I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Yogic tree, by Stevie Yoghourt Haston

A Yogi friend of Laurence came around yesterday to help me with my shoulder. Yogis normally do their stuff with clothes on, to stop the common distractions of the mind, but as this was simple mechanics she tried to explain what was going on by prodding and showing. It is a little bit complex but basically the idea is to put the shoulder through a range of movement, which somehow separates (not a good word) or makes more room in the shoulder area. You move the shoulder up, back, and out, up, down, and a little forward. Anyway it really helped. You are supposed to try filling the lungs to stretch the top of the chest muscles. Anyway you can try it, its like yawning for the shoulder, seems to wake the shoulder up. 
So by pushing or pulling with the hands in different positions, and the help of the lats you might get the idea. Some of the problem seems to be tight traps and pectoral and by putting the shoulder area further away you stretch them.
The yogi practitioner thought that I was over developed in the lats and I also a bit round like some swimmers. She also pointed out the yogic tree that emanates from my head and said it was a good sign.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

MONT BLANC Blues, by Stevie Haston

here's Digital for Lumir and Satavis and....

      and Sans Liberté, better luck next time... I miss the mountains.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Robyn Erbesfield Raboutou, mum does 8c, by Stevie 7c Haston

So, Robyn 4 times world cup winner, mum of two children who have done 8c, finally does 8c! As she is the tallest of the three, she gets the least points! But as she is naturally the oldest we gave her back a few points! I'll guess the whole family will have to do 8c+. 
Well done Robyn, it wasn't a surprise!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Bite the Bullet, not the pillow? by stevie Haston.

Are you feeling lazy?

To Train or not to Train
that is the problem
whether it is nobbyer in the mind to suffer
the stings of outrageous failed redpoint attempts
or to take up heavy wieghted finger pull ups
And thus vanquish all the quicker, the dreaded foe
Or give in to normal weakness, lastitude and sloth
When we shuffle off this mortal coil
 it is too late to clip the chains
those heavy rusty chains that haunt and taunt
the only chains that set us free
for who could suffer the whips and scorns of time
So once more unto the breach,
stop biting the pillow bite the bullet.

Thought I couldn't do it this morning, shoulder was bad, nothing in the basement, useless. Got up, coffee, put on some music, did 1000 pull ups, with some good stuff.
Finger strength is up,
power is up
endurance is up

Just goes to show, there is always something in the basement.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

More on Brooke Raboutou and 8c, by Stevie Haston.

Well what can I say but wow, and well done. I realized yesterday that a lot of people dont really understand Little Brookes achievement, nor do they understand what an 8c is, or do they know of the immensely  talented Erbesfield Raboutou family.
Firstly Brooke is 11 years old and a very tiny 11 at that. She is barely 11 and 3 months, Ondra the wizard of modern rock climbing( see my profile of Ondra here) did his first 8c near the end of his 11th year and not to be sexist or biggest was a tall boy. 8c is still a very big bench mark for female climbers, for instance no British girl or woman has done one. Here is a link to a photo in Desnivel mag with the great Brooke and the great Dani Andrada.


The route little Brooke did is Welcome to Tiujanna at Rodella and is a shortish power endurance route with a biggish slap at the top. Of the 50 or so people to have done it no one has apparently chose to offer a smaller grade.
Brookes big brother led WelcomeTT last year, he is also an extremely talented youth. Brookes mother is a 4 times WC winner and her father Didier Raboutou is one of the strongest climbers I have ever seen, a very talented climbing family in general. Didier was one of the climbers who influenced me the most being the perfect mix of power and technique in the late 80 and early 90s, he was a native of Ariege in France where I live. Robyn runs the very successful ABC climbing training company who have had pupils in the American team.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Brooke does 8c, by Stevie Haston

It seems that Brooke Erbesfield Raboutou has done her first 8c, at 11 years old, how incredible? What's going on with climbing!

Pull ups, and their variations. By Stevie spicy Haston.

Pull ups are a great exercise, one of the best, combined with a push type exercise ie basic floor push up, and a bit of running, you can become very fit. That’s the end of the story. But of course it isn’t, not if you want to argue, not if you are a nerd, and not if you want to take it a bit further.

The basic pull up, is a palms away from you hand grip on a bar above your head, and by force of arms, back and shoulders, you raise your body, finishing with your chin above the bar. If you turn your grip so that your palms are facing you this is commonly called a chin up. The difference between these two are that they affect the muscles of your body differently and some people might want to do one or the other because it is more specific to their sport. Ok lets start listing them so we can look at them a bit more closely.

