Q: Hello Eric, Recently I found a beautiful route that is power endurance on tufas (compression moves, relatively big pinchy holds) on a 45-degree overhanging wall. Could you give me some tips for training for that specific route? I can do all the moves, but I get excessively pumped. –Dragos (Romania)
A: Hi Dragos, You need to train in as similar a way as possible to the actual climbing moves and time length of the climb. Can you set up some pinch holds on an overhanging indoor wall and then climb up and down on the holds to simulate the route? Really, what you need is more anaerobic endurance–this adaptation takes time (several weeks or more) for the body to build more capillaries and mitochondria, and to become accustom to functioning at elevated blood-lactic levels. Although you can probably send the route sooner by learning to climb faster and more efficiently (body positioning is extremely important on such a route). So build a simulator to develop specific-strength and to solidify your sense of optimal body positioning on such a steep, pinchy route. Good luck, and drop me a note when you send!
Q: Hi Eric, I heard the pop while crimping (likely an A2 pulley injury). What can I do over the next few months to stay in shape and train while my finger is healing? Obviously I can’t climb, but I’m hoping there is something I can do to keep my body and mind occupied while I wait. FYI, I’ve been climbing just two year and I currently boulder V6. –Nick (Connecticut)
A: Hi Nick, Sorry to hear about your injury, but it’s unfortunately not all that uncommon for a new climber who improves so quickly (V6 in less than 2 years). Basically, your skills and muscles got ahead of your tendons–so beware that this injury can happen to you again! Short-term, while you recover, try to maintain your bodyweight (do something aerobic and watch your diet), do some basic push-muscle and rotator cuff training (to improve joint stability and protect against possible future elbow or shoulder injuries). When the finger pain subsides, you can begin pull-up training (on a bar, not fingerboard) as long as the finger doesn’t hurt when doing or after the pull-ups. Also, work stretching of both forearm flexor and extensor muscles and begin some mild massage to the tendons (only after you are painfree). Stretching and massage will enhance healing blood flow and help align the elastic tissues during healing. Ease back into easy big-hold climbing 3 or 4 weeks after the tendon is painfree. Snugly tape the injured finger pulleys for training/climbing for the next 12 months or longer and avoid strenuous crimping (favor open-hand grip). Gradually ramp up your climbing this summer, but focus more on roped climbing rather than V-hard climbing for as long as you can help it! Think long-term and avoid reinjury at all costs!
Q: What is the difference between HIT Strip training and training on a campus board? To me, it seems the two forms of training are the same, except that with HIT, the climber places their feet on small footholds and trains with more than their body weight. Would I not get the same results from campus training as with HIT? –Garry (Australia)
A: Hi Garry, HIT and campus are very different in the stimulus they provide and the ways the body adapts. Campus is a form of reactive (plyometric) training which mainly trains the nervous system to turn “on” faster…for increased contact strength and power. HIT Strip training is an actual climbing exercise which trains STRENGTH throughout the full chain of climbing muscles, although you will notice its effects most in increased grip strength (the ability to grip down on small holds, pockets, and pinches). HIT, with its added weight via a vest or belt, leads the muscles to adapt via hypertrophy…actually growing the muscles. Ultimately, advanced climbers get the best (synergistic) results from a modest amount of both HIT and campus training. Hope this info helps. Good luck!
Q: I have a question about the heavy finger rolls exercise as shown in your book, Training for Climbing. I started using this exercise during the max strength phase and I quickly improved to training with the recommended 150% of bodyweight goal. I want to ask your opinion of shooting for 200% of bodyweight—is it too dangerous and/or not necessary? –Kieran (New Jersey)
A: Good work, Kieran–strong boy! I do know a few climbers who have been able to achieve 200% of BW…although I personally haven’t pushed much beyond 150%. My concern is always strain on the lower back…or some other injury that might result. But if you feel you can handle the weight safely, then I agree that it would be helpful to take it up a notch. Of course, I think you can benefit as well from some weighted hangs (fingerboard), HIT training, Campus Training and such. Not all in the same workout, but cycling through different methods every few weeks to keep your muscles “confused” and improving!
Q: Hello Eric, I’ve been climbing for about 3 years now and I just never seem to get any better than my limit of V3/V4 and 11a/b. I’m not sure if this is due to me not climbing enough or not training enough. We have a sweet bouldering gym here that I helped to build, but it only has 8 ceilings so I can’t go that high up and I’m 6’8″!!! I try to set training problems on the 45* wall, but I can only get up once and down once before I’m too tired to hold on. We have a campus board, hang boards, and plenty of training type holds, but I’m just kind of confused about how I can train efficiently and what kind of problems I should set to get better. Also, I’m confused about whether I should train more and climb less, and how I should set up my climbing days in terms of route climbing and training. I really want to improve and I’d appreciate any advice you can provide. –Rick (Ohio)
A: Hi Ryan, You can certainly climb harder, but it will required a smarter, more focused effort. Confusion is very common among climbers trying to figure out training. In your case, I think that more time climbing–with a rope on, not bouldering–is the number one thing to do. Lucky for you, the Red River Gorge is so close, and so I suggest you try to get there two weekends per month if at all possible. During the winter, you’ll need to spend more time bouldering indoors and doing some specific strength training (check out my book, Training for Climbing, for guidance). For now, forget the campus board (other advanced training methods), and focus on climbing more often so as to refine your technical skills, increase economy of movement, AND develop climbing-specific strength and endurance.