Is it true that I get pumped and cannot climb routes because I lack strength?

Nearly always false. You get pumped, true, and you canít climb routes, but the reason is not a lack of strength but:


Mental and co-ordination problems:                                          

-Fear of falling                                                                          

-Fear of making a fool of yourself                                             

-Fear of winning                                                

-Fear to compete against others, and one self                             

-Fear of fear

-A lack of technique                                                                  

-Having a knowledge of technique and using

it rationally (I think therefore I fall) instead of

using it at an immediate level of perception

-reading/interpreting the rock wrongly 


Which imply:

-A lack of flow

-Dissipation of energy


In oder words:


It is not a good attitude to think: I have to reach 100% of strength so even if I waste 50% of it I have another 50% left, in fact in the above list, waste of energy increases exponentially.  If I have a theoretical potential volume of 100 in endurance and 100 in power, after a few seconds of maximum efforts due to silly mistakes, I find myself having 20, then 10, then 0 then I fall. From whatever level I start off at, in a few seconds I have burnt out!




Someone who starts off at a lower physical level, but does not encounter any crisis is better off. To prove the above point we can talk about redpointing routes: if I know a route really well I climb it quickly in flowing movements, and I donít get pumped. Even though I donít get pumped I donít have any more power or endurance left compared to before, I just know the route very well, so potentially I could climb it in a few attempts.

In 90% of cases: the reason for getting pumped is not the lack of strength (up to 20/25 movements) or endurance (25 to 60/70 movements) but the fact that I climb badly.

The second reason is the lack of maximum power. In fact if we look at the following table we can tell that:





Therefore if I can only do 5 reps and I cannot finish the sixth, I am not lacking strength but it simply means that I am working at 70%. If I were at 30% I could do 30 reps. The solution is to increase my maximum effort, so that the single moves are less intense, the route becomes simpler, and I donít get pumped.

Power does not exist as one measurable unit (endurance does). What is simple for me can become a maximum effort for someone else. This is my point. If I have more power than you, I will make more movements on the same route because I am climbing at 50% whilst you are  at 90%. I need to make the moves easier for me, I need to climb well.

Maximum power and technique-flow are unavoidable if one wants to last a long time while climbing.


Is it true that I have no power and have to train more?

Almost always false. It could be that you have no power, but:

It is almost never true that just by training one improves, it is by training in a better way that one improves.

In the majority of cases you have enough power to climb the grade you are on without increasing it, if at the same time you improve the flowing motion of your climbing.

It could actually be that you lack some power compared to the level you are climbing (if you have subscribed to my training fill out the test, send it to me and I will tell you your level) but maybe you are just too heavy since the power we are talking about is often related to your body weight.


Is it true that when I am not fit I need to train more?

Almost always false. Not much training hardly ever causes a decrease in form, but it maintains it at a certain level without increasing it. A decrease in fitness is usually due to too much training, especially volume and intensity together cause a slump.

Endurance sessions, such as 30seconds/1 minute 60 holds, 30 seconds, 1 minute etc needs a long recovery time to increase your form, which does not always occur.

Campus board with more than 6/8 movements, causes a decrease in fitness if the recovery is short.

Isometric exercises done till exhaustion (for example 1 minute on two small edges repeated many times with little recovery) intoxicates your muscle fibres for a very long time and there is no increase in form. This isometric exercise has to be avoided at all costs.

If you have not done any of the above, check your weight (maybe you have put on weight) or you have some deficiencies (aneamia) or mental stress.

In all the above cases the solution has to be singled out case by case. For a high level athlete the cure is approximately 3 weeks of rest and/ or some easy training followed by a cycle of specific maximum power exercises that will work on the endogenous production of testosterone or growth hormone.


What is the best body shape for a climber?

The fact that there are strong climbers who are tall and short, muscly and slim just shows you how sports climbing is a complex activity and with many sub disciplines in it. An overhang with good holds, a vertical wall with micro edges, a 5 movement route on two finger pocket holds, a 220cm dyno move can all be classified as a 9a, but they can almost be described as different sports. To climb successfully on all those kinds of routes is to be a true champion. To climb at the highest level on everything is impossible. Therefore the question should be rephrased:

      a)      what is the ideal body shape for a vertical wall using only your fingers?

      b)      What is the ideal body shape for a route requiring endurance?

      c)      What is the ideal body shape for an overhanging boulder?

      d)      What is the ideal body shape for slabs?

