John Bachar’s Training Journals

John Bachar’s Training Journals

I don’t remember where it was I saw this but a few weeks back someone shared this link to an interesting blog post that went through a few days from John Bachar’s training journals:

It’s not uncommon to hear climbers snicker at the very idea of training, believing that all they need to do to improve is climb harder, more often. Chris Sharma would be a shining example of this theory. John Bachar trained and climbed extremely hard-sometimes on the same day-and the results are why Bachar, who died climbing in the summer of 2009, is considered one of the best climbers the sport has ever known.

I’ve chosen the entry from Saturday April 18, 1987 as an example of a typical Bachar training session. This type of workout, with some variations, was performed year round whether he was in Spain, L.A, Vegas or as on this spring day, Yosemite Valley. It would seem that he used dumbbells, barbells and some homemade machines for general and antagonist strength development. He would supplement this with sport-specific exercises such as fingerboard hangs, Bachar ladder, Goliath (systems climbing wall) and pull-ups-lots of pull ups. I copied this workout in as much detail as possible using Bachar’s ratings, abbreviations and punctuation so some interpretation is required.

As noted by Peter Beal in this post about the Vail World Cup, structured training isn’t something we hear a lot about these days from top climbers which is part of the reason I found the brief glimpse into Bachar’s world interesting.  You can read the full post by clicking here.

Posted In: Traditional Climbing
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22 Responses to John Bachar’s Training Journals

  1. Adam Roy June 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    Bachar’s the man. It was a forum post from Bachar (or at least someone pretending to be Bachar) that introduced me to supinator/pronator exercises and saved me from chronic elbow tendonitis.

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    • David Reifert June 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

       It’s off-topic but I’m currently suffering from chronic climber’s elbow even after 10-weeks of straight rest(literally doing nothing and just now beginning rehab). PLEASE elaborate for me!

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      • It worked for me June 7, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

        Do push-ups.

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      • ajw June 8, 2011 at 2:02 am #

        sleep with your arms relatively straight. 

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      • Regularjohn June 8, 2011 at 9:35 am #

        This might help!

        http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3614

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        • David Reifert June 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

          Thank you for this! I also found some interesting posts by Bachar on Supertopo as Adam Roy mentioned above.

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      • Vlad June 8, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

        David, besides the very helpful stuff mentioned by others above I also found that:

        1. Supplementing your diet with good quality fish oil is very beneficial. The mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids have good anti-inflammatory properties and increase the blood circulation.

        2. Golfer’s elbow happens because there’s not enough blood supplied to the tendons. I noticed that it happens more when it’s cold and when I’m pumped. The worst situation is when I’m climbing pumpy routes when it’s cold (especially ice climbing when you have to constantly lock off). Most people don’t drink enough when it’s cold, but staying well hydrated is very important for good circulation.

        3. Continuing with the above logic, it’s important to keep good circulation in your forearms. Warm up gradually, so you don’t get flash-pumped. Sleep with your arms straight. I wear a long sleeve t-shirt at night to keep the elbows warm and do 1 min of icing in ice/water bath followed by icy hot warming cream in the evenings. Massage the affected tendon, stretch a lot.

        4. I got a flex bar on the internet. You can do a similar exercise with it as in the link above, but it’s much better for alleviating pain right away. I got a blue one right away (max resistance) and slowly built up the number of reps I do with it. It hurt in the beginning, but I got used to the resistance in about 2 weeks. The important thing is not to try get a work out with it, but rather to do high number of repetitions with medium resistance, so that your tendons can get more blood supplied to them. It’s about $10 or 14 on amazon and there’s an instructional video on Youtube. See the link here: http://www.thera-band.com/store/products.php?ProductID=20.

        I hope this helps,
        Vlad

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      • Adam Roy June 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

        Hey David,

        The UKclimbing article below details pretty much exactly what I do, same with the SuperTopo post. You can use a sledgehammer or a ball peen hammer instead of the broomstick apparatus they use on UKclimbing. I also don’t know if I agree that it should hurt–if it really hurts, I’d back off a little and work your way up. You’ll be sore at first, but you’ll be surprised by how well the exercises work.

        Best,
        Adam

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  2. Ian Campbell Hill June 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    I feel validated

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    • Narc June 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      You would, wouldn’t you?? The only problem is that you never climb outside!

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  3. Peter Beal June 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    I posted a link to this on FB a while back so you may have seen it then. I have been in touch with the author of the post about learning more. Thanks for the link to the Vail post!

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  4. Zach Wahrer June 7, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    Anyone know of any other sites that would have additional Bachar history on them? I’d definitely like to read more. Thanks!

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    • Narc June 7, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

      He posted some pretty interesting stuff on SuperTopo under the name ‘bachar’ if you want to search through their archives

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      • Zach Wahrer June 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

        Found it! Thanks!

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  5. Garagegymtraining June 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    Thanks for the feed back. I’m the author of the Bachar article and garage gym. I’ve gotten a lot of hits from this link, thanks! There has been a lot of intrest in his journals, but people who were close to John are sensative about there content. I want to be respectful of there wishes and hopfully more of them will be released in the future. Keep training, Mike Davis

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    • Narc June 7, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

      Definitely understandable.  Thanks for taking the time to share a small snippet with everyone.

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  6. Colin June 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Just my 2 cents:

    “Training for climbing” doesn’t need to include supplementary/off the wall exercises, and the best training for climbing is probably structured climbing…i.e. doing movement drills, interval training (lapping routes or bouldering circuits), long endurance-building traverses, hard bouldering to build power, etc. Lifting weights, doing pullups, and even the campus board have limited carryover to the rock. 

    Bachar on pullups: “I’m not even sure if it helps.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et2hLpleG3U

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    • Colin June 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

      Quote is at 2:30.

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    • Two June 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      I don’t particularly agree-when one starts to climb into the 5.13 range, dependent on so many factors, it might just be one of those things (campus/hangboard/etc) that will keep you climbing harder.

      I am more of the opinion like Bill Ramsey, that pullups are a “core move” integral to climbing hard.  I can’t even do 1/10th of the kill bill workout, but here’s a relatively older guy (late 40’s early 50’s) doing 5.14s all over.http://www.redriverclimbing.com/viewtopic.php?p=232780” People always say pull-ups are stupid for climbers, but I think it is good to train the core movement associated with our sport (boxers do push-ups all day long)”Bachar never climbed 5.14-not even hard 13- and really only did a handful of 13s, not to diss him, as I met him several times and had some good conversations, but I always felt he could have been up there with Gullich and Moffat as world class elite, putting up the hardest routes, if he had dropped some of the trad/ethic stuff.

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  7. Mark1294 June 9, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    In every sport, non-specific training is used and well documented to help. Climbing is no different, at least at the elite level. If your not elite then don’t bother. I would say that climbing enough to have solid technique and proper body movement is more important and will be of more benefit than off the wall training. If you are as smooth and fluid as Bachar, training away from the wall could produce benefits.

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  8. Garagegymtraining June 10, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    It’s easy to argue almost any point about training for climbing. Some people are more inclinded to train, while others are not. I believe some of this is simply personality type. If your skeptical about training try following a focused science base program (check out the books by Eric Horst and Steve Bechtls website http://www.climbstrong.com) for one year and see what happens. You have nothing to loose, right?

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  9. Anon June 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    I appreciated The Economist’s obituary as additional insight in JB’s life and legacy:
    http://www.economist.com/node/14029915?story_id=14029915

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