Project Description

Matt Pincus on How to Train at Home During COVID-19

Date: March 24th, 2020

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About Matt Pincus

UPDATE: We recently created an entire training program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic based on this podcast episode, all about how to train at home with minimal equipment. We hope it helps you stay motivated and strong! Learn more about the program.

In this interview, I talk with Matt Pincus about home training for climbing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Matt is our in-house Remote Climbing Coach at TrainingBeta, and he’s an expert at training at home himself. He lives in Jackson, Wyoming, where there is no climbing gym, so he’s been honing the craft of training in a garage for quite some time. Besides that, though, he creates custom training programs all the time for his clients who don’t have easy access to a climbing gym. So in this episode, Matt and I talk about how to approach training at home and give you some ideas for how to structure your training sessions.

If you’re interested in training with Matt after listening to this interview, you can sign up to work with him (from anywhere in the world) at

Matt Pincus Interview Details

  • How we’ve both been training at home
  • Equipment he recommends for home training
  • Home wall beta
  • Hangboard protocols
  • Route climbers vs boulderers?
  • Movement patterns to cover in sessions
  • Training general strength
  • Sample conditioning circuits

Matt Pincus Interview Links 

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Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta podcast where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and today is a little bit different because we’re going through the Coronavirus pandemic right now. 

All of the gyms are closed, at least as far as I know, and a lot of people are losing their jobs and we’re trying to practice social distancing. The world is changing on a minute-by-minute basis. I know that it’s really hard for a lot of people and we’re feeling the financial effects of it a little bit, too. I’m not going to go too much into that. I just want to say I definitely am taking this very seriously. I’m anxious about it, I’m reading the news, and I’m trying to stay focused on climbing training because that is something that keeps me really balanced and sane. I think that it does the same thing for a lot of people.

Going forward through this pandemic and as long as the climbing gyms are closed and all of this is happening, my goal is to continue to give you guys inspirational information, like something to keep you psyched on this sport that gives us all so much joy. 

Before I get into this interview, though, I do want to tell you about some resources that I thought might be helpful in this time. We wrote a couple blog posts and one of them is how to train during the Coronavirus when all the gyms are closed. That’s what we’re going to base this interview off of. It was written by Matt Pincus and he is my guest today. He is our in-house trainer at TrainingBeta. Matt also wrote an article about his equipment recommendations for at-home training and you can find both of those on

We also have always sold finger training programs and I put them on sale indefinitely for 25% off right now. There are three of them. One is for beginners, one is for intermediate, and one is for advanced finger trainers – not necessarily how strong you are or how good you are at climbing, but how much you’ve trained your fingers. They’ll all give you five weeks of training, 1-3 sessions a week of finger training, and they also come with a bunch of core exercises that will blast your core [laughs] and make you really strong in your core. Those can be found at The code for 25% off is HOME, as in home training.

The other thing I thought might be useful is if you have a nagging injury and you’ve just been kind of climbing through it and you want to finally buckle down and fix it, we have a bunch of injury protocols on the website made by physical therapist Jared Vagy. Those can be found at His program is called the Rock Rehab Pyramid. It’s for people with pulley sprain injuries, shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, and neck injury. Those have always been super affordable. They’re $10 each. 

I think those are the basic resources that are going to be the most useful for you from our website, and of course there’s a ton of stuff on the blog and the podcast for at-home training. 

Just to tell you how I’m dealing with this as a climber, I’m obviously not going to the gym, because it’s closed. I’m only going out when I have to go to the grocery store or Home Depot sometimes. I’m not going climbing outside. I’m just trying to minimize my impact as much as possible, especially because Seth and I already work at home and so this isn’t too much of a change for us. We’re just being a little bit more antisocial than we normally are. 

