Your Questions

Round 103

Eric, I am a big fan of your books. I think I own almost all of them. Last summer I dislocated my shoulder (non-climbing injury). I have been released from the doctor to return to working out and climbing. During my down time I started thinking about how to improve my climbing once I was allowed to return. Before the accident I trained mostly endurance and technique. My body position and footwork greatly improved but I still struggled. I was thinking of implementing a general strength training program for the next couple of months before I resumed my climbing-specific training. Do you think this is wise? –Josh (Illinois)

Hey Josh, Yeah, I think you can benefit from a general strength training program—concentrate both on pulling exercises AND pushing exercises (which help balance things out and stabilize the shoulders). I suggest you also buy a 6 or 8 lb dumbbell and do External Rotation exercise for your rotator cuff. Do these 3 or 4 days per week, 20 or 25 reps each time. Do your general strength training on off days from climbing, if possible. But still try to climb rock (or plastic) at least two days per week so you continue to refine technique and mental skills. You’re on your way–keep it going!

Hi Eric, I am just getting back into serious climbing and training after 10 years, but I am worried about overdoing it early on. I climb once weekly indoors, but can train on a treadwall another 3 to 4 nights a week, but only for about an hour at a time. This suits me for now because of my limited time and ability, as I begin to improve I will start to utilize some other routines to train specific areas. I would really value your opinion regarding how often an intermediate climber should train and then how long should they rest? Would I be better to train two nights in a row or alternate with nights off? –Tony (Australia)

Tony, Given that you are just getting back into climbing, it sounds like you might be doing a bit too much with the 3 or 4 Treadwall sessions on top of one day of indoor gym climbing. You need to be careful not to hit it too hard and end up getting injured. I suggest an every-other-day climbing schedule, so you’ve need to reduce Treadwall workouts to just 2 or 3 per week. Another option is to do one  back-to-back session per week—if you do this, I suggest to do the harder workout on day 1 (make this your indoor bouldering session) and then a lighter “endurance/recovery” Treadwall on day 2 (be sure to avoid a deep pump on this day 2 workout).   It would also be wise to do some antagonist-muscle training a couple days per week so as to help maintain muscle balance with your strengthen climbing muscles.

 Every time I step up my training I get a cold about 2 or 3 weeks into the program. Any tips for avoiding getting sick while doing heavy training? –Adam (South Africa)

 Adam, This is not uncommon among many hard-training athletes. Maintaining proper nutrition and sleep habits (8+ hours per night) is very important when stressing your body with hard workouts. I suggest that you consume a Whey protein drink every morning and evening (before bed), since this high-quality protein has be shown to increase immunity (and it will help your muscles recover). Hopefully, you can find 100% whey protein in SA. Good luck!

Hey Eric, First, this web site is super awesome—thanks! Maybe you have a good suggestion for my unique life (which I love!). I work a 2-week-on, 2-week-off schedule and my job is in a very remote area of Alaska. When at home I climb and boulder as much as possible–almost every day—but as a beginner I barely progressing to V1 now. When at work (for 2 weeks) there is nothing to climb, plus I work 13-18 hours a day–but I am able to lift weights and do some sweat-fest cardio. Any suggestions on some things to do while I’m up at work, that maybe I hadn’t thought of? I just bought some Grip Masters to add to my training. –Dina (Alaska)

Hey Dina, Sounds like you have a pretty good situation—lots of time to climb! I’m not sure what a grip master is….but if it’s a fingerboard, then you read my mind.  A fingerboard is the perfect training tool for you, since you can do some climbing-specific training (fingertip hangs and pull-ups) during your work periods.  But you’ll need  to be careful not to overuse it! Warm-up slowly (finger massage and stretching) and limit your session to just 30 to 60 minutes (with lots of rest between sets). Good luck!

I have been training a lot in the last year, possibly too much. I just got off a 4-week break from having tendentious in my wrist. I came back strong, however I find myself having trouble focusing. Blowing simple sequencing on routes I have done before, over gripping, hesitating before going for a move or falling, and not having a clear head. However when I focus I can perform really well. I have pre-climb rituals that I use  and have been really paying attention to my breathing during the climb. The other thing is that when I climb outside I find myself in focus the whole time. Do you have any suggestions to get myself off this plateau and back into that performance zone? –Bryce (California)

Hi Bryce, Glad your wrist is better! As for your “head”…it’s really hard to give specific advice without working with you in person (and seeing your patterns and MO in climbing). One thing to consider…are you putting too much pressure on yourself when you climb in the social gym setting? This can lead to tightness and poor focus, mechanics, and climbing economy. Of course, steady breathing is key, as is staying in the present moment as you climb–avoid thoughts of the outcome, and focus on the move at hand. The mental aspects of climbing are obviously very complex, and this area is a real gold mine for climbers who work on getting it figured out! My latest book, Maximum Climbing, is all about this—check it out!