Round 52

Q: I am a 50-year old healthy male, but about 20 pounds overweight. I want to climb hard and eventually do some big walls and/or alpine climbs. My question is: Do you have some special tips for people like me? –Manuel (Mexico)

A: Hello Manuel, YES, you can do it, but you need to elevate your commitment and training. First, you must lose the weight–that will improve stamina and strength significantly! Begin running 4 days per week (20 – 40 minutes) and you must watch the foods you consume. Check out my TFC book for detailed nutrition guidelines.

Also important: get outside climbing more often! Schedule more trips to places you can climb a lot of mileage, either many sport routes or doing longer trad routes. You need to get used to climbing a lot of rock in a day, both developing physical stamina and technical proficiency. Develop a game plan with specific goals that will track you toward your goals. Believe in the future, but act in the present!

Q: Dear Eric, I have enjoyed your books for many years now. I gather from your books that you are a proponent of periodization (4-3-2-1) style training. I have noticed some nice peak gains when I have used this method, but I have also noticed some lows where my performance actually decreases after the “peak”. Do you have some advice on maintaining the peak level or is some dip in performance a necessary evil of periodization training? –Luc (Ontario)

A: Hi Luc, You answered the question yourself! You are right–you can’t be at a peak all the time! Performance is always on a cycle, so by controlling and knowing the cycle you can hopefully plan and do your hardest climbs (or road trip) near a peak. As you advance, you may want to shift to a 3-2-1 cycle: 3 weeks of strength/power training, followed by 2 weeks of AE training, and then a week of active rest (actually 4 – 7 days) before you begin the next cycle.

Q: What footholds do you recommend for the HIT strip system? It is purely a HIT strip wall so screw in footholds would be fine, I am just not sure what size to get. –Mike (Arizona)

A: Hey Mike, I like “medium” size holds, about an inch deep, and fairly easy to step on. You don’t want to be slow and fumbling for the feet—HIT is a “moving exercise,” so you shouldn’t need to pause and figure sequence. You just need enough feet so that you can flow up the HIT strips with your feet moving naturally, and hips turning naturally, just like on a real climb! Treat your first few weeks of HIT as an experiment to figure out the weights you need to add for each grip. Keep good records and time your rests between sets. HIT will bring you some amazing results!

Q: Hi Eric, I’ve been suffering from elbow tendonitis, first on the inside and then on the outside! After many months away from climbing, it’s now looking like I will finally be able to get back to climbing soon. It’s apparent that I’ve lost a lot of strength, but I was wondering if going that long without activity would have been enough for my tendons to weaken, too. I guess my question is, how slow do I need to take it, and for how long? You say not to do high stress things like campus board if you have had a recent injury. Any thoughts on how long I need to wait before being back at 100%? Thanks a lot. –Ryan (Kansas)

A: Hey Ryan, Yes, you are right about the tendons being weaker without the exercise stress. It’s very important to ramp things up slowly. Stretching and massage before and after each workout is important for both sides of the forearm. A heating pad is good for warm-up and before bed to enhance blood flow for healing. You may benefit from wearing a compression strap around your upper forearm during your first few months back training and climbing (you can get one as Sports Authority for $15). Ramp things up by about 10% per week, taking 2 to 3 months to increase climbing intensity back to pre-injury level. Finally, avoid dynamic moves, tweaky holds, and high-end training until you’ve been climbing pain free for at least months. “Easy does it” is the bottom line!

Q: I just dislocated my right shoulder and my Doc told me that I should not try and climb again, because I would dislocate my shoulder again. I am scared about my climbing future. Any advice would be great. –Joe (Oregon)

A: Hey Joe, I don’t know the seriousness of your injury, but I’d get a second opinion from a sports medicine specialist. To say “never climb again” is a very strong statement; perhaps “don’t climb again this season and do extensive rehab now so you can climb next season” is a better instruction. See what a second doctor says.

While you will always be at risk for re-injury (especially in doing steep, physical climbs), I do think extensive rehab and strengthening of all the stabilizing muscles of the shoulders and chest—and the all important rotator cuff mscles–might enable you to return to moderate climbing (at least) in the future. Anyway, my advice is to not climb anytime soon, see another doctor for a second perspective, and look into a good rehab program. Good luck!