Basic pull up.

Hang from a bar or a ledge or a door frame or pull up board and raise your body till your chin touches the bar or better a little over. If you do this with a timing of two seconds up and one second down and very little to no help from swinging of legs and torso you can call this a,

Bodybuilders pull up,

Bodybuilders and climbers sometimes add a bit of weight and call it a

Weighted pull up, or a Power pull up.

Adding weight makes this exercise very tough, but some athletes, gymnasts and climbers, and more recently urban park athletes can do body weight plus bodyweight, or 2Xbodywieght. When a bodybuilder does this it should be noted he/she already has more weight due to heavier leg and body mass. Historically there are a few accounts of very interesting ‘pulls’, Marvin Edder reportedly did 10 times 2X, if true and I have no reason to doubt it, it is astounding.

Adding weight at the beginning of an athlete progression is fairly easy, just hold a dumbbell between your thighs or a dumbbell between your ankles. Alternatively a weight vest, or tie a weight to a lifters belt or a climbing harness, even a rucksac can be filled, or ankle weights. As the weigh grows so does the danger of aggravating sciatica pain. This will occur if the weight is attached at the front only, as it tilts the hips, so it is prudent to attach it at the back also, or equalize.

Wide grip pull up.

Generally pull ups are done at slightly wider than shoulder width, when done wider still they are called Wide grip pull ups. Wide grip pull ups are thought to hit the top end of the lats more. Some people will encounter Shoulder Impingement the wider they get with the pull ups, be careful.

 Narrow grip pull ups.

These are done with a narrower grip than shoulders, and again Shoulder Impingements  may/will be noticed.

Pull ups to the waist.

These are tough and difficult to do without help from momentum. You start hanging from the bar and as you pull up you tilt your body back and pull aggressively to bring the bar to your belly button.

Planche Pull ups.

These are super tough, and rarely seen. Adopt a front lever position and break the movement at the elbow, raise and lower the torso. If you can really do a genuine Planche Pull up, you might have a chance at doing a Victorian. A Victorian is an flipped over Maltese Cross on rings and is given the highest grade.

Clap pull-ups.

At the top of a quicker than normal pull up raise above the bar by inertia and clap. A clap pull up can also be done lower than above the bar because of the arms length. This pull up although at first looks like a show boat exercise is in fact useful in learning ‘un-weighting’, which is naturally extremely useful in gymnastics and climbing. Shoulder Impingement may be noticed in these. If you find these too intimidating, a similar exercise can be done an, ‘In and out’.

In and out pull ups.

Pull up to the bar, but as you approach the bar un weight, and slide your hands together. On the next pull up slide your hands out. This is less intimidating than clap pull-ups, needs less inertia, and doesn’t attract as much attention, You can still damage equipment if the pull up rig is flimsy.
5 years old Melody doing her pull ups

Alternate, Archers, or Ys,

Adopt a wide grip pull up position and then pull up asymmetrically to one side, then go back to dead hang, and then pull to the other hand. These are very good for climbers.


Adopt a wide grip position, pull up to, lets say left hand, then with chin on bar traverse the bar to right hand and descend to dead hang. Next pull up, ascend to right hand traverse the bar to left hand and descend to dead-hang.

Round the worlds,

 are typewriters that continue around in one direction or the other, and don’t go down to dead hang. They should be done also in the opposite direction to avoid imbalances.  

Un even grip pull ups,

Are a mixed hand position, one hand facing you one not facing you. They will naturally concentrate more work in one bicep and so should be alternated to avoid imbalances. The chin can be to either or both sides of the bar for more variety.

Staggered Pull ups,

Are done with one arm lower than the other to force one arm to do more work. Alternate hands or sets to avoid imbalances. These are often done on a climbers campus board and then are even better as they encourage a turn or twist of the body.

Behind the head pull ups,

These pull ups are very interesting but dangerous to most people. They start from dead-hang but instead of chin over the bar you duck under the bar and pull until the back of the neck touches the bar or even in some rare cases the shoulder blades. They involve the rotator cuff, trapezes, and rhomboids, but these muscles are most probably best and safest exercised through doing one arm dumbbell rows,  unless you have an anatomic advantage.

