Round 97

This site is awesome and very helpful! I have a question about finger strength in terms of the various grip positions. Is it true that crimping does NOT directly strengthen open-handed grips, while most open-handed grips do directly improve your hand strength across all types of holds? Thanks! –Jinda (New York, NY)

Hi Jinda, Grip strength does partially translate between the various grips, however, the neuromuscular system “fires” a little differently with each grip position. Therefore, it’s important that you spend some time training each grip position. A fingerboard or HIT system enables you to target the different grips (full crimp, half crimp, open, pinch, pocket, etc)…and you can add weight to your body, if needed, to make the exercise intensity enough to train max strength. Endurance training is a completely different program, as I’m sure you are aware.

Dear Eric, I was reading some of the questions that you have previously answered regarding bodyweight. A couple of times you mention that when you weigh more you feel more powerful. As a 16 year old who weighs 140 pounds (5’10” tall) and is capable of doing two one-arm chin ups, should I allow myself to gain weight to make myself stronger?  –Taylor (Quebec, Canada)

Hi Taylor, Where did you see me say that you’ll feel stronger if you weigh more? I don’t think I ever said that… What I have said is that excessive dieting (to lose weight) will make you weaker, but that’s a whole different subject. It sounds like you are super strong right now, and I suggest you not worry about body weight—just keep training and climbing, and let your weight settle in where it does. I know climbers that are 5’10” & 130lbs and 5’10” & 165lbs…and both climb 5.14! Good luck, and let me know how your season goes!

Hey Eric, Here’s my update on building my HIT Strip training wall. I ended up building it under my deck. I will say that on my first 2 sessions I was a little worried that it’d be too hard. On my third session, however, I managed to get decent sets on just about all of the grips. On my fourth session I added weights to the crimp and open hand. At this rate I have no doubt that I’ll be reaching my goals. I just wish I’d started this earlier! I do have another question for you: I’ve seen videos on YouTube showing that people use regular street shoes while doing their HIT workout. Should I mount lots of big footholds and just regular shoes, or use climbing shoes on smaller holds? –Javier (North Carolina)

Sounds like you’re doing great, Javier. I suggest adding a bunch of small to medium foothold (modular holds or small wood edges) to the wall so that you can wear climbing shoes while doing HIT. This way you can climb most naturally with hip turns and good technical footwork as you go up and down the strips. You will soon discover that the targeted training that HIT affords will result in rapid gains in grip strength. Of course, be careful not to go overboard–err on the side of too much rest rather than too little. Cycle on and off of HIT every few weeks. For example, do 2  weeks of HIT (4 to 6 total workouts) and then do 2 weeks of anaerobic endurance (6 to 8 sessions of interval climbing and laps on the wall). You can play around with different training cycles and tailor the schedule to your goal routes of the season ahead. Have fun, get strong, climb hard!

Hi Eric, Is it normal to gain 4 or 5kg of weight in winter? You see, after a summer spent in the mountains I am always lighter and feel I climb harder. But when winter comes I eat more, and although I still train hard, I kind of feel like being in a hibernation mode because I lack sunshine. I feel tired and long for sweeter food. So here again is my question: is it normal to gain so mujch weight in the offseason? If not, what can keep me away of that hibernation mode? –Irene (Belgium)

Hello Irene, That’s a common question (and concern). My short answer is that many people (myself include) put on a bit of weight during the winter season. 5kg seems like a bit much…since it’s more to lose in the Spring. Putting on 2kg would be a better “allowance” during the winter. I think the key is to keep active during the winter—climbing indoors a few days per week, and trying to do something aerobic a few days per week. Obviously you need to avoid consuming too many sweets; but if you know you have a party (and will be indulging) on a certain evening, make it a point to get some kind of a workout in beforehand.

Hey Eric! I messaged you a year or two ago about training for 5.13. Well, life took another another amazing direction—I recently had a baby! (Can’t wait for family adventures!) Anyway, what do you think would be the best way to get back into decent climbing shape? Tackle major muscles first and lift? Fingers? Core? Thanks as always for tips and suggestions! –Noell

Congrats, Noell! I’m sure you’ll return to climbing form faster than you think. My wife was back climbing pretty hard within 6 months of having each of our kids. It’s mostly about having the time to train. I wouldn’t worry about the fingers…instead just work on general conditioning and getting back on a rope and climbing for mileage at first. Your ligaments and tendons might be a bit stretchy, so don’t go too hard, too fast. If all goes well over the next 3 to 6 months of getting back on the rock, then launch into harder climbs…at which point you can return to your pre-baby training program and goal of 5.13!