Preparing for my first Boulder competition in Australia!

As many of you already know, I am studying in Melbourne! La Trobe Melbourne in Bundoora, Victoria to be exact. I’m studying the Diploma of Health Sciences this year and will proceed straight to year 2 next year for a straight masters in, hopefully, physiotherapy!

I have been here almost 6 months now, and have definitely acclimatised. I was climbing in 16 degrees the other day and it felt hot!

I first got to know about this competition, Pinnacle Sports Boulderfest 2017 by Urban Climb through Ryan Gaskon (a really good climbing mate of mine here) about 3 weeks ago. Being deprived of competing for 7 months now since Gravical back in Singapore, I was stoked to have an event to compete in again! A few days later and my flight to Brisbane was booked! Woohoo!

Preparing for Boulderfest

Prior to the decision that I would compete in this, I was already on a training plan I made up that lasts 3 months from July through September. I also made up some goals that I would like to hit by the end of September, which is when I would be heading back to Singapore!

For this training plan, it was initially 2 days of climbing and 2 days of gym. However, as I have my studies to balance (and yes, a GPA of 4.0 to keep! hehe), I have decided to do with 2 days of climbing and 1 day of gym. Even on the days of climbing, I will do my physical training (PT).


As many of you have seen on my instagram or instastory, I am doing this thing called the Winter Boulder Ladder at Northside Boulders. Basically, it is an 8 week long competition where the gym puts up 10 new problems of varying grades. Every week, you will attempt to finish as many of those climbs as possible and record your score on the board along with everybody else’s. By the end of 8 weeks, they will total up your score so far and put you into categories and conduct one last day of 10 problems, called the Final Boulder Ladder. At the end, they will add up your scores and top 3 of each category walks away with prizes! 🙂 Pretty rad I would say!

Sorry I don’t have a picture of the full scoreboard, but this would probably give you a rough idea!

So yeah! I have been trying my best to flash/ work out the beta for these routes the past 5 weeks! As well as making up fun and comp-style boulders with Ryan Gaskon after my sessions!

I have seen the routesetting at Northside improve and diversify so much ever since I got here. The improvement is amazing and I am thankful for it. Thankful they’ve brought in Flatholds as well! Now, they just need more volumes! But yeah, I would say I have been deprived of competition styled routes as there are few volumes and variations of new holds here that are often used in competitions. I try to make use of what I have, but the lack of further exposure the past 6 months may have caused my movement on huge holds and volumes to retard.

For my last training today, I went to The Lactic Factory to try to flash some boulders. As I haven’t been there for a while now, many of the problems are new to me and this gives me a good chance to practice reading the beta and flashing boulders. I also did this in a 4 minute on and 4 minute off format so I get to train my power endurance at the same time. It felt really good to “see” myself fight so hard on the wall, trying to get the route done in 4 minutes. The problems I chose were mostly red-taped, which are v4-6. Of course, I did not manage to finish most of them within the time limit but was able to progress in terms of beta with each climb. With this format of trying the boulders, I could do away with my 4×4 power endurance which I usually do, which is good as I am sort of tight on time.

Physical Training

The PT I do on climbing days and non-climbing days are similar, with some tweaks with the training equipment I get.

On climbing days:

