Round 158

Greetings Eric, I have the last two editions of your Training for Climbing book. I’ve found all of the information extremely helpful in crafting my own training plans and analysis of my climbing. In the newest edition, I noticed that hangboard routines like repeaters have been changed…and some new hangboard routines added. I’m interested to hear what makes these new exercises a better choice. –Andrew (Wyoming)

Hey Andrew, Glad the books are helping you out! The new edition of TFC is a huge upgrade, and I’ve refined many of the training protocols. I think a hangboard is most effective for training max strength and strength endurance, whereas lower intensity (mainly aerobic) endurance is best trained on a climbing wall or the cliff roped. Anyway, the Repeaters are still in the book, but in a slightly different format—check out pages 186-188. These progressions will develop strength endurance (and get you pumped), just like the older repeater formats. Happy training!

Hi Eric, I appreciate your systematic approach to training with quantifiable results—It seems to take the mystery out of reaching those higher grades. While I previously focused my training solely on endurance, after being convinced by your podcast and videos, I’ve recently started using your maximum strength fingerboard workouts. On the 7-53 workout, I am up to 26lbs of added weight on a 5/8″ edge. Rather than having a vague goal of hanging with as much weight as possible, I’d like to focus my training goals. Assuming finger strength is the limiting factor, is there a target weight you would expect a 5.12/V5 climber to be able hang with on a given edge size? –Drew (Utah)

Hey Drew, Yes, getting strong is important—finger strength, pulling strength (weighted pull-ups), and shoulder stabilizer strength. You MUST train all 3, as I’ve laid out in my books and podcasts—doing just one will be much less effective and tempts injury. The 7-53 protocol is very effective, but don’t overdo it….and risk a finger injury; twice per week is the goal. As for the amount of weight to add….really, there is no set weight amount that correlates with grade, since there are so many other influential factors such as technique, the mind, and body composition. Anyway, the right training weight is an amount that requires about 90% effort to hang for 7 seconds. If you fail at 7 seconds or less, then reduce the weight used.

Hello Coach Eric! I just started reading Maximum Climbing and I got to the X Factors section, which immediately made me more excited to read the book since I loved your X Factors Podcast. There is a group of myself, my wife, and good friends that climb regularly together both indoors and outdoors. I have noticed that oftentimes if one of us is doing well others tend too also—the old send train starts down the tracks. However if one individual is not doing so well the opposite can become true as well. Sometimes we get caught up in others agendas and it inhibits personal growth, I love the social aspect of climbing but after all it is first and foremost an individual sport and journey. What advice and tips can I give my friends so we can all stay in our own journey of abilities and achievements yet still enjoy group trips and experiences? –Matt (California)

Hey Matthew! Glad you like the book and podcast. I’m happy to hear you’re dialing into the mental side of things…as this is an often-overlooked area (many younger climbers just obsess on getting stronger)…and mental development is the real key to mastery and high achievement (in any field). Anyway, you’ve asked a tough question. The group dynamic can be a wonderful thing—but sometimes a ball & chain. It’s my experience that in climbers who mainly boulder, the “group thing” and social aspect can be very positive and uplifting. However, with roped climbing it can be a different story. Doing routes is a bigger time commitment and harder to “share” with several climbing friends, unless you have a crag with a route that fits each person. So if roped climbing is your focus, then it might be best to identify a single “best partner” who has similar goals and ability—this way you can train and send together.

Otherwise, I’m not sure what else to say other than to train together, motivate and elevate each other at the gym, and always have fun. Of course, each of you needs to determine what specifically is the best workout—based on personal weaknesses, ability, goals, etc. So while you might train together, you each will likely need to do somewhat different programs (exercises, sets/reps, etc).

Hi Eric, I’m training regularly, but I feel that I’m not improving as much as I’m committed to my climbing. I work 50 to 60 hours per week and sometime it’s hard to stick to my training and diet plan. (I should add that I’m Italian, so it’s very hard to stay away from pizza!). Anyway, do you have advice for me to improve? Thanks in advance for any tips for a climber of two years (and 72 kg at height of 180cm) hoping to soon break the 7a plateau. –Mattia (Washington)

Hi Mattia, Plateaus are a natural part of learning a complex sport. For only 2 years of climbing, 7a is actually pretty good. Your weight (72 kg) isn’t bad for your height; so while losing a few kilos might be nice, it’s not essential to climbing 7a+ and above. Most important: climbing is two-thirds mental and technical. My guess is that you have a LOT of work to do in these areas—many climbers spend a decade refining their technique and mental game. This way you climb with more efficiency and apparent strength! Of course, you need to work on the complete picture via a comprehensive program as described in my TFC book. Having a coach work with you in person would be a big help to identify your limiting constraints and create the most effective program for you going forward. Hard for me to do that via email. Good luck! Eric