Your Questions

Round 24

Can you suggest a good climbing camp?

Q: Hi Eric, I read your book Training for Climbing and I think is the best book in the field. I am looking for a climbing camp to send my son (the top climber in our country) to learn new techniques and training ideas. Can you suggest such a camp in the US? — Esteban (Ecuador)

A: Hello Esteban, Thanks for your kind words about my books. It sounds like your son is a talented climber. I strongly encourage your son to attend one of Lynn Hill’s climbing camps. Visit to learn more. There is also a growing number of well-qualified climbing coaches in the US. You might consider engaging a coach for a few days this summer. Here’s a list of US coaches:

Can you provide a couple indoor climbing training routines?

Q: I am having a tough time developing a good training program to engage in at the climbing gym. Can you make a few suggestions? — Rich (Boise, ID)

A: Hey Rich, I suggest you develop a bouldering circuit of about a dozen mid-grade (for you) problems. Your goal is to successfully climb each problem with only a one- to two-minute rest between each. If may take you a few sessions–or weeks–to be able to complete the circuit without falling. This training strategy will build strength, power, and local endurance.

Another idea is to set a route on which you can climb a few laps before falling off. The goal is to climb intervals on the route–climb it up and down for a total of 3 to 5 minutes, then rest 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat this interval three or four times, and you’ll have a killer anaerobic endurance workout! Get a partner to do this with you, so he’s climbing while you are resting (belaying).

Is it okay to climb before engaging in training exercises?

Q: Two quick questions: 1. Can I climb regularly before I train? Say climb for an hour, then start training. 2. Do you recommend more than one exercise per session, for example fingerboard and campusing? – Brad (Indian Head, MD)

A: Great questions, Brad. The answers are “yes” and “yes”! 1. Climbing or bouldering for an hour, then doing isolation training with pull-ups, hangs, campus, HIT, etc. is a great program. You must be careful not to overtrain, however. Sixty to 90 minutes of climbing followed by 30 minutes of strength training is a good middle of the road amount. 2. It is indeed a good idea to target major muscle groups with a couple different exercises. For example, you might do two types of pulling exercises (pull-ups and campus laddering) and two types of core training (crunches and hanging knee lifts). It’s also important to do a few different types of opposing-muscles exercises, such as a set of dips, push-ups, shoulder press, and reverse wrist curls.

What’s the best way for a 5.8 climber to begin training?

Q: What is the best way for a 5.8 climber to begin strength training for climbing? – Jordan (Ontario, Canada)

A: Hello Jordan, As a 5.8 climber, your best training program is simply to climb two to four days per week. As you advance into the 5.10/5.11 range, some targeted strength training becomes more important to further improvement. Until then, focus on climbing to refine technical skills, tactics, and mental control–improving in all these areas will make you feel stronger! It certainly wouldn’t hurt to do a little supplemental training, such as a few sets of pull-ups, abdominal training, and a few push-muscle exercises, however, your overall focus should be on the climbing elements listen above.

Can you list some exercises for use during the “strength” phase of the 4-3-2-1 training cycle?

Q: Can you give me a specific example of a two- or three-day strength training program to do in the 3 week part of the 4-3-2-1 cycle. — Tore (Oslo, Norway)

A: Hello Tore, The 3-week phase two of the cycle is about build maximum strength and power. Therefore, Hypergravity Training as detailed on our site is the perfect type of exercises. For example, after a warm-up boulder for 30-minutes hard problems, then boulder another 30-minutes with a ten pound (5 kg) weight belt around your waist–these problems should be mid-level difficult for you, so you can climb 5 to 10 move problems without falling off. You could also add a little Campus Training, if you are well-conditioned and injury free. Finally, finish your workout with weighted pull-ups–do 3 sets of pull-ups with 20 pounds (10kg) around your waist. Rest for 3 to 5 minutes between sets. This 90-minute workout will not produce a super deep pump, but it will stimulate the muscles and nervous system in a way to elevate your limit (max) strength. You’ll feel much stronger on small holds and long reaches.

How can I train to improve my lock-off strength?

Q: I can hold a one-arm lock-off at a 90 degree arm angle for several seconds, but I can not hold a full lock-off (top position) for more than a second. How can I train to improve my lock-off strength? –Brian (Santa Barbara, CA)

A: Hello Brian, I suggest you begin training with Uneven Grip Pull-ups, which emphasize one-arm strength and lock-off. Here’s a link to an article with description and photos.

Another approach to consider, adding some shoulder training exercises such as dumbbell shoulder presses, push-ups, and dips. This might not sound necessary, but by strengthening the shoulder muscles you improve stability and the foundation for a solid lock-off. Here’s another link with some pix:

Hope this helps out!