Lattice Training Log Part 3: Week 1 of training. Tension board. Pain

Week 1 of training. Tension board. Pain.

This week was the week of Aug 22, and was the first week of my first training cycle.


I’m climbing 3 days a week. One day is focused on 40 minutes of max efforts on a tension board. The second day has a 60 minute circuit bouldering session. The final day is boulder triplets (re-climbing the same boulder problem 3 times with little rest).
I also have 2x 30-minute Play/Experiment sessions where I’m working on comp-style problems, or making up my own moves on the wall.
And finally, I’m doing 30 minutes of ARC on the auto-belay, mostly to aid recovery.

max efforts / limit day


When I would work on limit moves before, I would most often find a crux on a hard climb on the current set. One session it may be a limit move because of balance/coordination; another session it might be a crimpfest; the next week an awkward heel hook. Because of this, I think I ended up not really giving a consistent stimulus to my body to actually get better at any particular skill.
Billy encouraged me to focus on 1-3 move sequences. I ended up spending my 40 minutes this week on one V6. The bottom and the top section each had a move that were quite tough for me, and I spent about 10 minutes (or 5 attempts) on each one. I then decided to mirror the problem and try both moves on my other side. I recorded some of the attempts in this video.
During the session, and especially when I slowed down the video, I noticed that I was struggling with driving with my feet through the end of the move. A lot of the time my foot came off and I lost tension before I even touched the next hold.
I really want to work on this more, and I think I would benefit a lot from drilling it on easier terrain. I’m hoping to do either the boulder triplets or the moderate bouldering session in the v4-v5 range on the tension board next week (though it’s tricky since the tension board at my gym doesn’t have the LED lights, and having to memorize all the problems is making this more difficult).

practice and performance

I had mixed feelings at the end of this session. On one hand, I felt like I was just starting to get a feel for the movement when I ran out of attempts. On the other hand, I was starting to have less power and snappiness on my attempts, so it seemed like it was probably time to stop.
I ended up thinking about a trope that comes up a lot in the training-for-climbing-verse, which is to distinguish practice and performance. This experience made me consider it with respect to time. If I want to work 2 cruxes, on 2 sides, with adequate rest to give a maximal effort, in 40 minutes, I only get about 5 attempts on each crux. So the time constraint really forces me to just do the reps and then move on, without necessarily getting the satisfaction of having improved. Psychologically that is really challenging!
I think in the coming weeks, I’ll look to add a few more cruxes to my rotation (maybe from a v7 and a v8). I’ll focus on giving just 2-3 attempts and moving on, rather than being attached to “working the problem”.

boulder triplets

I was supposed to find overhanging, practiced, sustained and “straightforward” climbs for the triplets. They were also supposed to be under 10 moves (for me this takes <25s to complete), to keep the work/rest ratio balanced. The point of all of these constraints was to provide a consistent load to the body for the working interval, and to get to a place where I was feeling tired / pumped out on the 2nd and 3rd rep.
I never really noticed this before, but the setting at my gym is super long, especially on the overhanging walls and especially-especially caves. I counted a few problems and in many cases they were over 20 moves. I ended up picking out appropriate sequences from longer climbs, in many cases the crux sections of v5/v6 climbs, and easier sections of v7/v8 climbs.
This way of cutting up climbs is really interesting to me. I think in the future I’ll also experiment with eliminating holds from easier sections, or adding holds from nearby problems to harder sections to really dial in the difficulty so that I’m getting as close to failure as possible on my third rep.

experimentation/play time

Billy planned 2x 30 minute sessions for me to focus on dynamic/coordination/comp movement for the experimentation time. He also encouraged me to make up my own movements rather than just climbing set problems.
Making up my own moves is not coming easily to me. A lot of the moves that I can come up with I end up doing within a few tries, so it seems like I’m a bit lacking in imagination.
So far I’ve worked on foot shuffles and dynamic lateral movement (run and jumps, etc), dynamic step-ups and other lower body work. I’m shying away from dynos and campus moves because I’m already spending way more time than I’m used to on overhanging terrain and my skin, fingers and upper body are struggling.
I am finding that focusing on a specific style of movement is having an effect. At the end of the 30 minute session I feel springy and a lot more confident in generating momentum from my feet. I revisited some of the compy v5s/v6s that have given me trouble in the past, and I sent them very quickly.


I’m doing two hangboard workouts per week.
One is a repeater workout, to try and get some of that mid-range endurance that I was lacking so much in my assessment. I’m doing 6 sets of 50s 7:3 repeaters in half-crimp position at bodyweight, with 3 minutes of rest between sets. The first week was pretty rough, and I had to switch to open-hand grip half-way through my sets, and I still failed on the very last rep of the 6th set.
The other fingerboard session is a Front-3-Back-3 max strength workout (short hangs, lots of rest). Billy suggested that this may be a good way to develop full crimp and half-crimp position, and get used to the different wrist angles involved.
I’m also doing 2x 1-handed overcoming isometric pulls on each hand during my warmup. This basically means just standing under the rung and pulling as hard as I can for 7s, without lifting off the ground. The point of this is to get ready to try hard, and to maintain some of my peak strength.


I’m doing 2 core workouts per week. One on the bar (toes to bar, windshield wipers, lever tucks and L sit), and one on the floor (1-leg planks, pushups, boat pose, side planks). Both of these focus around doing a long (several minute) sequence of movements with as little rest as possible. Then resting for 2-3 minutes, and doing the sequence again. I’m going to be progressing it by shortening the rest between exercises and between sets, basically until I can do two sets in one go.
I’m also doing 2 pulling workouts (normal & wide pullups, also focused on doing a large amount of volume with little rest), and an antagonist muscle workout - overhead press and bench press.
The combination of all of these really destroyed me this week. I was especially sore after the bar core workout. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to climb due to the soreness, but I actually ended up doing OK. I felt tired and the soreness was uncomfortable, but overall I think I managed to climb at about 90% of my usual level.
I keep reminding myself that of all the attributes one can train (flexiblity, strength, power, skill), endurance is the fastest one to gain or lose, so I really hope that I’m going to make quick progress to reward me for all the pain. Of course then I’ll just have less rest between all the pain.

the shotgun method

One thing that’s feeling really different to me about this week, relative to my typical training, is just how much stuff I’m doing:
  • 5 climbing exercises, targeting multiple energy systems and styles
  • 3 finger exercises
  • 8 core exercises
  • 2 pulling exercises and 2 pushing exercises
  • 3 different mobility routines
This is going against my previous approach to training (which comes from a less-is-more / keep-it-simple mentality), and many things I’ve internalized over the years of reading various training literature:
  • climbing should make up most of your training time (I have about 4 hours dedicated to climbing, out of ~8 hours total).
  • you should focus on one or two weaknesses at a time, or you’ll spread your body too thin and you won’t make progress
  • you don’t need a complicated training plan unless you’re a really advanced athlete
  • you shouldn’t chase feelings of pain or tiredness, since that is not a good indicator of making progress in training
A lot of this, of course, is subjective. In some sense I am working on just one weakness - my ability to apply moderate amounts of strength over longer periods of time - but I’m addressing it in many different ways. This plan is definitely more complex than the plan I had before, but maybe it’s actually simple by other people’s standards.
As far as not chasing tiredness and pain, I feel like I have been taking this one out of context and pushing it to an opposite extreme in my own training. This experience is showing me that it’s probably OK to feel worn out, if that is compatible with your current goals. And to be honest, I really missed it!
In any case, this is all just idle analysis that I’m doing in my (diminishing) rest time. I’m committed to doing the plan as-given, and letting the results speak for themselves.
See you next week.