Round 117

I was a basketball player before I started climbing, so I have large, muscular thighs. I’d like to drop some of that muscle mass without losing my climbing muscle. I already start jogging 3 times a week, but I’m afraid running will build up more muscle on my leg. What do you suggest? –Terry (Hong Kong)

Hi Terry, Running 5 to 8km a few day per week on flat ground (no large hills and no sprinting) is your best bet for shrinking your leg muscles a bit—give it a few months and see if you lose any weight (I doubt it will put on additional muscle). Otherwise, genetics largely dictate these things. But don’t worry, because I know you can get much stronger and better at climbing even at your current weight—just keep striving to improve your technique and movement skills. Becoming a more efficient and stronger climbing will keep you improving for many years to come!

Hi, I love the Nicros site and all of the great tips! I was wondering if there were any other exercises I could do other than the 1-minute interval pull-up workout and frenchies, in order to improve to improve endurance. I don’t get to go to the gym very often but I’m always working out on the hangboard. I’m pretty confident in my power and ability to hold onto even the tiniest of holds. But I really struggle if I have to hold more than 1 -2 minutes. I feel this is what is holding me back from 5.12s and higher. Anything else you suggest that can help me out? Thanks! –Ryan (Tennessee)

Hi Ryan, The two exercises you mention are great for pull-muscle endurance. You should also cycle in some strength exercise, since getting stronger is important to advancing at climbing. For strength, I suggest 5 sets of 5 pull-ups with extra weight added to your body–you’ll probably need about 20 to 30 pounds for starters. Use a weight vest or hang weights from a thick belt or harness. Rest for 3 minutes between sets. Long-term, improving max strength will help you endure longer on pumping terrain! Also, for grip/forearm endurance, I suggest doing “moving hangs”—you can do these on your hangboard, too. Read more here:

I have developed tendinitis in my elbows, and I’m following your guidelines for getting better. This sort of injury bugs me more so than others because it sounds like it could be a chronic problem and, thus, make it hard to progress as a climber. What I would like to know is have you ever dealt with tendinitis? What do you suggest? Thanks for writing so much great literature by the way; I can’t wait to hear from you. –Derek (Virginia)

Hi Derek, Yes, I’ve dealt with this injury in the past, and it’s unfortunately a common injury among climbers. As you point, it can become chronic. So it’s important to try to nip it in the bud, rather than let it linger for months…or years! The rehab is somewhat controversial (depending on where you read) and depends on whether your injury is medial or lateral (inside or outside of the elbow). It’s very hard to give specific advice, because it really depends on grade of your condition. If it’s just “mild”, then you can probably keep climbing a regular schedule, with daily stretching, local muscle message, and basic rehab. A more severe grade would require time away from climbing (for it to quiet down) followed by a period of rehab before returning to climbing. Have you seen a doctor yet?

Eric, I recently purchased the HIT Strip system and have a question in regards to the amount of weight to add for each grip. My initial baseline was established with zero weight and I quickly found I’d need to add weight on 4 of the 6 grips. I would go through each group until failure, not exceeding more than 30 hand movements. I did this because you mention if I can do 20-25, then add 5lb’s; more than 25-30+ add 10lb’s. My question is, should weight be added in 5lb increments, or would it be better to add weight in 5% increments? I have a climbing buddy weighs less than I do and so 5% for her is ~2lb difference. Also, after adding weight, should I continue to try to reach 30 movements if I find that the newly additional weight continues to be too easy? Thank you for all your training articles and contributions to the climbing community and industry! –Josh (California)

Hey Josh, Both of you will need to sort out the proper weight-add over the course of several workouts—5lb is just a rough guideline. Ideally, you want to settle in at a weight that allows between 16-20 total hand movements per grip (8-10 per hand), since this is the rep range for building the muscle and improving strength. Doing 10-15 reps is ok, but will develop “strength endurance” more than pure max grip strength (both are important for climbing, so you can’t really do wrong either way). Be sure to cycle on and off the HIT every few weeks, and since you are a relatively new climber (less than 2 years) do go climbing as much as possible, since improving technical and mental skills is important. Be careful with overtraining—I sense your excitement, so I always caution passionate folks to rest enough to allow your training to pay off. Let me know how it goes—good luck!