Your Questions

Round 31

How do I devise a program to build maximum power and endurance?

Q: How do I devise a program to build maximum power and maximum endurance, particularly in the fingers? – Matt (Provo, UT)

A: Hi Matt, That’s a very broad question and tough to answer in a few sentences. First, remember that Power/Max strength and Anaerobic Endurance are VERY different things. Therefore they need to be trained in very different ways. The best approach is to alternate your training focus back and forth between the two every 2 or 3 weeks. For max strength/power, do hard bouldering, hypergravity training, campus training, and such. The key is brief, intense exercise and movements. For AE, however, you want to climb longer boulder problems and sport routes that pump you up. Training burns of 1 to 4 minutes in length (continuous movement at around 80% of max intensity). Rest for a few minutes and repeat. This Interval Training strategy is the gold standard for build AE. It’s best NOT to try to train both in the same workout. Again, focus on one type of training for a couple weeks, then train the other for a couple weeks. Rest 3 to 7 days. Rinse and repeat

How can I best train my climbing climbing technique?

Q: What do you suggest for developing finger, hand, and fist jamming techniques? – Tom (Lakewood, CO)

A: Hi Tom, That’s a common question, and my standard answer is the obvious: climbing cracks is the only effective way to develop the highly specific skills, strength, and feel for pumping cracks. Some indoor gyms, like the one near you in Thornton, have a few cracks that you can TR laps on. You could also build a crack machine–Google “crack climbing machine” and you will find instructions to build one using two 2x10s. Of course, spending one weekend a month actually pumping cracks somewhere (South Platte or around Moab is that far for you) is the ultimate learning experience. You’ll be surprised that in spending just one weekend per month doing this, you’ll gain incredible skill in under one year.

How can I break through my performance plateau?

Q: I am 15 and climb 4 times a week, but I haven’t improved much recently. I have changed my training program to focus on my weak points, however I just can’t break out of this plateau. What do you suggest? – Alex (Perth, Scotland)

A: Hello Alex, Plateaus are a normal part of the “consolidation” process of learning to climb. Since you are so young, you will go through these phases regularly–try not to worry too much about it! Be careful that you don’t climb/train too much–overtraining is very common among young, passionate climbers. Is your body recovering completely between workouts or do you sometime climb sore or tired? Maybe cut back to climbing 3 days per week for a few weeks. Also, try to mix up what you do both in terms of training and climbing. Climb outside at new areas that require new techniques, as much as possible; also mix up your gym routines, don’t just go there and boulder. A stale workout schedule commonly leads to a plateau. The bottom line: trust that you will break through this given patience; have fun climbing and let the results come as they may. You’ve got many years of great climbing ahead of you!

How can I reduce my tendency for tendon injury?

Q: Hi Eric, I have been searching for methods to reduce my tendency to injure various tendons (A1 Annular Pulley, Lateral and Medial Epicondylitis, et. al.). I have read about a number of possible nutritive supplements, but I don’t find any conclusive evidence that any of them are of benefit. What are your thoughts on this? – Jerry (Tucson, AZ)

A: Hello Jerry, Very common questions; here are a few things to consider. 1.) Acute injuries to finger tendon pulleys may be unavoidable when subjecting yourself to harsh holds/moves…as in pushing your limits. The digits are just not made for it, although many years of proper training will increase finger tendon strength. 2.) The key is to avoid injurious holds and to train SMART, rest a lot, and give yourself 5, 10 or even15 years to strengthen those tendons! 3.) Elbow tendonitis is often the result of muscular imbalance (not acute strain), so this can be largely prevented with specific forearm exercises. Check out the NICROS Training Center Archive for a couple articles on this subject. 4.) No supplements exist that will help tendon strength in a significant way…it’s largely a waste of money. Drink lots of water and warm-up properly–that’s the best supplement!

How to train forearm endurance on a fingerboard?

Q: I have a leg injury that prevents me from climbing and most training. How can I train on my hangboard to maintain local forearm endurance? – George (Berlin, Germany)

A: Hello George, You can work local endurance a number of ways. The simplest is to do interval hangs-that is, hang for one minute, rest one minute, hang one minute, etc. Continue for 30 to 60 minutes! Another good method that’s more like climbing is to mount a small strip of wood on the wall in front of the hangboard at ankle or knee level. You can then put your toes on this strip (if that’s possible with your leg) and move your hands around the board changing handholds every 5 seconds. Continue in this manner for 10 to 15 minutes without stepping down off the board (HARD).