Round 95

Hello Eric, I built a woody in my garage 3 years ago and put up an HIT system. I weigh about 180lbs and am wondering what the maximum weight you recommend for workouts per grip is. Currently, I use 35lbs for Crimp, 10lbs for Pinch, 10lbs 3rd team, 30lbs 2nd and 1st team two-finger pockets, 45lbs open. I am getting significantly stronger this garage season, and am worried my strength will surpass my tendons and judgement. –Matt (Montana)

Hey Matt, Those are good weight amounts…I wouldn’t rushed to add more weight–instead use smaller feet, if possible. Also, you could experiment with reducing the rest break between sets by 30 seconds, which makes a difference but also tends to train anaerobic endurance a bit more than max strength. Of course, you can make your HIT strip workouts “complex” by coupling a dynamic exercise (like campus touches) with each HIT set.

Do you think a 4-1 carbo-protein ratio drink is good for long exercise bouts or do you still think pure Hi-GI carbs are better? Also, do you think Endurox R4 would be a better recovery drink than Accelerade since it list dextrose (glucose) instead of Sucrose? –Will (Maryland)

Hey Will, What I’ve written in my books on nutrition are just guidelines. Individual insulin sensitivity and training/climbing MO will ultimately have to dictate how you should structure your meals. But the overall goal is steady blood sugar during the day (and when climbing) and to spike blood sugar with high GI foods for recovery at the end of the workout (or climbing). I prefer Accelerade both during and after exercise, and I’m not sure there’s a huge difference between the two products. In theory the GI of the two drinks should different, but with some protein in each drink I’m not sure the difference is that significant.

Hi Eric, During the 3 & 2 week phases (assuming I have selected a 4-day per week climbing microcycle), you say to select a type of climbing that fits into the specific phase. With that said is lapping routes during the 2 week phase considered climbing or sport specific training? Also, I’m tough, so the ”on-season” for me is anything besides the dead of winter. So if I can climb outside 4 days per week, should I? Or, do you think I should spend more time indoors. –Katie (Maryland)

Hi Katie, Climbing outdoors is key—so did it 4 days per week whenever your schedule and the weather allows! That said, use the winter to do some targeted strength training…focus on the 3-2-1 cycle during the winter. So you’d be doing lots of hard bouldering (3 weeks) and hard/steep sport leads (2 weeks). Within a given indoor session, after warm-up go straight to doing your bouldering (or routes)…then conclude with specific exercises (pull-ups, core, hangboard, whatever) that match appropriately the training goal of the day (strength/power or muscular endurance).

Hi Eric, I have a fingerboard and campus board for home training (so I don’t have to travel to the gym). What’s the best way for me to warm up enough to safely do some complex training? –Nick (Connecticut)

Hey Nick, Yeah, do a complete warm-up before hitting the boards. Do something to get your heart rate up and blood flowing, like jump rope, jumping jacks, jogging for 10 minutes or whatever. Then do some pull-ups (big holds), forearm stretching, forearm massage, finger massage, etc. I also like doing some finger rolls with a heavy dumbbell (30 lbs or so). Doing 50 finger rolls will get your forearm muscles activated and help lubricate the tendons. Then consider taping your A2 pulleys before you hit the boards hard. Proceed carefully, have fun, get strong!

I have been struggling with my biceps cramping when I have been climbing lately. It used to just be something that would occasionally occur towards the end of a day climbing outside, but recently, it has been occurring much earlier. I have tried to make sure I stay well-hydrated and monitor my electrolyte intake (especially on a day of climbing), and I feel like I do a pretty good job of it – lots of water, bananas, apricots, etc. When this has been happening lately, it is usually after my second redpoint attempt of a route that I feel is close to the limit of my ability to send (usually upper 5.11s and lower 5.12s), and sometimes even on my second attempt. When I contract my bicep, I can feel it start to cramp up. I have tried to massage my arms and drink even more water after this occurs, but it doesn’t seem to help it that much. It has gotten to the point where I am frustrated that I feel thrashed after one or two good burns on a route, and after it happens, I am always afraid to get on a route near my limit again that day, for fear of one or both of my arms seizing up while climbing. I am not sure what to do at this point…I feel like I have been doing a good job nutritionally, and have consciously tried to not use my biceps more than necessary when climbing. I haven’t been able to simulate this condition in the gym (I only have access to a bouldering gym). I have thought that perhaps this is simply something that can only be overcome by pushing myself to and past this point more and more, but if there is anything that I could do that might help this problem – training, nutrition, etc. – I would love to give it a try. Also, I don’t know if it is relevant, but when I was younger, I used to have problems with my calves cramping up on me while sleeping, but this has been a very rare occurrence the last few years. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to any suggestions you may have! –Austin (Arkansas)

Hi Austin, Sorry to hear about your problem. I’ve not heard this one before…although certainly calf cramping is very common. Sounds like you are doing everything right, in terms of stretching, nutrition, etc. One nutrient you might be lacking (most people are) is magnesium. It’s hard to get anywhere near enough magnesium in a regular diet…and most mag supplements don’t absorb well in the stomach. I suggest you try taking Magnesium Malate (the best form of magnesium) for two months. Go to and search for “magnesium malate from Natural Source.” It’s not buy two bottles and take 3 per day (1 in morning, 1 midday, 1 before bed). See if two months of this helps at all. If the condition worsens over the next year, I suggest you see a doctor to be sure there’s not a neurological problem (unlikely). Let me know how it goes. Good luck!