Still here (in socal), still warm

I’ve been avoiding posting for no real good reason, but maybe it’s the conditions for bouldering in socal (subpar, at best) that are to blame. 😉 In the mean time, I’ve been working on various writing projects and, in the process, happened upon the topic of System training (some call it systems wall, systems training).

This is the Factory's system wall about the time they opened. It's been updated, but it lacks adjustable angles. It's not mirrored, though it may seem so.

This is the Factory’s system wall about the time they opened. It’s been updated, but it lacks adjustable angles. It’s not mirrored, though it may seem so.

In the process, I’ve noticed that few really know what system training is, especially when put in context with systemized training. As a result, I will give a brief review of both approaches to training. Historically, system training was developed first by the Huber brothers back in the 90’s. About the same time, another German (I think, but I can’t remember his name) developed systemized training that was documented by MC Productions in a short video. In this video, systemized training was based on a mirrored wall where the left and right halves are identical. This allows for recreating any move mirrored in the opposite form.

Unlike systematized training (SZT), system training is NOT a mirrored wall configuration. In fact, it’s fair to say that any wall that’s mirrored can be used to perform some sort of training regimen in the SZT context but won’t help if your intention is to train system movement. And how one goes about training determines the context of the intent, suffice to say SZT allows for equal balance of the body because all moves can be replicated in mirror fashion. In system training (ST), the purpose is to specifically develop certain technical skills that are not natural to perform. This is in the turnout leg position on a steep overhang where body tension, shoulder control and pulling, turnout control and leg push, all together allow for very advanced technically steep movement.

Contrary to assumptions about ST, it’s not about lock offs, finger strength, or any other specific or isolated development. It IS about maintaining strong turnout throughout the leg range (compressed to extended) with tensioned or pressured flagging, complete shoulder control when either locking off, dynoing or cutting loose. Climbing is all about connection, control, force and, most important, balance, or intent to balance (what I call centering). Hand strength is integral too, meaning pinches, slopers, small crimps and open crimps are all used. Scott and I have added gaston crimps and even underclings to the mix, but care must be taken that the practitioner understands what not to do, and what to do correctly.

Holds that are used in ST are set symmetrically paired with a minimum of 6 (3 pairs) and a maximum of 10 to 12 (5 to 6 pairs). Each run on the wall is only half of a set meaning if one starts with the left hand moving left first, the second half of the set is to repeat with the right hand moving right first. This produces an asymmetric half set per run, resulting in: first move is a lateral shift, second move is up, then lateral, then up, etc, hence repeating it for the other side is key.

Feet are meant to be broad horizontals 90˚ to the wall angle with multiple rows. That means they are NOT incut. This is key. Also, they are large or deep; I would recommend a minimum of 2 inches depth. Hand holds cover most basic types and each hand hold type defines a specific movement sequence with specific technical demands that MUST be performed; otherwise, you are wasting your time.

Wall angle for the Hubers was 45˚ for hypertrophy (movement-based hypertrophy, not traditional isolated muscle training), and 55˚ for strength training. That’s STEEP! I’ve worked at that angle before, and it’s hard! My buddy, Scott Sanchez, was the motivator to try ST in the 90’s, so after he built his wall, we went to work on it. In truth, I feel ST can be used for climbers of intermediate skill and up, BUT the caveat is that one needs to have decent body control with moderately stabilized shoulders, otherwise it will be counterproductive. And, the key is the wall needs to be adjustable to fit where your skill level starts at. It’s the angle that changes the difficulty, so in weight lifting terms, steeper angle is the equivalent to more weights.

References being made by Caminati’s video, are incorrect, as are mild glancing comments made by the Anderson brothers on their website here. Too much confusion exists between ST and SZT, and it’s an understandable mistake. Anyways, if anyone’s more interested in the specifics of system training, I’ll be happy to go into more details.

Update: here’s another example of confusion with system wall training. And this is from Scott Sanchez on system training.

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~ by r. mulligan on 2014/08/01.

4 Responses to “Still here (in socal), still warm”

  1. I began reading this thinking, “wow, someone who understands me.” Then I realized my hubris – it’s the other way around. Miss your mind, Rob.

    • Dude! It’s been a long time. How have you been? Are you still on the other side of paradise? It’s great to hear from you!

      • Rob, I’m good. Doing analysis out in DC in the emergency preparedness world. In my free time, I teach at Earthtreks in Rockville. Long 24 hour drives back from Squamish are never far from my thoughts. Always organizing my thoughts on climbing ideas. Would love to grab coffee (or climb) with you sometime when I’m back in California.

        • Great to hear and sounds very interesting. For sure, hit me up when you’re in town, and we’ll do java or some craggin’. And if I ever get to DC, I’ll let you know. Regarding Squamish, we’re always open for another trip and can meet you there.

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