Deep lock pull ups,

these are pull ups with more than the chin above bar and possible a full stop or squeeze at the top. They are primarily an elite climbers exercise but are used in gymnastics and help with muscle ups especially no kipping or ‘still’ muscle ups. For the above reason you will find them easier in false grip hand position on the rings as well as a bar. If you are trying them on a finger edge a crimped finger position allows you more height. This exercise is super good for boulderers or climbers trying to get that little bit more. 

Kipping Pull ups,

Are pull ups where the movement is helped with an upward movement of the lower torso, this basically cheats, or helps the lats in their work. Although it is not a pure pull up it is an extremely interesting part of pull up methodology and is something that should or might be worked depending on your needs. The ‘Kip’ or un-weighting is taught in gymnastics and aides movement even great gymnasts use it but they can also disguise it. And yes although it makes the pull up movement easier it does so at the sacrifice of using the core to a certain degree. There are some great kipping techniques around including the Butterfly pull up which is more of a swinging lever but is not to be dismissed as an exercise, as it adds core while detracting from the work of the lats. The American Crossfitters use kipping pull ups, and many others also, especially those who do huge volume.

One arm pull up,

this is the so called ultimate  pull up. A genuine one arm pull up is still rare except amoung climbers but is not the dragon tooth it once was. Hang under the bar, control the swing and rotation, and with little or no kipping take your chin over your knuckles on the back of your hand. You can do it over the knuckles palm side too. Examples of good and kipping one arms can be found on the web, very few examples of good weighted one armers are found. Historically the best performance for me was Gilbert Neville with 6 one armers at a body weight of 126 with a charge of 56 pounds.

Chin ups,

Chin ups are pull ups to the bar with palms facing you. Many of the pull up variations can be done with this grip. This grip is supposed to hit the biceps and lower lat more and so is very much worth doing. Some people may find that this grip twists the elbow in a bad way.

Neutral grip pull ups,

These are pull ups are with the palms facing each other, and seem to cause the least elbow or Shoulder impingement. If the grip is turned even more, that is half way between a neutral and a chin up perhaps the greatest range of movement can be had.

Towel pull ups,

These are pull ups or chin ups done on a towel thrown over a bar. They are useful exercise which involves a little bit more grip training than just using a bar. The grip also naturally swings around into a more neutral grip position.


Frenchies are a three part pull ups with isometric or static lock at three position: low lock is just above full hang, middle lock at roughly 90°, and full lock at the top. This an extremely useful climbers exercise because isometric strength ie lock off and locking are not directly related to full range movement exercises. 

Finger tip pull ups

This pull up is very much the bread and butter exercise of climbers but must be approached with caution by non climbers particularly those who are carrying a few pounds extra be it muscle or fat. On very small holds which are for the purposes of this article smaller than the last phalange, injury is very easy. Indeed hyper extension of the last phalange can occur on bigger holds, also there are various tendon and knuckle injuries that can occur with smaller than a bar holds, so caution or avoidance is wise.

One arm one finger pull ups,

Are the circus pull up and are just a one arm pull up done on one finger. They are mainly done on a climbers tape sling but can be done on a one inch bar. They are not that much harder for a climber to do but are definitely very rare when not done on the ‘up yours finger’, while very impressive and occasionally useful there is a big danger of the knuckle becoming painful and deformed.

Forced negatives or negative pull ups.

These are just the negative or down side of the pull up movement. So you either start somehow at the top, or cheat, or kip yourself into position, and lower. This is a great way of learning to do something as your body can always handle much more weight in the negative portion of an exercise. Negatives can be used by absolute beginners to learn ordinary pull ups, and by advanced guys and girls to learn one armers. They can also be used to overcome training plateaus but beware of delayed pain and soreness or DOMs over your rest days.

Pull ups in L sit,

This combo exercise is much harder than doing separate sets of pull ups and sets of just L sits. To maintain good form the pull ups have to be slower and the rhomboids have to be engaged more. Very tough even with light ankle weights.

Pull up complexes

These can be anything you want so the limitations are nearly endless; you just put together say a pull up exercise; and a core exercise together, or a couple of pull up exercises, and a few core exercises together. Try baby 666s for example, 6 front levers, 6 windscreen wipers to each side, and 6 Frenchies.


