T Nation

Training and Climbing?


First of one background information, I'm a 16 year old guy, I weigh 180 pounds, I'm about 6ft tall. Although I'd love to say that my weight is mostly muscle it would be a lie, but I am rather active (I rock climb, dirt bike, and ski quite often) for my appearance and weight. This summer I plan on working at my landscaping job more and climbing a lot, about 3 times a week.

My diet isn't terrible, but since I'm rather poor foods that are healthy can sometime be monetarily unavailable. If someone Could recommend a schedule for days I should climb per week and how I should spend my time at the climbing gym Itd be very appreciated.


I can't help you with the climbing but the food thing I sure can.

*peanuts/peanut butter- very high calorie too
*dark chicken meat- it's cheaper and has more fat for calories
*whole milk
*if you look you can find fairly inexpensive bags of frozen veggies
*don't overdo this one but fast food value menus
*lean pork and maybe ham if you see it on sale
*look for deals on ground beef

These are all inexpensive and good for you. You don't have to be eating steak, chicken breasts, and fresh expensive veggies to eat healthy.


1) How long have you been climbing? Based on your post, I get the impression it's been a year or less. Nevertheless, a specific number from you would be helpful.

2) What goals do you have in climbing?

3) What is your current level?

4) What type of climbing do you enjoy most?

5) Do you have any specific injuries related or non-related to climbing I should be aware of?

If you provide honest answers to the above questions, I can offer some insight.


Good questions.

Where have you climbed in Cali? I've been to jtree, YOS/toulume, and lovers leap. Good rock!


Seriously, I could sit down for two hours with a strong cup of coffee and I'd still have trouble remembering all the places I've climbed.

Off the top of my head, some of the major areas I've climbed...

Smith Rocks, Oregon

Yosemite, J-Tree, Lover's Leap, Sugar Loaf, Pinnacles, Mickey's Beach, Malibu Canyon, Owens River Gorge, Buttermilks, countless lesser known crags.

Donner Summit, Cave Rock (before the closure), Red Rocks, Mt Potasi, Mt Charleston

American Forks, Maple Canyon, Logan Canyon (one of the pics of my profile is at China Wall), Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, Joe's Valley, countless lesser known crags.

Red River Gorge

Hueco Tanks

Mt Lemon, Virgin River Gorge, Flagstaff areas

There are countless places I've forgotten in addition to the countless number of gyms I've trained at.

It's been well over 5 years since I hung up my shoes, rope, and harness but many of things that work and do not work remain the same. However, there are certain old-school dogma that, in retrospect, I wish I had never bought into.

It's ironic. Now that I am so much more knowledgeable about strength and conditioning, the passion for climbing is gone. I maxed out a 14a but knowing what I know now, 14d would've been possible. Such is life...

I think the grind just got old. You literally live out of a van, train your ass off, win regionals, and still have to pay your way to stay at a motel 6 for the nationals.

Also, all the mistakes I made when my friends and I thought we knew everything (or damn near) took a toll on my longetivity. This is why I'm always half amused and half nauseous when I see certain posters AND certain authors on this or other sites giving idiotic advice. I don't care what fancy title follows a person's name or how many posts some moron has; if it's bullshit, it still stinks.

Training off bro-science (i.e. copying what the billy bad ass is doing) isn't enough; training off theory and what the latest study isn't enough; there must a confluence of the two, the exact formula of which varies from person to person.


First off thanks to all the people who replied, to answer your questions I love to cl


1) your assumption was correct , about a year maybe a little less
2) I would love just to be a better climber, I know that's as vague as can be but if I were to choose a goal it would be to be able to do a v9 by the end of summer
3)I can do v5's and I usually climb 5-9 - 5-11
4) bouldering is my passion and since I won't have a partner most of summer it suits my workout
5) just last night I actually bonked my knee and tore something while unicycling, my knee should be fine in about 2 weeks.
Also I'd like to say that I don't use climbing for purely a workout, it's one of my favorite things to do and I would prefer a work out schedule that allows me to have fun as well as build muscle and burn fat. Burning fat is priority this summer because I believe that with a less fat (even if I don't lose any weight) will definitely help me become a better climber.

