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Speed in Sport Climbing: Using Speed to Increase Climbing Ability

  

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Speed in Sport Climbing: Using Speed to Increase Climbing Ability

written by Matt Lloyd

The best climbers in the world share a certain climbing trait.  It’s something you probably don’t often consider when assessing your own progress and performance; and it’s probably simpler than you might expect.  So, what is this vital component to performance and how do I incorporate it into my own climbing practice?

Speed.  The best climbers in the world are averaging an upward speed that is about a 1/3 faster than their amateur counterparts.  Put simply, we all have a limited amount of time that we are able to hold on, and the less of it we waste with slow or inefficient climbing, the more we can put it to productively moving up the rock.  Here’s how to take the speed technique to the bank (hint: it starts with going faster!).

This data was collected by watching and timing video samples of climbers on varying sport climbing routes from 5.9 to 5.15, both on real rock and outside.  The source videos encompass a broad, random selection of climbing across gender, location, and style.  In each video, I tracked the average number of hand movements a climbers accomplishes over a period of time extrapolating the average pace of the climber, excluding deliberate/intentional rests.  I recorded only upward-positive movement.  I also simultaneously tracked how often a climber adjusted their hands (a non-productive climbing movement) and how long their average rests were.

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The observations of my research speak volumes.  The better the climber (i.e the harder they climb) the faster and more efficiently they move.  5.14 climbers are averaging nearly 16 moves per minute, even during onsight and personal limit climbs.  Climbers who are getting on (and sending) routes harder than 5.14, climb quickly and with urgency.  They do pause and rest (to shake out), but those rests are deliberate and spread out between faster sections of climbing.  Basically, when they climb, they climb quickly, when they rest, they rest deliberately.  They don’t touch holds more than once, meaning they grab a hold and don’t re-adjust, they just move on to the next hold, increasing their efficiently.  In contrast to this, climbers in the 5.9 range often average about half the speed of a 5.14 climber, accomplishing about 8-10 moves per minute.  They pause randomly and very often touch holds more than once before settling onto them, ultimately adding to the time spent to complete the climb.

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After seeing the evidence I believe it’s time to incorporate speed into our training for climbing performance.  For years, coaches and climbers have advocated a slow and smooth climbing style when the evidence just doesn’t support it as being helpful to performance.

Here are 5 tips to help you capitalize on speed:

1. Climb as fast as possible without losing focus of your technique.  What does this actually mean?  Sometimes it’s ok to cut your feet or swing, provided you can move into the next move faster (aka more efficiently) and with momentum/intention.  In assessing whether or not the cost of some lost control is outweighed by the improved efficiency, remember that forearms tend to be the limiting factor.  Spending additional effort in your core or biceps (while swinging) can give your forearms a rest from holding on through a more controlled movement.

2. Rest only when it makes sense and climb fast during the crux.  This technique works for the same reason as #1 above, it gives those forearms a break.  How do you do this?  Avoid taking rests on subpar holds, and sprint through the more difficult sections.  This makes sense, but it’s not as prevalent as you might imagine.  Despite what you might expect, most climbers do the opposite and end up somehow climbing slowly during the most difficult sections of routes.  Start just by noticing where you’re spending your time, where you’re moving fast, and where you’re moving slow.  Trust me, this one can pay off big once you start to execute it.

3. Practice; and by that I mean practice climbing fast!  In order to execute with speed on more difficult routes, train your body by moving as quickly as you can on climbs below your max.  Pick routes with moves you feel very controlled on and climb them fast!  This teaches your body as well as your mind what it feels like to move fast while maintaining good technique.  You have to practice and know the feeling of speed before you can apply it at your limit.

4. Don’t listen to your mind so much.  This one reminds me of that somewhat annoying cliche so often touted in yoga classes.  Your mind gives out before your body.  More often than not, the ‘need’ to slow down and observe is mental.  When you’re scared, amped, or uncertain, your instinct is to stop and collect your thoughts.  This is almost always unnecessary and is really a sub-point to #3 above.  If you force your mind to cope with increased speeds and stimulus (think race car drivers), it will eventually adjust to the increased speed.  When you start moving beyond your comfort pace don’t be deterred if at first it feels detrimental to your climbing (it will), stick it out and try to be a bit objective here.  Trust the numbers.

