Round 26

Q: When is the best time to train antagonist muscles; the day after climbing (i.e. a rest day from climbing) or on a climbing day? — Vojko (Koper, Slovenia)

A: Antagonist muscle training should not strenuous, so you can fit it in on either a climbing or rest day. If I’m climbing outside a lot, then I typically do the antagonist training the day after I climb outside. However, if I’m training indoors, I like to do the antagonist training at the end of my climbing workout.

Q: What’s the best program for me to get in shape for an Alpine Guides Course upcoming in a few months? — Joey (Colorado)

A: Hello Joey, I am going to assume that your climbing course will be in the mountains…if so, regular aerobic activity (such as running) would offer great base conditioning for long days of climbing at elevation. In addition, try to climb in the gym 3 days per week to develop more sport-specific climbing fitness. I strongly encourage you (and all climbers) to do some antagonist “push-muscle” training twice per week–this would be 2 sets of push-ups, dips, shoulder press, and reverse wrist curls. These will help maintain muscle balance and hopefully prevent injury. Of course, additional pull-muscle training with pull-ups, Frenchies, and occasional hard bouldering would help develop climbing strength and local endurance.

Q: For the last seven months I have been bouldering at least 3 days a week with the goal of increasing my finger strength. When is a good time to add some campusing and HIT training to the mix? — Jared (Winston-Salem, NC)

A: Hi Jared, Assuming you don’t have any finger, elbow or shoulder tweaks ongoing, you could begin some HIT workouts now and then some Campus Training six months from now. Most important, you must commit to doing the various antagonist exercises twice per week, every week. This takes only 20 minutes, but it’s most important to avoiding elbow and shoulder injuries as you train/climb harder and get stronger.

Q: If in the middle of the 4-3-2-1 cycle you have to take a week off (for work or such trivialities), what do you do? BTW, thank you for your tips in you book, How to climb 5.12. I’m now climbing 9-, which is USA 5.12a! Joerg – (Berlin, Germany)

A: Hello Georg, Unplanned breaks are inevitable, so just deal with them as they come up. I certainly would NOT start the cycle over, unless the interruption is for more than one week. So given a short break of a few days, just continue on with the training cycle. Also, I see that you are climbing 9-, so you may want to modify the 4-3-2-1 cycle to just a 3-2-1, where you nix the 4 weeks of stamina climbing. If your stamina and skills are good, you would be best to focus training on max strength/power and anaerobic endurance. In doing this you can reduce the 1 week rest to just 4 or 5 days, before repeating the cycle or going on a climbing trip.

Q: I am doing the 4-3-2-1 workout schedule and I have just finished the “3” weeks of finger strength. I am a little fuzzy on the details of the 2 weeks of anaerobic-endurance training…how long should I rest between sets? – Jordan (Portland, OR)

A: Hi Jordan, OK, here’s the deal. For the 2 weeks of AE training, think of it as Interval Training, much like as runners use Interval Training. You will do climbing intervals with equal length climbing and rest periods. You can do this a couple different ways: 1. Climb a series of V1 or V2 boulder problems with only one minute rest between problems (figuring each problem will take about a minute). These should be problems you know and can do with modest effort…i.e. they feel hard, but aren’t maximal. Do 10 to 20 problems like this; of course, you’ll be getting really fatigued and pumped as you go…but this is the goal. 2. Climb intervals on an indoor wall. Lead or TR a route to the top (this might take 2 to 4 minutes to climb) then rest for exactly the same amount, and repeat. Doing 4 or 5 intervals in this manner will produce a significant pump. It’s great AE training!

Q: I am suffering from tendonitis in both arms. Is it safe to do hangboard workouts on the jug holds while I heal to stay in shape? Am I likely to suffer from this in the future even if I let the tendons heal properly — Ben (Troy, OH)

A: Ben, Elbow problems often become chronic, so you need to get this to heal now, versus trying to climb and train through it. Most elbow tendonitis is the result of overtraining and developing muscular imbalances in the forearms. Exercises like reverse wrist curls and specific elbow stretching can correct the problem to help you avoid this in the future. I have a very detailed section on this in my book Training for Climbing, however, there are also a couple article on the Nicros Training Center. Check them out. On a pain scale from 1 to 10, I would advise no training or climbing if the elbow pain exceeds a 2 or 3 (very minor twinges). A proactive approach may put this injury behind you forever in as little as 3 to 6 months.