Round 88

What is a typical workout for the intermediate climber (I’ve been climbing one year and can do V6)?  I don’t want to “just climb” anymore during my gym sessions.  I want to train really hard so when I go outside I’m super psyched on sending my projects.  Please help! Thank you for your time.  BTW, your books are great! –Brett (Tennessee)

Hi Brett, If you are doing V6 that’s good, but you can definitely improve a lot by working on all three areas of the performance triad (technique, the mind, and physical conditioning). I suggest you continue to make climbing (both bouldering and rope routes) the main part of your training, but you can add some other exercises like weighted pull-ups, campus laddering, dips, and rotator cuff training to make you both stronger and more resilient to injury (important as you push into the higher grades). Use my book Training for Climbing as your guide. Good luck! Eric

There are  no rock climbing facilities anywhere near where I live, so I train (generally five days per week) on a home wall, campus board, hangboard, and  peg board. Can you give me a workout program, and let me know what other training equipment I should get? BTW, I’m relatively new to climbing with less than one year experience. –James (Australia)

Hi James, You must be careful not to overtrain–five days per week is a lot, if you are doing strenuous climbing-specific exercises each day. I suggest just three or four specific training days per week, although you can use two other days to do antagonist muscle training and rotator cuff training (to support muscle balance and lower injury risk). 4 days, but to do 2 other days of push-muscle and rotator cuff training to prevent climbing injury. Most important for you, as a relative beginner, is to climb at a gym wall or outside as much as possible. Climbing hard is very much about technique and mental skills, and you need to be climbing to improve in these areas. So, consider ways you might schedule more time on a larger wall (roped climbing) or climbing outdoors.

Hello, I’m 15 years old and I’ve been climbing for 2.5 years. I’m getting good results (currently climb 5.12), but I’d like to know how to best train for routes? Thanks! –Max (The Netherlands)

Hi Max, If you are doing hard roped routes, rather than bouldering, then you want to split your time between training long, hard sequences and doing short, bouldery/power sequences. Campus training and hypergravity training are very useful, but can get you injured if you overdue it….so proceed carefully. Finally, always remember than technique and your mental skills are the most important thing, so improving in these areas should be a constantly focus of yours. Good luck, and let me know how it goes. No doubt, 5.13 is very close!

I’ve had this weird injury that has happened 4 times in the 3 years, and I was wondering if you could shed some light on it for me. It seems pretty random when it happens. Basically, I’ll go and climb in the gym in the evening (5.12+/5.13-) like I usually do, finish up whatever workout I do and head home. Then during the night, I’ll wake up to a swollen and extremely tight forearm (it’s happened to both arms). All the tightness, swelling, and pain seems to be in my flexor muscles. Then my arm is just about useless for a day or two and weak for a day or two after that. This is probably quite ignorant but would you know what kind of injury it even is and how I could prevent it? –Sam (Idaho)

Samuel, Sounds like a simple muscle strain that resulted from an over-the-top workout. If it corrects in a few days this would be the case–no big deal. If the pain lasts for a week or longer, then it’s likely a tendon strain, which is not a good thing. Given how hard you climb, I think it’s important to give yourself a few more rest days per month, so as to reduce injury risk and the chance of slipping into an overtraining mode. Also, be sure to begin and end each gym session with some moderate warm-up/cool-down climbing…which might help prevent future incidents. Good luck!

I’ve heard of newish climbers injuring themselves when they climb too hard too fast since their muscles are strong but their tendons are not.  And I’m wondering how to avoid that while still progressing in my climbing ability. I’ve been climbing 11 months now, and my leading grade is certainly MUCH below my physical capability at the moment–I’ve been told that I boulder above a 5.12 level in terms of physical difficulty.  I’ve been reading your book like a climbing bible, and I’ve LOVED it, it’s really helped me design a beautiful training system.  I just want to try and cover all my bases in terms of injury prevention as well.  So, to finalize my question, I guess I’m wondering if 5.12 (and harder) is a reasonable physical demand to place on my body at this stage. Thank you for your time, I would love to heard back from you on this! – Alyssa (Alberta BC, Canada)

Hi Alyssa, Sounds like you are off to a great start in climbing, and I’m glad you are reading up on training. Knowledge is so important to avoid the typical pit falls. 5.12 in one year can be problematic (injury), but everyone is different–genetics somewhat determine tendon strength, and joint and muscle structure also affect injury risk. So let’s hope you are genetically blessed in these areas! If you haven’t had any sign of tendon or finger pain so far, that’s a good sign. Most important, is to rest more than you think you need to between hard days of climbing or training. Three days per week should be your limit for doing hard stuff. Training for Climbing is indeed a good text to guide you in many areas, and my new book (Maximum Climbing) will be perfect for you to read as you break into 5.12, 5.13, and beyond!