5. Be efficient and don’t make unnecessary movements.  If it doesn’t move you up the rock face, don’t bother doing it.  This one makes sense too, but it can be hard to execute without taking an honest assessment of how you currently climb.  How many little adjustments do you make on each hold looking to find that “sweet” spot?  These types of adjustments are unnecessary and inefficient actions that slowly deplete your energy.  Watch the pros again and you will find that they just flat out don’t do this.  So just focus on grabbing, pulling, and repeating.  Stop messing around searching for the perfect feeling hold.

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How should I train to climb faster?

To truly train for increased speed (or anything really), it’s important to set a baseline and track/follow something measurable, in this case, productive hand moves per minute of climbing.

Establishing your baseline of climbing speed takes a bit of time and effort, but doing so will be by far the best way to measure improvement over time.  Simply making an effort to climb faster will provide some positive results, but if you really want to get serious, you’ll want to invest in finding your baseline speed.

With a partner, find and climb three routes that are very near your peak ability level (pick routes just below the hardest grade you can climb).

Have your partner time and count your hand movements over the each climbs (if you fall record up until that point).  Only record functional movement, so if you grabbed a hold but didn’t use it, it doesn’t count.  Count only the moves that resulted in upward progress.  Disregard clipping and foot movement.

Take your number of hand movements and divide it by the number of minutes the climb took you.  Find this for each climb.  Then add them all up and divide that by 3 to get the average of the three routes.

Use this number for future training, this will be HSA – Hand Speed Average.  Your goal is to improve this number with only a minimal technique loss.

Figure out what 25% above your HSA is.  HSA x 1.25.  This is the number of productive hand moves per minute you’d need to complete to climb 25% faster.

Do this for 50% (HSA x 1.5) and 75% (HSA x 1.75).

During your warm up start focusing on an increased HSA.  Try doing the first route at your HSA, the 2nd route at +25% , the 3rd at +50%, and the 4th at +75% (pick routes that you can accomplish with the added speed requirements, they might need to be considered easier routes for you).  We generally learn things at lower levels and only after mastering them can we effectively apply them to our peak performance.  Expect a significant loss in your ability over your first few speed sessions.

After warming up, attempt your project route (something that’s at or above your max ability).  Attempt it on lead if you are comfortable but top rope would also be acceptable and might even be ideal for this.

With adequate rest between efforts (up to 20-30 minutes even if needed) try the route three times, each time try to noticeably increase your speed.  When you fall, rest and get back on trying to maintain the pace.  You will learn to gauge your speed just by counting in your head and ultimately without much thought.  The end goal will be to climb faster than necessary, which will make slowing down from +50% to +25% pace feel reasonable while remaining effective.

Keep in mind, it’s not necessarily about climbing a specific speed in order to send your route, but you might find it’s largely about climbing with intention while trying to send.

Be patient, enjoy the process of working towards improvements, and remember that climbing is meant to be fun!

 

 

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Matt Lloyd is an owner of a climbing training and CrossFit gym, Mountain Strong Denver.  He has been climbing nearly two decades, has climbed 5.14, and prides himself on always being ready to rock and doing whatever it takes to succeed.

photos: Joshua Edric Photography (@joshuaedric) (www.joshuaedric.com)

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Big Wall Clinic on 6/11/16

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Mountain Strong Denver is offering a 6 hour Big Wall Clinic on Saturday 6/11/16, teaching a deep introduction into the skills needed to climb a grade V big wall.  Join us from 1pm until 7pm, we will provide all the gear needed and some snacks for the short break periods (please bring a climbing harness if you have one, and a water bottle).  Skills covered will be:
-ascending fixed lines
-hauling
-anchor building
-tension traverses and other advanced rope work
-aid climbing techniques
-rope management
-self rescue
-solo techniques
-trip planning tips, along with equipment needs
-style and ethics of big wall aid and free climbing
Cost will be $100/person and there are a total of 10 slots available.
Please email info@mountainstrongdenver.com to signup, or with any questions about the clinic.