Thank you for your help


Same here man, climbing dogma and that know it all attitude did a lot of damage to my body. Drinking and poor nutrition hurt too.

Cracking into the 5.14 range is impressive no matter what. I redpointed a couple 11's in Indian creek. I was a high 11 low grade 12 sport climber, but I didn't really enjoy sport climbing that much. I still boulder with friends and manage to claw my way up a 5 or 6.

I also did a fair amount of ice and alpine climbing. Which sucks ass now.. There is nothing cool about shitty pro and freezing your balls off.

There are many frauds in the fitness world.


Indian Creek is the real deal and if you can send 5.11s there, you have my respect. I started out a crack climber in places like Lover's Leap and Donner but difficult face climbing was more appealing to me. And I know what you mean about ice.

I met a guy at Logan who got most of his calories from beer (really, really good beer...but still beer). He was a solid 13 climber and my friends and I wondered how good he would've been had he actually eaten real food.

As for me, I knew the value of protein even back then (from weight lifting in high school) but knew nothing of carb timing. Had I known that I would've been less miserable, leaner (I was already at single digit bf), and performed better.

On countless occasions, I've heard the argument that carbs are not essential. It's true that your body can break down amino acids through a process called gluconeogenesis; and a low carb or keto approach maybe fine for some physique-oriented competitors as they get closer to a show.

However, I am absolutely convinced that foods such as rice, sweet potatoes, bananas, etc. IF PROPERLY TIMED AND EATEN IN THE CORRECT AMOUNTS can greatly benefit athletes involved in sports such as rock climbing. Nothing that I've seen and no studies that I've read have convinced me that eating or drinking protein is more efficient than taking in carbs IF the goal is to elevate your body's glucose levels as quickly as possible. The process of breaking down amino acids and converting them to glucose is simply not as efficient. And for athletes, efficiency is gold.

For example, the latest trend is this 'If It Fits Your Macros' idea. Someone actually wrote a myopic article on it a few months back. The author basically argued that when you eat the carbs doesn't matter as long as you get your daily allotment - whether it's in several servings or one large serving at night. Again, I've seen first hand with myself and others that - for athletes - carb choice and timing trumps just blindly gulping down a given amount.


First and foremost, you should get your knee checked out if you think you "tore something." Many of the moves in climbing such as high-steps, drop-knees, and so on can place significant stress on the knee. A seemingly minor injury can become major with constant loading if you do not properly go through the healing process.

Also, as counter intuitive as it may seem, bouldering can actually be more dangerous than roped climbing. When climbing steep routes, as long as you know what you're doing and your belayer knows what he's doing, you won't have to worry about landing on that knee. One of best things I enjoyed about climbing steep routes is that I'd routinely take 40 foot whippers and hit nothing but air.

When bouldering, you can be only 6 or 7 feet off the deck but a miscalculation or a unpredictable slip and you can easily hit the ground at a bad angle. You said you weigh 180 pounds. That much weight, falling approximately 7 feet, can be very traumatic on a suspect knee.

I met a course setter for national-level comps who, while bouldering in a gym, broke his ankle. When he landed, his foot got caught at the crevice formed by two thick bouldering pads. It basicall locked his foot into place and, due to the sheer momentum of his body twisting as it landed, something had to give.

I met another hard core boulderer at the Buttermilks who actually blew out both his knees from repeated ground falls. Now this guy specialized in high-ball problems, those climbs in which the line between bouldering and free soloing are blurred. But it does go to show you that not all is what it seems...Do some research and you'll see some bizarre yet all-too-real ways in which climbers get hurt.

Gravity never sleeps. Never forget this.

I'm not saying to stop bouldering. What I am saying is make sure you're healthy enough to do so and know the proper way to land. A capable spotter is great to have but not always available. And all it takes is that one pretty girl in the short shorts and sports bra to distract him.

