Round 53

Q: Hi Eric, I read your article regarding long term recovery, and I am wondering about the use of icing after exercise. I was under the impression that the micro-traumas induced by strenuous exercise always caused swelling to some extent, and that it was a good thing to ice following strenuous exercise. Is this incorrect? –Phil (California)

A: Hi Phil, Yes, ice after exercise can be a good thing in the case of a severe workout with lots of reactive or eccentric training (which causes the most micro damage). The problem with ice, however, is it slows blood flow. Thus, immediately after exercise (the first 30 minutes) icing would slow removal of lactic acid—not a good thing. Beyond that, icing slows blood flood that provides nutrients that drive the recovery process–very important if climbing the next day. Massage is an excellent way to encourage blood flow and recovery; of course icing runs counter to this recovery process.

The bottom line: I tell people to reserve icing for real acute injuries and for after the most vigorous workouts, and to use stretching and massage (and no ice) after typical workouts and days of climbing. But ultimately you must experiment and find what seems to work best for you. Good luck!

Q: I am currently using Whey protein and Glutamine for recovery after training. Is this the best option or are there better alternatives. –Valerio (South Africa)

A: Hello Valerio, Those are good products that will help aid recovery. I like to use Whey first thing in the morning and right before bed, and a sports drink spiked with Glutamine immediately after a workout. Or, you could select a recovery drink that contains protein (like Accelerade) or drink a sports drink like Gatorade and chase it with a 1/2 serving of whey.

Q: I’ve been doing body weight training for years, and I also do a pull-up routine with 30lbs added. After reading Training for Climbing, I’ve added muscular endurance specific exercises (which I never used to do) during the 2 week endurance phase of your 4-3-2-1 cycle. I’ve noticed that my arms feel less pumped after a strength workout now. Is this due to extra endurance or have I just not been working hard enough? –Andrew (New York)

A: Hi Andrew, Good job on adding the endurance exercises. It really is best to cycle back and forth between max strength/power and endurance exercises every couple of weeks. So continue doing hard bouldering and weighted exercises (pull-ups, etc) for a couple weeks, then switch your focus to endurance exercise and roped climbing for a couple weeks. Cycle back and forth like this, and try to integrate climbing outside as much as possible, and you will continue to improve for many years to come!

Q: Hi, Eric! I’m fifteen years old and a pretty serious comp climber. I was wondering if you have a workout or nutritional advice for younger climbers like me? BTW, This site has helped me out a ton already. Thanks! –Anne (USA)

A: Hi Anne, Sounds like you are climbing great! As you push into the higher grades, it becomes very important to work on the little things–those tiny subtle “defects” in your climbing technique, thoughts, and even training make a BIG difference! It’s tough for me to determine your limiting constraints via email, so a climbing coach would be a big help. Otherwise, focus on developing more power in your training, strive for brisk/precise movement on the rock, and develop a quiet mind that is your ally, not your enemy.

Keep following my podcasts, web articles, and books for more ideas as you progress. Please keep in touch and let me know how your comp season works out!

Q: Hello Eric, I climb in gym 3 day per week without a coach or serious training program, but I have read your great book Training for Climbing. I currently climb 5.12a and V6; can you provide me with a training program suitable for me at this point? –Mehran (Iran)

A: Hello Mehran, It’s difficult for me to give you a personalized program, since I can’t see your climbing strengths and weaknesses. But here are a few tips: Work on both bouldering hard moves and climbing long sustained sequences. It’s best to cycle your program between strength/power and endurance training/climbing. For example, train for 2 weeks with bouldering, hypergravity training, campus training and such, to develop power. Then, switch to 2 weeks of endurance training with laps on climbs, interval training on boulder problems, lots of pull-ups and frenchies, etc. Go back and look at the TFC chapter about training programs for other ideas on formatting your workouts. Also reread the chapters on nutrition and recovery, since these are important topics, too.