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Switching to “All-In” Mode

Our friends over at Trainingbeta.com made a great post about trying hard. It seems simple! Just try hard, right? I’m going to dig in specifically to the use of rituals in sport/competition.

Next time you’re close to climbing a certain difficult problem or setting a new heavy PR and need a little edge to get the job done, try creating a ritual. Athletes all over the world have used certain actions, thoughts, and queues to help them get into the zone just before competition. Some sing songs, some have mantras, for some its out loud, others its all in their head.

Personally for me, I use my application of chalk in conjunction with sharp exhale before committing to something difficult. It’s a signal from myself to myself, telling the body its just flat out time to stop fucking around. I only do my ritual before a full effort attempt, that reenforces its productivity in my mind. Seth, the author of this article, uses taking of his shirt and a growl during his effort. It honestly doesn’t matter what you do, it just needs to separate the prior action from the future and create some confidence. For instance, I know that before swim races, Coach Will would calmly or not so calmly internally remind himself of all the training he put in to get to that exact point he was at that exact minute. Then he would commit to not letting himself down and letting that training be for nothing.

Rituals in sport have been highly studied and show benefits, a CNN article states:

“Dr. Paul van Lange, a professor of psychology at VU University Amsterdam, is the co-author of a paper called “The Psychological Benefits of Superstitious Rituals in Top Sport: A Study Among Top Sportspersons,” published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 2006. Among other things, that study found that commitment to rituals is greater for especially important games, like a league’s finals or even playoffs in general. “They help people cope with uncertain outcomes in the future, especially if these outcomes are important to them,” says van Lange. The paper van Lange co-authored contends that this can be beneficial to the athlete. “Our argument is that they strengthen feelings of control and confidence that may otherwise be lacking,” says van Lange.” Van Lange also points to a 1986 experiment in which rituals carried out just before taking a free throw during a basketball game appeared to have a positive influence on subsequent performance. “Rituals ‘work,'” he says, “because the person believes in them and expects this.” Indeed, that 1986 study found that there was only an effect if the person believed there would be. In other words, if a random player is told to tug on his or her ear before the shot, it wouldn’t have any effect, but to players who consider that action to be good luck, the ritual could really make a difference.”

Take some time and consider what you do or think about just prior to a max effort endeavor. We would love to hear what works for you. Post whatever rituals you use in the comments! If you don’t use a ritual, consider trying one out!

Read the whole CNN article here : http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/07/health/superstitions-help-athletes/

Read Seth’s full article here : https://www.trainingbeta.com/try-hard/

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CrossFit for Climbers

This is my story about being a climber who stepped outside his comfort zone to address something that may have been missing in my training and fitness.

by Matt Lloyd

Fifteen months ago my now business partner and I started talking about opening a gym. As a lifetime climber I wanted to do something for mountain athletes, to create a place where I would want to train; but I was also determined to create an environment dedicated to trying hard and focusing on improving rather than a mainstream hangout spot that feels more like recreation crossed with dating hour. My now partner recommended CrossFit, which he had taken up in it’s infancy after his career as an international level swimmer. He said it would be good for my climbing goals, and I had my doubts about that…my perception of CrossFit was one born from negative media stories and a personal bias, and whether that’s fair or not, it’s the truth. I mean, I’m a climber, how could throwing a barbell around possibly be my best option to improve at something so different than weightlifting?

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I’ve been climbing seriously for more than 15 years. Climbing is my job as well as my passion. It’s my obsession and it’s my life. Although it’s fairly embarrassing to admit, my problem was that I’ve been doing it for long enough and have become good enough to trust my own hype. Think about that statement for a second and what that means, because it’s dangerous as an athlete to believe your own hype. I believed my training was working and my systems were ideal. Just like so many people when it comes to their beliefs, I held to it even when my performance failed at times. So when it was suggested that CrossFit would strengthen me as a climber I shrugged it off.

