with one rep and a support for your feet, and build up to longer sets (try climbing up to hold number 8), more reps, and eventually fewer fingers. Pull-up patterns involve placing hands at diffent-level holds (e.g., hands on holds 2 and 4) and hoisting your body weight as high as possible. Next, says Skinner, start strapping on weight, up to 15 pounds. "Then a one-finger pocket on the cliff seems casual."

Despite conventional wisdom, a partial, done with intensity, is a workout unto itself. Partial lifts complete only a small portion of the movement of any standard lift, such as a squat or a bench press. Use enough weight that you can execute only three inches or so of movement with good form. Do it once, and that's it. "A lot of guys make a mistake here and work out more, feeling like they haven't done enough work," says Roger LaPointe. But they have. "I never feel a pump. But when I come back next time, I might be able to lift 20 or 30 pounds more."

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