Round 156

Hey Eric, I’ve been climbing 1.5 years and I am hitting a plateau. I can’t seem to progress beyond the 5.11c. I recently started following the Anderson Brothers program of ARCing, hangboarding, etc. And the net result is that I am getting stronger at those drills, but it isn’t translating into more sends. When climbing, I seem to get pumped really fast…and my performance, after a couple of burns, goes straight to hell. –Brian (Alabama)

Hey Brian! I’d be willing to bet that you’re strong enough to climb mid-5.12 routes. But as a climber of just 1.5 years, there’s no way you’re super-efficient as a climber (yet). Climbing is a complex sport, and despite how you might feel, I suspect that you’re burning through your energy/strength super fast, like a car with a poorly tuned engine. It’s my experience that it takes many climbers 2 or 3 years to become super smooth (and also head strong enough) so that they can glide up a route without massive energy leaks. So my advice is that training enough—stick with the Andersons’s program—but you need to dedicate more gym and crag time to practicing climbing (to become more skilled and efficient) on routes that are within one number grade below your limit (so 5.10c – 5.11c). Invest just 20% of your time on “limit” boulder problems and routes (11d – 12b). Do this 6 to 12 months, and I bet you’ll be into the 5.12 grades by early next year. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

My daughter and I started climbing last July. There is no way I am going to keep up with my 11 year old gymnast daughter–but I would like to improve! Do you suggest that I use the techniques in your training videos? FYI, I am in my 50’s. –Kevan (Minnesota)

Hey Kevan! Yes, you should be climbing in your 50s—a great way to keep your mind and body active to fight the aging process. You’ll never keep up with your daughter, but you can improve with a modest investment in training. Some of my EPIC-TV videos will be a bit too advance for you now. I suggest on focusing on a regular schedule of climbing (2 or 3 days per week), as this is the best way to develop technical skills and specific strength during your formative days. To read more, I suggest:

Hi Eric, I first heard about you when I worked at Vertical Endeavors in St. Paul. Since then I’ve kept climbing, but fitness has been harder to manage between career and kids. I’m 40 now and the last few years I’ve learned the hard way that I need to train smarter. This past fall I got the 3rd edition and have been studying it like I was in college! I spent a couple of weeks developing a 4-3-2-1 plan for a trip to Vegas in April. I am doing well with my plan so far, but I am wondering about intensity. I don’t want to fall into the trap of over-training, but I wonder if I’m doing too little. For example, I am doing scapular push-ups (20 reps x 2 sets twice a week). I feel like I could do 3 sets or 3 times per week but it seems like you suggest not more than 2 sets or twice per week for any one exercise. So my question is: for an exercise which I can do very easily, is it better to: a.) increase the number of sets, sticking with two days, b.) increase the number of days but sticking with 2 or 3 sets, c.) or just stick to the 2 sets on 2 days? –Ben (Seattle)

Hi Ben, Glad you’re getting after it in the gym! Generally, I don’t recommend more than 20 reps–in fact for scapular pull-ups I prefer sets of 10 to 12 reps…and dop 15 to 20 reps with the scapular push-upss. But you can certainly add a third set of each, if you feel up to it. Also, with the scapular pull-ups, you can make them harder by increasing the range of motion–that is, try to press the bar down more as if trying to pull up into a front lever position with straight arms and straight body. As for climbing specific exercises (hangboard and pull-ups, etc.) you definitely want to progress to higher resistance levels, whereas as antagonist/stabilizer muscles you don’t want to get too heavy.

Hey Eric! I was watching your training series on EPIC-TV and YouTube and I came across your campus board training video. You mentioned that if you recommend against using the campus board for the first two years. Personally, I have been climbing for a little over 2.5 years. However, June-October 2016, I did not climb due to a back injury from a car accident years ago. I started climbing again in October, and I have been climbing 2-3x week, and have been able to get a few V3’s and 5.11’s. Do you think it would be unwise to start very, very light campus boarding or hang boarding workouts at this time? Thank you so much in advance! Keep up the videos–they’re great! –Kaitlyn

Thanks Kaitlyn! You may be close to ready–begin with some “up laddering” on the campus board. If you are strong enough to move steadily for 5 or 6 rungs without stopping, then you can probably start doing 2 to 5 sets twice per week. I think some hangboard training and weighted pull-ups would be beneficial, too, but add these gradually. Of course, keep your main focus on climbing to improve technique and economy of movement—very important! J