Reputations and bias aside, CrossFit is something I should love. I’m into suffering, trying hard, community, and love a little counter-culture attraction. Most of all I love training. But the truth is, I’m a bit of hater…okay, I am a full-fledged hater. It’s not that I’m negative or a downer, it’s more that I have a visceral and negative reaction to jumping on the proverbial bandwagon. It didn’t help that this one was captained by jocks that seemed to associate barbells with being “hardcore.” I was put off by the image of CrossFit. Like a true hater, the fact that people loved it only fueled my distaste (at least I can admit it, right?). When given a choice, I will often pick the harder, less comfortable option just to prove a point…you say go right, I’m fucking going left and that’s that. Sometimes I’m proud of this, sometimes it just makes my life difficult.

My simple point is that I was always skeptical of CrossFit, but for no real reason. It seemed like a fad, and worse yet, one that was potentially dangerous. So why did my counter-culture, hater-ade drinking, climber-self wind up jumping to the front of the CrossFit bandwagon? I got real with myself. I came to the painful acknowledgement that with a change I probably could climb harder. So I gave it a try. Okay, fine, I jumped in head-first which if you know me, won’t come as much surprise.

To me training and working out are not the same, and I have zero interest in latter. I train so I can climb. I train so that when I find myself in truly dangerous positions, positions in which my life is on the line, my legs are faster, my heart is stronger and my head is more clear. This is what defines training to me; training is working out with a purpose anchored in performance.

So what have I gained from CrossFit? The truth is that while I have always trained, and trained a lot, I have mostly done it on my own and prior to CrossFit had never really invested myself in doing it with a high level of intensity. I trained by feel and if I felt like running I went running. If I felt like doing pullups, I did pullups, and when I was tired I stopped.

Let’s fast forward a bit. We’ll skip the details (for now) of being initially taught how to move and about CrossFit’s approach to high intensity training. Fast forward my first 90 workouts or so and let me summarize my thoughts 6 months into it all. Be patient because I’m going to use an analogy to do this, but it’s the perfect analogy.

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Imagine viewing the world from space. From high above you see clusters of city lights separated by large swaths of black space. Now transfer this visualization to viewing an athlete’s body. Your prototypical gym athlete looks a lot like the world. He or she has bright lights in their biceps, chest, quads, and so on. In between those epicenters of muscle they have dark voids. These dark patches are born of repetitive and habitual movements. The more the movements train muscles in isolation, the patchier the lighting becomes. While pumping iron or enduring the treadmill may build those biceps or burn that beer away, it fails to promote balance, coordination and efficiency. Now take the analogy to the body of an Olympic decathlon athlete. From high above the energy of this body looks more like a continuous string of lights. Although the net brightness may be same as the gym athlete, the pattern is that of a well-connected network of energy uniting the whole form. It’s this net that allows the Olympian to translate their strength into meaningful action and movement. This is what CrossFit trains. They found a way to make things work together, and the sum of their parts are greater than if they were not working together.

The more I grow in CrossFit, the more I notice this connection. Real functional life movements are rarely isolated. So when I jump on a box, I now imagine hiking up a mountain and jumping across a crevasse. Because training with purpose is what drives me, I find it easier to try hard, and of course the accountability piece it provides helps too. When my coach stays dig deep, I just do, I don’t bother to think about how much it hurts or that I want to stop.

CrossFit immediately exposed those dark voids in my own body. I discovered that while I’m strong at some movements, namely the ones that my years of climbing have reinforced, in many areas I was surprisingly weak. My body had adjusted to the repetitive stimuli I was providing it with.

The first few weeks I felt sore. Very very sore. But it was a new kind of sore. Sore in places I wasn’t aware of before. But that soreness quickly gave way to a new feeling. I feel quicker and more explosive. I feel tremendously healthy and well balanced. People often ask me if I think CrossFit helps my climbing. The short answer is yes and the long answer is yes, but not in the way you might think. I don’t have more finger strength and I cant do more pullups. But what I do have is a body that recovers faster, moves quicker, more efficiently, more dynamically, and with more purpose; my percentage of body fat has plummeted. Moreover, I am much better able to deal with the mental challenge of discomfort than I was 6 months ago. I am undoubtedly a better climber and I am undoubtedly training with purpose.

