Your Questions

Round 22

How long to let A2 pulley injury heal before beginning HIT Workout?
Q: I have a recently injured A2 pulley, but am still able to boulder in the gym without pain. I would like to start my winter training and incorporate some H.I.T. this year. How long should I let this injury heal before proceeding? –Paul (Calgary, Alberta)

A: Paul, HIT is not appropriate if you are nursing an injury. Since the climbing season is over in your area, I suggest resting your finger a little longer. Maybe take a few weeks off before kicking into your winter training cycle. HIT, of course, is rather stressful on the fingers/arms (which is why it’s so effective), so I’d wait a couple of months before adding HIT to your regimen. (Note: when you do, it’s a good idea to use the “x-method” of taping to protect your skin and tendons when training with added weight.)

How to best train without access to an indoor gym?

Q: I am stuck at school until summer, and the nearest gym is an hour away. Due to studying and working I can’t make it to the gym very often. So my question is, what weight lifting plan could I use to help keep in shape during the times I can’t make it outside or to the gym? -Brian (West Lafayette,IN)

A: I get a lot of questions about weight lifting, Brian. Here’s the scoop. First, do not engage in a body building type weight program of lifting super heavy weights (which will bulk you up). General conditioning with moderate weights, however, will keep you in shape-do two sets with a weight that allows you to do 20 to 25 reps. Of course, body weight exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, dips, and crunches are a great alternative if you can’t get to the gym. (Consider hanging a fingerboard at home to bring the workout to you! Also, it’s great to make pull-ups more specific to climbing by doing lock-offs, varying grip width, doing weighted pull-ups, one-arm lock-offs, etc.) Do these three days per week along with some aerobic training to stay lean, and you’ll be doing about the best possible, given your situation. Good luck!

Does high-milage running hurt climbing…and how to speed recovery?

Q: In a previous question you said excessive running will hurt your climbing. I am a high-mileage runner (80 miles/week) but a recreational climber and I was wondering how much running will affect my climbing ability. Is breakdown of upper-body muscle something I need to worry about? Could you suggest ways to train around this (maybe higher protein)? — Jared (Winston-Salem, NC)

A: Hello Jared, I’ve been there…that is, running 70+ miles per week and trying to climb. No doubt you can do both, but the high volume running will limit gains in maximum strength and can lead to a general systemic fatigue. Yes, increasing protein intake (use whey powder in skim milk) will help, and I’m sure you can excel in both sports. But to do you very best in climbing, I would suggestion you cut the running in half. It all comes down to which activity you value more.

What’s the best way to jump back into training after a layoff?

Q: I’ve not been climbing much recently, and have noticed a significant loss in strength, technique and stamina. We’ve got a small climbing wall and good bouldering on site, and I was wondering the best way to go about rebuilding my climbing fitness. Would it be continuous traversing or attempting problems up to and beyond my limit? – Ken (Lochgoilhead, Argyll)

A: Hello Ken, I’d take a 10-week approach to regaining your strength/stamina. The first 4 weeks concentrate on longer, sub-maximal traversing or lapping around on large holds. Strive to climb continuously for 3 to 10 minutes. Avoid tweaky, difficult moves, however; the goal is to move on the wall, affirm technique, and regain stamina. The next 3 weeks shift to working difficult boulder problems of 4 to 10 moves in length–these should be near-maximal problems. Still, avoid anything that feels injurious. Finally, spend 2 weeks training anaerobic endurance–that is, hard, sustained boulder problems of 12 to 24 moves (kind of like a short sport climb). Conclude with a week of rest from climbing since the first 9 weeks will hit your body hard. After the rest week, you can repeat the cycle or begin using your new-found fitness to start sending climbs outside.

Suggestions for dealing with tendonitis?

Q: I’ve enjoyed your books and appreciate your many contributions to climbing at places like NRG. Thank you! I’m 35 and I took my first month-long climbing trip, and a month later developed tendonitis (overuse) in both hands (ring and pointer started in July). I took off a month, saw a doctor, did PT, and have slowly eased back into climbing. I’ve taken off 2 weeks a few times after the initial month off. My fingers continue to get better, but still ache a little. My past experiences with tendonitis (elbow & shoulder) indicate that full recovery takes many months, but after an initial rest can be climbed through. Is it safe for me to continue climbing as long as the fingers aren’t getting worse, or do I need to take off more time? Right now I’m climbing outside on weekends and resting during the week. I’ve changed goals to work on on-sighted 12a rather than projecting 12d and am not bouldering. I tend to be very good about stretching, massage, and icing. Any other suggestions? — Rob (Chicago, IL)

A: Sounds like you are on a decent approach to dealing with the finger problems, if they are not getting worse. Hopefully you’ll see gradual improvement, though it could take many months to completely go away. Your decision to focus on onsighting 12a instead of projecting 12d is spot on! Also, avoid hard bouldering until you are completely painfree. One thing to consider: With winter here, maybe take a few weeks off, then hopefully return to climbing/training in January with the finger in even better shape. Anyway, keep up the warm-ups, and don’t hesitate to end a session early if you feel pain in your fingers–I do this increasing often with my advancing age (41), instead of risking injury.

How to speed recovery between bouldering and training sessions?

Q: After a summer of onsight climbing, I’m getting back into indoor bouldering to develop some max strength for next spring. However, I have problems recuperating between bouldering sessions. I would like to fit in at least two a week, plus one day of aerobic activity for maintenance of stamina. What could I do to speed up recuperation without reducing the volume of climbing too much? — Tom (Luxembourg)

A: Hi Tom, My book, Training for Climbing, has a full chapter on accelerating recovery. Most important is a high-glycemic index sports drink and whey protein shake within the first hour after finishing your intense max strength workouts. Another whey protein shake before bed and first thing the next morning are key. Many climbers shortchange themselves by not getting proper nutrients after a workout.

Of course, the volume of your workouts is an important issue too. It could be you are digging too deep of a hole to recovery from in two rest days. HIT workouts and long bouldering sessions can take especially long (3 or 4 days) to recover from. So, I advise reducing volume a bit…maybe 10% if you are having trouble with recovery. The bottom line: it’s something you’ll have to feel out with experimentation. Keeping a training notebook can be a big help, too.