Even if the answer is complicated, I will try and answer it looking at a)

One thing that is very important at top levels is absolute weight. To diminish gravity with less weight. If I have 20kg less (even if I am 20kg of muscle) on tiny holds (and hard routes usually have tiny holds) the pressure on 2cm of finger tip, the power that the joint has to withstand to with hold the tendons and the tension on the tendons is minor. TOO OFTEN WE MAKE THE MISTAKE OF CONSIDERING OUR WEIGHT IN AN ABSOLUTE MANNER? BUT RELATIVE TO POWER, HEIGHT ETC. WHEN THE PRESSURE BY SQUARE CENTIMETRE ON YOUR FINGER TIP COULDNíT CARE LESS HOW TALL AND MUSCLY YOU REALLY ARE.

In a few words your fingers are always the same no matter how muscly you are.

An example: a person weighs 40kg and hangs with 40kg on an edge measuring 1cm, another person weighs 80kg and hangs on to the same hold with 80kg. In theory they have the same relative finger power (ratio1) on one centimetre.  In  practice the second person which is hanging 160kg on his fingers (body weight and load) will only be able to do a few reps before the skin , tendons and his/her fingersí articulation give up. If you are heavy but really strong, you will be disadvantaged on small holds. FINGERS DONíT HAVE MUSCLES and the fact that a heavier person might have slightly larger fingers (something which carries its own disadvantages anyway) can compensate only in a minimum part the pressure it puts on his/her fingers.

Therefore the ideal body shape will be:

Not very tall (+height = +weight)


Not very wide, narrow shoulders, narrow waist, narrow pelvis, small head (+width =

+ weight, and I mantained this long before the great American Graham pulverised the hardest routes and boulder problems).


What is the best and quickest training session to increase oneís climbing grade outdoors?

One should climb on rock 4/5 times a week, alternating onsight, redpointing and bouldering.

Climbing to train for climbing. But who of us really has that possibility? Fingerboards, campus board, climbing walls, are valid alternatives and allow us to concentrate many useful training sessions into a short period of time but they are not necessary if you can climb outside all the time.

But even in this case it is necessary to follow a programme, in other words HOW TO INCREASE YOUR POWER WHILST CLIMBING, HOW TO IMPROVE ENDURANCE WHILST CLIMBING.


I almost climb the same grade onsight as I do redpoint. Why?

This is not a real problem. It simply means that you have never seriously tried a route. Redpointing a high grade and onsighting a low grade shows a lack of co-ordination skill. The opposite does not exist. If I climb  7a  regularly onsight, and I try a 7b, the more I try it, it becomes ďautomaticĒ, and I will eventually climb it. Even if mentally one can be affected by the stress of redpointing a route, it is merely a question of time before succeeding.

Whatever the movement, even the simplest, the body needs to ďlearnĒ it. Even the action of hanging from an edge can be improved by doing it a few times, you hold the edge better because you have ďlearnedĒ the exercise, the strength has increased at a  co-ordination and synchronization level.


Why are most dynamic exercises (such as dynos) done with two hands or one hand, whereas when you climb you hardly do those moves?

Because they are good training. Both the impulse that you have at the start of the dyno movement as well as the absorption of the arrival increase power that will be useful to me on a climb even on non dynamic moves. To be clearer I can train for a one arm pull up doing one arm dynos.


What should I do when I want to peak for a certain time in the year?

During competition time or a special period, the aim is to reach a point where all the training you have done previously gives you a maximum state of fitness during the required period. (May, June and July for example) The main ways to obtain this are the following:

I  increase considerably the amount of specific exercises compared to the general exercises (anything that is not directly related to technique) with a proportion of 80%/90%  for specific exercises and 10/20% for general ones.

A lot of care in the amount of recovery time both during the training session (minutes) between sessions (days) and between micro-cycles (weeks).

A lot  of care in dosing the intensity and quantity of the work load. The basic principle is that if the intensity is high (for example hard routes) the quantity has to be low, i.e. the quantity is high (for example many pitches)  the intensity has to be low and they have to be done in a flowing motion. In the special period of training the intensity has to be always higher and the volume lower.

A favourable mental condition and an increasing level of motivation, as small goals are achieved.

A check on body weight (it should be slightly lower than usual, but not too much)


How much should I rest before an important route (or a competition, boulder etc.)?

Every one of you will have no doubt tried it on yourself, the first day back climbing after one or more rest days, you have no reactivity, you actually feel weaker. Nonetheless you are determined to take one or two days off before your performance day. This is because you are scared to take the risk, the risk to do what you should instead be doing, and that is a training session which uses your maximum power (at least 70 total movements), with long rests, and very few repetitions the day before your needed performance.

If you have tapered down long term (2/3 weeks) and you have correctly dosed the intensity/volume/recovery times in the previous months, that day will help you to release all your power.






The training shown on this website can cause serious damage to your body, especially to your muscular skeletric apparatus, and in certain subjects it can also affect the cardiovascular system. 

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