We’re building a home wall in our garage, which we are very fortunate to be able to do. I totally get that. Not everybody can do that but we’re pretty psyched that we can do it and that’s keeping us really busy and distracted, honestly, which has been nice. I struggle with anxiety and this caused a bit of panic for me in the beginning. Just making sure that I’m focused and have a regular schedule of when I’m going to be training, when I’m going to be working, when I’m going to be looking at the news, has been very helpful for me. 

Moving on to this interview, I talked with Matt Pincus and we talked about a bunch of stuff about training at home, the equipment that he thinks you should use for that, and then he’s going to give you some sample workouts. I’ll let Matt take it from here and I’ll talk to you on the other side. Enjoy.

Neely Quinn: Welcome back to the show, Matt. How are you?

Matt Pincus: Thanks for having me, Neely. I’m doing pretty well.

Neely Quinn: Yeah? You’re doing pretty well?

Matt Pincus: Yeah, I would say all things considered, I’m doing all right. I’m at home in Jackson, Wyoming, doing a bunch of work for us at TrainingBeta and going about my normal climbing training.

Neely Quinn: That’s where I wanted to start with this: what we’ve been doing for training. I live in Longmont, Colorado, and all our gyms are closed so that’s very different for me but for you, on the other hand, you live in Jackson where there is no climbing gym so this isn’t anything new for you. Like basically, nothing has changed, right?

Matt Pincus: Yeah, I mean things have changed in the sense that all the businesses and restaurants and bars and things like that are closed but we don’t have a commercial climbing gym here so from a climbing training perspective, I share a home wall with our mutual friend Dusty Rasnick so I’ve just been able to continue climbing and training there.

Neely Quinn: I would like to share what we’ve been doing, just to give people some anecdotal experience stuff. I’ll just start and say that in my basement I have a hangboard. I have a Beastmaker 2000 and I also have a 20-mil rung from Beastmaker. I have a TRX and we have rings and some weights, some barbells that you can change the amount of weight that is on them, and we have one of those – I think it’s a Grippul where you hang weight off of it and you have your arms at your side and you can do finger exercises that way. And we have foam rollers and rehab stuff and yoga mats and things like that. 

I am super fortunate. I don’t have a home wall but I feel even lucky for what I do have and the space that I have. Seth and I have been going down and doing workouts every other day. We’ll be down there for 1.5-2 hours and I’ve also been adding in HIIT workouts, which I rarely do otherwise, to get my heart rate up and to try to feel like I’ve done something. [laughs] I’m also doing max hangs on the hangboard and I’m doing some sessions where I’m doing repeaters.

So that’s basically what I’m doing. Can you tell me about what you’re doing? Or do you have any questions about that? Comments? Not too many comments, coach. [laughs]

Matt Pincus: Lots of comments. No, I think the main takeaway there is you have the equipment you have right now and you’re doing the best you can with it, putting your motivation to use even though it’s not an ideal situation without an actual wall to climb on. 

For my own training, because I’m lucky enough and fortunate enough to have a wall that’s still available to me, very little has changed. I’m just sort of continuing the greater plan that I set out for myself for my winter, moving more towards route climbing more – hopefully still – in the spring. Earlier in the winter I did quite a bit of bouldering training so lots of limit bouldering and lots of strength work, mostly with the kettlebell. I went to Hueco Tanks for two weeks and after that I sort of continued doing that but I went from doing it religiously every other day to sort of just training when I feel recovered. 

I’m lucky enough to work from home for TrainingBeta so my schedule is fairly flexible. Before the COVID outbreak I was trying to get down to Sinks a time or two a week, which is like a three-hour drive from where I live, and I was just having a limit bouldering session on our home wall whenever I felt recovered and strong enough to be able to do that. I wasn’t really sticking to an every other day or every Tuesday and Thursday kind of schedule. 

Beyond that, the only other thing I’m doing currently is continuing some strength work with a kettlebell. Unfortunately I only have a 30-pound kettlebell here at my house and I think we have a 16-kilogram, which is just a little bit heavier, at the home wall. They’re a little light for me for doing a lot of the true strength training work so to make up for that I’ve been doing more circuits and complexes where you’re limiting rest so that I’m still overloading my system in some way, even if it’s not pure maximal strength. It’s more muscular endurance and work capacity. Again, it’s not perfect but it’s better than nothing.

