Q: I’ve been climbing for about 5 years and am stuck in the 5.10 range. How long would you anticipate it should take a 5.10a climber to achieve 5.12′s? – Scott (Orono, ME)
A: Hi Scott, It’s tough to say how long it will take to get to 5.12a since it depends on many things including time available, dedication, current physical ability, self-awareness and smarts (among other things). The key is to train smart (focus on your weaknesses) and to get out climbing 2 or 4 days per week (indoors and/or out). Working to improve all aspects of your game—mental, technical, and physical—is the ultimate secret to getting good fast. Good luck!
Q: I am 15 years old and I want to become a better all around climber. What training suggestions do you have for a person of my age? – Derek (Mass)
A: Hi Derek, Sounds like you are doing great so far…V6 is pretty hard! However, I am sure you can continue to improve for a long time to come. At your age, the most important thing is to climb 2 to 4 days per week (never more than 4). Also, body weight exercises like pull-ups and dips and such are useful, but I discourage campus training and other extreme methods until you are done growing. Focus on improving your technical and mental skills…and the strength will follow. At about age 17 you can get on a more elite-level training program, but for now just get out bouldering or climbing on a rope on a regular basis. And have fun!
Q: Hi Eric, I am mostly an ice climber and ski mountaineer but I do enjoy trad and sport climbing as well. I snapped my tib/fib in 3 places a few weeks ago and am looking at 4 months before I am able to return to sports. I figured this would be an ideal time to begin training to maximize my potential upon returning to rock climbing. Right now I am on crutches and only have access to a typical weight gym. Do you have suggestions for a training program that would benefit me within the constraints of my injury? – Colin (WY)
A: Colin, Sorry to hear about your injury…but I agree that this is a great time to do some upper-body training for climbing! Given the gym you have access to, I would suggest the following. Get on a 3-day-per-week schedule, and allow about 90 minutes for each workout. Go to the gym and do 4 to 8 sets of pull-ups, 3 sets of dips, 2 sets of shoulder press and bench press, 5 sets of core, and 2 sets of reverse wrist curls. When using free weights, it’s important to keep the weights light–somewhere between 20% and 50% of your body weight. Go any heavier and you risk bulking up, which is counterproductive for hard rock climbing. Also, you can substitute some of the pull-up sets with heavy lat-pulldowns, or hypergravity pull-ups or frenchies (as described in my books). Good luck, and get well!
Q: Is there such a thing as a “climbers diet”? What tips do you have for a vegetarian? – Ashley (TN)
A: Hello Ashley! In general, a climbers’ diet should focus on providing the right kind of energy to fuel training/climbing and provide the building blocks for rapid recovery. I’ve written a full chapter on the subject in my book, Training for Climbing. Check it out!
Anyway, your diet should be filled with high-quality proteins (grilled chicken & fish, lean red meat, and skim milk), slow-release carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables. Eating 4 to 6 small meals is better than 2 or 3 large meals, and of course drink lots of water throughout the day. Things to avoid: fast foods, anything fried, anything with trans fats, whole milk, simple sugars and candy, anything with “high fructose corn syrup” as a first ingredient (including many energy bars). The best bars are balanced-style…with near equal amounts of fat, protein, and carbos.
As for vegetarians, getting enough protein is a very real problem since an athlete needs at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Protein powder—specifically Whey—is a great supplement used by many vegetarian and non-vegetarians athletes. You can get a 5 lb jug of Whey for about $30 and it will last you about a month. Mix it into water or OJ and it tastes great. This way you can drink two servings of whey per day (breakfast and before bedtime) and get a total of 50gms of protein right there.
Q: Hi Eric, This week I had surgery to repair an umbilical Hernia. Now I am resting for 4 weeks before my next evaluation. Any idea what my best recovery plan might be? Should I be targeting the abdominals with light sets of crunches after 4-6 weeks rest? – Jason
A: Hi Jason, I think you are going to be just fine–my son had the exact same injury, and he was climbing again about 6 to 8 weeks after surgery….and full strength climbing at 12 weeks. So, it’s my experience that you will be “good as new” after your recovery period. Of course, follow your doctor’s advice precisely…whatever it is. I imagine you should avoid any ab/core training until after the 4 week recovery, then gradually begin back into core training and climbing. Do nothing that cases pain, however. I think you’ll be surprised how fast you come back from this injury!
Q: I want to change my campus board into a HIT wall at about 45 degrees. Any advice where I could get some holds like the HIT strips but not as pricey? I might end up making some holds out of wood…is this doable? – Ryan (AZ)
A: Ryan, You can use identical crimps, pinches, and two finger pocket holds in place of the HIT strips. However, you will need 10 nearly identical holds of each kind–so these 30 holds may cost almost as much (or more) as the HIT Strips. Also, NICROS occasionally has “cosmetic seconds” of HIT Strips, which they sell at reduced price. Give Nicros Sales a call and see if they have any. Mounting 5 HIT strips is much easier than 30 holds and it gives you the ideal platform for training.