Round 81

Q: Hi Eric, First, of all I want to thank you for writing “Training for climbing” which is simply the best! Now my question: Is it okay to do (uneven-grip) pull-ups and hypergravity hangboarding in one session or do these different exercises belong to completely different parts of the training circle? In addition to that I would like to know how I should carry on with my training after being ill for a couple of days or a week? Thank you, and I really appreciate your work. –Michael (Australia)

A: And thanks for the kind words about the book, Michael! Uneven grip pull-ups and hypergravity hangboard should be done in the same session and training phase–they both training max strength type of exercises. Do these exercises along with bouldering and other brief intense exercises. As for training ill, it’s got to be an intuitive call as to the best coarse to proceed. You can train/climb with a minor illness as long as I don’t have a fever. During a serious illness, however, you must take some downtime to recovery, and then ease back into climbing knowing that it might take a few weeks to get back to 100 percent.

Q: What your opinion of creatine as a supplement for climbers? Do you have the beta on Creatine types and possible a brand recommendation? –Greg (Illinois)

A: Greg, I do use small doses of powdered creatine. I put a small amount in my OJ each morning…no more than 2 or 3 grams. When I train/climb, I mix a quart of sports drink (I recommend Accelerade) and add another 3 to 5 grams of creatine to the mix. I sip this during the workout and drink whatever’s left at the end. So at most I consume just 5 to 8 grams per day, not enough to cause the problems with weight gain, as in the creatine loading protocol used byt bodybuilders and other athletes. I do think the small doses of creatine help sustain power output during workouts and, perhaps, slightly accelerate recovery between workouts. Anything more than this (like the 15 to 30 grams per day used by bodybuilders and powerlifters) would be, IMO, a disadvantage for climbers.

Q: Hi Eric! I haven’t climbed for 13 months now, because of medial epicondylitis. I’m getting really afraid that it will never disappear completely. I thought it was ok, but last week, I felt a little pain in my left elbow, but not on place where the injury started one year ago, but above my elbow joint (also medial). –Lien (Belgium)

A: Hi Lien, I know your fear. After 30 years of climbing, I developed medial elbow problems a few years back. It took me 2 years of decreased climbing and training, along with rehab exercises, to work through the problem. You can too! A few tips: Stop doing all pull-ups–this is the worst exercise if you have medial elbow problems. Begin daily stretching of both sides of your forearm. Next, begin daily trigger point therapy on the painful areas of your elbow (Google “trigger point therapy” to learn more). Finally, begin doing some exercises to strength your pronator muscles (as shown I my books). Go easy on your climbing–take a few more months off of hard climbing and do all of the above…and hopefully you’ll work through this. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Q: Hi, I have been climbing for almost two years and I want to improve my bouldering ability and sport climbing ability. I know that doing pull-ups is a great workout but surprisingly to me I can climb a 5.9+ easy 5.10 but I can’t do a single pull up. I would like to know what I can do both in my climbing routine at the gym and general workouts. –Alexis (Connecticut)

A: Hello Alexis, Your story is not uncommon. As a skill sport, it’s possible to climb quite well without being very strong….and you can likely improve further simply by improving technique, mental skills, and overall climbing economy. That said, gaining some strength would boost your performance further, especially on steeper climbs. Check out this link/article to learn how to train pull-ups–toward the bottom I explain two ways to begin pull-up training: Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Q: When following your 4-3-2-1 cycle, do you recommend climbing 4 days per week during the strength phase? If so, how many days per week would you perform finger strengthening with the HIT strips? Along the same lines, how often each week would you perform anaerobic endurance work during the third phase? –Heth (South Carolina)

A: Hello Heth, The 4-3-2-1 cycle is ideally an off-season program, when you are training consistently indoors without much outdoor “performance” climbing. During the on-season, it’s a bit tougher to stick to the schedule exactly. Anyway, any climbing on the “strength” days should be done before you do the actually strength exercises (such as hypergravity pulls or HIT). Be careful not to overtrain. Limit yourself to 2 HIT sessions per week–and only 1 session if climbing outdoors a lot. I mostly use HIT as an off-season strength training program, then focus more on hypergravity bouldering and interval climbing during the offseason.