Your Questions

Round 47

Q: Hello Eric, I am interested in developing crimp strength/endurance for a project that I have been working for some time. Would it be advisable to do some additional training for crimp strength in addition to the H.I.T. workout (perhaps additional sets of H.I.T. using the crimp holds)? –Casey (BC, Canada)

A: Hi Casey, You can do up to three crimp sets of HIT, but no more. Most important is adding weight to your body so that the crimp grip gets worked maximally. I suggest you work 2 weeks of max strength and power (HIT and campus), then do 2 weeks of anaerobic endurance training (intervals on boulder problems or routes). You can also use your HIT system to train endurance very effectively. Here’s how: Climb up and down at bodyweight for between 40 and 60 hand moves, cycling through all the HIT grip positions. Then rest for 2 minutes. This is one HIT interval. Do 6 to 8 of these intervals and it’s a great AE workout that will really help you on hard sport routes! (Don’t forget to x-tape your finger to prevent skin wear.) Good luck, and let me know when you send the project!

Q: Hi Eric, This isn’t a question, but a comment. Thank you so much for all your informative and inspirational literature. I have finally redpointed 5.12, after several years of climbing. I have a home wall, and a campus board, and a hang board, but kept holding back on getting the HIT strips. To make a long story short, I hit a plateau and decided to finally invested in the HIT strips. I did 5 workouts with them, and was simply floored by the progress from one workout to the next. I have the data if you want it for a survey about the success of the HIT strips. Anyway, I was able to get back to Jackson Falls last weekend and hit a 5.12 on my third attempt! The pockets felt so large and my fingers so strong, thanks to the HIT strips. I’m wishing I would have purchased them sooner. Thanks again Eric for all you do for the sport! –Kerry, MO

A: Thanks for the kind feedback, Kerry! Kudos to you for having the self-awareness to change up your training and MAKE the next grade happen!

Q: I have developed shoulder pain after doing pull-ups and any other head movements? Any idea what’s going on? –Thomas (Indiana)

A: Sorry to hear about your shoulder–many different things can be going on. Some climbers develop impingement, others suffer from instability, or even a partial tear. It’s impossible for me to say what your problem is. If it’s painful climbing, then I suggest you stop climbing and begin some self-therapy with antagonist muscle training as described in my books and the Nicros TC. Strengthening the muscles of the shoulders and chest may help. However, you may need an MRI to accurately diagnose what’s going on. Do see a doctor if the condition doesn’t improve with a month of rest and rehab.

Q: Thanks for all the great training advice in “How to Climb 5.12″. After being a mediocre 5.10 climber for years I received your book as a gift, applied your training techniques, and transformed into a solid 5.11+ climber. Why not 5.12 you ask? I was on the cusp, and then my wife had a baby and I decided to take a hiatus from climbing until I could catch up on my sleep. 15 months later, my son is doing great, I’m all caught up on my zzzzz’s and ready to re-commit to climbing. This brings me (finally) to my question. In “How to Climb 5.12″ you suggest that if you’re going to build a home wall start with a 50 degree past vertical wall first (I did), and if space and money are available add a slightly overhanging section for traversing. What is slightly overhanging? If I don’t hear back from you I’m going to go with 5 degrees past vertical, but please let me know if I’m about to make a mistake. –Kyle (New Hampshire)

A: Hi Kyle, Thanks for the kind remarks. I can relate to the baby issues…I was in that boat a few years ago, but life is great with a family AND you can still climb hard! The 50 degree wall is the business. A traverse wall is not essential…if you build one, make it more like 10 to 20 degrees past vert. I also suggest people build a 4 foot wide panel at about 65 degrees past vert if space allows. This wall will be much longer and with big holds, so it’s great to pump steep laps on for a big pump. Here’s a link to a page with a photo of a wall in Portsmouth that a friend of mine just built with 30, 50 and 65 degree panels. Maybe it will give you some ideas. http://www.nicros.com/archive/building_home_wall.cfm

Q: I have been reading your articles about how to train for climbing and proper nutrition. I think I’ve reached the point where my eating habits are much more important in relation to my climbing performance then they have been in the past. I would consider my eating habits now to be mediocre at best, I’m a poor college student surviving off pizzas and subway sandwiches. Can you make a few diet suggestions…maybe some of your personal favorite breakfasts, lunches, and dinners?

A: Hi Greg, Yes, nutrition is important for both performance and recovery. That said, with only 1.5 years of climbing under your belt the biggest gains will come for improving technique and mental skills. To do this, get outside climbing as much as possible, or roped climbing in the gym. Bouldering and home wall training is great for building strength and power, however “grunt” bouldering doesn’t necessary train subtle technical skills and sequences. Nutrition is a complex subject…hard to distill into a brief answer. Your best bet is to read the nutrition chapter in my book, Training for Climbing; it’s comprehensive. In a nutshell, avoid fast and fried foods. Pizza is OK, if you don’t put meat on it and remove some of the cheese. Skim milk is the ultimate food for a climber, if you can drink it, since it’s fat free and contains high quality protein. 4 glasses (a quart) per day is a great thing. Fruits and veggies rule…eat as much as you can stomach. Whole grain foods are good for energy; Balance bars are awesome for cheap, sound snacks ($1 each as grocery stores…so stock up) Avoid packaged snack foods, muffins and the like…all are filled with bad oils. Drink lot of water and get 7 to 8 hours sleep (important). That’s the primer, now read the book! :-)

Q: Hello Eric, We have a small training wall and I need to train muscular endurance. How can I do this on a small bouldering wall? –Rus (Romania)

A: Hi Rus, Bouldering Intervals are the best strategy on a small wall. Set 10 hard boulder problems (6b – 7b) and learn them all. Your goal then is to do all 10 problems with only a 1 minute rest in between each. Do this each training day, and it’s a great endurance workout. When this becomes easy, do two cycles (all 10 problems 2 times each) with only 1 minutes rests. Then you can decrease the rest period to 45 or 30 seconds to make it harder. Ultimately this simulates doing a long route with many hard sequences.