Neely Quinn: Right, and we’ll talk in detail about the circuits and complexes that he’s talking about.

Can you just outline the equipment that you have available for yourself? You’ve mentioned a couple things.

Matt Pincus: Our board is 45°. I don’t remember the exact dimensions of it but we’ll just say it’s Moon Board-esque size. It’s not huge but it’s a good size so you can climb pretty well on it. That’s set up with a bunch of boulder problems that we’ve been setting and building and filling the board with for a long time. 

Hanging in that garage we also have a Tension Grindstone Pro hangboard, which I’m not even sure they make anymore. I’ve got a Pinch Block from Tension and a portable hangboard, the Flash board, also from Tension. Then I have the 30-pound kettlebell here in my house and, like you, I’ve also got a myriad of recovery tools so a foam roller, Theracane, Armaid, that kind of thing. 

Neely Quinn: Cool. I think that’s a good overview of what you and I have been doing. Is there anything we missed?

Matt Pincus: I don’t think so.

Neely Quinn: The next thing I want to do is on sort of the note that we were just on. You put together a list of what you think are the most important things to have as home climbing training equipment. This blog post will go out today and that will be before this podcast goes out. You’ll be able to find it on I just want to go over the things you said were on there. I have the list right here. You want me to just go through it and we can maybe make comments as necessary?

Matt Pincus: Yeah, I think that sounds good.

Neely Quinn: You’re really into Tension hangboards. You like wood hangboards, so Matt said, “Tension hangboards in general,” and they’re all wooden. Then the Tension Flash board. Matt, do you want to describe that? I know you use it a lot.

Matt Pincus: That’s just a portable hangboard. It’s like a cylinder and it’s got different edge sizes and a sloper rung and you can sort of use it as a pull-up bar. It’s easy and nice because to hang it, you can hang it from a pull-up bar with a sling, you can hang it from a beam with a sling. You don’t really have to mount it to your wall like you would a traditional hangboard. 

Neely Quinn: Or you can put the cord around your feet and just pull that way, where you’re not hanging on anything.

Matt Pincus: Exactly. You can use it as a no-hang device. 

I think when we think of hangboards most people immediately think of hanging from one of the holds on the hangboard and picking their feet off the ground. Really, when we look at training our fingers there is no reason that’s the only way we can use some of these tools. As long as you’re pulling hard against one of these holds you can overload your fingers in that way.

Neely Quinn: Then the Tension Block is similar. Do you want to describe that?

Matt Pincus: It’s just a smaller tool but it’s sort of the same idea where you can hang weights from it, you can hang it from something and pull against it whether that’s overhead or in front of you. It’s a really versatile tool. There’s a couple different sized pinches on it, there’s a pocket, there’s a mono on mine, and a couple different sized edges, both flat and incut. I normally use that mostly for pinch training but there’s no reason you can’t do all your finger training off of that if that’s what you have available and it’s going to work for your training space.

Neely Quinn: And Tension, I think, is working overtime right now to fulfill orders from people. We have no affiliation with them but we love them and they’re my friends. They’re doing a discount right now. What is it, 20% off? 15% off?

Matt Pincus: I think it’s 15%.

Neely Quinn: That’s at We both really like their products.

The next product is the Trango hangboard, pulley system, and Rock Prodigy book. This comes as a set on Amazon. It’s the hangboard and their pulley system so if you’re not at the point where you can hang full bodyweight, you can take weight off. Or if you’re training one-arms, you can take weight off for that. And, it comes with the book. Matt, do you have anything that you want to add to that?

Matt Pincus: I think the reason I put that on the list was mostly, honestly, for the pulley system. Like I said, I prefer training on wooden boards. I have the Tension ones but I’ve also used the Beastmaker ones in the past and there are other companies that are putting out wooden hangboards at this point. I just find it more pleasant. 