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Caffeine and Sports Performance

Ever wanted to know how caffeine impacts training and performance? Well, here are the highlights of where a little research led:

Caffeine, also referred to as 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine is extremely popular (as I’m sure you know); it’s the worlds most consumed pharmacological drug.

Prior to the early 2000’s caffeine was a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), now due to it ubiquitous use it is regarded as a controlled substance (you can use it in normal doses, just don’t get too crazy there Jack!)

Caffeine has been researched thoroughly and is documented to increase endurance in athletes who’s need for performance is GREATER than 3 minutes. It has also been shown that it is ineffective and perhaps even hampers performance in speed and power sports lasting LESS than 3 minutes (weightlifting, sprinting, etc.)

One of the key attributes to caffeine is that it lowers an athlete’s perceived excursion, giving you the feeling you’re not working as hard as you actually are.

Proper Dose: 1-3 mg per kg of body weight, taken about 1 hour before exercise. This is a relatively low does when compared to the average Starbucks latte, and studies have found that higher doses DO NOT improve performance and can actually yield unwanted side effects.

Contrary to what many practice, try to avoid coffee as your source of caffeine. Studies show that coffee does not offer the same performance improvement other sources such as gels, or teas. Other chemicals in the coffee counter the ergogenic effects of the caffeine. With coffee comes difficulty in tracking the exact amount of caffeine you are ingesting which makes proper dosing nearly impossible.

Conclusions:

Coffee is not the best source of caffeine.

You can fail many athletic drug tests for abnormally large levels of caffeine.

Caffeine will make you feel like you’re trying less than you actually are.

Caffeine can be good for performances over 3 minutes, and is less effective the shorter the duration of the performance.

1-3 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight, 1 hour before exercise is the recommended dose.

Everyone is different, don’t just assume caffeine will improve your performance. It’s effects are different for everyone.

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Want more info? This summary was sourced from:

Ironman.com – Caffeine for Improved Athletic Performance

Active.com – The Facts About Caffeine and Athletic Performance

NRC Research Press – Caffeine and Sports Performance

Human Kinetics – How Caffeine Impacts Sports Performance

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Call me bulky one more time…

Call me bulky one more time…and I’ll go lift some more weights!

by Anne Mahlman

The other day, I was finishing a cool down jog around our gym and was stopped by a man who lives near the box. We were talking about CrossFit and how he should come check out the gym when he makes an off handed remark that I look bulky. Me! Bulky? Of course he immediately backpedals and try to save face but it was too late and the damage was done.

However, the thing is, I don’t care what he thinks about my physique. I feel confident, strong, and beautiful and my husband thinks that I am beautiful too. In a time where women and men alike experience body shaming constantly on social media, sometimes it is nice to know that there are people who can accept themselves just the way they are and in turn accept you just the way you are.

What is bulky, by the way? I looked up the definition and you can be the judge yourself, but I don’t think that describes me. Google dictionary defines bulky as:

“taking up much space, typically inconveniently; large and unwieldy.”

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WHAT? I don’t care that you are right about so many things Google! That is not me! And that is not any woman that I know who lifts weights. We may have muscle, but we are gracefully skilled athletes and each uniquely feminine.

Just as a disclaimer before we go any further: I think women of every shape and lifestyle are beautiful. Whether you are a weekend warrior, do yoga, CrossFit, run, boot camps, climb, or are a busy stay at home mom, you are beautiful! I want you to take this as permission to be any of those things. But also understand that muscular is beautiful too.

Why do I look the way I do? Well, I know I have more muscle than the typical woman, but there is a reason for that. I lift heavy weights multiple days a week. I want to look like this because not only are my clients women, but they are men as well. And strong men! I have to look the part and be able to keep up with them or they will not listen to me or respect me. What kind of CrossFit trainer would I be if I couldn’t do muscle ups or move some significant weight around? I would lose half of my clients.

So, when I get told by other women that they are scared to do CrossFit or lift weights because they don’t want to get bulky, I often wonder if what they are actually saying is “I don’t want to look like you.” I wonder if they understand the potential that their body has. I wonder if they are scared of getting body shamed. I wonder if they have self confidence issues. I wonder if they know any of the benefits that weightlifting has to offer.

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The good thing is, I can help you if you give me a chance!

