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).