Round 45

Q: Hi Eric, Thanks for your great books! I have read them all, and they are the best out there! I am age 29 and climbing for 6 years with an onsight ability of 7c+/13a. What grade would you suggest me to pick for my projects and is it better to work projects or to onsight for improving performance? – Ofer (Isreal)

A: Hello Ofer, Thanks for your kind remarks. You are climbing great! If you onsight 13a, then you can project 14a. That’s my rule of thumb–project one full grade above your onsight level. I suggest you spend about 80% of time onsighting and only 20% projecting, however. This is the best strategy for building skill and not getting hurt or demoralized by projecting too much!

Q: I was climbing 3-4 days a week and lifting heavy weights too, but my forearms were hurting. I’ve changed to twice a week and noticed I’ve got a bit stronger and I don’t hurt. I was wondering if you have any recommendations or books I could read that will help me improve further but not get hurt by overtraining. The heavy weights seem to wear out my forearms a lot but I don’t want to give up climbing or weights. Thank you again for all your time and help. – David (California)

A: Hi David, I’m not sure what you mean by “lifting heavy weights”? Are you talking a bodybuilders’ style workout? As you’ve learned, rest is as important as the workout. If you don’t feel near 100% while training, you haven’t rested long enough…and you’re not going to benefit from another workout. Most important, getting outside and climbing regularly (learning skills and improving climbing economy) is just as important as strength training. If you haven’t already, my book Training for Climbing will help you in many areas. Don’t forget to use “recovery strategies” as discussed in the book–this will speed recovery and get you back to the gym/rock at 100% sooner!

Q: I am recently having a love affair with crack climbing, and would like to specialize. Are there any crack-specific training exercises which will help me excel? – Alon (Australia)

A: Hi Alon, Crack climbing is a very specialized skill, and thus the muscles are used in a very specialized way. Therefore, most gym climbing and training exercises don’t precisely target the muscles in the way crack climbing does. Sure, general training and climbing will make you somewhat stronger for crack climbing, but to really get dialed in (specific strength, technique and tactics) for cracks you must climb a lot of cracks!

Q: I’ve got the HIT setup on my 56-degree loft wall; it’s just too steep for me to do effectively. I’m 62 now, trying to avoid injuries, but still think I can make some progress. Should I ease it back to 50 or 45 degrees? What do you suggest? – Richard (Vermont)

A: Hello Dick, By all means, kick the wall back to 45 or 50 degrees. 45 will make the HIT Strips quite incut (which might help you), but I prefer 50 degrees. Most important, make sure you put some really good footholds on the wall to use when you are doing laps on the HIT system. Your foot placements should be bomber (no slip, little thought) and this too will take some weight off your hands. Begin training at just bodyweight and work up to being able to do 20 to 30 total hand moves at bodyweight per grip position. Perhaps then, you can start adding a little weight around your waist (only do 10 to 20 hand moves with weight). Then again, I don’t think that serious HIT workouts are essential for you–most important is just getting on the wall, getting a pump on, and feeling good about moving around on the wall. And, of course, get outside climbing as much as possible since the mental and technical skills of a veteran climber are your greatest assets.

Q: I’ve been climbing (and training) for a couple of years and everything I know I’ve learned from books and diligent awareness. I’ve found that a four month macrocycle seems to work better for me as far as enjoying climbing and training, and it seems to correspond nicely to the climbing seasons. A four week foundation, eight weeks of hypertropy, five of power and two to four of AE training. I spend recovery days doing light aerobic exercise, typically after some technique focused less than vertical solo climbing. How often should I take a week of rest? I’ve been resting one week every ten weeks or so. I also only take one full rest day a week but this feels adequate because my recovery days are so low impact. – Ian (California)

A: Hello Ian, Sounds like you have things pretty much dialed in for your situation. Frequency of rest depends on so many training variables, also quality of nutrition, and even your unique DNA. Sounds like you’ve got above-average recovery ability and your active rest seems to work well. One suggestion would be to rest more during the Power phase, since power exercises cause significant Central (neural) Fatigue which can take up to three times longer that (muscle) cellular recovery. If you ever feel “off” after a rest day (not 100% full power or strength), this is likely the cause. A few other things to look into: massage and trigger point therapy of the climbing muscles, performance nutrition and recovery techniques (as explained in my TFC book), and a week or two of Complex Training (see TFC book) added to your power phase. One full week off every 10 weeks works best for most climbers.

Q: Hi, I have two kids ages 12 & 9 who train in a climbing team and compete. They are both hard climbers. My question is how to avoid over development of certain set of muscles that are more associated with climbing, resulting in overall posture imbalance (such as stooped round back). – Uri (Oregon)

A: Hello Uri, Great question! Today’s hard-climbing kids do tend to develop imbalance that can cause posture problems and injuries. The key is to add a variety of “push exercises” to their weekly training. Twice per week, they should do push-ups (or bench press with 10 – 15 lb dumbbells), shoulder press (try 5 or 10 lb dumbbells), dips, reverse wrist curls (with a 5 lb dumbbell) as well as some exercises for the lower back (extensor) muscles. Daily stretching is also important.

One other thing to watch for: pain in the bones of the fingers. There’s a growing occurrence of growth plate injuries in the fingers of young climbers ages 10 – 16. This can be a serious injury, so climbing frequency should be reduced at first sign of any pain in the bones of the fingers.

My book, Training for Climbing, is a comprehensive guide. Also, I have a new book coming out in February called Conditioning for Climbers. Check out my website for info on the books.