So what happens when you start lifting?

YOU WILL NOT GET BULKY! (unless you want to: If you want to look like the Sam Briggs, Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir or some of the other women you see on TV for the CrossFit games, well I have some news for you. You will have to quit your job, train and lift HEAVY all the time, take supplements, dramatically increase your food intake and TRY to bulk up.)

Your body will change when you start lifting weights. I’m sorry, but it just will. The good thing is, it will not change in a bad way. You will gain a little muscle in your upper body, your legs, and butt (YAY!). However, you will still look feminine. That is how our bodies were designed to be. Strong, but feminine. We do not have the same levels of testosterone as men do and you will not bulk up like a man. And seriously, what’s the worst that can happen? For me, it was that I had to buy new clothes (confession: I wasn’t sad at all about this and you wouldn’t be either.)

You will get lean. Olympic lifting and other exercises improve muscle tone and give you longer, lean muscle without a masculine build. But you have to be open to lifting that scary barbell and learning new skills. That means learning some olympic lifting ladies! Which I think is one of the best things you can do in a gym.

Some amazing health benefits include increased bone density, improved joint mobility, lower levels of stress and depression, and my favorite: you will get to DRINK MORE WINE without feeling guilty. Yessss!

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You will feel more confident. I don’t care who you are, lifting heavy stuff feels good! If you have never dropped some heavy weight from over your head and watch it bounce and crash on the floor, you haven’t lived. Ok, that might be a little dramatic but being able to lift heavy in the gym means you can do amazing things outside the gym. Like being able to strap your kid to your back and go hiking. Changing a flat tire by yourself. Rearrange your furniture by yourself. Get that heavy item off the top shelf in Target without asking for help (even if they yell at you).

I overheard one of our female members saying “not being able to do the simple things in everyday life because I am not strong enough terrifies me.” That is what it is all about! Empowering women to take action and not feel like they are held back. To look the way they want. And work out the way they want.

And ladies, if lifting weights is ultimately not your choice, don’t put down women with muscular bodies and tell them they look masculine, too muscular, or BULKY! Instead support and celebrate them. They are doing the best they can for their bodies just like you.

I want to be capable, strong, beautiful and inspire other women to do the same. So, if you are considering CrossFit, don’t be scared. If you are considering picking up some weights, do it! Talk to your trainer about your goals and your fears. We are here to help! And if someone calls you bulky, forget them and go pick up another barbell. That makes me feel better.

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Grand Opening Party & Invitational Bouldering Competition

What a night it was! Thank you to everyone who came out to compete and watch, we appreciate your time and support! Check our Instagram feed for more content @mountainstrongdenver

Results of the bouldering Comp:

Mens :

1st-“dirty” Randy Hill 2nd-Ryan Sewell 3rd-Rob D Anastasio 4th- Kegan Minock 5th-Peter Errard 6th-Stephan Palermo 7th- Garret Adler

Ladies :

1st- Angie Payne 2nd-Meagan Martin 3rd-Emily Ziffer 4th-Suzu Jefferies

We will be posting videos of the problems over the next week. Keep an eye out. Come in on Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday 7pm-8:30 to try the comp problems or one of our KRAFT- climbing specific workouts. Your first visit is free.

A few more pictures from the competition:

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Climbing Devils Tower

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If you ever saw the 1977 film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” then you remember seeing Devil’s Tower. It’s an improbable looking heap of stone bursting out the rolling hills of North Eastern Wyoming. This tower is coveted by climbers from all over the country for its steep basalt walls, clean stone and easy access. There is no hiking trail to the top, you either climb it with a rope or sit at the bottom with all the other tourists.

If it’s your first time to Devils tower, known to the local tribes as Bear Lodge, you’ll want to climb the 1000ft monolith via the Durance route (one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America). The climbing is steep, varied, and well protected which makes for an instant classic. After about 500 feet of technical climbing, you reach the summit plateau, a gorgeous grassy meadow in the sky. Most parties take about 5-6 hours to complete the climb and return to the ground.

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I have traveled to Devils Tower several times to explore the different faces of the tower, each side has a distinctly different style. Below are some photos from past trips and from my most recent.

