Round 108

I have been trying to apply the lessons in your book, Training for Climbing, and have seen some fantastic gains this season. I have been using the 4-3-2-1 macro cycle for training and am currently on the 1 week of rest phase, prior to a (hopefully) peaking trip to Horse Pens 40. My question: Is it best to just take it easy and relax during the rest week  or should I maintain some kind of an active routine? Thanks! – Javier (Louisiana)

Great question, Javier. While you don’t want to do anything really stressful, you should stay somewhat active. I suggest you do something athletic at least a few days over the “rest week.” You could do a few casual runs, an antagonist workout; heck, you can even do some light climbing if you do only easy traversing and some big hold jug pulling that doesn’t pump you–this is actually a good thing to do after you take your initial day or two of rest. But don’t get sucked into a major workout that will wreck your week of recovery! You want to arrive at the HP at 100%! Wishing you a great trip!

I hope you have a second to give me some insight here. I’ve been reading up a bit on your HIT system, I’ve recently moved from California to North Carolina, and my new gym has a set up. I was wondering if, in your opinion, using it would be of any benefit to my training. I’ll start by saying that I’m predominantly a boulderer. I’ve gone through several cycles of hangboard work, focusing on repeaters with added weight, and had very good luck however the texture of the Metolius boards I’ve been using thrash my skin to a point that I feel it’s almost a hindrance to other training and climbing in general. I’ve made constant use of the campus board over the last few months, working up to being what I would consider to be a semi-advanced level, but now I find the campus board at my new gym to be slightly less challenging (shorter spacing, less severe angle), and what once previously quite difficult is now somewhat easy. So I’m looking for a new direction, as I feel like I’ve hit something of a plateau. My current project-to-send grade is roughly V8, with a few V9’s to my credit, and I feel as though I need some more specific, targeted training stimuli to help ratchet my contact strength to the next level. The HIT system seems as though this could help provide me with a novel training stimulus to help force muscle adaptation. Your thoughts?  –Adam (Bunger)

Adam, I suggest you use a Complex Training strategy–that is, couple a HIT workout with some campusing. These combined, will provide you with a new, valuable stimulus (as described in my Training For Climbing book). After a good warm-up, do a lap on HIT pockets (add weight until it feels hard), then immediately do a set of campus laddering (NO add weight). Rest a few minutes and do another set of HIT (say, crimp), then immediately follow this with another set on the campus board. Start with 5 sets and build up to 10 sets over time. Do this towards the end of your session after you are done with your max bouldering…just make sure you are NOT fully exhausted before you begin the Complex Training. Ideally, boulder for about an hour, then move on the complex training. Let me know how it goes!

Dear Eric, I am new to the sport of climbing and bouldering (and I’m only 15), but I was wondering if you had any advice as to how I can train until I get my driver’s license and can get myself to the gym more often. Also I am hoping to eventually become a sponsored climber and I would like to know how to set up a climbing resume. Thank you for your time! –Alex (Arizona)

Hi Alex, Climbing is a skill sport, so climbing as often as possible is priority one (up to 4 days per week). If you can’t get to the gym that often, then doing some general condition would be beneficial (such as pull-ups, push-ups, core exercises, and perhaps some running). As a new climber it’s smart to avoid anything super-specific (like campus training), although you could by a finger board to do some basic finger and pull-up exercises. Long term, you build your resume by climbing hard outside and doing well in competitions. But most important–have fun climbing!

Hey Eric, I’d like to start with saying I enjoy your books. I own Training for Climbing and Maximum Climbing and feel I have gained so much from both of them. However, I have hit the physical brick wall for myself, after climbing about one year (5.11a/V3). I’m 6’4 and weigh in about 140+. I am always building better technique but I don’t feel that I’m progressing anymore because my technique is at a skill level my physical strength cannot match. I have also tried for years to gain muscle mass, which I can only gain hitting the gym for months and if I miss a week I lose it all. I try to eat as healthy as possible and watch everything that goes into or on my body. What would you suggest I do in order to gain that physical strength I so desperately need to progress in the sport? I have access to both a climbing gym and a weight gym and have the desire to train all day if my body would let me. I look forward to hearing what you have to say or what you might suggest. Thanks for taking the time to scope this out! –Jason (Kentucky)

Hey Jason, As a relatively new climber you are doing pretty good, so don’t be too hard on yourself! There’s a long learning curve to climbing (many years), but it’s not a steady gain—it comes in spurts with also periods of plateau. Anyway, gaining some strength will certainly help, but you must continue to also climb a lot to groove the neurological skills (which will make you strong in climbing ways!) So, I wouldn’t give up climbing days to strength train, but instead do some exercises at the end of your climbing sessions. For example, so 5 sets of pull-ups (add a weight belt around your waist if you can do more than 8 to 10 pull-ups per set). General pushing exercises to strengthen your chest and shoulders are also important–dips, push-ups, dumbbell shoulder press, etc. You could do these a couple days per week at a weight gym (on your rest days away from climbing). Of course, some core work would be wise, too; you can do this at the end of climbing days. Keep in mind that your genetics dictate why you are built the way you are, so you are unlikely to every put on a large amount of muscle. But that’s not bad…you will be able to get stronger while only adding on, say, maybe 5 to 10 pounds of muscle over the next year or two of training. By then, I bet you’ll be climbing 5.12s!