Map Out a Plan with the Radar System

If you’re looking to apply structure to your training this winter, but not inclined to sit down and write an in-depth program, join the club.

By Rock and Ice | August 24th, 2015

This sample radar diagram plots the progress of six training variables over 10 weeks of training. The marks on each axis are pre-determined increments for each test, for example, seconds for deadhangs or reps for pull-ups. When setting the scale, try to assess how far you think you will progress over the duration of the program. For example, deadhangs may start at 3 seconds and go up to 9 seconds by the end so each hash mark could equal 1 second, or in the case of pull-ups, 1 rep. Keep in mind that the diagram is a subjective way to look at your overall fitness and progress at-a-glance—each hash mark should denote roughly equal improvement. You may need to adjust the value of each hash mark and re-draw your radar diagram after a few weeks to more accurately plot your progress.

PLANNING MADE EASY

USING THE SIMPLE RADAR SYSTEM    

 

If you’re looking to apply structure to your training this winter, but not inclined to sit down and write an in-depth program, join the club. Nobody likes planning. Even if you can summon the wherewithal to plan, you may find a standard periodized program difficult to stick to because of your changing schedule and want something that’s more flexible and user-friendly. Or, if a periodized program has worked for you before, it’s still important to try new things to keep your climbing progressing.

If any of these hypothetical scenarios apply to you, the “radar system” may be what you’re looking for. This system is one of the quickest, simplest and most common-sense-based methods available for planning your training. It’s 100 percent personalized, based on your goals and weaknesses and, better still, it’s entirely governed by measurable results. Here’s what to do:

 

1. Write down six areas for improvement over the next three or four months. These could be weaknesses or components of strength and fitness that you need for a particular goal or climbing trip. For example, if you’re a boulderer they could include sloper strength, pinch strength, lock-off strength, core strength, explosive power and/or session endurance. Alternatively, if you’re a sport climber this could be open-crimp strength, core strength, arm strength, power endurance on 35-degree overhangs, and stamina (low-intensity endurance). 

 

2. Test yourself in each area. Testing will be easy for the strength and power components, as you can use a hangboard or campus board and measure finger strength by timing deadhangs, arm strength by timing lock-offs or counting a maximum number of pull-ups (calibrated with weights if necessary), and counting a max for leg-raises or max time for front levers for core strength. 

Endurance will be more difficult to quantify. A good approach is to use a campus board and count your max number of reps. For power endurance, stronger climbers can do footless ladder climbs; the less strong can test with feet on. For stamina (low-intensity endurance), use a circuit and record how many moves you do, or alternatively, how long you can stay on. This approach is slightly limited as improvements may come from getting the circuit wired, so an alternative for higher-level climbers is to use the campus board with feet on. 


3. Once you’ve set out your requirements and worked out the tests, draw a “radar” diagram like the one shown. Now do a test session and record your scores for each of the components. Use this score to determine your main area of focus for the next two weeks of training. For example, if you did poorly at open-handed strength and core, but well at power endurance, then prioritize open-handed strength and core over the next two weeks (three or four times a week), whereas power endurance can be trained less often (once a week or even once in the following two weeks). 

After two weeks, record your scores and draw lines that connect the hash marks, providing a visual reference diagram. This first two weeks of training may be slightly skewed, as it can be hard to make an objective initial assessment of how well you did in each test. After you’ve completed the first two weeks, do another test session, draw lines between the hash marks and it will be easy to compare your improvements. You may find, for example, that open-handed strength and core have improved significantly, but power endurance has only improved slightly; in which case, you should set up the next two weeks of training to focus on stamina and arm strength. Thus you continue training for two weeks at a time, with the priorities always determined by the tests. You can roll this program out for six to eight weeks, after which you should take an active rest week before further training or climbing. 

   

 

This article appeared in Rock and Ice No. 224 (February 2015). 

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