If you refuse to follow the advice that I wrote above, there's nothing I can do to help you.

If you accept and put into practice everything that I wrote above, then keep reading.

At this stage in your development, I strongly advise against training devices such as Bachar Ladder and the campus board. The lock off strength (one of the main reasons for using the Bachar Ladder) can be trained and strengthened from climbing. The campus board is simply too high risk/low reward. And it does nothing to train footwork or body tension.

Speaking of which, footwork and body tension are two greatly important aspects if you want to climb to your potential. Yet they are the least trained by most gym rats.

One summer in Mt Charleston, I climbed with a guy who was on the South African National team. The conversation turned to Frederick Nicole, who, at the time, was the best boulderer on the planet. There are problems he established about 10 years ago that only the top guys can send in this day and age. That's how cutting edge he was.

Anyway, I asked the South African friend, who had a chance to climb with Nicole when he was visiting South Africa, just what made him so superior...? Now keep in mind that, being good enough to compete at an international level, this guy had a fine sense of what to look for when studying a truly gifted climber such as Nicole.

Without hesitation, he said Nicole had incredible body tension - the ability to keep one or both feet on the hold and press on that hold so hard - no matter how steep the route - that he would greatly reduce the amount of force his hands and arms had to put out. You simply cannot hone this skill if all you do is campus from jug to jug like a drunk monkey.

You will meet your share of climbers who can easily knock out one arm pull ups, even one-finger pull ups. Hell, I could do those things. But those who impressed with these feats of strength could never come close to bouldering like Nicole because they lacked that degree of body tension, kinesthetic awareness, and overall technique.

Some finger board work is acceptable IF you work on your open-hand strength. It's natural for people to go into the close grip because it feels more secure. However, this places more stress on the fingers that WILL accumulate over time. So train the open grip until it feels second-nature. And on those few occasions when you must use the closed grip, you'll actually be that much stronger.

Always work on technique. Back in the 90's when the Europeans were dominating the World Cup circuit as well as establishing the hardest routes in the world, a famous Belgian climber was asked why the Americans didn't have the success of their European counterparts. His answer was simple: Americans placed too much emphasis on strength and not enough on technique.

All the strength in the world means nothing if you don't know how to apply it.

This means that you must spend a larger percentage of your climbing on grades at or below your current best (V5, if I recall).

If all you do is throw yourself at V6s or even V7s because now you consider yourself a V5 boulderer, your progress will actually stall.

Build a solid foundation on V3s and 4s of every style - from thuggish brutal moves to super technical balance problems - not just the ones that suit your strengths. WORK ON THE 3s AND 4s THAT EXPOSE YOUR WEAKNESSES.

Once you've established this base, build a solid foundation of 5s in every style. Do not neglect some 4s and 3s. WORK ON THE 3s, 4s, AND 5s THAT EXPOSE YOUR WEAKNESSES.

Now try working a 6. To help your confidence, choose a 6 that matches your strength. If you've built that solid foundation I mentioned, that 6 will be easily attained. If you become a numbers whore and do nothing but project 6s without a foundation at the 3s, 4s, and 5s, you WILL make life hard on yourself.

And now that you've done your first 6, go back to building that foundation at the lower numbers as well as getting accomplished at 6s that do not necessarily suit your strengths.

DO NOT stay at the gym to the point where hanging off jugs feels difficult. Your body and nervous system are fried at this point and you're simply digging yourself into a deeper hole from which to recover. A well-known California climber back in the 90s would train to a point where he could barely hang onto the largest of holds. Well...it certainly sounded hardcore and the work ethic was impressive. Many people (myself included) adopted this method. In retrospect it was fool's gold we were chasing doing this.

And ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY have easy days. Days in which the climbing feels almost trivial. These days will give you active recovery and just as importantly teach you to relax. The best climbers are not strongest but they are the ones who can relax the most when little to no effort is needed; and turn up the throttle only when necessary, the instant it's necessary. On routes and even longer boulder problems it's about how much energy you've saved when you're at the crux. The climber who expended the least of amount of effort to get to that crux will have a much higher success rate than the one who over gripped the easier moves, did not breathe properly, use sloppy foot work, etc.

