Mappy Hour DC One Year Anniversary

Mappy Hour DC celebrated its one-year anniversary with a return to one of our favorite places (when we have to be indoors): Meridian Pint. (A special shoutout to Heather Kendrick, Meridian Pint general manager and one of Mappy Hour’s biggest fans. We’ll miss you!)

While the final (we hope) snowflakes fell outside, Matt Jones from Earth Treks climbing gym got us stoked for the start of outdoor climbing season with his tips for getting into better climbing shape.

Matt, who is the fitness program coordinator at Earth Treks, introduced the concept of periodization in athletic training. Periodization involves dividing your training up into phases, each with a specific goal. Matt recommended month-long phases, so that you give your body time to adapt to the training while minimizing monotony. For someone just getting back into climbing, that might mean you spend a month just climbing easy routes as much as possible, and then the next month you focus on a specific kind of climbing, maybe climbing mostly routes with pinches or crimps. After a month of that, you move on to a new goal. Periodization, Matt said, allows you to push yourself and find out what you’re capable of, but the switch to a new phase or goal every month keeps things from getting boring.


Matt also had tips for improving strength and endurance. Cross-training, he said, is just as important for climbers as it is for other athletes. He advocated interval training (something like windsprints or another high-intensity exercise). This kind of training helps to increase your VO2 max, which affects how quickly your body can clear out lactic acid. The better your body is at dealing with lactic acid, the nasty stuff that makes your muscles feel tired and heavy, the longer you will be able to climb before you start feeling pumped.

The final piece of advice is probably familiar to many climbers, but Matt emphasized the importance of strengthening not just your climbing muscles, but the muscles that complement climbing. Avoiding imbalances helps to avoid injury, so Matt suggested core exercises (planks!), working on your lower back and lats, and even stretching out your fingers with a rubber band around them to counterbalance all the work you do with your forearms.

Matt’s talk seemed to energize the climbers in the group, and we heard a lot of people asking him follow-up questions or talking to each other about where to go climbing, how to start leading, and where to get gear. Climb on, DC — and thanks for a great first year!

Our next Mappy Hour will be April 5 at Arc’teryx. More details to come!

By Alexandra Tilsley

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