Round 75

Q: What are your suggestions for improving the ability to maintain cross tension (so compression boulder problems, as well as finesse cave problems) in terms of workouts or ways to practice? –Jonathan (California)

A: Hi Jonathan, Compression problems are a relatively specific movement, so the best training is doing them! (No single exercise perfectly replicates this move). So, find a non-maximal compression problem and do it several times in a row; just as you would do a weight lifting exercise for a few sets. This is a good method to develop many specific climbing skills–for example, you can set a crimp boulder problem (several crimp moves in a row) and do it a few times in a row to develop crimp strength. Anyway, as for some kind of specific training exercise that might help you improve at compression moves…anything that works the chest muscles should help, especially dumbbell flys, dips, and push-ups.

Q: Have any tips for hand care when is comes to flappers or skin being raw? –Tim (Illinois)

A: Hey Tim, First, avoid chalk with drying agents (like Metolius super chalk), since this can really dry your skin out and make it rip more easily. (I like regular bar chalk.) At the end of a climbing session, wash your hands with a mild soap and then apply a good moisturizer. Of course, you don’t want to moisturize before you climb, lest you slip off the holds! Another trick is to use 150 or 200 grit sandpaper to sand down calluses–these are the points likely to crack or rip when climbing. Finally, if you have a home wall, consider sanding down the texture on the rougher holds. At a commercial gym, your best bet is to tape your middle two fingers (x-method shown in my book Training for Climbing) to protect the skin.

Q: I am putting together a training schedule after reading your great book, Conditioning for Climbing, and have a few questions: During the 4,3,2,1 program, is it recommended to train antagonist muscles throughout all phases 2-3 days a week? Is it recommended to train core throughout all phases? –Mark (Colorado)

A: Hi Mark, Yes, you can do core and antagonist training up to 3 days per week throughout the training cycle. Personally, I like to do the core at the end of my climbing/pull muscle training days…whereas I do the antagonist/push exercises (and some running) on my non-climbing “rest” days.

Q: Hi Eric, I am enjoying your training book and am improving my focus on close hips, quiet feet, quiet mind, and light grips–its kinda of a mantra I have to go through to keep my climbing technically sound. I am now working on sloper training because I have a route at my local gym that is truly stumping me. Sloper is just above the edge of an overhang, my body wants to angle under the ceiling of the overhang and I have been unsuccessful at pulling my body up without falling off. (The next hold above it is decent left hand grip and I’ve actually gotten it once, however have never been able to reproduce it.) How do stay on the wall when my body wants to lean under the overhang? –Jason (Kansas)

A: Hey Jason, I love your climbing mantras–good work, man! I’m having a hard time visualizing your question, but generally those bulging moves require good body tension AND somebody twisting–twisting your body may be hard off a sloping hand hold, but it will extend your reach and help prevent you from swinging off the overhang.

Q: Since I am on break from school right now, I wanted to train harder than ever, so I was going through your book again. Inside you had outlined a number of sample weekly schedules, for example a 3 day climbing schedule. You mention that in order for muscles to achieve supercompensation, more than one rest day is needed. However, if I climb three days a week, that puts me at 2 single rest days and one two day rest (if that makes any sense). If I were looking to get the BEST strength gains, would it be better to climb fewer days a week or should I stick with the one day on, one day off routine? –Hythem (Maryland)

A: Hello Hythem, Wow, you are doing great! Thanks for the kind remarks. For a relative beginner, I always favor climbing more (and training less), since you only develop technique and mental skills when you are climbing. So 4 days per week of climbing would be good, unless you are really pushing yourself so hard (that you are weak and sore the next day); in this case you should only climb 3 days. One thing you must be careful about is getting injured. People like yourself, who get really good fast, are especially prone to develop tendon problems…since the muscles strengthen so much faster than tendons do. Warm-up we’ll before each session, and end a workout early if you feel any strange finger, elbow, or shoulder pain–signs your tendons are at risk. If you can make it through the next 12 months without injury, then you’ll be through the period of greatest risk (I’ve observed that young, passionate, hard climbing individuals tend to get injured during their second year of climbing…although it can happen any time.) Good luck, and let me know how it goes!