Ask Eric – Round 167

Hi Eric, Firstly, thank you for writing Training for Climbing–I’ve found that book enormously helpful! I was hoping you could help me with a question I have about skipping as my cardio/rest day activity. Is it a suitable cardio activity to supplement my climbing? After a full year of regular gym climbing, I’m breaking into 5.11s…and I’m conscious of building some aerobic fitness to help me on my multi-pitch adventures and also improving my overall body composition. I know you often suggest running or the rowing machine, but I don’t have great knees for running and I also get incredibly tight hip flexors/glutes at the moment (I’m rolling and stretching daily!). Could skipping rope be an alternative aerobic training method? Thanks again for all the help and wisdom you continue to provide the climbing community! –Justin

Hi Justin, Thanks for the kind words–sounds like you’re smart about figuring out your training! Yeah, I wouldn’t do anything that messes with your knees or hips. A swim day is one alternative to running/rowing, although skipping rope could work well if you can get your heart rate up for 10 to 15 minutes. Otherwise, putting in a volume day of climbing at the gym (1,000 – 2,000 feet of total climbing distance, lapping submaximal routes) and one 4×4 bouldering session per week will build decent aerobic fitness for climbing. Both will elevate your heart rate in a good way, so maybe do one of each per week as part of your 3 to 4 days in the climbing gym. Hope this helps!

Hi Eric, I am a big fan of you and your books! I’m probably built more to be a boulderer (I can do BV6/V7), but I love lead climbing. And I am about 10kg overweight, which really seems to hinder me when lead climbing. How can I lose weight and improve my lead climbing. –Oran

Hi Oran, Yes, dropping 5 to 10kg will make a HUGE difference in your climbing , both on boulders and lead. You should strive to both improve your diet (reduce unhealthy foods, sugar, alcohol) and also begin to do some running…perhaps 3 times per week for 30 to 40 minutes. It doesn’t need to be steady running, but instead you can run a moderate pace for a few minutes, then walk one minute, then run again at moderate pace for a few minutes, then walk a minute…etc. Do this for 30 to 40 minutes a few days per week, in addition to your climbing workouts (and improved nutrition), and in a few months you will reduce the weight and be lead climbing better. Good luck!

Hi Eric, I have your TFC book, and you recommend that beginners like me to climb 3 days per week rather than specifically training the fingers (like on a fingerboard). My challenge is that I am father of two and my spare time for climbing outdoors is sparse (typically once per week). I am able to climb indoors twice per week. Question: Do these indoor climbing days count toward my 3 days of climbing per week? –Gian (Italy)

Hello Gian! Yes, your indoor climbing does count! If you climb outside one day and inside two days, you will steadily improve technique & skill, climbing economy, and mental skills. Long-term, you can gradually introduce some additional strength training at the end of your indoor climbing sessions and, perhaps, one extra day at home. Weighted pull-ups, a moderate amount of fingerboard hangs, core training, some running for fitness, etc. But add these gradually. My Training For Climbing book contains a wealth of information to guide you over the years to come! Also, you can download the free workout templates/programs from my web site at this link.

Hey Eric, I’m 24 years old and live in Reading Pennsylvania. I’ve been climbing for about 4 to 5 years now and I love it more than anything in the world. I really want to get stronger and fitter so I can climb more difficult beautiful routes and feed the climbing fire/desire and have more fun! I climb a ton at Birdsboro quarry and have sent a few of the harder routes there (up to 13a). I do not believe that I’ve hit my natural ability limit yet, so I’m looking for a simple weekly routine that will help me get stronger. I look forward to hearing and learning from you! –Brady

Hey Brady! Glad to hear about your climbingyou are doing great! And I agree, there’s no way you are at your limit yet. 24 is young, and there’s a lot of rock in the USA (and world) to explore and learn from—traveling to climb at as many different areas as possible is hugely helpful at developing skill most rapidly. Local climbing, like the Bird, is fine as a home base, but when time and weather allow, start traveling to other areasthis is essential to realize your full potential. As for training, I recommend working with a veteran climbing coach and referencing my book, Training For Climbing 3rd edition. Perhaps we’ll run into each other at the cliffs sometime; if so, I’m always happy to answer questions and give advice. Until then, read the book to find ways to improve mentally, technically, and physicallyall equally important. Good luck, and happy training!