Round 83

Q: I’m 47 years old and a relatively new 5.10 climber, but really want to achieve the 5.12 grade. I’m naturally strong, but my body is much stronger than my hands. I have ordered your HIT system, but I wonder if I also need something more moderate to train on at home. Also, I don’t want to injure myself by attempting too much intensity on the HIT strips. What advice do you have for me? –Greg (Canada)

A: Hi Greg, You can do it! Set a 2 or 3 year time frame to get there, and develop a plan to make it happen. Most important in your mission, since you are a relatively new climber, is continuing to develop your technical and mental skills–these are by far the most important factors in climbing, since more economic movement requires less strength (grip or otherwise). Of course, a few days per week of indoor climbing or climbing training is the best thing too. Get to the climbing wall as often as possible, since it trains everything–mind, body, skill–but do supplement with some HIT training a day or two per week. Building a 45-degree overhanging wall at home is also a great idea; ideally, make it wide enough to set a bunch of climbing holds to boulder around the wall on…then finish your session with a few laps on the HIT strips. Initially, don’t even think about adding any weight to your body–just go up and down on the HIT strips at body weight. Give your muscles and tendons 6 to 12 months to adapt to this routine before adding even 5 or 10 pounds. Also, new HIT strips have a lot of texture (for commercial gym traffic) so you’ll need to sand off some texture where your fingers wrap over the grips (but leave the texture where your fingertips touch the holds). Also, consider taping your fingers (x-method) if skin wear is a problem on the climbing holds or HIT strips on your home wall. Hope this helps! Keep me posted on your progress. Perhaps check out a couple of my books on down the road…Training for Climbing and also my new book Maximum Climbing.

Q: Hi Eric, I’m planning on building a campus board at home and while doing my research I found an article online that discourages climbers from campusing. Here’s a quote from the article:

“…Wolfgang Gullich identified his prime weakness (recruitment) and built a device (campus board) to train this. For him, this was the right thing to do. But for you – I doubt it. As a climbing coach, I can say that I have not met one climber in the last three years for whom recruitment is their prime weakness. Campus boarding will not help.”

What do you have to say about this guy’s statement, Eric? I find it hard to believe that there would be of no benefit to someone like myself. –Sami (United Kingdom)

A: His comments are largely correct. Most climber’s weaknesses are technical/mental in nature, for which campusing will do nothing to help. But advanced climbers, with high quality technique and mental skills, (those climbing 5.12+ to 5.14) will likely benefit from some campus training. Intermediate climbers are more likely to get injured, so it can do more harm than good. If you do build a board, limit yourself to campus “laddering” and “touches”, and save for most stressful “double dyno” exercise for when you reach elite climber status.

Q: Hi Eric, I am from the west, but live and work primarily in the east. As such my climbing has been irregular during the past two years. I am 6″5′ and 220 lbs, and close to 30 years old. I get the most enjoyment from climbing on long multi-pitch trad routes, but living in NYC, those are in short supply–everyone I meet likes to boulder, and steep, overhanging, and athletic routes. I want a long, injury free climbing career, and to that end, feel like pushing the grade on, or even bouldering at all will damage tendons and joints; same for campus and hang boards. That said, given that I do not have the same access to alpine type routes that I once had, should I bite the bullet and adapt to this east coast style, or stick to my guns? –Will (New York)

A: Hi Will, I think you have a good understanding of your situation. My advice would be to do a moderate amount of (moderate) bouldering and indoor climbing, but stay clear of the super stressful steep/dynamic stuff (and campus training). Bite the bullet and do this as your weekday “training”…but plan as many weekend (or longer) trips to the Gunks, Dacks, and North Conway (NH) which are within reach from NYC—and all have world class multi-pitch routes. Hope this helps!

Q: I climb outside 3-4 days a week (up to 5.13/V9) and have started working out at a gym two days a week for training. My routine is to do 40 minutes on the elliptical machine, an hour of a pilates or crossfit class and then at least an hour and a half of weight training. My problem is I can’t find any information on a good routine for climbing dealing with weight lifting. I’d appreciate any help you could offer. –Richard (North Carolina)

A: Hi Richard, If you’re climbing 5.13/V9, then the program you describe has little upside potential to improve your climbing. Sure, everything you describe can provide a heck of a workout and build additional general fitness–but unless you are heading into the mountains it’s of little real help for improving climbing performance (as a bouldering and hard sport route specialist). Others may argue with my belief on this, but I’m supported by a vast amount of research that proves that sport-specific (and constraint specific) training is paramount for advanced and elite level performers in sport. So, I ask you: what is your limiting constraint when you fail on a boulder problem or climb? Identify and train these factors!