Round 39

Q: My weight is right around 180 pounds and I just can’t lose any more weight. I eat great and run, not to mention climb. I also take creatine when I lift. So, how do I lose the extra weight (Fat)? – Joe

A: Hi Joe, How tall are you? That helps me understand what 180 lbs means to you. Assuming you are “normal height” (5-8 to 6-0), then I agree that 180 is a bit high for hard climbing. That said, your DNA might have you locked in at a higher weight…and it’s often very hard to get below this personal “set point” (for me it’s a set point of 162 that I can’t get below without starving myself…which isn’t something you nor I want to do). What type of running do you do? Taking several long, moderate pace runs on flat terrain per week (running for 20 to 40 minutes each time) is one good method. This, combined with improved diet (no fried foods, fast foods, cakes, candies allowed! And minimal alcohol and beer, too), should allow you to drop some weight. I would also suggest going off creatine for a full month and see how that affects bodyweight. Remember, creatine bonds with water when it’s stored in your muscles, so you might be carrying several pounds of water weight that you’d lose if you went off creatine. For this, and other, reasons creatine is not really a very good useful supplement for climbers. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

P.S. I know a lot of 180 lb people who climb 5.12 or harder…so even if you can’t lose weight, working ceaselessly to refine skills, technique, and the mental game will keep you improving for a long time to come!

Q: Hey Eric, I’ve hit a plateau in my climbing (stuck in V4 and low 5.11s). I’ve been told by fellow climbers that when I get into trouble I rely on my strength to muscle my way through an obstacle. I’m pretty good with technique when I put my mind to it but unfortunately my ability to hold onto small holds doesn’t correlate to my power. I figure it’s time to do some fingerboard routines? My question is if I’m climbing Monday, Tuesday, Friday, where and when would you suggest the best time for me to incorporate the fingerboard routines? –Dave (BC, Canada)

A: Hi Dave, Your best bet is to do a brief fingerboard session at the end of your Tuesday climbing and a bit longer session at the end of your Friday climbing. This way you don’t compromised your rest days. The only other option is to do a fingerboard/climbing workout on Saturdays. This way you still have rest days on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

I do agree with your friends, however. I bet you are already strong enough to climb V5 and 5.11c/d–most people are!–but your technique (body positioning) is causing you to waste energy and work harder than need be. It’s a tough thing to realize first person, since you might feel like you are moving well–but trust me, almost every climber can improve their technique somewhat! So, redouble your efforts to always find the best way to do sequences and NOT be happy to just thrash up a route. Practicing routes to the point of perfection is one of the best ways to iron out technique. It’s a complex thing, however and a coach might be of some help.

Q: I’m an experienced climber, and I feel that my finger strength is my greatest weakness. Is it a good idea to do extra finger strength training at the end of a climbing session? – Brian (California)

A: Hi Brian, Yes, you can do additional training at the end of a climbing session, although you should not do this if you are extremely fatigue. Typically you might spend 15 to 30 minutes doing additional training like pull-ups, weight pull-ups, fingerboard hangs, etc.

However, perhaps the best thing for you to do is to wear a 10-pound weight belt as you do some bouldering routes. If V7 is your limit, then you’d want to do “easier” problems in the V2 to V3 range while wearing a 10 lb weight belt. Avoid tweaky problems that might injure you. The goal is to climb steep moves on decent holds–with the added weight while climbing, your grip will have no choice but to adapt and get stronger! This is a powerful method, but don’t go overboard. Maybe do 5 to 10 weighted boulder problems in the middle of each bouldering/climbing session.

Q: Hi Eric, It seems that the difference between two-arm-strength and one-arm-strength is pretty big in my case–I’m doing pretty well as long as I can pull with both arms. But as soon as it comes to one-armed moves, I sunk. Same with hanging exercises. What do you recommend to improve my one-arm-strength (finger and pulling)? – Felix (Australia)

A: Hi Felix, Two things to consider: 1. Strengthen your shoulders, and you’ll do MUCH better at using the strength you possess (one- or two-armed). Thus, I suggest you train twice a week with the following: 3 sets of Dips, 2 sets of Push-Ups, 2 sets of overhead Dumbbell Presses (with 15 to 25 lb dumbbells). This might seem like strange advice, but you’ll just have to trust me. Most climbers have weak shoulders that can’t properly anchor movements—this makes them fell weaker on one-arm moves. Strengthening the chest and shoulders will also help protect your shoulders from injury.

More specifically, you should begin training with Uneven Grip Pull-ups. Put a sling over a pull-up bar and grab onto it with one hand at a level about 12 to 18 inches lower than the bar (the other hand is gripping the bar). Train both sides with 2 or 3 sets at the end of your climbing workouts.

Q: I’ve been roadtripping through most of the winter, and I’m getting back into training antagonist and core-strength. Should I train antagonist and core on my rest days or on climbing day? – Tobias

A: Hello Tobias, That’s really a personal preference; I do it both ways, depending on the workout. So if you’ve done a really hard climbing session, then save the antagonist and core training for the next rest day. However, if you are doing just an hour or two climbing-gym workout, you can certainly do the antagonist exercises at the end of this session (and this way have a day of complete rest to follow).

Q: Hi Eric, I’ve asked you a couple of questions previously and have learned much from your book, Training for Climbing. I am preparing to start the 3-2-1 cycle. With the 2 weeks of AE training. What other exercises are suitable to do along with the interval training? I currently do Pull-Ups with 45 pounds hanging from my harness, Frenchies, Repeaters, and I have just discovered that I can do Double Dynos on the campus board. I know it is not recommended that someone begin campus training before 2 years of training let alone 8 months but i feel strong whilst doing it and have felt no pain at all so far. – Benen (Australia)

A: Hello Benen, Yes, proceed with caution with the Campus Training–favor Laddering and Touches, over the Double Dynos (which can easily blow out a tendon). Tendons take a long time to strengthen, so go easy with it. Remember, the campusing is power training, so that is to be done during the 3 weeks of max strength and power. You can combine this with some hypergravity training–buy or make a 10 pound weight belt and wear it for a few bouldering routes in the gym each session.

The two weeks of AE training should focus on climbing intervals. Do 5 to 10 laps on a boulder problem with only a 30 second rest in between (hard), or do 3 to 6 laps on a rope route with just 2 or 3 minutes rest in between. These are great training strategies! Then finish up your AE workout with the Frenchies. Whew!