Wednesday, 22 August 2012


It took me almost twenty years to get it, but yes, it looks like I made it.
Being 40, I am certain that I am at the peak of both my physical and mental form.
I have never been so strong in my life: I can do more one armers, I can hang worse holds, or with more added weight, than never before. Also, my core tension is at its best.
I can concentrate so well, I can block out of my mind all that surrounds me and put all my body and mind just to climb something.
Shame I'm getting bald.

Less is more.
For years and years I've tried to pack in as much training as I could in every session, both in terms of intensity AND volume. Whoever knows the simplest basics of training can tell that mine was a wrong approach. This happened because I had too much time and I could dedicate hours to training every day. While younger, and without a climbing wall, it was hundreds of pull ups on 1 cm edges or less, and tons of weights in the gym, that propelled me up to weighing 10 kilos more than now. It took a lot to ditch this for a more specific training, made of... campusboarding.
When finally I moved to another town and had a wall, 4 hours daily sessions were the norm.
The problem is that this kind of training pays, but not as much as it should. You sow 10 and reap 5. When I found myself with more work, more commitments and less time, the situation became tricky. I had to start compressing my sessions.
And here. We. Go.
I really started progressing. When I cut by half my fingerboard routines, my finger strength went through the roof. When I stopped doing 14 excercises in the gym and stuck to 6 or 7, barbells and dumbbells really started to get heavy. The same happened at the board: serious pulling for one hour and half is more than enough to push your power and deliver some serious testosterone to your family jewels.
Less is more.
Shorter, very specific sessions, allow you to train more often, while being fresh each time because each session can be different, being more specific. In the past, I could get to some point at which I would need four days off to recover from two sessions, and then I'd plummet. Now I train 22 or 25 days a month, sometimes with double sessions, and often I have to impose myself a rest day even though I'd like to train.

More is more.
More power is more power. No matter how you get it, more power is more power. Beware, I'm talking power, not muscle. There's a big difference. Especially for bouldering, power is a must: not everyone has Paul Robinson's fingers... So we have to cope, with a bonus: put me and P-Rob on a beach, and look who gets the senoritas. This is very personal. I am sure that if I wanted, I could drop a lot of kilos by losing muscle mass, gaining a new level or RELATIVE finger strength. I don't want to, though, not only because it's not healthy, but also because I want to look at myself and at least HAVE AN IDEA OF POWER, not an idea of P.O.W.
Moreover, I want to be able to give my girl a strong hug in the love.
So, power.
I found particularly important, as of late, to have a full body power. Not just the ability to pull down, but the ability to pull down without cutting loose, for example, or to cheat a move by squeezing the rock, and so on. This kind of training gives big gains to any other training that you do, it maximize its effects. Sadly I live in a place in which gyms close for the whole August month, so real heavy lifts are out of question, but surfing the net I found some good ideas, like the two excercises that are shown in the video below.
Just a few sets of those lifts and pulls, gave me a proper bashing: legs, hamstrings, gluteos, lower back, upper back, shoulders and abs. The following days all muscles ached. Only my triceps and biceps were quite fresh, but that issue was easily soveld with ten sets of pushing and curling.
As usual, nihil sub sole novum, Big Malc could dead lift 200 kg and clean 100 twenty years ago...
I really like this transversal approach to power training. The normal approach is far too specific for the many issues of climbing, and given that one excercise trains only itself, being able to pull vertically on a bar or fingerboard, doesn't transfer perfectly onto the rock. So, the more power we have in many different ways, the better.
Moreover, having all these different possibilities broadens the training opportunities.

Less is more.
For years I have followed many different training plans, some bad ones, some crazy ones and some very good ones. I am still very proud that I managed to boulder 8a by training with only a fingerboard and a campus board.
In all these years I progressively learnt to understand my body and be ready to change. Now I go with my feelings, and although I am not quite able to peak in a specific moment (a roadtrip for example), my average form is at its highest, and if I push it for three weeks I know that after one or two days off I can crush (relatively to my level, obviously). Being free from plans makes for less stress, more fun and again better training.

For the moment, as I've written before, I keep training and training with no specific deadline, because it's the only thing to do.

