• Coming Back From Injury
  • Get Trip-Fit Fast
  • Systems Wall and Symmetrical Training
  • Coaching Climbing - How To Train Juniors with Care and Caution
  • Grip Trainers - Gimmicks, or Worth the Money?
  • Hangboarding for Endurance: Not Just for Power
  • Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do
  • Planning a Year's Climbing
  • Portable Training Rigs - How to Stay Fit on the Go
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Suspension Training for Rock Climbing
  • Eat Fat, Climb Harder - The Ketogenic Diet
  • Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance
  • Mental Training Made Simple
  • Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 2
  • Endurance Training Tips for Winter
  • Five Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 1
  • Staying Power - How to Last All Day at the Crag
  • Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting
  • Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter
  • Training While Injured
  • The Hard Way, Easier: How to Cope with Redpoint Nerves
  • Climbing Literacy - Get Better Instantly by Reading Routes
  • The Numbers Game - How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
  • Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong
  • Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
  • The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard?
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock - Three Strategies to Prevent the Pump
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 - Strength and Power II
  • The Training Effect - Steve House and Scott Johnston
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Gutbusters - Core Exercises for Rock Climbing
  • Rest ... or Else
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Crank Like a Russian - How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • How to Improve Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • How to Use a Hangboard
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Video Spotlight
    Joe Kinder On the First Ascent of Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a)
    Joe Kinder On the First Ascent of Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a)
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    Training While Hungry


    I'm breaking into climbing 5.13s and looking for an edge, but I am tired of reading the same old stuff about sports nutrition. Has anything new been discovered this century and do you think that minor tweaks to a nutritional regime can help give climbers an edge?
    —Tom Wilson | Missoula, Montana

    The subject of sports nutrition hasn't changed too much as far as the average climber is concerned, but some recent revolutionary discoveries have turned this subject upside down for elite athletes. The main thing that scientists have learned in the last decade is that we can use nutrition to trigger the release of the specific enzymes or hormones that play vital roles in the processes of getting strong or improving endurance. In other words, we can use nutrition the same way that cheaters use drugs. The crux comes in understanding that different processes are involved for strength and endurance and that we must switch from one strategy to the other depending on which of the two we are training.

    For example, for years we've always thought that our stores of muscular glycogen should be as high as possible during endurance training (in other words, prior to and during training we should take carbohydrates and consume energy bars or drinks). But ironically, scientists have found that training in a glycogen-depleted state dramatically improves (and in some cases doubles) our response to an endurance session. Improvements in endurance are caused by a variety of complex processes, which result in an increased number of mitochondria (energy factories) in our cells as well as the activity of certain fat-burning enzymes. Those who are keen to read up on the technical background should Google a group of receptor proteins known as PPAR gamma, and also an enzyme called AMPK. For maximum benefits from an endurance session we need to burn fat in order for PPAR gamma and AMPK to play their parts in boosting endurance, and clearly we won't burn fat if we have loads of glycogen to burn first. Put more simply, if you think back to the days of our early ancestors, the people who survived were the ones who could run for long hours on an empty stomach to scavenge for food. By scarfing loads of carbs we are effectively blocking our bodies' chances to respond to situations of extreme pressure in the way that nature intended. Not only will this approach produce superior endurance but you will lose stacks of weight, too.

    However, anyone who is foolhardy enough to switch entirely to this extreme and potentially dangerous approach will become exhausted, over-trained and injured. The answer is to cycle your nutritional program for endurance training and go through brief phases (for example, a week or two) when you train glycogen-depleted and phases where you train glycogen-replenished, using energy bars and drinks. Clearly you should always be fully glycogen replenished for hard crag climbing and for competitions. Glycogen-depleted training should never be tried (to any degree) by juniors or veterans, and there is little point trying it unless you climb in the 5.13s. Training in a glycogen-depleted state would do more harm than good to anyone other than elite-level climbers.

    Optimum nutritional programs for endurance and strength training are prone to clashing with each other. For example, as we've just seen, an endurance session with appropriate nutrition (minimum carbohydrates) will stimulate the activity of the enzyme AMPK, which is great for improving endurance. But AMPK activity has the irritating effect of deactivating a genetically encoded protein known as mTORC1, which plays a crucial role in controlling protein synthesis and muscle strength gains. One of the things that help to promote the activation of mTORC1 is the consumption of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). The beneficial effects of protein for strength building have always been known, but now it is considered more important than ever to take amino acid supplementation immediately prior to and after strength training, especially if you have previously conducted an endurance session the same day. It is also important to consume carbohydrates between an endurance training session and a strength session to help to deactivate AMPK in preparation for strength training.

    The last decade of research shows a growing consensus that elite adult athletes should experiment by going through brief phases of endurance training while slightly hungry and without taking energy drinks. However, they should always compete or perform with glycogen stores fully replenished. They should always take amino acids prior to and after training and should consume carbohydrates between strength and endurance sessions.

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