Round 79

Q: I am training for a huge climb in the Bugaboos–All Along the Watchtower on North Howser. Very long and hard; about 20 pitches, 5.12a. In the past I would simply train for a route like this by trad climbing as much as possible and nothing else. Do you have any additional suggestions for me to get ready? Thanks again. –Mark (Oregon)

A: Mark, Wow, I’d love to do that route with you! The Bugs has been on my to-do list for a long time. Anyway, you are right about climbing for volume to train for such a route. Also, working with your partner on speeding up belay transitions and all-around efficiency is very important (to save a lot of time). As for other conditioning, I feel that doing some running for a few months before such a trip is a big help for building stamina and helping you perform at elevation. So maybe consider building up to doing 3 or 4 long runs per week. Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

Q: I’m very bummed that my elbows are hurting after (and sometimes during) climbing. My two-hour workout was reduced to 40 minutes last night. I’m confused about what to do to correct my elbow issues. I don’t know if I should be doing exercises for lateral or medial tendinosis? Is my non-climbing workout of bench press, dips, military press, push-ups helping or hurting my elbows? Do glucosamine, chondritin, and other similar supplements help in the long run? –Scott (Texas)

A: Scott, It’s not clear exactly where your elbow problems are…fortunately it doesn’t sound like severe tendinitis (yet). Now is the time to take action to prevent a worsening of the condition. Do both the pronator and reverse wrist curl exercises (shown in my books) as part of your warm-up and cool-down for every climbing session. Also, do twice daily stretching of both sides of your forearms and being doing some triggerpoint therapy on your forearm muscles (both sides). My book covers a bit about TPT, but you can Google and learn more about doing TPT—-a big help! The supplements you mention can’t hurt, but I’ve never heard of them being of any real help for tendon problems. Again, read the coverage in my Training For Climbing book and you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need.

Q: I have a question about Complex Training: Do I completely finish all of my weighted HIT Strip sets, then I perform a Campus Training workout? Or is it one set of HIT and one set of CT, and then repeat? –Marc (Canada)

A: Hi Marc, The key to effective Complex Training is an immediately coupling of HIT and Campus Training. So you do a set on the HIT strips (ideally with some weight on) then upon completion (drop the weight belt, if wearing) jump right onto the campus board for a few repetitions. Rest for 3 to 5 minutes and repeat! This is an advanced/stressful workout, so don’t overdo it. Begin with just three coupled sets…gradually built up to six or eight sets. Let me know how it goes!

Q: I’ve just started climbing and really, really love it. I’m looking for a way I can train at home as I can only get to a wall once per week. Unfortunately I don’t have space to build a home climbing wall and I’ve read repeatedly that using a fingerboard is a bad idea for beginners. I was wondering if I put a fingerboard above a door with some footholds screwed in to the doorframe lower down to take some of my weight if this would be ok? Sort of a mini bouldering exercise changing grips constantly? –Matt (U.K.)

A: Hi Matt, The set-up you describe is very good. Another is to rig a thick exercise (rubber) band or elastic bungee cords from the top of the door frame to stand in (to reduce stress/weight). The easiest thing it to simply place a chair on the other side of the door opening and to rest your toes on the edge of the chair as you hang on the board. The key is to avoid pulling hard on small pockets and tiny crimps until you develop the tendon strength…which comes slowly over a few years (not weeks or months). Other training to consider is core exercises, shoulder/rotator cuff exercises, and some aerobic activity (for stamina and body weight). My book Training For Climbing will guide you in all of these areas and many more!

Q: My goal is to be able to lead 5.11’s outdoors, but I’m not sure how to best train for this goal. I’ve read a few of your articles and noticed the free training chart. However, with all the information, I’m a bit overwhelmed. Can you help guide me in a particular direction? Thanks! –Jemia (Canada)

A: Jemia, It’s hard to give you specific program without knowing more about your specific strengths and weaknesses. For most climbers, the key to unlocking 5.11 is more a technical and mental battle (than physical). This is a war that must be fought at the crags, so do get outside climbing as often as possible (or indoors a few days per week if time/weather don’t allow). Of course, improved fitness can help a lot, too. Your best bet is to read my book Training for Climbing, which will help you diagnose and address specific weaknesses with a variety of exercises and drills. To just “train” is like shooting at a target with the lights off…you will probably miss the mark. Sorry I can’t provide more specific advice, but good luck in your efforts. I bet you WILL reach your goal sooner than you think!