  1. Hangboard first. Before climbing. Definitely. My tolerance for hangboarding on painfully raw fingers is close to zero. I usually warm up on some easy boulders then get to hangboarding. There are 2 kinds of hangboarding I’ve been trying to do. 2 handed, and 1 handed.
    1. As for 2 hands, I choose a variety of holds, crimps, slopers, pinches, pockets, etc. and hang on them for 8 seconds on and 8 seconds off.
    2. As for 1 hand, I have been doing 3 sets of 8 seconds on and 8 seconds off for each side. As the weeks go by, I choose smaller ledges to hang off and rely less on my resistance band for help. I found this particularly tough on my left arm due to my shoulder dislocation. However, I decided to progress on both arms equally to avoid muscle imbalance.
  2. After hangboarding, I get to climbing.
  3. After climbing comes a series of PT. In no particular order, I’ld do the following:
    1. Core
      • I use the TRX or the rungs for this exercise I learnt from Ian Loke, my climbing buddy in Singapore. I really like this exercise as it requires not only tension in my core, but also my back and shoulders.
      • Start off with your feet in the TRX/ rungs. Move to a comfortable push up position. Then, tuck your legs in to the front, then back to the original position.  Followed by left, then right. Do this 3 times for one set for a start. I usually do 3 sets.
      • Try to keep your shoulders right above your wrists. This is harder than it seems, haha. A bit off in the last picture there.
      • IMG_4610IMG_4611IMG_4612IMG_4613IMG_4614
    2. Pulls
      1. There are many different kinds of pulls one can do. But for now, I’m trying to increase my power endurance so I do 5 sets of 8 explosive pull ups in 1minute intervals.
      2. I also do assisted one arm pulls in hope of doing a one arm pull up by the end of this year! Resistance band for the other arm for assistance.
    3. Pushes
      1. Prior to dislocating my shoulder, push ups were already my weakness. With the dislocation, my shoulder started from ground zero but I am determined to get my shoulder condition right this time.
      2. I started off with push ups off the wall in a standing position (LOL damn weak I know right :”)) But now, I’ve progressed to doing normal push ups! Occasionally needing my knees, but I am happy with my progress.
      3. I do about 50 proper push ups each time with my elbows to my sides. However, I would be progressing to variations soon (wide-armed, diamond, indian, etc.)
    4. Shoulder
      1. In the gym, it would be shoulder-drives. Picked this one up from watching one of Nicholas Lee’s instastories! Haha. Well, to be the best you have to learn from the best! 😉
      2. Basically, you start off holding a weight and lift it above your head, then bring it to your shoulder level with your arms straight out. Proceed to turn left 90 degrees then right 90 degrees, as if driving. Bring it back down. Do this 3 times for one set. (3 sets)
      3. For now, I am using a 7.5 to 10kg weight. You can increase this as your shoulders get stronger.
    5. Pistol Squats
      1. One legged stands in competitions are common, so this is important! I haven’t been doing this for a long time and am really feeling the weakness in my legs on slabs! Recently, I have tweaked it to make it sport-specific. To place my feet and do my squat as if I am on the wall. I have yet to do this successfully without assistance. But the idea is there. Doing it this way instead of the normal way is way more difficult and makes a huge difference.
      2. Today’s was a bit awkward as they did not have a stool that is high enough. Also, my left leg is weaker due to an ankle sprain before, thus the rung assistance.
    6.  Stretch! Flexibility and mobility is important!

Yes! That’s about it for my climbing days!

On Gym days:

  1. Shoulders
    1. I consider gym days rehab days for my shoulder. I take 4 kg weights and do front, side and overhead raises 8 reps for 3 sets.
    2. Plate driving as per climbing day.
  2. Pushes
    1. As per climbing day
  3. Core
    1. As there is no TRX in the gym, I do 15 1-minute intervals. Yet another core workout picked up from Ian Loke!
    2. I choose 5 different exercises (e.g 15 row boats, 30s hold, 70 butterfly kicks, 30 weighted russian twists, 40 mountain climbers) and do them 3 rounds.
    3. This whole exercise is 15 minutes ongoing. Complete your exercise for a particular minute and you can rest for the rest of the time. When the next minute hits, you gotta keep going!
  4. Pull ups
    1. As I always tell people, weighted pull ups are the short cut to increase your pull up reps!
    2. Choose the maximum weight you want to do for the day, then choose 4 other weights increasing up to that max. weight!
    3. For example, I was doing 22.5kg max weight the other day. So my weights were 10kg, 15kg, 17.5kg, 20kg and 22.5kg.
    4. I pick up the dumbbells with my feet and do 3 reps with the weight, and 1 rep without. Repeat for the rest of the weights.
  5. Pistol Squat
    1. As per climbing day
  6. Cardiovascular endurance
    1. Run!!! I do about 4km. I hate running, but huffing and puffing on the wall on easy climbs is not ideal.
  7. Stretch! (I could do this in another post!)

Yay! That’s about it for my Physical Training. These exercises I’ve chosen are mostly to target my weaknesses. The PT one could do for climbing is endless! Do let me know what other exercises you all do!


I’ve been trying to cut down on carbohydrates lately. However, I could not resist snacking as I always end up binge-eating when I study. ): I try to snack on fruits, but half of it is still junk. Needing lots of improvement on my discipline for diet here!

How I am feeling 

Hmm… it is week 5 of my training programme and I am starting to feel my performance dip accordingly to the training curve. Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome. (Will explain this in another blog post soon!) Definitely not at my peak, but still climbing alright! Hopefully my climbing movement makes up for it! Brisbane is going to be really hot at 27 degrees, in contrast to the usual 10 degrees here and I am worried I won’t be used to the heat though I grew up in sunny (more like fiery) 32 degrees Singapore. Still absolutely stoked to be competing again, and am hoping to make finals at the very least. Wish me luck!




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