Round 178

Hey Eric, I’ve heard you say, when discussing the necessity of rest, that if you don’t give yourself enough time between training sessions you will interrupt super-compensation. What exactly does this entail? I understand super-compensation, but does this mean I shouldn’t train, say, strength one day and stamina the next? Or does it just mean I shouldn’t train strength on consecutive days? –Thomas

Hi Thomas! Recovery is multifaceted and hard to summarize in a brief single answer. Glycogen replenishment in the working muscles takes but 12 – 24 hours; however muscle protein synthesis and nervous system recovery from a vigorous strength/power session can take 72 hours or longer. Sometimes you’ll need to climb and train in a state of less than complete recovery—a strength day followed by a less intense endurance day is a common (and pretty good way) to do it. Another popular approach among some climbers is alternating a “hard week” and an “easy week.” With the hard week you’re basically overtraining (training not recovered), whereas the easy week is a major deload (lower intensity and volume) which allows your neuromuscular system and connective tissues to play catch up. Sending your project outside or going on a short climbing trip would be ideal after the EASY week…so that you’re more likely 100% for the trip.

Of course, many things—diet, nutrition, age, genetics—effect rate of recovery. So ultimately you need to experiment, take notes and strive to become self-aware of what works best for you.

Hello Eric, First of all, thank you for the amazing content you present here and especially your podcasts!
Question: What do you think of Calisthenics exercises such as Front lever, Back lever and Planches not only as complementary core exercises, but also as training exercises for climbing antagonist musculature (especially pushing exercises such as L-Sit/V-Sit and Handstands)? –Niklas (Germany)

Hi Niklas! Thanks for the kind words. Yes, those gymnastics strength skills can be helpful for more advanced and elite climbers, although it’s not ideal as a primary training method (maybe only 5% of total climbing training volume). The bulk of your training should be more climbing-specific with regular bouldering and roped climbing to develop/refine movement skills. Of course, hangboard and campus training is essential for more advanced climbers—critical for muscle, nervous system, and connective tissue adaptations.

Hello Eric! I am a twenty-four-year-old female climber struggling with injuries for the last two years.
Last year, I was out for a whole season with elbow tendonitis in my right arm. This tendonitis was from the tricep tendon that runs down over my elbow joint. I have really long arms, and so my triceps are long as well. Last year, a doctor told me that my triceps were too weak which is what lead to the tendonitis in my elbow. It took about four months to heal, and now my right elbow is fine. I do tricep strengthening exercises including rope pushdowns and tricep kickbacks.

A few months ago, I injured my left rotator cuff. I am on the mobile end of the spectrum and so stability is an issue for me. I have been doing stability exercises for strengthening and stabilizing my
shoulder, and it is finally getting better. But now, my left elbow feels like it is beginning to feel like it is getting tendonitis—the same thing that happened with my right elbow last year. I find that push motions aggravate my elbows, and so I have stopped doing my kettle bell shoulder exercises because they involve push motions.

I am kind of at a total loss. I feel incredibly discouraged, and wonder if my body is just not suited to be a climber. I am trying to train, but I find that injuries keep preventing me from really training. I want to do preventive exercises, but I don’t really know what the best plan is for me. I am 5’5, 115 pounds, and pretty thin. I have been trying to build more muscle and stability in order to climb safely, but injuries keep happening. I don’t want to be out for another season again like last year, and so I am wondering what the best thing is to do for my elbow now that I have caught it early. Right now, the dream of climbing hard and healthy feels so far off. I don’t want to give up though. I believe that someone can help me find a way to keep myself healthy and climb injury free. Any information would be incredibly helpful. I would do anything to climb pain-free.

Alaina, I’m happy to hear from you…but I’m sorry about your situation. Some people are simply more genetically prone to these types of issues (at least 5 genes have been identified that correlate to such soft tissue injuries). Obviously, I wouldn’t do any exercise that hurts or is known to injury you–goal #1 is to do no harm to the patient! I suggest you develop a list of “safe” exercises and “injurious exercises” based on what you’ve learned the last few years. Next, use this list to guide your training. Same goes for climbing—avoid positions and routes that stress your problem areas. Make rehab exercises for your elbows and shoulders top priority–a month of dedicated “prehab” would be smart before launching into serious climbing training.

Sleep and nutrition play an underlying role in all of this–perhaps more of a factor than many want to acknowledge. I believe so. Are you getting enough protein in your diet? The amino acids glycine and proline are especially critical for collagen synthesis in connective tissues—it’s my experience that many climbers are deficient. Check out PhysiVantage Supercharged Collagen—a research-based supplement designed to support collagen synthesis. It’s my hope that prudent training, targeted rehab, and some nutritional tweaks will get you back to the point of pain free climbing. Good luck!

Hello Eric, First I want to thank you for publishing and sharing your research and knowledge. I’m a climber of 25 years (mostly alpine) but up to 5.12c; but I’m a fairly weak climber! For this reason, I have begun fingerboard training (7/53 protocol) with 17.5 kg added weight, varying grip each set (crimp, 3 fingers, 2 finger pockets, etc). My Question: Can I do a fingerboard endurance training session (Repeaters) straight after the power training? Or is this too much…and counterproductive? How can I bring about hypertrophy? I want to maintain endurance and build strength/power. Thanks! –Thomas (Italy)

Hi Thomas, Don’t worry about hypertrophy—you can get way stronger with little or no hypertrophy (which is largely genetic). Anyway, the 7/53” hangs with weight is a good max strength program–do twice per week (only). Doing a little campusing as part of these two sessions (“complex training”) can be beneficial if you have a campus board. If not, no worries. The Repeaters is a good strength-endurance protocol, but very different from the 7/53” protocol. So, yes, it would be counterproductive to do both types of training in the same session.

Here’s what I recommend: For two weeks, do two 7/53 workouts and one 7/3 repeater workout each week (so a total of 3 hangboard sessions). Then for the next two weeks do the reverse; that is, two repeater workouts and just one 7/53 max strength session. Then take one week off from hangboard training before repeating this 4-week cycle. Of course, if you are climbing outside or gym climbing, then you will likely need to remove at least one hangboard session per week. My rule is to only weight the fingers a total of FOUR days per week—leaving 3 days for tendon recovery (important)!