A few years back, I anxiously pondered a bucket list of things undone. One standout was a mega offwidth crack near Colorado City first shown to me by a local named Steve Biggs. Formed by the juncture between an immaculate plane of red Navajo sandstone and a massive pillar, this perfect corner soars straight to the top of a 600-foot cliff. Biggs’ Crack offered me the opportunity to achieve a dream first ascent and contemplate the inevitable.
The crack is straight up blue-collar, in-your-face vertical-to-slightly-overhanging climbing with some foot trickery, chicken-wings and plenty of dry-humping up a flare. The best training for something like that is to spend a month wrestling offwidths in Indian Creek. Not having the time, nor available psych, I chose indoor training. The latter typically consists of diabolical bouts of inverted crunches, puke-inducing anaerobic intervals and withering sessions on the crack machine. The more you repeat, the fitter you get—until you get injured. Being old and, as I’d like to believe, wise, I decided to capitalize on experience, ingrained technique and cunning as opposed to overdoing it on such training sessions.
Having no crack machine within driving distance, I had to find novel ways of complimenting the occasional gym session with more offwidth-specific training. I recalled the late, great Craig Leubben—a true master of wide cracks—once describing, of all things, the Suzanne Somers ThighMaster as a training tool. In his experience this device, which resembles an oversize spring-loaded paperclip padded with foam rubber, was the ideal way to build the hip abductors, those hard-to-develop interior leg muscles that can pinch the outside edge of an offwidth crack.
I shall not attempt to describe the recommended ThighMaster “exercises.” To learn more of Suzanne Somers and her revolutionary product, click here (highly recommended).
According to Somers, “The famous ThighMaster…is still the best way to tone, shape and firm your inner thighs.” Being unconcerned with my thigh tone, I remained a skeptic. But, with a little more research, I discovered that training required, “just a few squeezes a day,” and what’s more, it was so “easy to use” that I could “work out and watch TV…100% satisfaction guaranteed!” —perfect.
Three days later, I pulled a second-hand ThighMaster Gold from a brown cardboard eBay box and started squeezing.
ThighMaster Training Schedule:
- Three weeks
- Three sessions per week
- 3 x 3 sets per session
- Go to failure (this is harder than you might expect)
- Rest well
- Note: Television and beer are helpful to ease one’s way through a workout (Be prepared for an equally mental and physical challenge)
Turns out, Craig Leubben wasn’t joking. The ThighMaster works—for offwidth training at least:
Pete Takeda is off to the Andes in July. He’s heard there’s an 800-foot offwidth near Quisuarillo, and he’s psyched to see if his ThighMaster training will pay off again.