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Climbing Training: Lattice Training Retrospective

So hueco very power endurance. Photo cred @glotato_

So hueco very power endurance. Photo cred @glotato_

Cost summary: $192 (remote assessment, optional) + $160/3months

Time devoted: Ended up doing the program for 10 weeks, stopping because of wrist weakness

Approximate hours per week: 4ish sessions a week, 3-4+ hours a session

Focused on: Power endurance, foundational training for the next set of training

TLDR: Structured training is hard + time-consuming, but gave me greater focus and helped me a LOT with power endurance. Once you stop though it’s hard to maintain the volume + keep those gains. Also hard to introduce this volume of training while having other life/work priorities

Picking the plan

I’ve never been very aggressive or competitive with goal-setting for myself. It’s something that I see in others that I admired and wanted to emulate. This year, I decided to be a little more active with climbing + goal-setting.

I’ve previously done some types of training, some more structured than others. I’ve done 4-week transgression and beastmaker cycles (fast gains at first, then more difficult to see the difference, both max weight and min edge), a casual bout with weightlifting (I get bored easily…), half-hearted campusing (after one or two sessions I always realize that me and my elbows hate campusing). and a brief brief stint with a personal climbing coach (awesome, focused on technique, $90/session at the time, and ultimately too far in distance for me since it was only in SF).

Lloyd recommended Lattice training to me. They’re a UK-based coaching group that does remote training for athletes as well. The advantages he highlighted were:

  • More data-driven than other plans (they have a database of info, to be able to say a typical v10 climber has x strength and x ability. If you want to climb v10 those are good benchmarks to reach for)

  • Cheaper than some of the other options I looked at locally (at $160 for 3 months)

  • Popular on the climbing forums - I’m honestly not one to participate actively into online forums. I find they can be very technical + not very friendly to beginners, so usually lurk. I’m big on word of mouth though so his recommendation was a +1

Getting Set Up and Payment

They actually have two types of plans (premium and lite). To do either, you have to be remotely assessed + fill out a questionnaire about your history + goals. There’s a slightly easier assessment for the lite plan (download the crimpd app that they partner with at no additional cost) and a pretty intense and at times confusing assessment for the premium plan (buy it separately at $192 and they send you the instructions PDF). It’s actually a fairly comprehensive assessment, and one of my friends did it just to have the data. For the questionnaire, it was helpful for me to have Lloyd help me assess myself (what are your weaknesses) and think about my short-term and long-term goals (climb v10, diversify my types of climbing eg learn to trad). Here’s two snippets of the output:

Initially I wanted to do the premium ($80/month for a minimum of 6 months) to be able to get the email support, but there was a timing/misunderstanding snafu and there wasn’t enough time for me to get assessed + scheduled before my upcoming trip to Hueco. The Lattice folks were very helpful through this and advised me to go ahead with the Lite plan instead (and use the remote assessment In had already done for future).

Starting out + thoughts after

Once you get set up, they send you a personalized list of exercises in color-coded text. (Week 1 column, Week2, etc). The idea is that you take this set of exercises each week and make your own schedule. The weeks also went up and then tapered in intensity to account for a week where I was climbing in hueco and therefore wouldn’t be doing any training at all. I wasn’t actually clear what the best way to do take the exercises and schedule them was, but decided guess which days I would make it to the gym, and then portioning the exercises by how much time I thought they would take. I would do this for 2-3 weeks ahead of time, trying to account 1 social day and 1 yoga/lighter day in each week.

An example of a typical “light” training day would be: floor core, weighted pullups, hip + leg flexibility

An example of a heavier day on a heavier week would be: Pyramids + Boulder Triples (At your flash grade, find 3 boulder problems and do 6 sets of 3 reps with rest)

Below is an example of how I structured my weeks on my personal google sheet. This thing became the calendar I would consult if someone wanted to have dinner or if I needed to plan anything at all.