I don’t really enjoy hangboarding. It’s a miserable thing a lot of the time but it’s really good for us so anything I can do to make that more pleasant will help me actually do it rather than figuring out a reason not to. I think wood is a better texture than resin but plenty of people use resin hangboards and like those just as much, or more, and have gotten really strong on them. 

I do think the design of that board is really good. It’s got a bunch of different edge sizes, it’s got some pockets, and the split design of it where the two halves are separate means you can put them at the right width for your shoulders and your dimensions so that you’re hanging with your shoulders in a more optimal position. I put it on there to sort of underscore the idea that you can buy a pulley system. Obviously you can buy a pulley system without getting that hangboard, but also if I had to train on a non-wooden hangboard, that would be the one. 

Neely Quinn: Cool. Like I said, I like the Beastmaker but I trained on this Trango hangboard when I was in Vegas last month and it’s fine. The only thing I don’t like about this board is that the holds are tapered. If you’re on the innermost portion of them they’re one size but if you’re on the outermost portion of the same hold it’s a different size. I don’t particularly like that because you have to make sure you’re on the same part of it every session so you know how you’re progressing or not. But anyway, I think it’s fine and I did fine training on it and I agree with what Matt said.

Matt Pincus: I think maybe the last point about hangboards – whether it’s a wooden hangboard, something like this Trango board, or the Flash board or the Block or the Grippul that you mentioned, or any kind of no-hang device – is there are ones you might like more or enjoy more and that’s what I kind of try to point out there, but honestly they’re all good tools that you can use to strengthen your fingers. You’re not going to go wrong or undermine your training by having the ‘wrong’ board. You can train effectively on all of these things.

Neely Quinn: Honestly, right now you can’t even get everything. I don’t know how long it would take to get a Beastmaker from England right now. I’m not sure.

The next thing is gymnastic rings. We’re going to talk about how to use all of these things very soon, don’t worry, but gymnastic rings are just what you see a gymnast hanging off of. It’s just two straps and two rings attached to them. Again, we’ll talk more about that and you can find a link to what we think is a good product on TrainingBeta.

The next thing is the TRX straps or just basic suspension straps. The TRX is something I use a lot. Matt doesn’t use it very much. You can put your feet in these straps or your hands in the hand holds. I did a podcast episode with Mark Campbell recently about how to train on the TRX. There’s a ton of resources about how to use this thing. It can be used for a full body workout. 

Matt is saying that he thinks gymnastic rings and TRX are interchangeable. I find it really uncomfortable to put my feet into gymnastic rings so I like the TRX. The TRX is a $150 item but I have found suspension straps that work just as well for like $45. We have a link to those on the site right now. Do you have anything to add about that?

Matt Pincus: I guess to say why I think they’re interchangeable is that you can easily – with those rings that are on there, they’re just sort of ratchet straps. If you wanted to turn them into essentially exactly what a TRX is, you could just take the ring off of the strap and put your feet into just the nylon strap. The only other difference is typically gymnastic rings are hung from two different points and there’s an exact measurement for the Olympics of how far apart they’re supposed to be. That’s just typically how they’re mounted but there’s no reason you couldn’t just put the two straps together through a single mounting point. Then, essentially you’d have a TRX, whether the rings are on it or not.

The point there for me is it’s probably more comfortable because the TRX is designed more specifically for you to put your feet in them. If you’re planning on doing that then maybe it’s worth the additional investment but there’s not a major difference in terms of pretty much anything you can do on the rings you can do on the TRX and pretty much anything you can do on the TRX you can do on the rings.

Neely Quinn: So if you have the means you should get both because they are used for different things but if you don’t, it’s totally fine to just have one of them.

Next is kettlebells. You said you have one single – how heavy is it? 30 pounds?

Matt Pincus: Yep.