Here are some records and notable pull up numbers and a few quick thoughts on them. Records tend to be frowned upon if not supposedly official, as in World record, or Guinness book of World records. But there are many records that are a bit iffy even the supposed official ones so please be under no obligation to treat any of these as beyond approach. Many of the ancient climbers pull up records may indeed have been a bit less stringently adjudicated than some of today’s but take it from me some of the climbers records are very near the max or equal of any so called official records out there today. This latter remark is very important when considering one arm pull ups and one arm pull ups on one finger. The other possibility of higher than normal gymnastic strengths might have been from the time of the popular circus. The circus is one of the few places where a continued professional approach to tumbling, high trapeze and recently ‘artistic sling routines, might produce some interesting numbers. Lots of people of course don’t have the time, or can’t be bothered with numbers and are just strong, so be it, these are often called garage records.

Pull ups in a minute.

After about 45 pull ups in a minute the form of the pull up can get a bit sloppy, so the record which is around 60 may not be all correct pull ups in some people’s eyes.
Record is 50 pull ups in 1 minute Jason Petzold and Mathew Bodanowicz

Chin up record in one minute

The record seems to be 67 chin ups in one minute Jason Petzold.
An other record is 60 chin up in one minute Rodrigo Augusto Campus. These were very wide chins, kinda short ROM

Pull ups in three minutes.

The record is 100 by Ngo Xuan Chuyen 1988
The number may seem low and may indeed be low, but this little test might be harder than you think. The lactic build up after the first set, or huge spurt, seems appalling so some tactics have to be thought out. And indeed the likely hood of anybody ever doing 3 mins of continual pull-ups seems slim, but you never know until someone comes out of the garage looking like an orangutan.

Record Chin ups in three Minutes is 105 Jason Pettzold

Record Chin ups in three Minutes is 105  Jason Petzold. As this record is five more than the above record for Pull ups the above record seems about the right number, as Chins are always thought a tadge easier than Pulls. The pull up record was always thought a bit iffy by my friends but who knows, I personally thought it should be much higher, who knows, do you? 

Pull ups in 5 minutes. This is an unknown number, perhaps you could supply one.

Pull ups in 30 minutes is 553 Stephen Hyland.

Pull ups in one hour is 1009 Stephen Hyland.

Pull ups in 6 hours is 3288 Stephen Hyland.

Pull ups in 12 hours is 4020 Stephen Hyland.

Pull ups in 24 hours 4620 Jan Kares.

One arm pull ups. Seems like there is at least one guy out there who can do 10 very good, still lower body, one armers. There are many people who can do 10 with differing amounts of body swing, and leg kick. Historically there are claims of around 20 which may actually be possible with large amounts of swing.

One arm pull up on one finger. It looks like 6 is the number and with very little swing or perhaps the number is 5 if you are being strict.

Weighted pull ups are a bit of a problem as the guys and girls who excel at the big numbers will have a problem hoisting the biggest weight. But it isn’t a problem unless you want it to be, is it? In weight lifting you have different weight classes otherwise all the records would go to very big strong bears. So perhaps weighted pull ups will or should be looked at in the same way.

Gilbert Neville Body w/ 126 lbs 6 one armers with 56 lbs extra. Circa 1918

Harry Rogal Body w/108 lbs 3 one armers with 50 lbs extra circa 1940

These two would seem to beat any climbers weighted one arm that I know of. At least two climbers have done one armers with 50 lbs extra weight, but at body weights of around 150 lbs, and most importantly not from still dead hang.

Weighted two arm pull ups record.

This has to be Marvin Edder with 8 at 200 lbs extra body weight below 190 lbs. Big guys don’t do so well as off season they can be 300 lbs themselves without extra charge weight. I would love to hear what one of the big guys could do, certainly anywhere above 260 extra should be possible.
Good luck I wish you more fun and success.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Young inspiration from the big Comps, by Stevie Haston

Most of you hate climbing Comps, even the guys and girls who compete couldn’t sit through the links that are listed below. But they were sent to me by my mate Jurgen, a comp guy, and I been looking at them ever since. I will go out climbing in a bit and I will fail because I didn’t climb like these boys, and yes I am going to say it like these girls too.

The first two links are the big Cham competition, which obviously I used to see, and I now miss. Take notice these Links are very long and a normal person won’t want to watch all of them. I actually like the Mc who gets everything wrong including the height of Mont Blanc.
Cham 2012
Cham 2011
Arco Final
Boulder Wold Cup Vienna 2012

So there you are a valuable resource for you to look at. If I may point out a few things for you to watch: the precision footwork, the strength through the whole body, lots of straight arms, the total concentration to the end.  One of the ways to get better in climbing is to watch better climbers, and absorb like a sponge the good juice. If you manage to absorb all this you might burst. If nothing else, this is a tremendous example of how humans can excel at something most humans and indeed most climbers think is stupid. I of course think all this film gold, and a stepping stone to star routes. Thanks Jurgen, Jurgen is a climbing coach, but I also wish him luck in his comps, thanks for everything.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Bored with training, by stevie Haston.

