Time to Start Training // A moderate boulderer’s experience with the 9c strength test

Yesterday I tried the 9c strength test that’s kind of been trending in the internet climbing world lately. The Wide Boyz made a video of it, and Magnus Midtbo made a video of it, but the video that got me REALLY stoked on it was Louis Parkinson in the Catalyst Climbing video. I don’t know why his video got me stoked on it more than the others. To be fair, I didn’t even watch the others, so I guess I should say I don’t know why his video actually induced me to watch as opposed to the other two.

ANYWAY, yesterday I tried it!!! And guess what??? I’m weak as hell!!! My friend WHO DOESN’T EVEN CLIMB scored just as high as me on the test. Which means, if I’m calculating correctly, that with perfect technique my friend WHO DOESN’T EVEN CLIMB should be able to climb V6. And that I should be able to climb V6. With perfect technique, of course, which I don’t have. But does this mean my technique is 66% perfect since I’ve climbed V4 and that’s 66% of V6??? Does that make sense???

Anyway, to the actual test.

The first exercise is hanging from a 20mm crimp. I had access to a Beastmaker and I think the smallest edge on that is around 18mm or 20mm. If you can hang from that with 100% bodyweight for five seconds, you get one point. And I barely did it. And I thought my right middle finger was going to break, or that the pulley was going to rupture, but it was more or less fine. I didn’t even try to add weight to get more points.

Next exercise was the weighted pull-up. First I did a normal pull-up. Easy. Then I tried adding 10% of my bodyweight to get a an extra point, and that wasn’t that bad either. I didn’t want to push it though — I was just looking for a baseline result to start training from — so I stopped there.

So far: three total points.

Next was the core strength exercise, and this one got me stoked. I thought for sure I’d smoke my friend in it, since I climb a lot and I thought climbing would give me a good core, but he actually kinda smoked me. He was able to hold an L-sit for 14 seconds, and I could BARELY get 10. Still, not terrible. Both of us remarked afterward how it kinda hurt our backs. Tough love, though. My back feels good today, so I think it was honestly good for it. This is an area I’m stoked to train.

The ten seconds gave me four more points, for a total of seven points. At this point I should be able to climb 6c+, which is what, like V3?

The last exercise was the dead hang from a bar for as long as you can. If you can do it for six minutes, you get the full 10 points. My friend and I both did it, and both struggled to get a minute. But I’m stoked on a minute. That was the first time I’d ever just hung from a bar for a minute. Suprisingly satisfying. If you have a spare minute and something to hang from, I suggest you try it. One minute hanging gave me another two points, which means my total score was….

Nine points.

Or: 7a.

Or: V6.

Which means that with PERFECT technique, I should be able to climb V6. And this makes sense, because I’ve started projecting a couple V6’s (namely Ryan’s Problem at the Camp Serene boulder and Barfly in Bend), and I could see myself definitely completing these climbs if the moons aligned. Strength isn’t really the issue in either of them. It’s having perfect beta and a perfect send burn.

Mostly I’m stoked to have completed this test because it gives me a point to start from. Now I can start training the hang, and hopefully get it up to a minute and a half and then two minutes. I can start adding a bit more weight to the pull-ups (not too often, of course) and hopefully get that up to about 150% body weight. The L-sit and front lever, like I said, I’m definitely stoked to train. I’d love to get my L-sit up to 20 seconds, and then from there start doing front levers. Front levers are just about the coolest thing ever. Now, if I did ALL the things I just mentioned (2-minute dead hang, 150% body weight pull up, etc) and even just kept the small crimp hang the same, I’d score 17 on the test, which corresponds to a 7c rating, which (though I’m not sure if this is Font scale or sport scale and how that affects things) means I should be able to boulder around V9. Which is amazing. That’s what I’m going for. I want to be able to send Midnite in Index, a crimp rail v9 testpiece, and if I had that strength (and perfect technique!!!) I might just be able to do it.

So time to start training.