Round 70

Q: I have just turned 15 and I can boulder around V5 at the gym; strangely in competitions I can boulder up to V7 (I suppose due to high confidence)! Anyway, my endurance is rubbish–I can do very hard moves but then fall off because I’m too pumped to carry on. My ultimate goal is to be able to boulder at V11 by the time I am 18 years old. How can I train to achieve this goal? –Joe (UK)

A: Hello Joe, I think you are well on your way, but remember that each successive grade is harder to achieve and continued progress demands that you improved technique, mental control, strength/power, as well as endurance. Therefore, remain open-minded about improving in all these areas and not just train for greater endurance. I suggest you read my book Training for Climbing, since it gives major guidance in each of the areas. As for endurance training, I suggest that you do more roped climbing as well as “bouldering intervals” (in which you do a series of problems with only a short rest in between). If it’s your MO to only work hard boulder problems with long rests in between, you’ll never develop endurance!

Q: Hello Eric! Let me begin by saying how appreciative I am of all the free advice here in the NICROS Training Center! I’ve been climbing for only 3 months so I check this site regularly for tips and motivation (yes, I’ve read all 60+ pages of Q & As!). Anyway, I find myself going to the local gym about 3 day per week. I climb for the pure enjoyment of it and simply to get away from the real world for a while. I’m really not concerned with grades or difficulty of the route, merely improving my technique and realizing that I’m improving each day. I now recognize that I can only learn so much in a gym, and so I know that I must venture outdoors. The problem is…I live in Florida! Can you recommend some place not too far away where I can boulder? Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide. –Vinny (Florida)

A: Hi Vinny, I love you attitude and new-found passion for climbing! I don’t know the southeast so well, however there are some good bouldering and climbing areas not far away in Georgia. Perhaps you can drive up there one or two weekends per month? Talk to people in your gym and see if you can carpool up and make some good partnerships. More long term, aspire to travel even farther away—there are world-class crags just a day’s drive away from Florida in TN, KY, and NC. You’ll love what you discover, both on the rock and in terms of personal development. Best wishes in all your future adventures!

Q: I just wanted to say “hi” and let you know that I just completed building a HIT system wall in my backyard, and I’m really excited! Having a second kid has forced me to be much more focused with my now-limited training time; so I bought the Nicros HIT system and built a 12-foot wall in my side yard. Anyway, thank you for the inspiration and the training tips on your website and books; I’m really excited to be using them. I look forward to what’s coming next! –Tyler (Colorado)

A: Hey Tyler, Good to hear from you, and kudos on building a good training wall! I’m on the same kind of program, since I too have two kids, loads of work, limited free time, etc. Being able to perform highly effective and efficient workouts is key! I generally spend no more than 75 to 90 minutes on each training session, plus some modest time spent running and antagonist training a few days per week. Perhaps the best program is to alternate your workouts, every week or two, back and forth between strength/power sessions (bouldering on the wall and then HIT to finish things off) and endurance sessions (doing successive 2- to 4-minute burns on the wall with only a couple of minutes rest between burns). In both cases, you’ll get a great workout in about an hour or so. Oh yeah, be sure NOT to rush through your warm-up; always begin each session with some general exercise, easy (big hold) climbing, and some mild stretching. Let me know how it goes!

Q: I’m a climber of one year and I most want to improve my lead grade indoors; however I have no idea how to structure my training and what to do additionally off the wall. Any help would be much appreciated. –Ewan (Scotland)

A: Hello Ewan, As a technical skill sport, it takes many years of effort to learn smooth efficient movement, especially under the pressure of lead climbing. Since you’ve only been climbing for one year, the most important thing you can do to improve lead ability is simply to lead climb as much as possible! Sure, some additional strength and endurance training will build your physical assets, but learning to use you physical capabilities most economically is paramount. So, climb, climb, climb!

Q: Hello Eric, I love your books! I’ve been doing Frenchies 2 or 3 times a week now and I love them. This week I started using three-fingers pockets as well as slopers on my hangboard for the Frenchies. Do you think it is beneficial? If so do you think one night I should focus on slopers and the next time on pockets, or that I should alternate between the two on a same night. Thanks! –Dominic (Canada)

A: Hello Dominic, Thanks for your kind words. Yeah, Frenchies are pretty awesome, aren’t they? I suggest, however, that you do them mostly from a good solid grip and not from pockets or small slopers. The goal with Frenchies is to train endurance in the large pull muscles rather than finger strength. A better approach is to do separate exercises on the finger pocket, crimp, and sloper holds to target finger strength/endurance. For example, you can do this with Repeaters (hypergravity) to train strength and Moving Hangs to train endurance. Then, when you’re done training the fingers/forearms, use the large bucket holds on the hangboard for doing your Frenchies and other pull-muscle exercises. Have fun!