I’m trying to make sense of what, exactly, “limit bouldering” actually is. According to your plans, limit problems should require a handful of tries to complete, but according to the Anderson brothers, limit boulders should actually take a handful of months (if not longer). Obviously that means you could go several/many training blocks without actually completing a problem.
So, I’m wondering if there should be a happy medium between the two? 3-5 tries doesn’t seem like a limit problem to me, but, hey, you’re the coach!
It really depends on the athlete you are writing the plan for. If you think of a beginning climber, a problem that takes them a whole session or two is probably really pushing their adaptive potential. If you think of elites like you , me, and the Andersons, the overload stimulus is harder to create, so a limit problem might take several sessions to “work.” I think the most important factor is to look at the problems objectively: is there a particular move/angle/hold that seems substantially harder than others…why can I climb V8 on every angle except vertical? This is where limit bouldering should start.
I think the feeling of “I suck” or “I might never be able to do this” is a good place to start a limit problem, no matter what your experience.
For you in particular, I think the problems should be at a level that they might take 5-7 sessions to get just right, maybe longer on some. Remember that the whole idea is that this climb should force you to become better at climbing, not just get back in shape.
Here is an excerpt from my next book on Limit Bouldering, which, you can tell lines up more with Mike and Mark’s ideas:
Limit Bouldering is aimed at forcing you to work challenging movements on a variety of terrain. Most people’s “normal” bouldering sessions tend to lead this direction, with a group of friends typically working toward doing harder problems and sequences, motivating each other to both try harder and to try new things. It is important to keep the goal in mind. Your desired outcome from a Limit session is to get better and get stronger. This requires a fair amount of discipline and analysis.
Ultimately, you’d like to set your own limit problems if climbing indoors. The problems should be somewhat specific to the terrain you plan to climb on outside, mimicking the wall angle, hold size, and footwork. Many gym routes feature big moves on big features with a very limited set of holds. A well-set limit problem would feature smaller holds, many options for feet, and a couple of very hard moves rather than just one crux. On the flip side, you want to avoid making a problem too consistent, as this tends to not force you to try too hard, and would be better as a strength-endurance trainer.
The problems should be at (you guessed it…) your limit, though I do recommend having one or two problems a grade or two easier to use as “perfection” trainers in the session. When we talk limit, we mean hard. If you can send these problems in the first few sessions, they are probably too easy. A Limit problem may take several weeks or months to send, which makes bouldering in a commercial gym somewhat challenging, especially if they regularly re-set the walls.
Features of a Limit Boulder problem:
● Very hard problem that can’t be done in just a few sessions
● 2 or 3 hard moves out of a total of no more than 10 moves
● Wall angle and hold types similar to goal routes
● Poor footholds, but several options
● Explosive/powerful movement
In short, your Limit session should be the hardest you ever work in climbing. It should continually force you into the “growth” zone. As one of our athletes put it, “9 out of 10 sessions, you leave the gym thinking you suck.”