Review of Gimme Kraft

This review first appeared in the latest issue of Irish Mountain Log.

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GIMME KRAFT! Effective climbing training
By Patrick Matros, Ludwig Korb & Hannes Huch
Published by Cafe Kraft GmbH (2013)

Gimme Kraft is a bilingual (German and English) book about training for climbing. As the name will suggest to those with a little German, this book is all about power.
The book describes over seventy different exercises designed to build strength and power. Ordered by the equipment they are performed on (bouldering wall, pull up bar, gymnastic rings, campus board, peg board, slingtrainer, floor and minibars and sloper rails), each exercise features a text description and a four photo sequence. The book also comes with a DVD that shows the exercises in action.

Spread through the book are brief quotes from some of the top climbers of the day. These are a little vague and lack insight. Do we really need to be told “Power is one of the most important aspects of climbing, without power you are weak and can’t do certain moves…”, thanks Sasha for that.

By naming the exercises and suggesting appropriate reps and sets Gimme Kraft! formalises what many climbers have been doing for years. The book reflects the movement in training for climbing towards a more balanced approach. The physical act of climbing creates massive muscle imbalances which, if left unaddressed, lead to injury. So any sensible training program must dedicate some time to strengthening these antagonistic muscles. In this book a lot of the exercises are general exercises, not that climbing specific, but very useful to build all round, balanced strength and injury-proof the climber.

The A5 landscape format suits this book which places the photo sequence on one side of the spread while the accompanying text goes on the other. The layout is modern and will appeal to younger hipster climbers.

Bilingual books can be a little cumbersome to use and navigate but in the most part this is handled well. The real problem with this book is the translation from German to English. While it may accurately reflect the German content, it reads horribly. Weird phrasing, lots of mergingwordsfornoreason and hypens-every-where. Here is an example from the introduction, “When performing a strength-training with the goal of a long-term improvement of performance (at least this is our philosophy) in a specific kind of sport, various basic principles need to be taken into consideration.” And while you nearly always know what they are trying to say, it is frustrating.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone looking for a general text about training for climbing as the scope is a little too narrow. However, in spite of its problems, this is a good book and it will be of huge interest to the aspiring hard climber.

Buy Gimme Kraft on Amazon.

Posted in Blog.

6 Comments

  1. Interesting review – I wouldn’t recommend it directly to beginners, but I would recommend it to anyone who is working with beginners. It’s a perfect reference book of exercises you can use with them to introduce different methods and set up them with an excellent base, removing the imbalances you describe in many longer-term climbers of previous eras.
    Also, you’d be surprised how many climbers need to be told power is one of the most important aspects of climbing………

  2. I would of thought that a beginner’s focus should be 100% on movement? I don’t think it’s bouldering, certainly bouldering outdoors, that is responsible for muscle imbalances but rather the training for it eg. pullups, fingerboarding, campusing etc.

  3. Dear Mr. Flanagan,
    yesterday I have discovered your quite interesting review of my book and it felt necessary to me to leave a reply, as I assume that you have slightly misunderstood some of our ideas.
    You can interpret our title “GimmeKraft!” as a hybrid term: “Gimme” means “give me” (engl.), “Kraft” (deu.) means “strength” (engl.). According to your view the book is “all about power”. Is it in fact? The theoretical basis of this book, which is available as free pdf-download on our website helps a lot …:
    Why is our focus predominantly is on strength exercises?
    The fact that we focus predominantly on strength exercises doesn’t mean, that our philosophy of training for climbing/bouldering only consists of strength training! We consider mental abilities and technical abilities as equal important! Please read one of my interviews (e.g. on http://www.theboulderingbook.com/ ).
    But we noticed an obvious lack in training literature for climbing/bouldering: Strength exercises in literature don’t change fundamentally, as climbing/bouldering evolves to a more and more performance oriented and complex sport! You will find always the same exercises like front lever or frenchies to improve your specific strength. Balanced strength is hardly mentioned! One of our goals was, to put classic exercises, which were proven over the years together with some new and innovative ideas you can discover under the keyword “functional training”.
    By the way: I can’t confirm your statement, that injuries due to overstrain are just the result of training for climbing. Many climbers/boulderers just climbing/bouldering (and doing no balanced strength training!) suffer from various overstrains leading to serious injuries later on.
    According to your review, this combination “formalizes what many climbers have been doing for years”. Again I have to ask: In fact? Please name only one book to me, which emphasizes on this concept of balanced strength training for climbers …
    Back to the beginning I mentioned, that I’m far away from insinuating that strength (not power!) is the only factor to improve in climbing/bouldering. So why am I writing a book focusing on this aspect?
    Is it possible to impart a complex and highly individual aspect technique with a book? Training and coaching many climbers/boulderers over the years I say: No! Showing the basic techniques is not the problem, there are already some good books on the market. But making climbers/ boulderers believe, that the will improve in technique only by reading a book is not compatible with my philosophy. You need to reflect your climbing/bouldering together with good climbers or with a coach!
    So according to your book bouldering is the best way to train for the sport? I agree! But you have to do it with a systematic approach (otherwise you can’t call it “training”).
    And exactly this you will find in the chapter “bouldering wall” in our book, where we introduce the reader in some easy practicable but systematic exercises. This should be the best example to our integral view about training.