 Gollum, doing shoulder shrugs.

 Leonidus, the pimp who can't crimp.

Miguel, giving instructions to his disobedient Brachioradialis.

Training today is not right, but it don't matter, better than nothing. Shoulder is sticking. Its raining, no mojo, starving but some how heavier! 
After warm up got, a one arm on a campus rung! Since I am obviously Pablo the Porker, this is a good indication that I have got some where, but where? I need to be way lighter, but the Dark side of training has engulfed me. Today I will punish myself and do volume, in an attempt to get trim, not Get Carter. 

I will do power pulls with weights on various edges. 
Weights starting at 100 lbs, dropping down never more than three reps. 

Core work will be some levers, front and back. Then Windscreen wipers with ankle weights, till I cry 'Hernia my darling, you have come to me'.     
Good example of a safe finger training position

Finish off with shoulder press and then kneeing the Kick bag with double ankle weights. then leg raises front kick and side kick.

Later that day...... 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

50 years ago by Stevie Haston

50 years ago Algeria took its independence from France, after  a long terrible protracted war. 50 years sounds like a long time, until you have lived them and then when you have lived them 50 years sounds like the prelude to the rest of your life. France has been around a lot longer than me and is now beyond such atrocities as Algeria. Algeria is not mentioned much in France because we are still ashamed to this day, a million people died for the right to govern their own country.

The previous owner of the house I live in was awarded a medal for fighting the Germans in the first world war, the so called Great War. It’s a funny thought because I sometimes think I hear his footsteps. If you know anything of history you might know that the French did not contest the game in the second world war, preferring to give up their liberty and fraternize with the evil Hun, for the preservation of the city of Paris. Not all French men did this some carried on and were called the Resistance. Both my wife’s Granddads were  such men. Anyway it’s funny how you can disobey your countries orders and later be called a hero, but you can also be shot for it by the same government. At my nearest cliff there is a memorial to the Resistance who were ambushed and killed locally, I run by and salute them occasionally. Anyway today I visited the local war memorial not because I approve of Frances Wars, but because I was very sad about all the people dying around the world for very little, or no reason. I live in France, but I am a member of the world, and can’t believe that we are making the same mistakes as Algeria again. So 50 years go by and it is as nothing, we just change the venue for the game and now it is Afghanistan and Iraq. And for some, humanity and reason fly out the window, and it just turns into recreational violence, it’s just television, and entertainment.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Real training and real climbing standards, by Stevie Haston

Not having a great few weeks, the training is going slooooooow.

That’s what training does-it goes sloooow. But this slow time has at least giving me time to think, and re-think. I have with a bit of thought re arranged my finger board set ups, which are helping my Shoulder Impingement, this is a great success, and I advise people to look a bit more closely at their training to minimize self inflicted damage.

As for real standards, this is interesting because there are two criteria for climbing hard, but which if looked at closely, are at odds with each other. Climbs are basically either hard because the holds are small, or hard because there is a lot of gymnastic climbing, the two if taken to their extreme ends are mutually exclusive. This is leading to a great deal of confusion in climbing and stupid reporting in the climbing press.

Most people won’t understand or don’t want to understand, climbing is confusing enough they think. But try thinking about it. If you really wanted to pull on small holds you should just starve yourself to death-this is in fact the strategy of the majority of climbers above 8b. It produces a climber of either sex at a BMI of 18 or less. And when I say less, I mean like one competitor having to go to hospital after a major comp. Funny how that never made it into the news, isn’t it. So when you are down at a BMI of 17 there is no advantage in being male, that is you don’t need testosterone, cos in reality you ain’t got much muscle. In fact what you need are small fingers, and fast movement, so enter the androgynous youth competitor. If you think this is sour grapes, think again lots of climbers actually think climbing grades are ‘Whack’, but we are just too dumb to come up with anything better.

Now then when an athlete reaches their individual plateau at low weight, (it’s a little different for each one) they try to get a bit stronger, and in so doing they get heavier. The heavier you get, very obviously the less easy it is too pull on small holds, or should I say tiny holds. It’s actually a vicious circle, the most vicious circle of all.

