Your Questions

Round 42

Q: Hi Eric, I attended your seminar at VE this summer and bought your book. I have a question about training cycle. What are the some schedules for sport-specific (SS) training if I plan to climb on the weekend? – Steven (MN)

A: Hi Steven, I propose two different schedules for SS training for weekend climbers: Tues/Wed and Tues/Thurs. In using the Tue/Wed routine, the key is NOT to climb to exhaustion on Tuesday–focus on hard bouldering, power and improving technique; then on Wednesday you can focus more on endurance or redpointing. The nice thing about Tues/Wed is that it teaches you to climb hard two days in a row, as most weekend climbers aspire to do. But in a pure training schedule, Tues/Thur is a better schedule, since you can train maximally both days given a rest day in between.

Q: Hi Eric: I have been using your HIT strips for a little while now and have been seeing some good strength gains from them, both in terms of how I feel on the rock and in terms of the amount of weight I’m using on the HIT strips. In my most recent workout, I could do about 16 movements on the large holds with a 38-lb vest, and the crimps also about 16 movements, with 20 lbs. My question is that even though I’m adding a fair amount of weight on the bigger holds, I’m still unable to do more than a move or two on the pockets (with no weight) and can’t do anything with the pinches. Do I just keep jacking up the weight on the bigger holds until this changes? – David (MA)

A: Hi David, The pocket and pinch grips are very specific, but if you keep working them neural learning that will soon kick-in and enable you to build to 10 to 15 hand movements. The best approach is to have a spotter press (upward) on your back to reduce weight so that you can go up and down once (at less than body weight). Do two sets this way, but be aware (careful) that you don’t strain your tendons (do consider taping your fingers). Also, be sure you are turning your hips and placing your feet on decent foot holds, since this is good technique and will enable smoother movement.

Q: I’ve been climbing three years, but I’m having problems moving beyond 5.12. What can I do to improve further? – Leonard (Brazil)

A: Hello Leonard, Achieving 5.12 in 3 years is very good. Still, you can certainly climb much harder, but it will take a focused effort to improve technically and mentally, not just physically. Force yourself onto new types of routes and problems that are not your strong area (technique-wise). This will help elevate your skills and your ability.

Q: I recently bought your book Training for Climbing, and I think it’s an excellent. Thank you! I’m trying to make myself a good training program that I can do at home using “pump rocks” or a fingerboard, since I can go climbing only about once a week. I would like to adopt the 3-2-1 strategy but when it comes to choosing appropriate drills, I have trouble distinguishing between strength/power exercises and A-E exercises. How do I adjust exercises, say on the pump rocks or fingerboard, to train strength or endurance? – Caj (Finland)

A: Hi Caj, Here is the key concept: If an exercise is brief and maximal, then it trains max strength and power; however, if the intensity is only moderate and the exercise duration longer then it trains anaerobic endurance (AE). So, a set of 25 pull-ups or a minute of Frenchies will train AE, whereas an 8-rep set of hypergravity pull-ups (with say 40 pounds around your waste) or lunging powerfully on a campus board will train max strength and power. Thus, you can adjust the weight/intensity of most exercises to scale an exercise from strength to AE.

Q: Hello, I was wondering what will give better training progression – Doing a little bit of everything per session, or having a separate day for each type of training (bouldering, campusing, intervals, etc) – Alon (Australia)

A: Hi Alon, Group similar (physiological) activities/exercises for a given session. For example, do bouldering and campus training on the same workout; then do redpoint, endurance exercises and such on a different workout. Actually it’s best to cycle back and forth from max strength/power workouts to endurance climbing workouts every couple of weeks. Varying your workouts and keeping them progressive is key.

Q: What things can I do to improve my mental game for hard climbing and competitions? –Zorbey (Istanbul)

A: Hi Zorbey, Yes, mental training is very important. I have recently recorded 6 podcasts on mental training that will be very helpful. Here’s a link to listen to them on your computer:

Listen to Training podcasts #11 – #16, to hear on six different mental topics. Also, I suggest you get a copy of Arno Ilgner’s Rock Warrior’s Way, an excellent book on the subject.