Neely Quinn: Matt is a big guy and very strong. Well, you’re not big. I just mean that you’re a strong dude. I couldn’t carry around a 30-pound kettlebell but he makes it work for himself so you can get by with very little. If I were to get one kettlebell I would probably want a 35 just so I could do some sort of deadlift with it or something. What do you have to say about that?

Matt Pincus: The reason I had this kettlebell is because it was in the garage of the house that I moved into. I didn’t choose to purchase it or anything like that but when we’re talking about equipment that we have available right now when we’re all trying to stay home as much as possible, it’s what is sitting right there. In a perfect world I would have a full set of a bunch of different sizes and everything but there’s no reason that with a 30-pound kettlebell I can’t still have a productive session.

Neely Quinn: You know what’s not on here? Weights. Like any kind of weights. When I’m on the hangboard I have a harness on and I strap weight to me for my hangs. What we have are just a bunch of rubber plates that are 2.5 pounds, 5 pounds, and 10 pounds and we just make do with those. Those are the same things that we put on these dumbbell bars. Those are relatively inexpensive. I can add them here but Matt doesn’t think they’re totally necessary because you can do a whole hangboard protocol without any weights. Just to add that in there that I prefer doing it with weights. Matt, do you have anything to add to that?

Matt Pincus: Yeah, I think that’s a great addition to the list. With all these things we’re not putting a list out and saying, “You should or need to buy everything on this list.” We’re just trying to give people options so that you can think about what’s going to work in the space you have available and what kind of training you really want to be doing. If you’re going to invest in new products, these are ones that we think are good and productive.

Neely Quinn: Next thing is recovery tools and I’ll just list these off. We have a foam roller, like a long one that covers your whole back along your spine. I love the Armaid and I put a link to their new one there. There’s a Theracane, which is a self-massage tool. Matt has this thing called a trigger point flat-bottomed ball and you can talk a little bit about that.

Matt Pincus: It’s basically a lacrosse ball and I think people are fairly familiar with using a lacrosse ball, whether it’s putting it behind your shoulder against a wall or laying on it on the ground, as another self-massage tool. 

It was a handful of years ago when Nate Drolet from Power Company showed me that he had one of these flat-bottomed ones. He was like, ‘Yeah, it’s like $25,’ and I was like, ‘That’s ridiculous. Lacrosse balls are essentially free. They’re much much cheaper. That seems like a ridiculous investment.’ He was like, ‘No. Trust me.’ He let me use it and what’s nice about it is that the whole point of using a lacrosse ball for self-massage is that you find the trigger point that you really want to work on and you position it right there and then you kind of work it out against the ball, but because a lacrosse ball is round it tends to also move as you’re pushing against it. Pretty quickly you’re repositioning it. This flat-bottom one doesn’t do that. You’re not chasing the ball around.

Neely Quinn: Nice. 

The last list of things that we have on the list of equipment on TrainingBeta is a bunch of books. Matt listed 9 out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes, this other one called The Art of Learning, another one called Never Let Go, and Freedom Climbers. You can read all about this stuff on TrainingBeta and we’ll make the URL like

Moving on – or is there anything else you want to add to that?

Matt Pincus: No, I think that pretty much covers it.

Neely Quinn: The next thing I wanted to talk about really quickly is home walls. Seth and I are considering building our own wall in our garage. I know that not many people have the luxury of having extra space to do something like that but I do think it’s a conversation that a lot of people are having right now. I just wanted to bring it up and say that there are a lot of resources out there on how to build a home wall. Luckily, my husband used to work for Eldo Walls so he knows how to build them. I feel so fortunate with that. Do you have any resources for how to build them?

Matt Pincus: Nothing I can think of off the top of my head in terms of constructing them or anything like that but I can give some advice from my experience of having had two iterations of the board I share with Dusty about what’s important to think about and setting it up.

Neely Quinn: Go for it.