Now then what people don’t understand is for certain routes the difference between the correct weight and ridiculously heavy is only a few kilograms.

I phoned up two mates for advice recently, and they both said the same thing-ditch the weight. Not ‘get stronger’ just ditch the weight bro’, one actually said ‘you fat fooking beast, at your weight I’d break my fingers.

This is very funny because I have been trying to ditch the weight, bro. To ditch the weight you must stop eating, and in my stupid, stupid way, I have forgotten that, that’s what it takes. It’s a hard sport, climbing is like gymnastics, but maybe worse, in gymnastics 50% of female competitors have eating disorders. In climbing we lie about it. Apparently we don’t have anybody in climbing with eating disorders, and yet I’m continually out climbed by some of the thinnest people I have ever seen in my life. I’m obviously suffering from the wrong eating disorder.

I had to starve for that one!
Today I went on a great project, but obviously am way too fat, I am a strong bloke, but being strong just doesn’t cut it. So I am going to lose more than 10 lbs, the more I lose the higher up the grade list I will get. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to hurt a lot, because I am going to try to lose some leg muscle too. And when I do all this losing of weight, fat and muscle, I will still not be anywhere close to the 17 BMI of elite climbers. And that my friends is reality, so it is very doubtful if I will ever get a hard route. The only plus side is that when I go climbing, the effort I am putting in, is the equivalent of a good climber with a weight belt on!   

Saturday, 7 July 2012

More on Shoulder Impingement in climbers, by Stevie Haston

Looks like we have a lot of climbers out there with problems. First I am a climber not a Doctor, perhaps you should see a very, very good Doctor. Personally the idea that anybody knows more about my body than I do is absurd, but hey you might have one of those standard models that Doctors treat and study.

My left Shoulder needs an operation but I really don’t have the time, and I am scared a surgeon will do a less than perfect job, surgeons, even really good ones, are just humans, and not perfect.

To fully understand the Shoulder joint in climbing, try and put it in a climbing situation, and you will be forced to realize the limitations of this joint.

Stand up and try to raise your arms to touch at full extension above your head, like in the photo.

If you do this with your thumbs pointed down instead of up, your range of movement will be severely limited! This is what we do occasionally in climbing and it starts inflammation in a tendon, once the inflammation starts its very hard to get rid of because the tendon runs thru a narrow space, so rubs nearly all the time in climbing.

If you want to continue climbing you must try not to irritate this area. If you want to continue training you must try not to irritate this area. Easier said than done, obviously!

Here are a couple of things, see a very good Doctor, see a very good Physio.

Here are a few other things in no particular order. When throwing for  for a hold, be careful about which way  your thumb is pointing, as it has something to do with how your arm is orientated in the shoulder, and thus how much impingement you will suffer. When training be very careful of what you do. Some things will hurt you and not others, because you are different. Some moves, and therefore routes will hurt you. Some Gym apparatus will hurt you, certain bars and movements with these bars will hurt you. Choose other routes, and other bars. Nearly all fingerboards and campus boards offer the opportunity to hurt you in some way, careful attention to details is very important. Many Fingerboards and campus rungs are too narrow to hang with two hands if you are bigger than small. Or to put it more clearly, there is a better spacing for me, and other people whose shoulders are over a certain width. This has got nothing to do with pull ups, pull ups on the wrong spacing are very bad too.

Even if you are really lucky with the spacing on hangs and pull ups, you also have to be careful about many other things. Bench Press, Press ups, Dips, and Shoulder press, which must be trained as antagonistic muscles to a very strong back must all be undertaken with care, if you want to promote Shoulder care. Even Yoga must be done with due respect to your joints, and some Yoga I am afraid to say, is bad. Always try to understand what your shoulder is doing as just a tiny adjustment of the grip, or hand placement will often lessen the damage.

Sadly much of the difficulty in climbing is because it is not as user friendly as many people think. That is part of the challenge in climbing, getting more out of your body and mind. Getting around problems and in some cases avoiding problems that hurt too much!

If people are doing weighted hangs and pull ups just because some people advocate them be careful on your hand width. If you are doing them on a campus rung it might be too narrow for your frame.  I like over 50 and under 60cm, my companion who is 5 foot 2 can manage with a campus rung, or a small finger board.

