leading Country Club Crack (rated 5.11 b/c back then), Boulder Canyon, Colorado, circa 1983.this was one of my last leads before attempting to free solo this route, as well as many other difficult rock climbs of the area, later in my climbing career. Photo by Richard Rossiter. This photo appears in Rossiter’s guidebook, BOULDER CLIMBS NORTH, in which i also appear on the cover and wrote the Foreword.

Back (waaaay back) when i was a sponsored climber, i could crank 62 consecutive pull ups and 6 one-arm pullups. Only Pat Adams could beat me in pull ups. but, Pat was a freakin’ alien from some other planet, so i don’t count him. i’d spend so much time going up and down my self-designed climber-peg board at Farentinos Gym in Boulder, Colorado that a bivouac on the peg board was not out of my realm of thinking. i could hold a full-body front lever with nearly as much poise as John Gill and actually climb things other than out of my bed, which i can barely do these years. During that golden era, i used my position as America’s top trainer of climbers to give considerable thought, research, and exploration of tendon and muscle strength. It paid off. Not once in the 15 years i spent climbing (rock, ice, or mixed) nearly every day during that era, did i ever suffer from inflammations of connective tissue or muscle maladies. Nor did my athletes*.

i recall being on a panel of experts at an American Alpine Club Annual Meeting in New York City with the other top climbers of the day like Ron Kauk and Lynn Hill to talk about training for climbers. One of the other experts, a famous rock climbing doctor, took particular debate with me about the value of strength training and yoga as viable training disciplines for rock climbers. He was against them. i was, of course, trying desperately as ever to convince athletes of a wholistic approach to training, including strength training and yoga. What was crazy about this guy going after me was that he was sitting there on the Panel, in front of hundreds, with his elbows all taped up due to extensive and chronic tissue damage!

Today, as i sloth about every now and then on local bouldering problems or in the climbing gym, i am surrounded by a young, explosive generation of climbers that are weaned on routes carrying technical ratings far beyond the 5.12 limits of my climbing career. However, like the taped-up doctor that ridiculed my wholistic approach to cyclic training for rock climbers, the price our young climbers are paying is sadly coming out of their irreclaimable connective tissue damage. If i had a dime for every story that comes across my ears about extremely talented but way too compulsive climbers that just climbed until their connective tissue injuries ruined their love or ability for climbing, i’d be a rich yoga teacher! i see this same injury-producing compulsiveness in runners, cyclists, golfers, you name the sport. Whenever we do anything like it’s an addiction, there is bound to be imbalance. The only way out of imbalance is the balance of Wholstic Fitness®, which is really just yoga in the truest, most ancient definition of that word which is; ‘sarvanga sadhana’ or “multi-disciplined practices for spiritual growth.”

Tendon Loving Care
Back to the loving care and feeding of our precious tendons and other connective tissues which lies within the root of my passion for teaching Wholistic Fitness® and, of course, one of its five intra-disciplines of fitness; High Performance Yoga®.

We are only as strong as our connective tissue. Take John Elway, the Hall of Fame quarterback who played for ‘my’ Denver Broncos as an example. When i was helping Dr. Farentinos and Coach James Radcliffe write the nation’s first book on plyometrics – PLYOMETRICS; Fast-Twitch Muscle Fiber Development (Human Kinetics Publishers, 1985), i saw Elway naked. Yup. Dat’s right…i saw him as nekked as a baby in the locker room. We were doing a plyometric workshop for a Broncos training camp. Now, you’d think a guy like Elway who could toss a football the length of a football field in the way i can toss a dart at my dartboard, would have arm and shoulder muscles the size of a Southern Californian boob job. At least. Nope. Nada. Nothing. In fact, my 9-month old daughter has better and more developed delts than did Elway.

Why? Tendons, baby. Not only tendons, but the L-word; Ligaments. Essentially; CT or Connective Tissue.

Another example; Bears. Once, while sleeping in my beloved sport-pick up truck with a camper shell in the parking lot of Yosemite Valley’s “Camp 4” campground, i was literally shook wide awake by a bear lolling my pickup back and forth under the starlit sky. Bears are incredibly strong, let me tell you. Bears don’t have muscles the size of boob jobs, do they? Why? Dat’s right, bucko; CT! The bicep tendon of a typical bear inserts waaaay down by their wrist joint. Our humanoid version, inserts waaaay up high near the nest of the elbow. That’s what strength is all about; tendon insertion. Elway has tendon insertions (well at least in his arm tendons) much lower on the lower arm bones then you or i. Ain’t nuthin on God’s great planet dat’s gonna change that.

There is, however, something you and i and all who are not bears or Elway can do to strengthen and protect our CT. In a word? High Performance Yoga®. Ooops, that was three words. Oh well. What follows is just one of a myriad of important physiologic ways that HP Yoga, in the way i Teach it, conditions, strengthens, and protects all athlete’s CT. Read on if you are interested in growing your brain cells as well as creating tendons with the strength of bears. If not, then, just remember this much:

Do HP Yoga!


* If they listened to me. And that is a pretty big “if.” Climbers, even moreso than other more structured competitive athletes, have an anti-authority thing which tends to snakebite them in the long run when it comes to not being open to being coached.

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