In other words, do NOT laugh off the easier boulder problems and routes. And you can often experiment with certain techniques that you wouldn't be able to on problems or routes that are at or close to your limit. You can work on when to static a move, when to dead point, when to dyno. You can work on when to back step, when to flag, when to drive by. All these things you can hone and feel comfortable doing if the terrain is just easy enough. As you master a certain technique, you can apply it to climbs closer to your limit.

And if at all possible, I encourage you to do routes - even if bouldering is your thing. In the long run, it WILL help you become a better boulderer as long as you keep it in moderation. And should you choose to one day specialize in routes, you won't be that idiot that shoots his wad after 5-10 moves.

One of the dumbest ideas that infected many American climbers in the late 90's and early 2000's was that if you were strong, you wouldn't need endurance - because every hold would feel like a jug. Completely false. It has to do with the different energy systems your body uses (which I won't go into here). Furthermore, climbing a difficult routes takes a certain patience that's nearly impossible to cultivate by just bouldering.

To sum up:

1) Have EASY, FUN days. Don't be that brooding, self-important dick who glares at anyone that climbs better than you (that's alot of glaring at this stage in your development). Chat up the pretty girls (not when spotting or belaying, of course). Offer people newer than you any help. Ask the more accomplished climbers for advice (generally, they will be flattered and happy to help); listen politely and thank them. If you disagree with what they say, keep it to yourself (when you become an advanced climber, you can choose to engage in debates; for the time being, keep your pie hole shut). Who knows...? Management or the owner may take notice of your social skills and offer you a part time job (it's a myth that only good climbers work at gyms; the key skill to have is being likable). Then you have pro deals (gear at below wholesale), get attention from more pretty girls, and meet the occasional super star who is traveling through town.

2) Have days when you work on developing that base on boulder problems. Remember what I said about getting on problems that expose your weaknesses.

3) Have days when you focus primarily on routes. Being on the sharp end is a skill in itself. And it's always nice to be the group's rope gun (the climber who takes the lead on the hardest routes, so the others don't have to).

4) Have the occasional days when you test yourself on a PR. This type of a day should be no more than once a week or once every two weeks. DO NOT feel obligated to attempt a PR if you feel tired or sluggish that day (it will more often than not result in frustration or injury). Once you hit that PR, congratulate yourself (I knew this one gal who would buy herself a quick draw for every PR she hit), then go back to developing that base on the lower numbers as well as becoming more accomplished on your new number. When you've mastered climbs at that new number, get on the next level.

5) Stay away from the Bachar Ladder and campus board for right now (when you're more advanced, you can make the decision to incorporate them as you see fit). Some fingerboard work may be acceptable AS LONG AS YOU WORK ON OPEN HAND STRENGTH. DO NOT go to failure on the fingerboard and NEVER get on it if fatigued (alot of old-school climbers will do this at the end of a session to 'finish themselves off'; and they wonder why it's excruciating to button their shirts the next morning).

6) Always be mindful of technique, tempo, breathing, body tension, foot work, and learning to relax. Even on moves in which it's best to have your feet cut loose, learn to transition to the next set of foot holds precisely and without hesitation.

7) Stay on top of hydration and NEVER climb aggressively on cold tendons/ligaments. Little tricks such as keeping a mini hand warmer (the kind you shake up) in your chalk bag or wearing gloves when not climbing are things you can do on chilly days.

8) Most importantly, listen to and respect your body. You may feel invincible at the age of 16. I guarantee the follies of misplaced effort and desire will catch up to you.

This just scratches the surface. I didn't cover the do's and don'ts in the weight room and other aspects of cross training (which is very important).

And be sure to keep it all in perspective.

You have quite the journey ahead of you and I'd be a liar if I said I'm not jealous.


Probably one of the best posts I've seen on any forum. Really enjoyed this insight.