The things I struggled the most with during the plan were:

  • Pure volume of training. My body wasn’t really used to this level of climbing. I found it difficult to complete even some of the simple endurance/aerobic capacity exercises that aren’t meant to be hard (Continuity 5x3. Easy climbing 5 min on, 3 min rest on the systems board) as well as at the level of intensity they suggested for some exercises (strength intervals, climb 6 boulder problems 3 times each, 1-2 grades below max)

  • Time spent training. The amount of time I spent in an average gym session went up to 3-4+ hours. Each exercise wasn’t that long by itself, but I generally spent 1 hr warming up (some combo of 10min cardio, mobility + resistance bands, easy bouldering —> flash grade bouldering). It was definitely a challenge to balance social life and work responsibilities with the new time I was spending in the gym.

  • Technique doing new exercises. This was more for the conditioning exercises (using TRX bands for the first time for shoulder strengthening) but also for climbing (campusing with proper form). Posting videos on IG actually helped out a lot, as I could get feedback from friends I trusted, watch my own form + critique myself, and tag lattice and get their feedback. Generally, I would decrease in suggested difficulty (lower climbing grade or progressively lower form) or do less reps and take longer rests, if it meant I was doing things with better form.

  • Getting adequate rest and having mental fatigue. I’m generally not great at getting enough sleep (I get stuck on netflix dammit) and drinking enough water. The training sessions can be more focused and fun in a different way, but can also be demoralizing when you’re in the gym, headphones on, climbing the same boulder problems for the 5th times while your friends joke around and have fun. I think it’s important to build some social/projecting time into the routine as well.

The things I liked about the plan were:

  • Clearly focused on a goal, so a good use of my gym time. You get in, you do your things, you don’t waste time thinking about what you should do or talking to people. Could be good or bad, depending on your goals.

  • Easy to track + see progression. When you’re doing actual structured training, you can see numbers and things go up (amount of weighted pullups you can do, or just the ability to complete a 5x5 set of pullups). I did notice sometimes my recorded #s went down, since doing an exercise more meant more awareness of form for me, so I would sometimes go down to concentrate on it.

  • Unexpected focus on technique + conditions. My program wasn’t focused on this, but it was interesting to see how climbing the same problem at different days, at different power levels, and at different times in your session contributed to being able to do the same move or not. I also found new beta for climbs that I thought I had understood before.

  • Someone else made it and it’s backed by data. I know a lot of friends like making their own plan. I feel that but am a very lazy person. I liked knowing that there were data-reasons and other athlete’s experiences behind the things that were chosen for me to do, and I didn’t have to read through a bunch of training philosophies and schools of thought (which I have done before, with pretty limited results)

What I’m thinking about for next time

Ultimately, my foray into structured training was a really enjoyable one. I think the cost was worth it for me, and I felt like I had demonstrable gains. I cut my training plan off by 2 weeks because things got crazy at work and I think I tried too hard at too high of a volume, and re-weakened my wrists. My next goal is to figure out what kind of structured training I want to do next (thinking about the Premium plan that’s a bit higher commitment and higher touch) or making a plan for myself based on the non-linear progression steve bechtel book.

My goals and if they were reached:

I had a goal this year to climb v10. During my trip to hueco (the halfwayish point of my plan, I felt more able to do long, powerful routes). I didn’t climb v10, but got close on a v9 and surprised myself (and possibly everyone else, by doing Mr. Serious). I’m also 99% certain I couldn’t have done some of the hard v5s in hueco if not for the plan.

I think the plan is a good idea if you:

  • don’t know your weaknesses and want an expert to objectively evaluate what you need to reach your climbing goals

  • want more structure and an actual training plan but don’t know/don’t have the time to make it

  • feel like you’re plateauing with your current strategy (or lack thereof)

  • do well with self-motivation and following your own schedule

It’s probably not as great if you:

  • have experience with highly structured training plans and already make your own

  • are injured - you’ll get more injured

  • don’t do well with self-motivation - I would say hire an in-person coach

Crystal Shei