Your Questions

Round 48

Q: My problem is in onsight competitions…I get cold feet and lose my confidence. I then often fall before I ever get pumped. What can I do? –Meir (Israel)

A: Meir, You need to narrow your focus onto the process of climbing and let go of thinking about the outcome. This is hard to do in competition, but you can gradually acquire this MO by training to be this way every time you climb. Strive to focus on moves, and let the outcome unfold on its own. Ultimately, it’s about detachment from the results of competition and pre-determining that you will be “okay” with whatever outcome happens. This way, the results will more likely come out in your favor! Whereas climbing the wall and thinking about winning, almost guarantees you will not.

Q: Dear Eric: First, thank you for Training for Climbing. My question is regarding slopers: how can I best train to improve on sloper holds?

A: Hi Tim, Thanks for the kind words. Using slopers is one part strength and one part technique. Often people who struggle with slopers aren’t turning their body properly–check to see if you twist your body with one hip to the wall when you grab slopers. Using slopers with your body straight on is much harder. Play around with this on an overhanging wall and you’ll see what I mean–drawing one hip into the wall improves the force vectors of the fingers onto the holds.

As far as training, I suggest you buy or make a 10 lb weight belt. Wear this to do some bouldering on small to medium size square cut holds and for fingertip pull-ups on a finger board. This will build contact strength that will help out on slopers.

Q: I feel that I am currently getting stronger with training, but continue to fail as I try harder routes (5.11d-5.12a). I worked the moves and can climb the routes with one or two falls, but have trouble fighting off the pump on redpoint. Any advice? –Derek (Washington)

A: Hi Derek, There can be several things at play in the situation you describe. 1. Perhaps anaerobic endurance is a constraint in your climbing–your ability to hang on through tough climbs when pumped. Interval training (boulder problems and routes) is the best way to train this. If you dedicate a month or two to training AE, I think that will help a lot. 2. Breaking mental constraints always play a role in pushing out your limits. Learning to relax, lowering anxiety, detaching from the outcome, and lowering the pressure on yourself all make climbing easier. This is something to work on since it will improve your fuel economy on limit climbs.

Q: Hi Eric, My climbing partner and I are currently going through your 4-3-2-1 training cycle. I was just wondering if taking glucosamine/chondroitin supplements is prudent without a tendon/ligament injury as prophylaxis? What do you think? –Jeremy (Colorado)

A: Hi Jeremy, The process of training and climbing does stress the tendons; and given enough rest they get stronger just like muscles! Unfortunately, Glucosamine has not been shown to do anything for tendons or ligaments, though it’s a common misconception and many climbers waste their money thinking it will help. Glucosamine has been shown to provide the precursors for cartilage formation–so it is a good supplement for people with joint injuries and arthritis.

The best thing a climber can do for their tendons: limit climbing/training to 3 or 4 days per week (you need about an equal number of rest days), drink lots of water, eat high quality protein (which is needed for tendon repair), and never climb when injured!

Q: Small crimpers are my weakness, so I’m trying to target crimps in my training and bouldering. The problem is that my pain threshold in my tips is way lower than my motivation. How can I train small crimp strength without the pain of shredded tips? –Richard (North Carolina)

A: Hello Richard, A good strategy is to train on slightly larger crimps (less painful), but with weight added around your waste. I commonly boulder on my home wall with a 10 or 20 lb weight belt on. I set specific problems–medium size crimp ladders (half to full first pad), medium-size pocket routes, pinch routes, etc. Do a few burns on each problem with the belt on, and it’s a killer workout. Less painful on the tips and even better for training the muscles without shedding the tips.

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.