Friday, 17 August 2012


I wrote down this entry a few weeks ago, after reading a particular blog that I won't name. I wrote it in a rush of anger, disgust and envy. When finally the writing was on the wall, I decided not to publish it. Today, though, I read something that made me change my mind. So here it goes, as bitter as I made it.

A few days ago, when the alarm went off, I immediately felt something different: a sudden drop in the temps had made me look for a light blanket during the night and outside the wind was blowing loudly.
My first thought was to remain in bed for another 40 minutes, then to have a perfect breakfast and pack my stuff to go and crush some rock for the first time in weeks.
Unfortunately, being a Monday, I got on my bike and proceeded towards a normal day of work.
Like millions of people.
Unlike millions of people, there are some that can transform my morning thought into reality. Some of these happen to have a blog, and sometimes I read some of these blogs.
A few of them are truly inspiring, yet barely known to the multitude of climbers that proudly adorn shame for those who don't know them.
Others are simple chronicles, and others are just numbers. And that's fine.
But when I read about a pro complaining about the lack of decent sponsorships; or about having to leave soon for a foreign destination and having no time for current home projects; or about three consecutive days of rain on a two months roadtrip; or about grades inflation; or about the difficulties of having a normal life because of constant travels; or about having bad skin; in all these occasions I'd like to get an axe and destroy everything around me.
In a moment in which there is hardly any job opportunity, people struggle to buy food, or to pay university taxes, the lack of sponsorships or good climbing conditions seems marginal.
Cry me a fucking river.
How can I be so presumptuous to say so? Because they are the crushers, not I. They are the role models, not I. They have to inspire me, that's what their talent is for. I am a bitter bastard, I have and I have never had talent, so I want them to show me that they deserve their talent, and that they put it to the best use: this for me, means being able to share something that's not just numbers or chronicles. I could name climbers that leave me in awe and full of admiration when I hear them speaking or when I read them, but I won't. This is nothing personal, and I have nothing against anyone. What I know, is that from their blogs, and videos, some of the strong ones seem to have the same human depht of an aluminium foil.
In the modern era, really you can speak your mind without saying a word: make a nice video; take nice pics. An image can move a mountain. When I read something that's been written only to fill the page, that's boring or whiny, from a pro, I become a raging beast.

The bottom line is: for fuck's sake, if you have to, run your blog with the same dedication that you put into your climbing and please, start every entry with this line: "Oh my - insert preferred divinity here - thank you so much for the talent you gave me, and for letting me live a dream life made of rock and crushing big numbers".

Finally, and I'm curious about this, I don't know if I'll ever publish this entry. For sure was good to try and search for these words in my fucking mind.
A trip into madness.