    What is the message of our book?
    The modern layout, the landscape format, the including DVD: Just a marketing trick to appeal “younger hipster climbers”? I can hardly agree with that!Our message (which is NOT only for “aspiring hard climber” but for everyone who wants to improve!) is:
    Training has to be motivating, training has to be done with passion, training shouldn’t harm your health!
    And for this fresh view, we left the hardcore and dusty bouldering dungeons of the past behind and gave the ambitioned climber/boulderer who has a job and (maybe) a wife and some kids an impetus to get into a feasible, motivating and realistic training process!
    Is there any expectation out there to get behind the secrets of the top climbers? I have to regret: You will not find them in my book! We also didn’t claim a scientific approach to the training methods of the top climbers!
    Our (maybe sometimes “little vague and lack insight”) interviews with some of the world best climbers/boulders do have a completely different aim: They show climbers/boulderers who kept the fire burning over the years with very different approaches to the sport leading to success! Isn’t that motivating enough?
    What about the old training footage of Wolfgang Güllich, published in our DVD for the very first time? You didn’t mention that! This is kind of a historical document, which shows how climbing/bouldering has evolved over the years and, at the same time, that top performance was also possible in this early days of systematic training!
    Last but not least I have to say sorry about our, for your claims “horribly”, translation. As we were pioneers with that (in any case I can’t remember a bilingual book in this sector) we could do many things better (despite some other reviews don’t complain about this fact: http://www.theboulderingbook.com/ ). We were counseled by native speakers, but it is not easy to deal with special interest vocabulary for them, too. Beyond that, there were definitions which you hardly can find in English vocabulary (e.g. Beugeschlinge = upper flexor sling ?).
    On the other side I was wondering about your definition of “power”, which you equate with the word “strength”. In my opinion the word power reflects a comprehensive view of many physical aspects (e.g. explosive power) which can lead to the statement of a “powerful climber”. Aspects like “strength” (regarded as “maximum strength”) should be only a part of it…

    Sincerely
    Patrick Matros (author of GimmeKraft!)

  4. Hi Patrick. Thanks for responding. Your comment is longer than my review!

    I’m not going to go through every one of your points as I think what I said is clear. However I never said the layout was a ‘marketing trick’ they are your words, I said “The layout is modern and will appeal to younger hipster climbers.”

    You are right that I probably should of used the word strength rather than power. I can’t find where to download the free PDF could you post up the link?

    Thanks
    Dave

  5. Hi David,
    yes, it is a long comment. I wanted to point out all the important aspects which led to this book.
    I know that you didn’t mention the phrase “marketing trick” but I woundered about the word “hipster”. My vocabulary of the English language is limited but to my knowledge the word is connoted with a more mocking undertone, describing a person with a superficial attitude. Reading the comments of our facebook site and many Emails from people who get into climbing/training again after a break and motivated through our book I can hardly believe that our book should appeal just a certain subculture and it wasn’t developed for that aim.
    For some reasons we decided to publish the theoretical introduction as free download just limited with a code you will find on page 14 (2nd paragraph) in our book.
    Maybe You can also write a short review about it in this blog….

    Best regards
    Patrick

  6. I used the word hipster to indicate – design concious, it was a compliment. Thanks Patrick I will have a read through the download.

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