Towards the end of last year the 'effective climbing training' book, Gimme Kraft - think of it as 'Give me Strength' - caught peoples' attention and it wasn't just the neon green cover. If you've wondered why gymnastic rings have suddenly started appearing in the training room at climbing walls it's probably down to the influence of Gimme Kraft [trailer vid
The book's authors, Patrick Matros and Ludwig 'Dicki' Korb, are also well-known for coaching some of the world's best climbers, including Alex Megos, who made history with the first 9a onsight in March 2013.
The book is divided into 'training-tool' sections such as using a bouldering wall, campus board, pull-up bar, rings and peg board. A useful sliding scale from beginner to pro shows the suitability of each exercise.
The succession of exercises that can make dry reading are broken-up by interesting personal insights or 'Pro Tips' on training.
The first 'Pro Tip' in the book is from Prof. Jürgen Weineck, a sport scientist, who back in the day trained with the legendary Wolfgang Güllich, inventor of the campus board and probably best-known for climbing what is considered the world's first 9a, Action Directe, in 1991. A route that Alex Megos just recently made the fastest ascent of to date, by redpointing it in a couple of hours. A clear illustration of the rise in the performance level of today's climbers at the top of their game.
As well as being trainers at the federal centre of sport climbing/bouldering in Erlangen, near Nürnberg, Patrick and Dicki are both dedicated climbers who have climbed up to 8c. Asked if their training strategy paid dividends personally, they agreed that:
"We profit a lot from our strength exercises, the main reason for this is the fact that they build a balanced muscular system. This protects you from injury on the basis of over-stress and unbalanced impact. Alex and ourselves have remained free of that kind of injury for many years!"
"The second aspect is a general gain of power in your muscular system, which leads to more athletic abilities in climbing/bouldering. We don't use weight machines anyway, they were made to build muscles, not powerful and effective movements! Our philosophy is to train strength in a complex and sport-specific manner!"
Alex, who has been training with Patrick and Dicki for eight years, answered a couple of our questions to give us some background on how they've shaped his development as a world-class climber.
How did you start training with Patrick and Dicki? When I was 13 years old, Patrick and Dicki took over the Frankenkader. That was a climbing group with the best kids around Erlangen and Nürnberg. From then on we trained twice a week together at the beginning. It didn't take too long 'til we were good friends, so we also went climbing together at the weekends.
How beneficial have the exercises been to you? Well, I would say they made me who I am as a climber nowadays. We worked on my weaknesses and did some specific training to improve and to prevent injuries. I can't imagine any trainers, which would have done any better work. Patrick and Dicki are quite different, and that makes us the perfect trio. Everybody has his part, where he is specialist.
Are you still coached by them? Yes, I 'm still coached by them. We are still training and climbing together. Not always and not every training session but at least once a week. We also do the training planning together. I still get a lot of input from them with new ways of training and exercises as well as mental coaching. The mental coaching we have done more and more of over the years. Patrick's and Dicki's philosophy is that it isn't just the training and the physical part which should be trained and which should peak. It's the whole package that makes the athlete. And their highest priority is the personal development of the athlete and not just a good performance!
Gimme Kraft is bi-lingual in German and English and comes with an accompanying PAL DVD (English subtitles) produced by Hannes Huch. It includes as a bonus feature an interview with Prof. Weineck and unseen footage of Wolfgang Güllich training. You can buy the book at Café Kraft
In March, Alex Megos was over in the UK to take part in the Climbing Works International Festival (CWIF) comp and stayed on afterwards for a few days to climb mainly at Raven Tor and Malham, ticking crag classics that included Unjustified (8c), Bat Route (8c), Mecca (8b+) and having a quick go on Hubble (8c+). You can watch Alex put his training to good use during that week in the video below from Nick Brown.