Friday, 10 August 2012


As you surely have experienced, sometimes to be able to post a comment on a website, you encounter the window that's in the above picture, asking you to "prove that you're not a robot".
This request really makes me cringe each time, because in almost every moment of my life, but in my climbing especially, all I care about and all I want to prove is the exact opposite.
I want to prove that I AM A ROBOT.
What does a robot do? It acts.
What do I do? I act.
If I paused and reflected over the reality of my climbing, it'd be it: I would call it quits on the very second. And I don't want to do it, because I like climbing.
If, before a session, I try and figure out when I will finally be able to go and try my projects, I'll never do that session, because it will seem pointless in current circumstances.
I am a robot. I stick at it because it's the only right thing to do, regardless. If I'll ever get a chance to get some climbing, I want to get there at my best. When will it be? I don't know, so I take it could even be tomorrow, you never know.
Some say "don't train if you're tired"; "don't train if you're injured"; "don't train if you're stressed". Fuck me, I am 40 years old, I have two jobs and a girlfriend that gives me hell: I am always tired, stressed and angry.
The key to me is to simply NEVER NEVER QUIT. If I skip a session because I'm very tired, I feel even worse, and I curse myself even more, not only for being so fucking shit, but also for being a soft, lazy bastard with a weak mind.
I want to be a robot and I train BECAUSE I AM TIRED. There's always something you can do: it won't put your body up to full power, but for sure it will put your mind up to its full power.
If our mind doesn't pull us out from the couch, what will? Nothing. The mind comes first and last, and in the middle there's the body. And it must obey.
So the robot mind tells me "go train, because no matter what, someday you'll get your chance and then you'd better do your best".
What else could one do? I rectify: what else could an obsessive, fanatic, ego-driven one do? Nothing else. What will push me towards my much deserved prize if not my will? And in climbing, could I really get a prize that I don't deserve? No. Could I climb a project without deserving it? No. So, to deserve something is the first step to get it, to me. This doesn't mean that you'll end up getting it, but for sure you won't get it if you don't deserve it. Why? Because no one else can give that prize to you.
It's a win-win situation.
You can either think "it's not worth the effort", or "it's worth the effort". The key to me is to not even think. To just go there and do my thing, whatever it could be: fingerboarding, bouldering, lifting, what the fucking ever. Because by doing so, I am 100% sure that I am moving towards what I want, and this is the only thing that matters.
In my opinion, there's only one way to get something done without deserving it, and that is UNDERPERFORMING.
I have already blogged about Blaise Pascal's "vous abetira": this is exactly the same thing, only with other words.
I don't know if this is wrong or right, I only know that it must be right because it feels wrong. It must be right, because it feels hard.
I mean, it's just fucking bouldering, goddammit. We're not saving lives. But why can't we treat climbing as if it were saving lives? Why can't someone put the same dedication in saving lives and in climbing? I think he can. There is never a reason, to me, to not give 100%, whatever the task. We can chose not to, but we must know that the outcome wno't be 100%. It could resemble 100%, but it won't be. It could feel 100%, but it won't be.
There's a kind of success that happens in the real world, and a kind that happens inside us. The first one can be related to others, but only the second one completely belongs to ourselves. Only we know whether the public success is deserved or not: if we think that it's not, it's not a success anymore. It's something that happened to us, and that could be given to, or taken away from, us. We are out of the game in this case.
But nothing of what we have, because we deserved it, can be taken away from us: because no one can touch it. No one can even see it.
Maybe I write all this shit because I basically live in a one-man climbing scene. But really, even if someone came at my house everyday and watched me train, could he really understand how I feel? How tired I am? Or how happy and super fit? No.
The only thing to do, to me, is to make it all happen inside me.
I could go on forever on this matter, and I don't want to.
Thanks for getting to the end, but finally, tell me: are you a robot? Prove that you're a robot.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

63 KG

In the picture, approaching the full tank.

Today I definitely wanted to do something, being Saturday, after the hard week of rest, African temps and depression. So I started it out with a nice lie in. Then I went out to buy some books, then I practiced with my bass for a couple of hours. What else can you do to spend time before training?
Sadly with the Summer in full bloom, my options are not as I'd like: for a starter the gym is closed and I can't lift; then at the board it's always more than 30° and it's really hard to train well, everything feels nails without being nails. Plus, skin is an issue. I decided to do some weights at home, something that I don't particularly love, because I am a lazy bastard and I like to have all the barbells ready for my likes, instead of spending time mounting and dismounting them to adjust the weight for each excercise and set. Moreover, I can't do all the routines that I can do at the gym and this sucks.
A few weeks ago I had a great moment of psyche doing a few tests. I really enjoyed it and soon they became, as usual, a goal in themselves, with my mind completely centered on improving the hangs by a few seconds, each time.
One test I really cared about, but sadly I couldn't perform it properly. It's the maximum added weight you can hang for five seconds on a 1,5 cm flat edge. I had tried it at a friend's place, but the fingerboard is crappy, and mounted over a step, and I didn't feel like pushing it, so I got to 40 kg and called it quits. Today, with an entire evening at my will, I took the car, loaded the trunk with iron plates and drove around the building to the garage. There I started my journey into madness again.
It's been great. By putting together all the weights I have at home and the weightvest I managed to really get to the limit.
I did all ten seconds hangs up to 55 kg, then I did eight seconds with 60, then a final 5 seconds with 63, that incidentally are all the weights I have.
To be honest, this did not surprise me, because the day I tried the test, after not completing it, I was feeling very angry and I tried a few one arm hangs on the same edge, and I managed them; so it was quite clear to me that I could do much more than 40 kg, but still I had to do it to be satisfied.
I still don't know - and if someone does, please help me - how one arm hangs and two arm hangs relate. In my case things are quite coherent, I weigh 65 kg and managed to add 63. My right arm is a lot stronger than my left one, though, and this clearly shows in the one arm hangs.
It's been a good test.
It's very time consuming, though: I went on by 5 kg increases, so I did quite a few hangs with full rests in between; it's also quite hard on your body. I ended up attaching 50 kg at my waist with an old harness, and 13 more in a back pack. Just walking 20 cm under the hold was painful.
So, I don't think I'll be doing it again anytime soon, but it's been a good test.
I haven't trained with heavy added weights in years. I used to, when I only had a fingerboard and a campusboard - oh, another question: why did I wait ten years before mounting a board in my house? - and I did it for quite a long time. I managed to add 47,5 kg for one pull up on a 0,9 cm edge.
Now I'm stronger, and I haven't attached more than 10 kg to my body when fingerboarding, in the last six or seven years, maybe more. The Beastmaker paid out, for sure. Isolating fingers clearly worked and this is all that matters.
Just after a few hours, I feel my body pretty tired. All the weight it took surely takes its toll.
In a moment of great personal turmoil, this stupid test - to which I already knew the answer, also! - provided a small oasis of calm and self confidence.
It's a window on the future and also the confirmation of good work in the past.
Now all I have to do is keeping the fucking faith.
Finally, I want to thank Tom and Hayley for their visit: another oasis in the storm; and Eva Lopez for giving me the inspiration and the answers.
And here. We. Go.

