Round 51

Q: Hey Eric, First off, I LOVE your HIT training system! It is absolutely great. I was just wondering where exactly performance days fit into the 4-3-2-1 workout. Thanks for the help! –Michael (Maine)

A: Hi Michael, Thanks for the kind words! In using the 4-3-2-1 cycle, you should simply replace a workout with a climbing performance day–you can do it during any part of the cycle, but during the 4-week phase is the best time. Ideally plan to have 2 days of rest before a performance climbing day. Ultimately, if you have a big weekend or roadtrip you should try to finish up a cycle and have 4 to 7 days rest before your trip. Then begin a new cycle after the trip.

Q: Hello Eric, I’m 39 yrs old and never have been really very flexible. Is regular stretching going to help me become more flexible, or is there some other kind of regimen/system that you would suggest that will work. –Aharon (Maryland)

A: Hi Aharon, Flexibility is somewhat dictated by genetics. Also, as we enter middle age (I’m just a few years older than you) it gets harder to develop flexibility as our muscles are kind of set in their ways. But you should be able to get some improvement with daily stretching. The key is to not stretch cold, but instead to do some general exercise to warm-up, then stretch for 10 minutes or so. Do your climbing, and then stretch for another 10 minutes or so. But you aren’t done. You also need to stretch on rest days from climbing for another 20 minutes or so. Unless you stretch pretty much every day, you won’t see much improvement. I’m not very flexible, but I stretch each evening after my workouts while I watch a little TV (makes it easy to withstand).

FYI, my new book (just out!), Conditioning for Climbers, has a full chapter on stretching techniques, as well as ten other chapters of great stuff. You can view chapter overviews at:

Q: I am taking my 18-year old neighbor out to get on actual rock for his first time. Are there any differences in muscle groups use going from plastic to rock? The reason I ask is I don’t want him to get turned off if it feels too difficult. –Jeremiah (Kentucky)

A: Hey Jeremiah, The muscles used are the same, but the fine-motor control movements and the actually motor programs (skills) are much more subtle and variable outside. Thus, I suspect he will find everything feels hard for the grade outside initially–so begin on moderate routes. It takes many weeks, months, even years, to learn the many subtle outdoor climbing techniques, which is why it’s much more challenging—and rewarding!—than climbing indoors.

Q: Ahoy! I am new to climbing…I have made what many people tell me is “pretty damn good” progress. However, I’ve recently developed some shoulder pain, perhaps the result of doing more overhanging routes. I guess it is a matter of “no pain no gain”, right? –Matthew (Oregon)

A: Hi Matthew, “No pain, no gain” applies to muscle soreness, NOT joint pain! Joint pain is never a good thing. People who get good FAST, as you have, are most at risk for tendon and joint problems. Rest and antagonist muscle training, to stabilize the shoulder, is important to nip it in the bud. Check out the Nicros TC for articles on these subjects. Also, I’ve done a recent Podcast on Podclimber regarding Shoulder injuries–you’d benefit from listening in.

Take it easy, my friend; you’ve got many years to climb ahead of you. Wreck your shoulder, however, and you’ll be playing poker instead of climbing!

Q: Hello Eric! We have a new place to build an indoor bouldering wall, so I’m wondering what the best angles to build for effective training? –Demir (Croatia)

A: Demir, I feel the best angles are 30 and 50 degrees past vertical, so built walls at these angles first. After that you can add a 15 degree past vert panal as well as a 65 degree wall (past vert). Have fun, get strong!