Round 46

Q: What’s the best way to build confidence as a redpoint and competition on-sight climber? In particular, I’m interested in building the confidence of my climbing team at school. – Nic (Florida)

A: Hello Nicholas, Ultimately, confidence must come from within–it is born from experience. So your best approach is to encourage your friends to do more leading. Avoid toproping and try to lead every single climb at the gym (on-sight). They shouldn’t watch others on a route until they give it one on-sight attempt–after that you can work a route as a team. Confidence also grows with “winning”–that is, frequently succeeding on on-sight attempts. So, get on a lot of climbs just within their ability and win a lot. Conversely, constantly failing or hanging on routes (projecting too much) kills confidence and motivation.

Q: Can you give me an example of complex training with rest times, repetitions and sets? When should I intergrate complex training into the training cycle? – Camilo (Spain)

A: Complex Training should be used during the max strength/power phase of a training cycle. You can couple weighted maximal hangs on a fingerboard with campus training, or couple a set on the HIT system with a set on the campus training. Perform the coupled exercises back-to-back with no rest in between. Then rest for 5 minutes before doing the next coupled set; repeat for a total of five to ten total sets.

Q: I am trying to push my climbing this winter to lead some harder 12s in the coming summer and my biggest worry is pockets and the potential for tendon injury. What would you recommend to strengthen my fingers/tendons and get over my fear of pockets? – Ben (Washington)

A: Hi Ben, Yeah, finger tendon injuries can be rough to deal with…need to avoid the cycle of re-injury. Most important, avoid the obvious tweaky tiny holds–no climb, indoors or out, is worth getting injured. As far as strengthening tendons….they need to be exposed to stress and then adapt (just as muscles get stronger). Of course, tendons recover and strengthen at a much slower rate. Limit yourself to 3 days of climbing per week…four days rest from finger stress is key. When you climb, do a good warm-up with lots of moderate climbing, then tape the base of your fingers before getting on hard boulder problems or routes.

Q: I am stuck here in Iraq for a while and wanted to know what you think is a good way to train and keep in shape. I have a small living area but can probably rig up something to “horse around” on. – Steven (Iraq)

A: Hi Steven, First, thanks for your service. Actually I’ve heard from several troops on the ground in Iraq and I know a couple have build small overhanging training walls. This is the best option, if possible. If not, you should focus on lots of body weight exercises: pull-ups (do 5 to 7 pull-ups every minute for 20 minutes, for muscular endurance; harder that you might think), weighted pull-ups (20 lb pack on, for strength), push-ups, dumbbell shoulder press and dips for push muscles; various ab exercises and stretching to complete the program. Do this 3 or 4 days per week and you’ll maintain decent full-body conditioning.

Q: I feel that footwork is a major weakness, and this translates into me powering through most moves and using more energy than I should. What kind of footwork training can I do? BTW, I’ve been climbing about one year. – Nathan (Canada)

A: Nathan, As a relatively new climber, it doesn’t surprise me that your footwork is lacking. Good footwork takes many years to develop, but you can speed improvement in this area by striving to FEEL each foothold (think about it) when you place each foot on a hold (most people just plop the foot on and forget about it). FEEL the hold and then concentration on feeling your center of gravity (or hips) move over that foot. Next, concentrate on relaxing your finger grip to the minimum amount possible. Do all these things with every move you make. At first it will take a little time for gain the feelings I’m talking about, but with practice it will become habit and you’ll be styling!

Q: Hello Eric! I have read your incredible book “how to climb 5.12” and have got a question for you: How can I integrate redpoint attempts in your 4-3-2-1 training cycle? – Mario (Austria)

A: The best time to work redpoints is during the 4 week stamina phase or the 2 week anaerobic endurance phase. After a good warm-up, do your redpoint climbing, then move on to your regular workout for the phase. Most important, maintain the right number of rest days throughout the cycle.