Round 14

Are there any beneficial food supplements?

Q: Are there certain food supplements that would be beneficial for climbing? – Niall (Ireland)

A: Hello Niall, There are a few supplements that I view as helpful and completely safe (and legal). First is a daily multivitamin, just to make sure you are getting the minimum daily requirement of the many vital micronutrients. Taking extra Vitamin C and E can be helpful if you regularly train or climb to a high level of fatigue. Also, whey protein powder is a great source of extra protein, if you don’t consume high quality protein at least three times per day. I take all of the above, and I feel the benefits are worth the $1 to $2 per day I spend on supplements. Hope this helps out.

Is it normal for ability to increase in steps?

Q: I have been bouldering for around 3 months. I have noticed that my ability to send harder routes seems to occur in punctuated steps. Is this normal? – Justin (Seattle, WA)

A: Hey Justin, What you are describing is a common phenomenon. Of course, the steps of improvement will get smaller and smaller (and more difficult to achieve) as you advance up the scale. To maintain improvement, it is most important to work equally on improving the quality of your technique, mind, and fitness.

How do I overcome the fear of falling?

Q: I recently started leading and I suffer from a fear of falling. What can I do to overcome this weakness? – Cristina

A: Dear Christina, Fear of falling is a primal emotion that all climbers experience. You’ll need to work through it by gradually challenging your fears. Taking some short practice falls is a good way to gain comfort and faith in the belay system. In time, you’ll push through this fear and your climbing ability will spike upward! Follow the link below for a full article on the subject:

Do protein drinks enhance muscular growth and recovery?

Q: Hello, I am wondering if drinking protein powder would help in improve muscular growth and recovery? — Jordan

A: Jordan, Protein drinks are a good thing for hard training athletes on a lean diet. I recommend drinking whey protein–Designer Whey, EAS Whey, or other similar whey product–first thing in the morning and before bed, as well as right after a workout. Most muscle growth occurs while you sleep, thus the importance of consuming quality protein before your eight-hour fast. I have a full chapter on accelerating recovery in my book, Training for Climbing.

What’s the best way to train for anaerobic endurance?

Q: Could you advice me on A-E workouts? BTW, your books “How to Climb 5.12” and “TFC” are the most interesting ones I ever read! – Marco (Switzerland)

A: Marco, Thanks for the kind words about the books. The best A-E training is “interval training”. That is, do a moderately hard boulder problem or short sport route several times in a row with only a one-minute rest between ascents. So, if 7a/b (5.12a) is your limit, select a short 6c (5.11) and climb three or four laps with only a brief rest between laps. This is an excellent strategy to use at an indoor climbing gym as well.

How fast will my strength come back after an injury layoff?

Q: I have recently damaged my shoulder in a fall and have been on a forced lay off for a month. I was training hard prior to my accident and had just completed a 4-3-2-1 cycle, and I was feeling strong. Will I have lost a great deal of my strength during my month off? Great work on the books and this web site! – Russ (Scotland)

A: Russ, Thanks for the kind words! I have some good news–you will come back from a one month lay off faster than you might expect. Regaining strength after a layoff comes faster than it took to get the muscles there the first time around. I’d imagine that 4 weeks of training should get you back to near 100%. Or, kick into a new 4-3-2-1, and you should finish up stronger than at the end of your previous cycle. Of course, go easy on that shoulder and do whatever rehab is advised. Some of the antagonist muscle exercises detail in my TFC book might be beneficial.