Your Questions

Round 116

Hi Eric, Can you please give me more info on the ”Stamina Workout” (p.182) in Training for Climbing? Should I be trying to climb, say, 1,500 feet all at once or 150 feet in 10 reps? I climb sport at the Red River Gorge weekly, so 80 foot routes are my focus. I’m following the 4-3-2-1 workout for the “Accomplished” climber and I’m trying to understand the big difference between the anaerobic endurance and the stamina workouts. Also, I plan to do these workouts on Treadwalls at my gym. One is set at about 40 degrees  past vert and the other at about 10-15 degrees. What would you recommend for the stamina/anaerobic workouts? Thanks so much for you feedback! –Chris (Kentucky)

Hey Chris! These are common questions, as “endurance training” is a broad subject that many people struggle to understand completely. The stamina workouts are “moderate, high volume” sessions that get the blood flowing but do NOT produce a deep pump. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being a massive, failing pump) you shouldn’t go past a 5. So doing Treadwall (10 degree past vert) on big holds for 100 feet x 10 would be a good session. This kind of workout develops aerobic capacity, which is important for long sustained climbs—what’s more, strengthening your aerobic system will improve/accelerate your mid-climb shakeout and between-climb recovery.

The anaerobic endurance workouts are more like climbing a limit route at the Red—you’ll climb hard for 1 to 2 minutes with a pump of 8 or 9 out of 10, then rest to a point of partial recovery (say 50% recovery, or 2 to 4 minutes) before doing the next AE interval. Do 5 to 10 total AE intervals. The steeper Treadwall would be good for this, although you could also use the 10-degree Treadwall and climb on very small holds. During climbing season you may want to do a 3-2-1 cycle (as explained in my books), so the focus is more on harder climbing. Then, during the winter offseason, do 4-3-2-1 to develop the stamina and improve aerobic system capacity. Good luck–and maybe see you at the Red sometime!

Hi Eric, I’m 18 and I’ll soon be departing on an 8-month climbing road trip to the U.S. (wahoo!!) with some friends. How do I avoid burnout on such a long road trip? How often should I climb per week? — Amy (Canada)

Hi Amy, I think the most important thing is not to stay at any one area too long. Maybe spend no more than one month or so at a given area. If you are really climbing hard (personal maximum) routes, then you should limit your climbing 3 or 4 days per week. However, if you are doing some “light” days of moderate climbing you might stretch it to 5 days per week. Of course, after a few weeks of 3 to 5 day-per-week climbing, you’ll need to take a longer break (several days off). So if you travel to a new area every month you can use the travel days (and camping set-up and tear-down days) as an extended rest period—in this way, 3 to 5 days off once per month will have you fresh and ready to attack routes at the new area. Have fun!

Hello Eric! I’m about to start the two-days-per-week (power/max strength) phase of the 10-week training cycle described in your book, How to Climb 5.12. Should I just climb those 2 days per week and do no outside climbing? I don’t want to overtrain, but going 3 weeks without climbing outside is a long time! –Shannon (Arizona)

Hi Shannon! Yes, you can definitely climb on the weekends–getting outside and climbing is what it’s all about! But your 2 strength/power workouts (probably on Tuesday and Thursday) are the key to taking your strength to the next level. If you climb on Sunday you should be nearly 100% (to climb your best), and this one weekend day on the rock will not hurt the program design…it will help it, since rock climbing is the best way to develop technical and mental skills. BTW, if you prefer to climb outside on Saturday, then using Monday and Wednesday for your strength/power training would be best. Good luck!

Hi Eric, First of all, thank you for your great books–I have two of them and they are fantastic! I’m 41 years old and 1.91m tall and my weight is 80kgs. I started climbing 15 years ago and more seriously 7 years ago. For different reasons, I practice only bouldering (mostly Fontainebleau) and I’ve slowly increased my level over the years. I’ve a high position job with a lack of time to train according the “golden rules” and a family with 3 kids. With all this background, I can climb V4 onsight, V6 regularly, and my best ever is V8. My goal is to climb V9, and your 3-2-1 training cycle is attractive (due to the short total length). What advice or changes can you suggest for my training and climbing? –Patrick (France)

Hi Patrick! I understand the challenges you face—I, too, have a wife, family, and job that takes a lot of commitment. I can tell you first-hand that you can continue to improve throughout your 40s, although in “old age” (I’m 49), I think roped climbs are a better way to stretch your limits, since it’s easier to maintain endurance in old age than it is to stay powerful. Avoiding injury is also important for people our ages.

As for training, the 3-2-1 cycle is good; although you could also do a combined schedule of 2 strength/power sessions per week with 1 anaerobic endurance session per week. Either way, repeat the cycles throughout the year, but try to plan a 3 or 4 day rest or light workout days prior to a major outing (to Font or elsewhere), so that you are 100% fresh. As for exercises, hypergravity fingerboard (crimps, pockets, slopers) may be the single best exercise for enhancing your grip for bouldering. Good luck, and shoot me a note when you send V9!

Dear Eric, Last year I purchased the Classic H.I.T Strip System and I’m finally getting to build my wall for it. I was wondering if you could help my with a problem that I think I might have with my design. I have a very limited space to get something nice going. I have a wall that is 13’ 2” x 7’ and 8.5” high. I’m unable to make a wall go into the room, so I’m forced to go perpendicular to it. I’m thinking to set the base and start of the overhang at 2’ of the floor. At a 55 deg past vertical that would give me it just long enough to place all 5 strips. And here comes the question and what worries me. I’ve never climbed overhanging walls before and just starting with that, learning the more advanced techniques. Do you think 28-inch width of the wall will be enough for my feet, will training on it be simply like climbing a ladder. Technically since the strip is 20 inches long I will only have about 4 inches on each side of it for the feet. I would really appreciate if you could comment on that. Thanks! –Matt (Chicago)

Matt, You can set up the HIT strips just as you mentioned. 36” wide would be ideal, but 28” can work. Doing laps on HIT is basically like laddering and you want the foot holds to be simple—you want to be able to climb briskly and not have to hunt for footholds or do a lot of major body repositioning (which will slow you down). This is a finger/arm isolation exercise, so the simple laddering motion with moderate hip turning is just what you are after. Since you are new to steep walls, work into it carefully…just using body weight for the first several sessions. The new strips have a lot of texture, so when you add weight you may need to tape your skin or sand off a little texture (for skin comfort). Of course, you’ll want to do a lot of bouldering on your climbing wall to develop movement skills and strength in many different body positions—the HIT isolation on the fingers should be done towards the end of the session to specifically target those muscles. Hope this helps—good luck!