Round 181

Hi Eric, I contacted you a while back about a decision to move closer to a climbing gym or stay in St. George where there is more rock. Thankfully, after receiving your advice I have since moved close to the Momentum climbing gym in Lehi, UT. I wanted to thank you for your response and kindness. I have been climbing 3-4 times a week only for a month and already have noticed very positive gains. My goal is to climb V9 and 13d in five years. I am currently climbing V6 and 12b. Grades are not the only thing I care about, however; I would climb for the rest of my life if I only climbed V4! Now a quick question: Would it hold me back if twice a week I did some weight lifting…composing of bench press, dumbbell shoulder press, bicep curls, and deadlifts? –Cole

Hey Cole! Glad things are working out–you’re on your way to your goals! As for weight lifting…some can be helpful, but anything that puts on mass (more than a pound or two) is counterproductive for a serious climber. Antagonist and stabilizer training is important (shoulders) and some limited use of deadlift is great for the core. But you need to track your body weight and adjust if you put on mass. Hope this helps!

Hey Eric, I have extreme difficulty finding shoes that are not painful. I have a foot issue called Morton toe. On both feet my 2nd toe is extremely long. It is painful to wear any shoe besides Mythos. I have tried luchadores, high angles, solutions. All are painful as they force my 2nd toe to fold severely. The undue pressure on the tip of my toe is too painful to climb. I have tried to go up in shoe size but the smaller toe box is too painful despite the size. Do you have any shoe suggestions? –Bret

Hello Bret, The ultimate goal with climbing shoes is to find one that matches the shape of your foot–for you, this is a difficult task given the Morten syndrome! Unlined shoes often break in and become bearable for people with unusually shaped feet. Therefore, the LA Sportiva Mythos is a very good choice…as it will stretch a lot and, perhaps, eventually fit your foot. Other than that I don’t have anything to recommend. Sorry!

Dear Eric, First, I’d like to thank you for the devoted time you spent towards your book “Training For Climbing”. I’m only a year into my lifelong climbing journey and can’t see myself ever leaving it. I’m in the midst of an odd uncomfortable elbow situation that’s difficult to pin down. In this first year of climbing I began climbing 3-4 times a week, sprained my ankle bad on a hard catch, took three weeks completely off, got back at it and then winter break (for college) came around and I climbed 5-6 days per week because I had no responsibilities aside from a few shifts at work. Anyways, I wore my elbow out from too much climbing. So I took a break from climbing once I felt elbow discomfort to disallow any further damage but was still route-setting for 10-15 hours a week from mid-January until a couple weeks ago and am finally now taking an extended break from climbing.

So, I’m trying to figure out which ailment I’m rehabbing–I’ve been researching both medial-epicondylitis and pronator teres injuries and don’t know if I have tendonitis or tendonosis. I’ve been trying eccentric wrist dumbbell curls and feel no pain in my elbow. Any other suggestions for me? How can I rehabilitate from this to improve my future health and get back on the rock sooner! — Charley

Hey Charley, Your situation is not uncommon. Climbing is addictive…and too much puts you in a deficit in terms of collagen turnover in your tendons. It’s impossible for me to diagnose your problem–there are a few different things that can produce medial elbow pain, but an overworked pronator teres is likely a contributing factor. If you contract the pronator (make it bulge out) and then stick your opposite thumb straight into it…it will likely be very painful. This type of direct pressure on the muscle, along with stretching, should gradually release it. A moderate amount of climbing is fine, but avoid anything that makes it hurt more than a 2 out of 10. Pull-ups are a common pain producer—I’d eliminate them out until the condition resolves. Two more things: 1. See a doctor if it gets worse. 2. Check out to learn about new science-based products that might be a difference-maker for you. Good luck!

Hi Eric. I am a relatively newer climber, beginning two years ago at the age of 41. I have only climbed at the gym (there is one 7 min from my house)…and my kids love it, too! I want to be the best climber I can be given my age, genetics, etc. Currently, I get to climb one or two nights during the week, and one longer day on the weekend. I am about 5’11” and 155. Not naturally strong but I’m stronger than ever been. I do a little hangboarding and other things, but I want to make sure I’m not spinning my wheels. I’m looking for some guidance on what things I can be doing to improve in my situation. Can you help? –Brian

Hey Brian! You sound motivated and smart about your approach to climbing. The gym is a fun workout, and a great way to stay in shape throughout middle age. As a 2 year climber, you don’t want to do anything too crazy in terms of training–consider that your tendons take years to get stronger, whereas muscles get stronger in weeks and months. Injury is a very common thing for climbers in their first few years… But again, you’re schedule sounds good.

I’m not taking on any new clients at this time–but I do think you can self-coach. Keep listening to the podcasts and pick up a copy of my Training for Climbing book (3rd ed.) It’s a rich resource for developing and modifying training over time. I recommend a primary focus on technique, but a secondary focus on finger strength (moderate hangboard training), pulling strength (weighted pull-ups), shoulder stabilizer strength, and total core. All of these are described in detail in my book….but you may want to consider engaging a coach at your gym for personalized guidance. Happy climbing!

Hi Eric, I just finished your book “How to climb 5.12” and it was great! I am going to start doing the 4-3-2-1 training program and am even building a wall for the NICROS HIT System in my garage. I have just a couple of questions. Do you think I should be doing some hang-boarding in addition to the HIT training throughout the 4 and 2 portions of the 4-3-2-1? Or should the HIT in the 3 portion be enough? Also, I like doing some calisthenics, but don’t want to if it would be counterproductive to climbing (or less efficient then climbing). Do you think doing exercises related to handstands, planch, levers, weighted push-ups, and one arm pull-ups 2 to 3 days a week during the 4-3-2-1 would be beneficial or too much? Should I work them into certain phases of the 4-3-2-1? Or only do the pushing exercises (handstands, planch, pushups, etc) because they are antagonistic. I am curious what your thoughts are. –Lucas

Hi Lucas! Sounds like you have a great training set up, and a good workout plan! First, you can do the gymnastics exercises anytime–do them on climbing/training days, not on rest days. Having 2 days of rest (no major loading of fingers/elbow/shoulders) is important for recovery…and to avoid overuse injury. Enthusiastic, hard-training climbers your age often get injured due to too much training/climbing volume; so stay aware of this, and cut back at first sign of tendon or joint pain. During climbing season I recommend more of a DUP schedule…and do 4-3-2-1 cycles more so as offseason or between trips. There’s a lot of rich detail on scheduling this in my Training For Climbing book–check it out!