This week’s athlete is Juliet Hammer, a junior at the University of Virginia and the 2nd place finisher in Women’s Bouldering at CCS Nationals 2014. She was also the 2014 recipient of CCS Ambassador Scholarship. Juliet has consistently made podium in the women’s advanced category in the Triple Crown bouldering series, taking 1st at the Stone Fort competition in 2014. Read on to find out what makes Juliet such a powerhouse!
Classic Arête photo Dalen Gray
How long have you been climbing:
I have been climbing for 10 years with a 3 year break from age 16-18.
Do you currently have a coach or were you previously coached in climbing:
I do not currently have a coach but I was coached from age 12-16 while competing in youth climbing series.
How many days per week do you usually train and for how long:
The best climbing gym to train at is located about an hour and 15 minutes away, so I usually only climb at the gym once or twice a week, for 3-4 hours each session.
When does your team start practicing each year:
At the beginning of the Fall semester
CCS Nationals Bouldering Finals photo by Brian Karr
Describe a day of training at the gym:
If there are new climbs set, then I will start my session by trying to flash/onsight as many problems as possible. If there are not new problems then I generally warm-up and work on any projects that I have for 1-1.5 hours. I will then do a power endurance exercise, such as a 4×4, for 45 minutes to an hour. I finish up climbing by bouldering a few grades below my redpoint level until failure. I will usually end the night with a core workout, such as leg lifts or planks, and then 3 sets of pull-ups until failure.
Describe some specific drills you do to train for your discipline (sport/speed/bouldering):
I think the campus board is one of the most effective tools for building power for bouldering. I structure my campus board workouts similarly to my climbing workouts. I start by doing my hardest sequences then I will do ladders until failure.
What exercises do you think have helped you to progress the most in your climbing:
4×4’s have helped me to reach a consistent level of climbing fitness that I think is important when I try a climb that is at my limit.
Do you do any type of cross training (i.e. training that is not climbing-related, like running or swimming):
Because I cannot make it to the climbing gym very often, I try to get a lot of cardio and core exercises in. Cardio exercises include distance runs, running intervals, and the elliptical machine. Core exercises include TRX bands and leg lifts. Additionally, I will lift weights for shoulder strength.
What is your competition day routine (i.e. stretches, mental prep, certain foods):
I try not to take competitions too seriously. As a youth climber, I was very focused on competitive success and consequently, I mentally burned out (the cause of my 3 year break). I just try to get a good night’s rest and eat a decent breakfast with some protein. My main mental prep is telling myself to have fun climbing some rocks. Because having fun is… fun, and being stressed out is not. I think I perform better with that mentality, anyway. Oh, and I dance a lot (pre-comp, in Iso, and in the chair right before I climb).
Staying happy at CCS Nationals bouldering finals
How important do feel climbing outside is for your progression:
I feel that climbing outside is my main motivation for training in the first place, so getting outside is essential for my progression. I believe that climbing outside reminds me what it means to truly try hard and I get much more satisfaction from sending an outdoor boulder than from sending a competition boulder. Because I can spend much more time on a single boulder outside than on a competition boulder, I think there is a lot to learn about personal movement and body positioning when I am outside. However, this information I learn about my body outside can be directly applied to competition climbing.
How often do you climb outside:
Getting outside during the school year can be rather difficult in my location. The New River Gorge is 3.5 hours away, Boone is 4.5 hours away, Rumbling Bald is 5.5 hours away, and Chattanooga is 7 hours away. The frequency that I climb outside, however, is largely determined by my semester course load. For example, this past semester I took 17 credits and was unable to make it out on many weekends; I climbed outside about once a month. I am only taking 14 credits this upcoming semester and hope to make it outside more often.
Mortal Combat photo Carlo Nassise