Round 91

Dear Eric, I have used the training program provided in your “How to Climb 5.12” book and have seen great results.  However, due to a new job I can no longer keep up with the program’s equipment requirements.  So I have two questions: 1. What is the best hangboard out there?  What should I get seeing that I no longer have access to the HIT strips? 2. Are there any hangboard workouts that can best duplicate the HIT strips workout and what other hangboard workouts do you recommend? I have access to a climbing gym two to three times a week, but my job and other factors require me to be home most the other times. –Roger

Hi Roger, Thanks for the kind remarks. Go to and click into the Training Center. You’ll see a series of 4 articles on Fingerboard training. You’ll also see pictures of a few different Nicros fingerboards. I think NEXGEN is best as it has the best variety of grips. As for your training, I suggest you get to the climbing gym at least twice per week and supplement that with one or two fingerboard training sessions (including some push exercises and core, too) at home. Fingerboard doesn’t really replace HIT strip training, but you can apply the same hypergravity training technique in working brief, maximal “repeaters.” Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

Hi Eric, I am only 15 and I am really looking to climb 5.12 (I have your book!). Should I still be focusing on technical not physical? –Bryce (California)

Hi Bryce, Yes, you can quickly improve to 5.12 by simply working on your technique and mental skills…striving to become a smooth, efficient climber. That said, you can do some basic strength training, like pull-ups, dips, some fingerboard pull-ups, etc. But don’t overdo it…climbing 5.12 is more technical than it is powerful. Find the right move and body position and it can be downright easy! So, make actually climbing the focus of your efforts, and you’ll soon reach 5.12!

Hi Eric, Thanks for all your efforts at helping us all become better climbers! I’ve really enjoyed your books, and they’ve helped (and are continuing to do so) me become a better climber. I have a question about periodization: what do you think about mixing stamina, strength/power, and anaerobic endurance workouts such that a week has a certain percentage of time spent on each (which varies as training emphasis varies) instead of the complete switch between each of these three (as you advocate with the 4-3-2-1 cycle)? I find I “loose” a large portion of, e.g., my strength when I focus for 2 weeks on AE, a week of rest and then 4 weeks of stamina – like I’m almost starting over again. Do you find this? This cycle, I’ve gone with the 3-2-1 approach (eliminating the stamina training, as I feel like I have lots of stamina) and am climbing harder than before but I’m not sure if that’s because I would have been in better shape regardless with continued focused training or if the 3-2-1 cycle is really better, or if something else would be preferable. I do feel, however, this time around that i’m flirting with injury more than during a 4-3-2-1 cycle even though I am still taking lots of rest days. So, I realize this may not be totally coherent, but I hope my question is clear enough: what is your take on different forms of periodization compared to a 4-3-2-1 cycle? –Katie (Alaska)

Hi Katie, I love that you have a good feel for your body…learning to listen/read how you feel and what it means. That’s VERY important, since we are all different and we each respond to training differently. Anyway, I suggest you consider doing a 1-1 cycle in which you simply alternate one week of bouldering (and strength/power training) with one week of roped climbing (and other anaerobic-endurance types of exercises). This is what I have many climbers do during their climbing season, since it’s easy to integrate with outdoor climbing. In doing a 1-1, you should always be sure to have at least 3 rest days from climbing each week (although you can do aerobic or push muscles on these rest days). Also, take 2 or 3 consecutive days off before an important day of outdoor climbing (a day you want to be 100% fresh for sending hard). Hope this helps! Let me know how your season goes.

So, I was wondering what the best way to gain endurance is? Is there anything other than laps that I can do to help my endurance? If I can send 11b/c than on what rating route should I do laps on? I used to be a gymnast until a couple years ago (I’m 16 years old and I’ve been climbing 2.5 years) so the power and strength aspect I am pretty okay with, but I get pumped so fast on almost anything. This has been frustrating for SCS comps and outdoor climbing. Thanks a bunch! –Leah (Illinois)

Hi Leah, Interval climbing, laps, and 4×4 bouldering are all good methods to develop endurance. That said, as a climber of just 2.5 years I think you can improve your endurance a LOT by improving technique and body positioning, relaxing (not overgripping), and moving fast on hard/steep climbs. By improving technique and climbing economy, you will be sending much harder in no time at all!

Hi, My friend’s mom went to your clinic on Youth Training where you talked about finger health. I have recently broken my growth plate at the farthest knuckle of my middle finger and I slightly injured the tendon on the bottom of the finger. I am wearng a splint and not climbing for two weeks. I have actually climbed a few times, but lightly (5.11). I soon have a Regional comp and I hope that it has healed by then. I really want to compete so that I can qualify for Divisionals, and then Nationals. Do you have any suggestions on how to tape, so that I can keep the finger healthy, or how to prevent these. I just want to put a few things out there: I’m 13 years old, I am a very consistent “crimper”, and I do quite a bit of campusing (1-3 times a week on average). Thanks! –Margo (Colorado)

Hi Margo, I’m concerned about your finger, especially the growth plate injury (which often takes several weeks or more to heal). I suggest you cease all campus training, since this is most likely the cause of the injury (even if you didn’t notice it happen while campusing). Age 12 – 15 is a dicing time as you have your growth spurt–you could easy get this injury again so be very careful. I’d focus mainly on climbing as your training and stay away from super stressful stuff like campus training. You can be an awesome climber—and win comps–without campus training. Now go prove me right!