Thursday, 2 August 2012


In the pics, one tiny little girl. But in the eyes?

Finally I see the end of this week approaching. It will bring another change in the working schedule, for better this time, with less hours, and this should make me more able to keep training in the current temps: 38° today at 17,30.

I came out of the last week pretty thrashed, the presence of Mr. Mills himself (and his beautiful girlfriend) on these shores made it very easy to train and keep the fucking faith, so I overdid it a little bit, with a final full day on the rocks that really ate me alive.
I decided to take one week off.
Bad idea.
I found out that as soon as I lift the accelerator, I sink. I work well when I am at full speed, traveling towards unknown destination but traveling. I have spent this week agonizing in my bed from 18 to dinner time, then a shower and goodnight. I know this is also due to the boiling temps with their consequences, but still I hate it. I hate to feel sleepy and weak.
Today I wanted to do something, but I got sucked in by the Olympics.
Of course, few things can get my attention as an Olympic gymnastic final, so I watched the girls.
Everything seems unreal. The kind of stuff they do defies every logic. I don't think that in any other sport lies such a great amount of technique and courage as in gymnastic.
They also make everything seem pretty easy, so that if they make a little mistake, the odd small step forward after coming out of a 3 meters high jump with twists and turns, you find yourself screaming with horror and disbelief "What a punter!".
But also, sometimes you just see them perform perfectly, and with a smile also: that's so easy. Plus, they all weigh 100 grams, no wonder they fly.
Well, during the next final, I really advise you to watch the dead moments of the comps with as much attention as the specific excercises. You'll see amazing things. You'll see these 16 year old girls, with their eyes lost in space, in search of a concentration that none of us will ever be capable of. If you look closely into those eyes, you'll see a life whose letters are spelt "T.R.A.I.N.". You'll see eyes of grown women, of professional athletes hidden behind those tiny bodies, and you'll tremble at the thought of the pressure they have to bear at their age. It would make any of us shit himself.
Those eyes tell everything. They are of course the eyes of young small girls that are at the very top of the world, and they know it. They know how hard they have worked for it: no cheap gains here. Talk about 0% inspiration and 100% perspiration.
Look at them while they rehearse before a routine, and try to get into their world: you won't, because that's a world made of perfection, in which the most impossible is thought and conceived, to be transferred into the real world a few minutes later; a world without gravity I believe, and of perfect movement in space.
I really get a fantastic feeling from these little girls, but then again if I think about those eyes, I cannot help but tremble at the thought that only one of them will be first. For all the other ones, there's nothing. Because if you play at those heights, you don't play to be second, you play to be first. AUT CAESAR AUT NIHIL, as my ancestors used to say. Second is last for them.
So, it's with those eyes still in my mind that I want to start again trying to take the best out of myself.
Finally, one last thought for the overall female gymnastic gold medalist Douglas's parents, that didn't want their daughter to keep doing sports, and that didn't want to let her go and live and train in another state: fuck off you bastards. Where's your god now? Watch that gold medal and weep in shame, assholes.