Round 170

Hi Eric! What are the best types of things to eat before and after a workout or during a weekend trip? How much protein does an average climber need? Thanks! –Sarah (North Carolina)

Hi Sarah, It’s best to train and perform with an empty stomach, so avoid anything more significant than a healthy snack, energy bar, or cup of coffee (water or similar) before your workout. Post-workout, however, nutrition is important and somewhat urgent—you don’t want to wait more than an hour or so to consume some source of protein and carbohydrate (otherwise it will slow/hamper the recovery process). In general, a dedicated climber should partake in a sensible well-rounded diet—at least two sound meals per day with lots of water and a couple of healthy snacks on climbing/training days. Minimum protein requirement is 1 gram/kg of body weight…with ~1.5g/kg an ideal amount.

Dear Eric, My daughter is 12 years old and she’s a nationally ranked youth climber (Spain). Coaches here seem to disagree a lot on the best way for kids to train—what advice do you have for me to best guide my daughters training?–Adriana (Spain)

Dear Adriana, It sounds like your daughter is a talented climber, however, given her age (12) I must start off by warning about the risk of growth plate fracture in the fingers. This is an increasingly common problem among hard-climbing youths during the growth spurt years (age 11-14 girls, age 12-16 boys). Bouldering on small crimpy holds and dynamic exercises like campus training are most risky—her climbing and training should be reduced in the case of any pain in the long fingers. Overall, I believe climbing is the best training for kids—3 to 4 days per week with a balance of time spend bouldering and roped climbing. While some strength training exercises are fine, the main focus should be improving climbing technique and expanding her skill set. Doing increasing amounts of rope climbing and outdoor climbing will broaden mental skills, self-awareness, and climbing efficiency—all important to become a successful climber in the long run. Just bouldering (as many kids do) will limit growth. Most important is to always have fun and not to over-dose on climbing and get her burnt out or injured. Here’s a link to an article on youth training.

Hi Eric, I’m a avid climber but find myself playing more rugby than climbing. Because of my rugby specific training, I tend to be bulking up (gaining weight) which seems to be limiting my climbing (I’m currently plateaued at 6c). What advice can you give me for breaking into the 7th grade…and hopefully redpointing 7a/+? –Gregor

Hey Gregor, I appreciate your situation—it’s not uncommon to have two sports in a kind of “conflict”. Of course, climbing is a power-to-weight ratio sport, so you want to be on the lighter side…and not add too much muscle bulk. I do think that with practice, you can learn to move more efficiently and thus climb harder at your current weight. But to advance to 7a+ and beyond, you may need to reduce mass a bit by limiting your Rugby training. Ultimately, you may need to pick a sport if you want to really dominated in one or the other.

Hi Eric, Thanks so much for your recent energy systems podcast! I’ve listened to it 3 times already on my commute to work, and I find it really interesting and super useful for my training. Now a quick question: You made an interesting point on the most recent podcast about creatine supplements generally not being a great idea for climbers. But as an aside you mentioned this supplement could be good for vegetarians. My girlfriend is a vegetarian, so I’d appreciate some additional information and advice on other potentially helpful supplements? –James

Hi James, Thanks for the kind words! As a once vegetarian climber, I know more than a thing or two about the pros and cons…which for a serious athlete may be more cons than pros. Fortunately, there are a few supplements that can help fill in some gaps. 1. Take 2 or 3 grams of creatine monohydrate will make up for what she’s missing in her diet. 2. Take Vitamin D (2,000 IUs per day). Really, I believe EVERYONE should be taking this. 3. Vitamin B-12 is also important to supplement for vegetarians…and perhaps a iron supplement as well, once or twice per week, especially around menses. 4. Protein shake before bed (whey is ideal, if she’ll compromise here), especially after a hard workout or day of climbing. Hope this helps!