Training Center

Round 89

I just bought your H.I.T stripes so that I can step-up my training. I’ve been climbing a few years and currently lead 5.12. What HIT Training advice can you provide me to make the most of my training…and push into the higher grades. -–Matthew (Idaho)

Hi Matthew, You are doing great for just 2 years climbing! HIT will certainly help you get stronger, but always remember that climbing is two-thirds mental/technical and only one-third physical. So most plateaus are best broken with a focused effort on improving in these two areas; although getting stronger will definitely help you, too. As for a HIT WO, here’s a link to follow for some guidelines. Use HIT as part of a training cycle, not an every-workout thing.

Hello, I’m 15 years old and I’ve been climbing for 2 years. How can I best train for doing hard routes? What ratio of strength and endurance training do you suggest? –Max (The Netherlands)

Hi Max, If you are talking about hard roped routes, then I you want to split your time almost equally between training long, hard sequences (routes) and shorter, power-oriented bouldery sequences. I suggest you use a training cycle in which you alternate every two or three weeks between a strength/power focus and endurance focus. Of course, remember that as a young and relatively new climber you must always focus on training technique and your mental skills rather than simply focus on getting stronger. Aspire to become a complete climber! Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

I’ve been climbing just 6 months, but I’m very enthusiastic on training and improvement. Currently I train five days per week, and since there’s no climbing gym nearby I have my own home training wall along with a campus board, hangboard, and peg wall. What other equipment should I get, and how can I best training to improve? –James (Australia)

Hi James, First, you need to be careful not to overtrain and get injured–five days per week of climbing-specific training is a lot, especially for a relative beginner. I suggest just 3 or 4 days per week of climbing-specific training, augmented with 2 other days per week of push-muscle and rotator cuff training to prevent climbing injury. Most important for you, as a relative beginner, is to climb frequently at a gym wall or outside. Climbing hard is very much about technique and mental skills, and you need to be climbing often to improve in these areas. I suggest you read my book Training for Climbing as a guidebook to training and performance that you’ll use for many years. Learn more at www.TrainingForClimbing.com

I’m having numbness of my pinky and ring fingers in both hands, especially at night. No pain, just numbness. Is a tendinosis? Should i follow the related protocol? Should I take off from climbing or just lower the intensity and frequency? – Giuseppe (New York)

Giuseppe, Numbness is those two fingers is usually ulnar nerve entrapment near your elbow (although it’s sometimes misdiagnoses as tendinitis). Rest should allow it to improve, but it may return…since some people just have too little space where the ulnar nerve passes under through the notch in the back of the elbow. BTW, this condition can also appear if you have a habit of resting your elbows on a desk. Anyway, I’d consult a physician if the condition worsens—there is a surgical solution if the problem persists. Let me know how it goes this season. Good luck!

I’ve heard of newish climbers injuring themselves when they climb too hard too fast since their muscles are strong but their tendons are not. And I’m wondering how to avoid that while still progressing in my climbing ability. I’ve been climbing about one year and I can boulder V7. I’ve been reading your book like a climbing bible, and I’ve LOVED it–it’s really helped me design a beautiful training system. I just want to try and cover all my bases in terms of injury prevention. So, to finalize my question, I guess I’m wondering if 5.12 movements (and harder) are a reasonable physical demand to place on my body at this stage. –Alyssa (Alberta)

Hi Alyssa, Sounds like you are off to a great start in the sport, and I’m glad you are reading up on training. Knowledge is so important to avoid the common pitfalls. 5.12 in one year can be problematic (injury), but everyone is different….genetics somewhat determine tendon strength, and joint and muscle structure also affect injury risk. So let’s hope you are genetically blessed in these areas! If you haven’t had any sign of tendon or finger pain so far, that’s a good sign (since many first-year climbers that push into the 5.12 level do experience finger or elbow problems). Most important, is to rest more than you think you need to between hard days of climbing or training. Three days per week should be your limit for doing hard stuff. Training for Climbing will be a good text to guide you in many areas, and my new book (Maximum Climbing) is a perfect guide for you as you push towards the 5.13 grade. I’d enjoy hearing from you as you improve. Best wishes, Eric