Q: Hey Eric, I am 16 years old and I’ve been climbing one year. I’m wondering what you thought would help me get past 5.11a and achieve 5.12a by next summer? – Luke
A: Hi Luke, As a climber of only one year, getting out climbing on a regular basis is most important. Indoor climbing is also beneficial, especially for weekday climbing/training. Accumulating experience and diverse climbing skill is paramount. Supplemental training never hurts, but actually climbing is the best training for a beginner like you. Drop me a note when you send 12a!
Q: I have two questions for you, Eric. 1) How can I improve recovery time between days of climbing? 2) I use a hangboard to train finger strength, but I’m not improving anymore. What can I do to provide more gains? – Austria
A: Hi Johann, 1.) Accelerating recovery is a rich subject–I have a new article on this in the Training Center, and I’ll have more in the coming months. I have also done several podcasts on recovery that you can listen to online at listen to podcasts #24 – #29. 2.) As for hangboard training, you should start adding weight round your waist (10 kg). Also, climbing on an overhanging indoor wall with 5 to 10 kg around your waist will make you much stronger! You should read my book Training for Climbing.
Q: What’s a good way to stay in climbing shape if you don’t have access to anything but yourself and gravity? – Ben (Las Vegas, NV)
A: Hey Ben, I’ve been in those situations and you just have to visualize great climbs in the future and keep yourself from self-destructing by eating, drinking, and working too much!
As for activity, the basic body weight exercises are better than nothing: a few sets of push-ups and ab crunchs, jog to a playground with a jungle gym and do 10 sets of 10 pull-ups with only a one minute rest between sets (that will pump you up), jog back home and stretch the legs to maintain flexibility. That’s about all you can do. Think positive and know that great climbs are ahead of you!
Q: Hi Eric, I’m very strong on short routes but I pump out on long, steep climbs. What can I do to improve my endurance? – Mikaek (Sweden)
A: Mikael, One of the best ways to improve anaerobic endurance is with Climbing Intervals. That is, climb a route (about two full grades below your limit) five times but with only 2 to 4 minutes of rest between each climb. This is a good gym climbing exercise, since you can pick a steep route and work laps on it. Your rest interval should be about as long as the climbing interval. For instance, climb for 4 minutes (up and down the route), then rest 4 minutes, and repeat. Doing five intervals like this will get very hard by the fifth ascent, but it’s a great way to train muscular endurance. Use a stop watch to be exact with your rests.
Q: I am resting my climber’s elbow as per your advice. When can I start doing pull-ups (or anything else to preserve the strength)? Also has accupuncture ever shown quicker results in rehabbing elbows.? – Michael (CA)
A: Michael, Accupuncture may help with pain relief, but I doubt it will correct the underlying problem. Rest and rehab are essential. If the pain is on the inside of the elbow, you must strength the pronator teres muscle–see exercise on the website. Regular mild stretching is important. When pain is mostly gone, you can begin pull-ups–but do them on free floating rings or Pump Rocks, not a finger bar or board (which will stress the pronator). When you can do painfree pull-ups on the pump rocks, then you can begin to transition to climbing and regular pull-ups. Finally, take no advil or other NSAIDS–they slow healing of tendons! Instead apply a heat pack or heating pad a few times a day to enhance blood flow to the tendon.