Burst or Explosive Power for Climbing

Sport Climbing Muhd Faizeen Abdul MalikTeam Singapore Athlete Muhd Faizeen Abdul  Malik (Photo Credit: SSC)

By Isabel Leong

What is burst/ explosive power?

Tony Yaniro, one of the most influential and visionary climbers of all time, famously said, “if you have no power, there is nothing to endure”. 

Burst power is what gives your muscles the ability to make explosive, fast movements. Burst training specifically develops your muscles to improve burst power. Burst training involves executing maximum intensity bursts alternated with recovery time to improve efficiency.

Power? What for?

Burst power helps your dynos, deadpoints and speed climbing because you improve your ability to push off the rock and lengthen your reach at the shortest time possible.

Dynos are dynamic moves that send climbers flying through the air to get to a hold that is otherwise out of reach. To perform a dyno, extend your arms straight out as you hang from one or two handhold(s), bend your knees, position your hips close to the rock and then as you jump upwards, quickly straighten your legs. Your legs power the movement of a dyno while your arms propel your direction of movement. The arms pull you inwards so that when you push off with your legs, you fly up toward the hold and not away from it.

How can I harness burst power?

The principle behind developing burst power is simple: Train at maximum intensity bursts and completely recover before your next set. A complete recovery will recharge the glycogen (glucose) in your muscles and gives your body a chance to remove the lactic acid.

An essential point to note, as burst training is intensive on your muscles, the importance of warm up, stretching and cool down must be stressed.

One way to train for burst power is through bouldering right at your limit.  The key to it is to work on problems that emphasize 1-2 hard moves in a 5-10-move route.  Remember, we want a small number of reps at very high intensity. Repeat the problem 5-7 times. At your next gym workout, pick another problem. To up the ante, choose problems on overhangs to work your arms more. Small slick footholds are best to force you to focus on arms and hands. Avoid problems with heel hooks other trickery. For an additional power training effect, emphasize hard dynamic moves.

Quadriceps is one of the primary muscles used when executing bursts, so do not neglect them when you train for burst power. Strong leg and thigh muscles capable of burst speed will increase your push off speed from the hold, lengthen your reach dynamically and improve your speed climbing. The mechanics of power training remain the same. When you work out your quadriceps, make quick, strong movements, not slow straining exertions.

By training your body to provide dynamic, explosive power, you are equipped with additional climbing techniques that may work to your advantage in competitions.

To receive the latest updates on the happenings in the Singapore sports scene, or to find out more about some of the latest programmes on offer at ActiveSG, like our Facebook page here.