Matt Pincus: First things first, if you’re just building a wall that you plan to be a spray wall just filled with random holds and you’re going to set the problems, I wouldn’t underestimate the amount of work that goes into that and the number of holds that you need. We were lucky. When the old climbing gym in Jackson closed the GM at the time, who is a really good friend of ours, got all the holds and he kind of gave us a really good deal. I think we have like 750 holds and that sounds like a lot but it doesn’t even fill our board. You need a lot of holds for it to be a really good spray wall.

Also, don’t undervalue the fact that route setting is a hard thing. When you’re used to going to a climbing gym and there’s a professional team of route setters putting out new boulder problems for you all the time that are really nice and really high quality, that’s a skilled job and it takes a lot of practice. 

I don’t want to discourage anyone from building a home wall but be aware that it’s more than just getting a handful of holds up on the wall.

Neely Quinn: For sure. If you look into building a Moon Board, building a Moon Board on your own with the LED setup and all the proper holds and building the wall yourself, not even getting a Moon Board, is $2,500-$3,000. Of course you can not have the LED setup but it’s a lot of money and we’re not even going to do that. We would just get whatever holds we can scrounge up from around here [laughs] and put some plywood up in our garage. 

There are a lot of different ways to do it and I think what you just said was super helpful. I’ll try to find some resources online for how to build and what other people have done and I’ll put links to those on the episode notes for this episode. Anything else on that?

Matt Pincus: No, I think that covers it.

Neely Quinn: So now we’re going to talk about how to train at home and what to do. Matt wrote a really good article, in my opinion, on TrainingBeta the other day about what you can do, some sample workouts, how to think about it, and why you would be doing these specific things. I’m going to let you take over from here.

Matt Pincus: I think the main point that I wanted to get across in that article is that we need to abandon the idea of following any kind of perfect training program in our current situation. Saying that the Coronavirus isn’t a perfect situation is obviously a dramatic understatement. To think that your training program, while we’re all collectively dealing with that, is just going to be perfect and is all going to work out exactly how you want is sort of unrealistic. We just spent a lot of time outlining all these ways that we’re sort of making do with what we have and maybe building a home wall or whatever. 

We should just move past this idea of perfect and instead focus on doing something, really anything, with what you have. That is going to be better than doing nothing. That seems really obvious but I think motivationally, that’s a really important point. It’s really easy to be like, ‘Well, why bother? I’m not hangboarding in the perfect way. Why bother doing a kettlebell workout? I don’t have a kettlebell that is the right size. I don’t have dumbbells that are heavy enough for me to really train strength,’ or anything like that. Those things might be true but you’re still going to be better off doing something rather than nothing. It’s kind of: be creative, be consistent with it, and just do what you can because that’s going to help you. You’re going to lose less ground and kind of bridge the gap to when we’re through this better if we’re doing something. 

Neely Quinn: Right. Something. Anything.

Matt Pincus: Really anything, yeah.

Neely Quinn: It’s really tempting right now to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. It’s so stressful. Even if your workouts are really short, anything is good.

Matt Pincus: Exactly, and you can think about that from the perspective of when you first started climbing. Pick whatever grade you had to work hard to get to, initially. For argument’s sake let’s just say it was 5.11. You put in a bunch of work to get to 5.11 or V4 or any grade. It took a while to get there and you really had to be consistent with your climbing but then maybe life took over for a second and you didn’t climb as much for a little while. When you circled back and got back to climbing you probably weren’t right back at that level but to get back to there took a lot less effort than it took to get there the first time. The same is true with our training. 

To get really strong fingers takes a lot of time but once you’ve had strong fingers, with a layoff from it you might not be at your max finger strength you once had but it’s going to be easier to get back to where you were at having been there before, with less work. 

The more we can do right now to just maintain, as much as possible, our current level the less we’re going to lose and the easier it’s going to be to get back to it once things return to normal.

Do you want to move on to what my suggestions were for what we should be focusing on? If we know that ‘do something’ is the main thing.

