Killing several birds with one stone, today we met up with Anna's brother and family, in order to take Noah, aged 6, for a climbing session.
It was good fun...Noah was really up for it - willing to try things several times, and keenly determined to achieve a variety of little goals we set for him.
He did really well, learning some sequences (which is actually quite advanced!), doing a few proper climbing moves (and observing that they were easier), and very naturally doing a cool drop and roll when dismounting from the wall.
In many ways, he's very receptive, and a fast learner...in other ways, not so much!
Here, Anna is trying to explain to him about straight arms...
A common beginner climber error is to stand on the wall with legs straight and arms bent, which is perfectly understandable...we do it all the time, it's a common human characteristic.
But apes and monkeys don't do this, and it's plain to see that they're much better climbers than we are.
Apes and monkeys do the opposite to we humans when climbing - they hang off straight arms, and bend their legs instead.
When arms are bent and pulling you into the wall, you're essentially using your upper body muscles to support the weight of your upper body...very hard work, and very tiring.
However, when arms are straight, the skeleton holds most of the weight, and the main muscular activity is simply the forearm muscles holding the fingers bent...much more efficient, and hugely less strenuous.
But as a beginner, instinct tells you to pull in to the wall with your arms, because you don't feel safe...this is quite a psychological barrier to get over, to trust yourself enough to straighten your arms, and new climbers often struggle with it, as Noah is here. However much his conscious mind is saying, "straighten arms", his subconscious is shouting "FOR GODS SAKE DON'T LOOSEN YOUR GRIP!!!"...so he's managing to bend the legs, but not to straighten the arms.
Once you can bring yourself to try it though, it quickly becomes clear how much easier it is to climb this way.
As if to demonstrate the principle, here are a handful of snapshots I randomly took whilst Anna was climbing earlier.
|straight and narrow|
Both arms nicely straight here...
The weighted arm is straight here, and the other is only bent to move it to the next hold...
Anna is now hanging off a ceiling, in effect, and it's even more important to let her skeleton do the bulk of the work. Anna's muscles are focussed on keeping her core engaged and her weight under control as she moves her feet into the best position to be able to let go with one of her hands to move it on.
|3 points on the ceiling|
Here Anna is in the process of moving her weight underneath her left hand, so that when she lets go with her right hand, she doesn't swing around (and quite likely fall off). One of her feet has found a hold on the ceiling and is both taking as much weight off her arms as possible, and acting as a counterbalance to her left hand.
But in all cases her arms are fully straight - really nice form, and makes her look like a pro climber!
That said, we had an incredibly strenuous and tiring session (around short sessions playing with Noah)...I felt really tired, and struggled with overheating and feeling dizzy and light headed after each climb.
However, we did climb on and off for nearly 5 hours, and the average grade was fairly hard...almost everything seemed really hard, to be honest, even the supposedly easy ones...but I reckon we still managed 30 or 40 problems with an average grade of V2, give or take.
But it was a tough session, and I feel really beaten up now...I'm going to pay for it tomorrow!
Chatting about it on the way home, I realised that I'm concerned whether I've over-trained now, and rather than getting fitter, I'm just getting more tired, going past it...
So we've had a bit of a rethink, and we might take it reasonably easy for the next couple of weeks before our Font Trip.
Preserve the strength gains we've made recently, get some rest (as far as hectic and heavy workloads allow), and build up some reserves...
Sounds like a plan...