Q: I find steeper routes to be quite easy compared to thin, technical face routes and slabs. How can I improve in these areas? –Jim (United Kingdom)
A: Hey Jim, Thin face is a complex skill set that takes much time and practice to develop. Most important is growing a keen proprioceptive sense—that is, a clear feeling of balance, center of gravity location, and the means of most efficient movement in a wide range of situations. This is something that you can only develop via practice, so make it a goal to get on thin face climbs as often as possible to accelerate the learning curve. Really, there’s no secret other than to accumulate experience, which ultimately will yield the skills you are after.
Q: I read in a recent Rock and Ice that you should stop campus training at age 40. I just hit 50, and have done some light campus workouts without problem. What are your thoughts on this? I hear that Lee Sheftel campuses, and he looks like an animal at 60! Thanks. –Paul (Colorado)
A: Hi Paul, Everyone is different, so there are no absolute rules. But I, too, advise a reduction of dynamic climbing/training after age 40, even though I do know of many people over 40 that do dynamic moves and some campusing. My suggestion is to let your intuition be your guide. If you’ve been climbing and training a long time, then I bet you can correctly intuit where to draw the line. Of course, it’s always best to err on the side of prudence.
P.S. I just turned 45, and I still do some campus laddering and touches; however I have all but stopped doing the much more stressful Double Dyno (double-handed) campus training.
Q: I have a regional competition next month, and I would like to train as hard as possible to hopefully make it to nationals. This is my first year doing ABS comps. I can only get to the climbing gym twice per week, so I train on a steep home wall 3 or 4 days more per week. Any training tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! –Chris (Virginia)
A: Hi Chris, Sounds like you are training hard, but do make sure you are getting at least 3 days per week of rest from the stresses of climbing (otherwise you are at high risk of injury and overtraining syndrome). Goal #1 is must always be NOT to get injured! As for prepping for a comp: The biggest difference between 1st place and 5th place is mental. So you should try to put yourself through a few “mock comps” as preparation for the real comp. Have several routes picked out and go through them in the exact format as the actual comp. Do EVERYTHING as you would in the comp (how you prepare, think, rest, and what you do between problems). These mock comps will gift you with a more relaxed, confident frame of mind on comp day, and you will climb your best!
Q: How do you cut body fat without sacrificing muscle? –Ben (Kansas)
A: Hello Ben, Doing a moderate amount of running (say, 20 minutes, 3 or 4 days per week) combined with a sharpened diet (reduction in saturated fats, junk foods, alcohol) will do the trick. As long as you keep doing your climbing (and climbing-specific workouts) AND consume enough quality protein, you will not lose muscle. Excessive running and/or excessive dieting will shift you into a catabolic (muscle eating) mode, however. You can learn a lot on these subjects in my book, Training for Climbing.
Q: Hi Eric, I just recovered from an A2 pulley injury. My program was: 2 months of no climbing, 2 months of jug climbing, and 1 month of harder climbing with open hand grips. My tendon has now stopped hurting for 2 weeks, with no pain at all if I do a light crimp on a vertical wall. Can I start ramping it up to harder climbs? –Jireh (Canada)
A: Hello Jireh, Sounds like you took appropriate action, and so you can probably continue to ease back into harder climbing. But go easy and do tape the injured A2 pulley–this may provide some added protection. But it’s always a roll of the dice returning to climbing after an A2 injury. Immediately back off if you feel any pangs in that finger. Definitely avoid crimp grips as much as possible, and do not do any maximal crimping on that hand for another month or two. Good luck!