Strength on the Rocks

Charmagne climbing at the red river gorge

A good friend of ours had dreams of rock climbing hard into her 40's. With a little help, she's created a balanced and strong foundation to build on! Thanks for the interview Charmagne!

Tell me about your climbing career and what brought you to seek Joe's help?
I have been climbing since 1992 and was even a sponsored climber for a few years. After having triplets and a singleton, I found myself stuck at a climbing level I didn't find acceptable. I had never really "trained" nor had I ever used a coach or performance specialist. My husband and I met had Joe at our local climbing gym, and knew he would be a great asset to getting me back in to the shape I was hoping for.

Did you find that you were weaker than you expected?
I was realistic in term of how weak I was; however, I was shocked at how much power I could build. My forte prior to working with Joe was endurance types routes; however, after training with Joe, I feel like my strength is power. 

What methods did Joe incorporate that were new and unusual to you?
Joe has stressed many times how toxic to the body climbing can be. He encouraged me to incorporate light cardio to keep the body oxygenated and less acidic as well as to promote faster recovery. I have also seen how beneficial lifting weights can be; even for a sport which hasn't been quick to embrace weight training. Lastly, one of the biggest lessons I've learned from Joe is proper REST! My personality is to go all out - no holds barred - but this can quickly lead to injury, especially in a sport as physically demanding as climbing.

What were some of the benefits you received from working with Joe?
After completing a 14 week training course with Joe, I peaked at just the right time, and was able to have a solid fall climbing season! During this season I was consistently on-sighting 12a, on-sighted two 12b's, a 12c and redpointed a 13a that had been a monkey on my back for a while. 

charmagne climbing in central texas

Did you have to readjust your climbing style to utilize the new training methods?
I have learned to move more dynamically while climbing, which has enabled me to be more fluid in movement and more efficient. I tend to prefer static movement which is not always the best way to get through hard sections and cruxes.

What was the biggest change you saw take place?
My raw power was higher than I think it had ever been; even prior to kids.  Joe also worked with me on improving my body composition. I reduced my body fat by 4% and therefore improved my strength-to-weight ratio, another important factor for climbing at higher grades.

What advice would you have for other rock climbers wanting to improve their performance?
If you seriously want to improve, don't waste time "playing" in the gym or outside. Hiring a climbing coach or performance specialist is by far the best route, but if that's not an option: set goals, develop a plan, and stick with it! There are several really good books and some great blogs being written about training for climbing, there are even online coaching options. Realize that your results will not be instant and sometimes, you will even see regression during some phases of training, but in the end, it will be well worth it!