Transition - By Dave Sarkar

by Dave Sarkar
Posted: 19th Oct 2015
Tags: Dave Sarkar, Scarpa

Blog Sponsored by Scarpa UK.




I can’t believe I’m writing about the transition from climbing outdoors to training in the blazing sunshine. I don’t think anyone would disagree that this summer has been a bit of a washout through July and August, but September is proving as excellent as ever and the crags are in fine shape so do get yourself outside and enjoy it while it lasts.


I’ve got an update for those of you who have followed the blog since the beginning in 2013. My project was to give up my full time job and follow my dream of climbing and becoming a climbing and mountaineering instructor. I have stuck to this plan but I have noticed that I don’t seem to be getting as much climbing done as I thought I would. Still nothing’s perfect!


What I have noticed though (and this has been confirmed by climbing friends) is that my baseline fitness has improved tremendously. I’m not regularly redpointing 7b+ but I am climbing well and I feel fit, healthy and happy – so I’m keen to continue. I enjoy working for myself with the flexibility that offers.


However, I am a typical climber in that I am never satisfied and so I’m looking forward to a winter of training when I can devote a little more time to it. Currently though I am no way fit enough to train. I have been down The Depot several times to get myself back into the groove but have found it difficult and frustrating. So something must be done and that means I have to prepare myself for training.


What I need first though is to measure how fit I am. I do this by my version of the Steve House base fitness test. The test is as follows:


That then gives me a baseline measure of how fit I am and I will do this test every month when I have developed my training programme for the season. A strict record will be taken and referred to so I can see if progress is being made. I also have an extra section on 1000m of ascent (with 15kgs of pack weight) but that is because I also need to keep an eye on my winter fitness.

Pull Ups - a fundamental training exercise.


You can also do this test and determine how fit you are – there are no guidelines as to what the timings should be as they are very personal. You shouldn’t be interested in comparing yourself against other people (that way lies madness, tears and surgery) you just need a measure for yourself that you can refer to and measure progress from.

Once this has been made I then need to determine what my weaknesses are – I usually have no problem with this. Is the problem steep and fingery? That’ll be my weakness! Now, I’m not going to start training my weakness straight away –if I immediately began to hand off fingerboards, campus boards and tried 10 fingery problems every training session I know I would get injured very quickly and then that’s training well and truly over for 6 weeks. So I will build them in slowly and in a very measured way and after a few weeks I will add a test for finger strength into my fitness test regime so I can measure progress.

So the secret to a full and happy winter training regime is to have a transition period and autumn is the ideal time. You can mix it up, still get outside and slowly, slowly build up the volume and intensity. You have then put yourself in a great position to maximise and be fit to train – as you do need to be fit to train. Having good fitness means that your recovery will be better, you will remain motivated and your willpower will be strong for the dieting that comes with the training.

Below is a suggested three week plan to begin the transition period, take it easy and commit to something every day. My current favourite is : 15 minutes of yoga, a 35 minute run followed by another 10 minutes of yoga stretches (I use a Yoga app on my ipad). The programme assumes you are working full time but can find some time in the morning.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3


That should all be reasonably manageable, if you can’t manage all the morning sessions you should at least aim for three. There are no rests for the afternoon/evening sessions, you need to do them all to begin to adapt to the training and you may feel sore and tired, this is normal. If you persevere you will begin to adapt and your body will feel stronger, fitter and more able to cope with the training load you will be putting on it later in the season.



Once you have completed these you can then repeat for another three weeks and you will then be ready to start training properly

That’s all for now, remember summer isn’t over yet and there’s plenty of time to get those projects sent and every hold you pull on makes you stronger.


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