Your Questions

Round 107

Eric -Thanks in advance for the opportunity to ask you a question! I appreciate all of the resources that you have provided the climbing community – books, website articles, monthly newsletter, etc. I have been climbing for 2 years and have totally fallen in love with the sport. I generally climb 4 days per week – 2 days in a bouldering gym and the weekend outside sport or trad climbing. On the days that I climb in the bouldering gym I would like to add some hangboard workouts. However, I usually do antagonist workouts after my gym sessions 2 times per week and have limited time in the evenings. Would it be beneficial to do hangboard or HIT workouts in the mornings (after running/warming up) before my gym workouts in the evenings? –Abby (California)

Hi Abby, Sounds like you have a good training program, and I have no doubt you’ll continue to improve! I’d avoid any serious fingerboard training ahead of your climbing session, since you want to have a fresh grip when you are gym climbing (bouldering or roped routes). Developing good technique and proprioceptive feel of quality movement is paramount. What you could do, however, is to do your running and antagonist muscle training in the morning, then do the hangboard training at the end of your climbing session. (Perhaps this won’t work, if you need to be at the gym to do the antagonist training?) Another option is to do all three things in the same session: that is, do your climbing (1 to 2 hours), then do a brief hangboard session (10 – 15 minutes), then do your antagonist training (10 – 15 minutes). Remember, you don’t need to do crazy amount of hangboard training–doing a few sets of hangs on different grips, a couple sets of weighted pull-ups, and perhaps even a couple of sets of campus laddering–that’s about all you need to do at this stage of the game. Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes.

I started climbing three years ago, and have been stuck in the same place it seems. Breaking into 10s at Devils Lake on TR seems like some magical number I can’t touch, and 11s inside at the gym. I’m 34 and stand 6’1 205 (I know 185 would be better). I can do about 14 pull-ups and try to get to the gym twice a week. What do you feel would get me the next level. My goal for next year would be to toprope an 11 outside and possibly shoot for a 12 in the gym. –Mike (Illinois)

Hey Mike, Sure, dropping some body weight would help, but it’s not everything. With just 3 year’s experience you have tons of room to improve technically–footwork, body positioning, and improving “feel” for efficient movement (important), etc. Climbing is a skill sport, so you can expect slow improvement for many years to come. Sometimes you’ll plateau for a season, then make a jump up the next–it’s not a linear progression. Anyway, make it a goal to drop 10 or 20 pounds for the next season. Also, get on a good mix of gym routes doing thin, technical vertical routes (like you find outside at DL) early in the session followed by some pumpier steep routes (on better holds) later in the session. Always strive to learn the best way to do a sequence and route–climb difficult routes several times, striving to perfect the route and unlock the most efficient way to do it. This is one of the “secrets” to climbing harder! Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

I have a sore ring finger in the area atypical with A2. I have had no swelling at any point and after some original pain and debilitation. Should a continue climbing, rest, or just tape it and take it easy for a few weeks? – Laurent (UK)

Hi Laurent, Sure sounds like you have a minor tweak, since there’s just some minor pain but no swelling or sharp pain. You should tape it as you work back into climbing–this will provide a bit of support and more important help keep you mindful of it while you climb. I suggest taking a week off, however you do not need, nor want, to take a long break from climbing for a minor tweak. You want to keep that finger moving–so do finger flexions, massage it, gentle stretching, etc. All of these will aid healing. Of course, you do want to avoid maximum weighting of the finger and anything that really strains it (monos, hard crimping, fingerboard, campusing, etc) for at least a few weeks.

Eric, I have been applying the lessons in your book, Training for Climbing, with some fantastic gains this season! I have been applying the 4-3-2-1 macro cycle for training and am currently on the 1 week of rest cycle, prior to a (hopefully) peaking trip to Horse Pens 40. My question: during this “1 week rest” phase, is it best to just take it easy and relax all week or should I maintain some kind of routine? I have a sedentary lifestyle when I’m not climbing or training for climbing, and would really like your opinion on whether it’s okay to do some running, easy climbing, stretching, and such during this rest week? Many thanks in advance! –Javier (Louisiana)

Great question, Javier. While you don’t want to do anything too stressful, you should stay somewhat active during this recovery week. I suggest you do something athletic at least a few days over the week. You could do a few casual runs, an antagonist workout; heck, you can even do some light climbing if you do only easy traversing and some big hold jug pulling that doesn’t generate anything more than a light pump (this is actually a good thing to do after you take your initial day or two of rest). But don’t get sucked into a major workout that will wreck your week of recovery! Wishing you a great trip!