Ask Eric – Round 160

Hi Eric, I have a few questions about the 15-week periodization program. Approximately how long I will be at a peak performance period after completely this training cycle? How long can I spend climbing at my limit (outside) before going back to training? If I climb only on weekends what training should I do during the week at the climbing gym? –Rodrigo (Mexico)

Hello Rodrigo! I’m not sure what program you are talking about—I mainly promote a 10-week periodization program. Regardless of the length, however, the post-cycle peak is tough to maintain for more than a few weeks when traveling to climb outside exclusively—beyond that, your max strength/power will begin to wane…and central fatigue will gradually yield a sense of malaise. Some top pros, therefore, limit trips to a few weeks, then return home to train at the gym again (after a short time off). If you just climb weekends, however, you may be able to extend your peak longer by doing some “tune up” training during the week. In this situation, I recommend doing a strength/power session on Tuesday (bouldering, hangboard, and some campus training) and then an endurance-oriented session on Wednesday (4×4 Intervals and/or roped climbing). Go easy or rest completely on Thursday and Friday, so that you are 100% fresh to send on the weekend!

Hi Eric, I recently purchased your 3rd edition of Training for Climbing—the book has been tremendously helpful up to this point, and I’m getting better every day following the principles you have laid out. Now my question: with the exercise called Wide Pinch with Wrist Extension you say to first train for endurance by using a lighter weight for 30 second holds, but to eventually progress to heavier weights for 10-second holds. What would you consider a heavy weight on this exercise? —David

Dear David, Glad you like the book! Regarding the pinch training weights, it’s tough to give weight ranges, since we are all at a different place strength-wise. That said, with a “3 wide” pinch block you might try 20 lbs for 30 seconds. If that’s easy then you can quickly advance (after a few weeks) to heavier strength-training sets with 10 second pinches, perhaps, with 35 pounds for 3-wide and 45 pounds for 2-wide. But this is just a guess, so increase or decrease amount 0f weight as needed. Be sure to chalk up well for each pinch set!

Greetings Eric! Is it necessary to get pumped in order to properly train the strength-endurance energy systems? I have been doing 10”/20” and 10”/10” repeaters as prescribed in the latest Training for Climbing, but I’m finding that instead of getting pumped I’m simply gradually fatiguing myself until my grip fails and I’m no longer able to hold a grip for 10 seconds. Any insight you could pose on this matter is greatly appreciated. I’m gearing up for a week in 10 Sleep and am hoping for some best-ever sends! —Andrew (Wyoming)

Hi Andrew! Your training sounds pretty good—a massive pump is NOT essential, since part of the strength-endurance adaptations relate to increasingly fast re-oxygenation during periods of intermittent blood flow (which helps prevent a severe burning pump). That said, you do need to do some form of training to elicit a deeper pump at least once per week (twice, in a training-only period with no outdoor climbing) to get the buffering system up, and so some pumpy roped climbing or Interval training (such as 4x4s with only brief rests) is ideal. On the finger board you could add some weight (10 to 20 lbs) for the repeaters on somewhat larger holds….or even do a few long-duration repeaters, which should yield more of a pump. Be sure to taper the last 5 to 7 days before Ten Sleep. Maybe see you there!

Hi, Eric, I’ve read (inn the Verkoshanksy book) of tiring slow twitch fibers with an AM session, before a power workout in PM to optimize fast twitch activation…but the molecular signaling and possible “interference” of workouts is something new for me (when I heard it in your podcast). Intuitively, it seems that maybe I’d be my freshest for the power workout in the morning and that at the end of the day I can manage a less stressful endurance session? Can you offer additional thoughts? —Nik

Nik, Obviously, everyone is a bit different (sleep & nutrition habits, amount of daytime rigors at work, accumulated mental fatigue by afternoon, etc.), but strength testing commonly finds that people are strongest in the afternoon and evening—like many physiological processes, strength appears to have a circadian variation. Thus, many coaches and athletes find that doing a morning endurance session (a moderate aerobic endurance workout; NOT a severe anaerobic endurance workout) followed by an afternoon or early evening strength/power session works best (since you should be able to generate more forceful/powerful exercises in the PM, per above).

Gene expression and signaling is a very hot topic…with countless papers hitting around the target of interest for us. As you might expect, there’s some contradictory findings, but the preponderance of the work supports the idea of NOT doing concurrent endurance and max strength exercise, but doing it in separate sessions (several hours apart…and ideally 6 to 8 hours apart or on separate days). Ultimately, each individual needs to find what the best program is for them (genetically and practically). Hope this helps—happy training!