Above is McCarthy’s West Face Variation 10b, this single pitch stretches on for over a 150 feet, and will give you a new definition of pumpy! The climbing never gets too hard but it is continuous, and sustained, and the stemming begins to take its tole on your calves. Most climbers would never think that their legs would be a limiting factor of sending a route, but this stemming route is extremely leg intensive. The climb is in full view of the parking lot, where hundreds of tourist sit and snap photos of the climbers. Climbing is most often done in extreme solitude, so it can be a rather odd and intense experience.

Above is the view of Devils Tower from the west walking up from the parking lot, the route above is in the middle of this photo. The ultra classic route El Matador is on this face as well.

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Above is proof of one of the best parts about living and climbing in the West…the open space. Each evening after the climbing came to an end we retreated to our campsite in the rolling hills that sound Devils Tower. The sun sets aren’t to bad either.

Above is Mountain Strong Denver friend and general good guy, Tyson Ferryman, on the second pitch of Durance (5.8). This ultra classic covers some of the most varied terrain on the tower. We got an early (5am) start to miss the crowds and it worked perfectly. On our way down we rapped past no less than 3 other groups. The early bird actually got the worm this time!

Above is the true summit of Devils Tower! When you are on top it can feel more like you’re standing in the middle of a field than on the summit of a large tower. Of course, I wouldn’t want to but up there in a storm, you would be the highest point for many miles in any direction. Here Tyson takes a moment to fill out the summit register that each climber signs, it’s cool to see all the different countries represented in the register. (the register is in that metal cylinder by Tyson’s knee)

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Properly Fueling Your Body – How often should I eat?

People talk all the time about what to eat, what not to eat, that avocados are the best fat source, that carbs are bad…there’s enough information out there to make you want to smash your head into your desk while attempting to read and process it all. Today I’m not going to talk about what to eat, but WHEN to eat…

I’ll start out by saying everyone is different, we all say it but what does that really mean? Well, in the context of fueling your body, it means you need to compile information, create your own thoughts/opinions/ideas based on the information you gathered, and TRY things out, MODIFY them, and evolve others’ ideas into things that YOUR body responds to. If anyone tells you exactly what and how to do something to get specific results, it’s probably not going to work exactly the same way for you without slightly modifying it. There’s a certain amount of guessing and checking for people to dial in their food intake to what works best for them! Many people in today’s information age are on a quest for immediate and unwavering results, and they just don’t exist.

Back to WHEN to eat…

To keep a high energy level and to perform well in life, we must be constantly fueling our bodies. Generally speaking, three meals a day along with 1-3 small snacks throughout the day will provide enough energy to maintain activity and not add excess body fat (depending on what those meals and snacks consist of, but for now we are just talking about timing). This method of eating (3 meals + 1-3 snacks) will reduce your tendency to overeat since you can rely on the fact you will be eating again fairly soon. The more you skip meals and tend to push them off, the more you increase your opportunity to overeat due to hunger. When you’re hungry, you are more likely to grab things that are convenient, which are likely to be less nutritious options. Also in this hunger driven stage, you are more likely to eat quickly. You’ve probably heard that it takes your stomach 20 minutes to signal the brain that you’re full, this isn’t a lie. The faster you eat, the more likely you are to overeat. It sounds basic, but most people these days don’t give their bodies enough time to signal the brain before it’s too late.

I try to set myself up for success by taking a few minutes before I go to bed to plan out and set aside a couple of options for healthy snacks the next day. I know myself and I’ll take the easy way out just like many other people, but I’ve found if I plan, I can actually make good choices when it comes to fueling my body.

In conclusion, eating every handful of hours will keep hunger from interfering with your day. Skipping meals rarely works because you’ll make up for it later with non-healthy alternatives, and it helps to eat slow to allow your brain the opportunity to receive the message that you’re actually full!

1) Eat every few hours to avoid food cravings

2) Don’t bother skipping meals, it won’t pay off

3) Plan ahead and set yourself up the night before with easy and healthy meal/snack options

4) Eat slowly to allow your body to tell you when you’re done

5) Don’t expect quick results, be consistent and be patient

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