The Best Way To "Fuel" Your Climbing and Your Workouts
Climbers and, maybe more specifically, boulderers are notorious for using candy (gummy bears, etc.) and cookies to fuel their climbing and send attempts. But is there a better way?
Lessons From Bodybuilding
You are probably thinking: "What? Are you crazy!?! Have you seen a bodybuilder try to climb? I saw Magnus climb with Jujimufu and it wasn't pretty!" I don't think I am crazy and I will explain why.
Many climbers are concerned about their weight and correctly assume (to a point) that the lighter they are, the harder they will climb. This assumption is based on something known as the strength to weight ratio (strength:weight). You can improve your climbing ability by losing weight and maintaining strength, building strength and maintaining weight, etc. Many people incorrectly assume that losing weight is the easier and most effective option. In some ways this is correct...you can lose weight "easily" if you don't eat. BUT it won't be long before your strength suffers, energy suffers and you are climbing worse than before and starting to have a multitude of health issues.
Is there a better way? Of course there is! You can focus on building the strength side of the ratio. This will help to improve your climbing and can also improve your health. And don't worry, it is very unlikely that you will gain a significant amount of weight unless you are overfeeding. Even if you do gain a few pounds, you strength will probably increase at a faster rate than your weight which still leads to an improvement in the strength:weight. There are a number of climbers who are now embracing this concept and not focusing too much on their weight. Natasha Barnes, Steven Dimmit, Alex Burlison, etc. have discussed this. I also climb much better and harder despite being 20-30 pounds heavier!
Hopefully, you are convinced or at least intrigued to continue reading. Bodybuilders have learned how to use food and supplements to support their training, maximize their recovery and to help them reach their goals. Isn't this what we want with climbing?
Climbing Nutrition Plan
Let's think about training like a bodybuilder and split things up into Pre-Workout, Intra-Workout and Post-Workout. We want to supply some nutrients for our body before we start climbing, while we are climbing and then provide nutrients to help us recover from the climbing. Here's what I do and recommend that you try.
I like to have some Collagen, Vitamin C and Power Drive 30-60 minutes before I climb. Collagen and Vitamin C are necessary building blocks for tendons. etc. Keith Barr and others have studied tendons and tendon health on engineered ligaments in the lab and there are some case studies too. Eric Horst has also discussed this and this is the basis of Emil Abrahamsonn's Two Times A Day Hangboard Routine. This seems to help keep my fingers, elbows, shoulders, etc. happy and healthy. The Power Drive helps with focus and concentration which is helpful. Also, it tastes like Tang. (I am providing links to the products below for your convenience. The Amazon links are affiliate links.)
1 scoop Power Drive https://amzn.to/3qcnlk6 (Can also be found on their website, use the link for Power Drive)
1 scoop of Collagen https://amzn.to/3e6FoCF
1 tablet Vitamin C https://amzn.to/3e4wjdJ
In general we want some protein and carbohydrates. It is also helpful to consume some electrolytes since they will be getting used during our sessions. Here's what I am doing currently for weight training or climbing session:
15g Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) https://amzn.to/3sfdkW5
5g Leucine https://amzn.to/32n7c3i
5g Glutamine https://amzn.to/30J6mgI
3-5g L-Citrulline https://amzn.to/3EcaaVs
25-30g Dextrose https://amzn.to/32gwShY
1/2 tbsp of Redmond Real Salt (provides Sodium) https://amzn.to/3shfXGK
1/8 tsp of Nusalt (provides Potassium) https://amzn.to/3FeAgbz
1/2-1capful of Intensified Liquid Flavoring (you will not be able to drink this otherwise!!!) https://biotest.t-nation.com/products/intensified-flavors (I'm not sure if this can be found on Amazon)
I just try to eat a normal healthy meal. Depending on what my goals are the composition of the meal may change slightly. If I am trying to lean out a little bit (we all want to look good at the beach, right?), then I will eat some protein, veggies and fat. If I am trying to maximize recovery or gain muscle, then I will eat some protein, carbohydrates and little bit of fat. If you are not going to be able to eat a meal for several hours after the session, then you may want to have a shake with some protein and fat or protein and dextrose.
That's All Folks
Give this a shot and let me know what results you get. It seems to be working well for me and has helped me to climb harder and lift heavier despite weighing more and being in my 40s. No Excuses!