Good luck, I wish you more fun and success, and less Impingement.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Shoulder Impingement in climbers, by Stevie Haston

A very bad shoulder

Shoulder Impingement is very common in climbers, and will ruin your climbing and training. What can you do?

First off, if you do the wrong thing, you will make things worse. Wrong things to do; are see a doctor who hasn’t got a clue, likewise a bad physio, or indeed listen to me. If you are an American and a Doctor is recommending surgery, delay, and  rethink.

I have suffered from Shoulder Impingement all my life, despite having strong healthy shoulders, and tend to think of it as a normal consequence of moving my arms upwards against the normal mechanics of my body. My body is just not designed to do many of the things I try to do, especially in climbing!

If you have pain in the region of the front of the shoulder, underneath where the Collarbone meets the Shoulder and you have a problem reaching up, you probably have Shoulder Impingement. You could have other things wrong too! So don’t rely on what I am saying.

Let’s go with my problems, and my Yoga teacher wife, she has Shoulder Impingement too. We used to have a great Physio but don’t anymore, but the one thing he had trouble sorting out was our Shoulders. Indeed, Laurence has bursitis in one Shoulder, which has meant she has had to stop occasionally. We have worked around our Shoulder Impingement, or in my more simple way, we have simply tried to work with the poor structure that a Shoulder is.


Shoulders are just not designed to reach up, mine it seems are pretty bad, maybe yours are too. A few signs that you have less than great shoulders would be a dislike of the Front crawl in swimming, an inability to do sitting press, or you hurt trying to throw things. In climbing we make many tough calls on our shoulders, that they were simply not designed to do.

We aren’t even designed to live past our mid twenties let alone jump for crimps way to one side, then take all the weight in an asymmetric swing, while trying to control rotation of the shoulder.

Anyway the purpose of this bit of writing is just so you know a little more. Here are a few things you can do:

see a great doctor

see a great physio

Warm up your musculature before work and sport, Stretch and or do some Yoga before work and Sport. It’s the latter for me that is very important for my Shoulders as I have pain. I am not prepared to stop, but my body will stop, or try to hinder me when I am climbing. Long reaches behind me, or worse a throw to the side behind me, and my shoulder will lock. If I have stretched properly beforehand I might make the moves, if I reach up and turn the humerus in its socket as I reach, I might also make the moves. I can’t do much if I am tense, and I will be tense if my neck muscles are tense.

Here are a few things to do, gentle Shoulder Shrugs.

Rolling shoulders backwards, stretch the neck and upper trapezious

Yoga Cat Cow stretch paying great importance to the alignment of the fingers in a vertical line with the body.

The dog stretch or triangle.
The Triangle

A great amount of advice is given about the Rotator cuff muscles and preventative exercise, if these work for you good, but don’t be surprised if they don’t. Anti inflammatories work a little bit, do not take pain killers for this condition, even if you have trouble sleeping.

Good luck and remember it is actually the shoulders problem not yours. Repeatedly trying the same throw or reach behind you is the surest way to make this condition worse. If you have a hard move like this, try it once, or twice, not one hundred times! 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

This cheered me up, by Stevie up Haston

First recorded muscle up with an egg on a spoon, grade font 8A

Yesterday I did my little thing about Jean Pierre Bouvier, AKA the Fly. Two big web sites failed in their inept ways to even copy paste things correctly, bravo, 8a.nu and UKC. Then there was a lot of discussion of whether it was important, or even allowable, or whether he had the right to grade it. As JP was one fathers of traversing I will leave it to him to defend his brain child, but am still aghast at the ignorance of the newbees in our sport and the lack of good reporting on the web.

As my breakfast consists of either nothing or a boiled egg, I have been looking for  ways to spice it up. So looking thru You tube I found this total nugget of excersise excellence.

What I like most about this, is her total pedantic rule setting, full marks girl! Nobody can argue with her rules and the pull ups are very good ones, brava. I am already thinking of challenging this record but have run out of eggs and superglue!
Here is another link to a hardish route being sent by 50+ years Bill Ramsey, its very nice, and I like Bills humour  and charm in the film. I am sure that Bill will try the egg method of training hopefully after a few beers. Cynthia I hope you are reading this too.

Please post your One arm, One finger, One egg on spoon, and one egg in your mouth vid to me, as I need a good laugh. I tried this and broke the egg and puked. 
So when you get tired of Crossfit, doing the 300 and any of the exercise nonsense I post remember eggs and extra strong beer, cheers.
Two bipolar animals after lunch time exercise&beer