Your Questions

Round 115

Hi Eric, I’ve just turned 40 a few months ago, and after 1.5 years of climbing and training, I’ve managed to reach my first significant goal–climbing my first 7a+ sport route (5.12a), yesterday! I bought and read two of you books, How to Climb 5.12 and Training for Climbing, and enjoyed every bit of them. Both inspired me and gave me all the tools I’ve needed to reach this goal. To be honest, I thought it would take me 3 years to get there, but surprisingly and with a lot of dedication and training, I’ve managed to get there much sooner! Now I want to become more versatile, and transfer my knowledge and capabilities to steeper and longer routes. This will involve focusing more on endurance, while continuing to develop my technique and mental game. I would appreciate any training recommendations for me at this point. Thanks! –Guy

Congrats, Guy, on reaching your goal so fast!  I love getting success stories—no doubt you are on the way to bigger and better things. A few tips: Work to fill in the route pyramid in the back of How to Climb 5.12—this will help you build the foundation needed for the higher grades. In terms of training, maybe switch to a 3-2-1 cycle…or something that focused more on Max strength and bouldering for three weeks followed by power endurance for a couple weeks (then rest 4 – 7 days and repeat this cycle). Remember that pushing into the higher grades is increasing a “mental thing”—sometime check out my latest book, Maximum Climbing: Mental Training for Peak Performance!

Hey Eric, I have been climbing for 2 years now, and I do not lead climb or boulder yet. My question is since I climb on a Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays, can I also visit the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays to begin bouldering?  I wanted to know whether that would hinder me or help me? I know rest and recovery is an important part to training, however at the same time i want to get the most out of my week as possible –Chris (Australia)

Hi Chris, If you’re your Monday and Wednesday sessions are tiring, then you should not doing any bouldering on Tuesday and Thursday….although you could do some running or antagonist training on these days. One suggestion going forward: consider doing a single bouldering session on Wednesdays, and then do your regular top-rope climbing sessions on Monday, Thursday (but keep it submaximal—focus on movement, not difficulty) and again on Saturday. But 4 days per week is the max number of days you should be pulling on your fingers. Have fun!

I am 13 and got into climbing about one year ago. I have been making progress in the last few months–I climb around 5.10b and boulder V3. I can only go climbing once a week, and there is a tryout for the youth team that I want to prepare for. I have recently started doing pullups/frenchies/deadhangs on a small ledge I found in my house (don’t have a fingerboard) to strengthen my fingers and arms. However, when I am done I find it hard to open my fingers. Does this mean I am hurting myself? Is there something better I should be doing? Am I too novice to be starting this? Anything else I should do at all? Thanks! –Aaron

Hi Aaron, Don’t overdo the finger training—as a relative novice, going climbing is the most important thing for you to do. Climbing is a skill sport, so you must practice regularly….ideally 3 or 4 days per week. Is there any way you can arrange to get to the gym more frequently? Some supplemental pull-up, finger hangs, and core training is okay, but climbing must be the majority of your workout. The home exercises you mention sound fine, but cut back if you experience finger, elbow or shoulder pain. Here’s an article I wrote about youth climbing—please read it:

I have been suffering from finger pulley injuries on and off for about 3 years. I am currently dealing with ring finger pulley injuries on both hands. I am beginning to wonder if I need to lay off climbing for a long periods to heal from these or if I can climb with some discomfort. Right now my finger pain is probably 1/10. Any info would be appreciated. –Brian (Wyoming)

Hi Brian, I’m sorry to hear about your problem. What you describe is a common problem—some people are just more prone to get this kind of injury. It’s somewhat a genetic/structural thing, but is also more likely to happen with folks who do a lot of crimp gripping. Anyway, you’ve been wise to rest the fingers—important, if the pain is ever more than a 2 or 3 out of 10. With pain at 1/10, you can probably tape it snuggly (X or ring method) and climb; just be sure not to pull on it too hard. Be sure to always warm up and stretch (gently), then ramp up climbing gradually through your session. Strive to favor the open-hand grip—and avoid strenuous crimps and one-finger pockets–and hopefully you can avoid a re-injury.

Hi Eric, I climb and train frequently, but my top ability hasn’t been improving as of late (I’m stuck at 5.12c). What can I do to achieve 5.13a? Also, how can I train with my mind for harder climbing? –Mohammad (Iran)

 Hello Mohammad! One or two days per week of hard bouldering is a good way to develop movement skills and greater power—you can supplement this with some weighted hangs and weighted pull-ups for strength. If overhanging climbs are your goal, then you must also train local endurance with one anaerobic endurance workout per week. Ascend overhanging near-maximal climbs that take between 1 and 3 minutes (during which you get very pumped). Rest between climbs 5 to 10 minutes, and repeat up to total of 6 intervals. This workout is very strenuous (if done too often it can lead to overtraining), so I suggest doing it just once or twice per week. Long-term, you will gain adaptations for climbing longer, steeper, harder climbs! Mental training is important, too…but it’s much more subtle and challenging to train. Read the mental training articles here on the NICROS Training Center, and consider reading Maximum Climbing: Mental Training for Peak Performance. Good luck, my friend!