Round 104

I’m just about finished building a small HIT wall at home and my priority is to develop my open-hand strength to break my crimp addiction. My question is on the HIT strip training: Is the center jug intended for the open-hand or should I just open-hand the outer edges? Also, do you have any suggestions as to other ways that I could break my over dependence on the crimp grip? –Kaveh (Ontario)

Hi Kaveh, Yeah, use the outer edges and open hand on them. Also, grabbing the pocket holds (which is an open-hand grip) will really strengthen open-hand strength. Progressively add weight to your body and you’ll see your strength increase! But don’t forget, in climbing for performance, you can make the most of your open-hand grip strength by finding optimal body position and center of gravity placement for each move. So climb with this goal in mind and, with practice, you’ll be climbing stronger and more efficiently. Let me know how he HIT workouts go!

I was bouldering last night, warming up slowly but noticeable tightness in the forearms. Got onto a very fingery problem and fluffed a move and heard a pop. I asked my friend, was that a pop? Did that just pop? I really wasn’t sure because I felt nothing. Within a minute however it was clear I had suffered an injury to my left ring finger around the A4 area. I immediately stopped climbing and applied an ice pack and took some ibuprofen. It did begin to feel achey and sore. On returning home I ate a good healthily dinner and used an ice cup to massage into the finger – felt good. I would really appreciate if you do have the time to read this, to provide some suggestions as to best course of action. –Rich (Glasgow Scotland)

Hi Rich, Sorry to hear about your injury—but good job on the ice cup, which is the best thing in the first few days following injury. A week or so of general rest is important until swelling and pain quiet down–at this time you can begin some very light foot-oriented climbing, gentle stretching, massage, etc. A small amount of “stress” is good throughout the healing process, however, there’s a fine line you must be disciplined not to cross. Do too much, and you’ll re-injure rather than foster healing—it’s for this reason that lesser-disciplined climbers are better off simply not climbing at all for several weeks after this kind of injury. Anyway, when you do return to harder climbing (hopefully not for at least a month after the injury date), I suggest you tightly tape the finger (use “X” method shown in my books) to provide a little extra support and, more importantly, to keep mindful of the finger and to go easy on it.

I’m mostly just a recreational climber, so I never thought of training before–I just climb a lot! My problem is, I think I hit a plateau and can’t get passed 6c+ grade. I want to climb/send harder routes. How can I start on my training? I think my major weaknesses are power and dynamic/big moves. I also have limited time to climb since I work 5.5 days a week from 8am to 6pm. Normally I just climb 3 days per week after work for about 3- 4 hours. How can I maximize my time to train hard and climb hard? Thank you for your help! –Bern (Singapore)

Hi Bern, You shouldn’t need to be dynamic to climb 7a or 7b–I think you should work mainly on building lock-off strength and improving your climbing technique. Bouldering a couple days per week will help improve power, whereas climbing on a rope is often better for building technique and more efficient movement. I can’t provide a training program via email, but you can build your own with the help of my book Training for Climbing. Learn more at

My dad is turning 75 years old in September. He used to spend weekends climbing in Yosemite as well as other ranges in California in the late 60’s thru the mid 70’s. Anyway, he wants to celebrate his big 75 by climbing Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite and wants me and my brother (who has lots of climbing experience) to go with him. I have no climbing experience. Currently, I run almost every day and section hike a weeklong portion of the A.T. every year. What do I need to do to be ready to make this climb with him? I am skinny and have not all that much upper body strength, although I do 100 push-ups almost daily. How can I get in shape for this climb? –Jim (Florida)

Hi Jim, Sounds like a great goal for your family! Climb the Lost Arrow Spire will be an amazing experience, one that will likely have you doing a lot of jumaring up the rope. Anyway, developing general fitness/strength can help a lot—push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, etc. However, developing climbing-specific fitness is the key. Is there an indoor climbing gym nearby that you could climb at twice per week? If so, this would make a HUGE difference in having you ready to climb. I’ve written several books on the subject–Conditioning for Climbers would be a good one to start with.