Neely Quinn: I think that’s a good preface to all of this and I think people want to know what they can do.

Matt Pincus: I think the two obvious things are training your fingers and doing some kind of general strength training. This is sort of assuming you don’t have access to a home wall. If you have access to a home wall and you can keep training as you were normally then you should continue doing what you’re doing, kind of like what I’m doing. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel just because you don’t have a climbing gym right now.

So hangboarding for finger strength and then general strength training. I guess we can start with the hangboard.

Neely Quinn: Let’s do it.

Matt Pincus: We’ve gone through different hangboards you can mount to a wall and the no-hang devices. There are a lot of options of ways to load your fingers and ways to do it differently. What’s great here is they don’t take up much space and they’re pretty minimal impact, in terms that a no-hang device can sit in the corner of your house. You don’t even have to drill or do a construction project to mount it to your wall. That’s something I think most people can commit to doing right now. We know that finger strength is important to climbing so that’s a good place to start.

There are a million different finger strength protocols out there. Like you said, you prefer hanging with added weight. In the article I gave the sample of Tyler Nelson’s protocol, ‘The Simplest Finger Training Protocol,’ about density hangs, recruitment pulls, and velocity pulls. Those were all ways you could do that without any weights at all on a hangboard or a no-hang device, either one. 

I think the number one point is pick a protocol and stick with it. If you had been following a hangboard protocol already you should continue that if you can. If you’ve been hanging with added weight, doing max hangs, things like that, keep doing them. Stick with it for the long term.

The second major point about hangboarding is it’s really tempting when we’re training at home and can’t get out climbing and can’t go to a gym to think that hangboarding is something we can do to make up the volume that we’re missing from not climbing. It looks the most similar, like you’re hanging from something that could be a climbing hold, so you’re like, ‘I’ll just do a lot of hangboarding to make up for that missed volume.’ I think that’s missing the point a little bit. 

We’re on the hangboard to get finger strength and that takes time. We need to play the long game there. Just trying to go from 0 to 60 on the hangboard is a great way to injure a finger, get shoulder or elbow issues, and that defeats the purpose of trying to train. The number one rule of training should be not to get hurt doing it. I think not trying to make up for missed climbing volume and really remembering that the hangboard is about training finger strength, and keeping that in perspective, even though it’s the thing we can do at home right now that maybe feels or looks the most like climbing.

Neely Quinn: I just want to add an anecdote here. Last fall I was training for the Red and for Rifle and I was trying to get more capacity. On the hangboard I was doing long repeaters, I call them, so 7 seconds on/3 seconds off and you go for 2-3 minutes. I ramped up too quickly and I was doing like four sets instead of three sets of that and I seriously inflamed my arm to the point where it made climbing difficult after that, or painful, and I’m just now healing from it. I was like, ‘Well this is good,’ and that’s what I want to do right now, all of those capacity hangs, but I know that I can injure myself, so you really can.

Matt Pincus: Yep. I think it comes down to keeping it into perspective for me. The hangboard is a tool and it’s a tool we can use in a lot of different ways. It’s a really versatile tool but ultimately it’s not a replacement for climbing. You’re not going to become a better climber or learn more climbing skills or learn how to move better on a hangboard. We need to [remember] whether you’re using it to train absolute strength or like you’re saying, doing some capacity work on the hangboard, you can do all that by modifying the intensity of what you’re doing but it still isn’t a replacement for climbing. 

That’s just one of those things where it’s just not perfect right now. It’s just kind of a thing we need to accept and deal with. By accepting that and dealing with that reality you’re going to come out on the other side better for it than you would if you were like, ‘Well, I’m just going to make up for climbing by hanging a ton.’

Neely Quinn: Right, or climbing around my house.

Matt Pincus: Exactly.

Neely Quinn: So what do we do?

Matt Pincus: On the hangboard?

Neely Quinn: Yep.

Matt Pincus: Again, I think it’s continue whatever program you’re on if possible. If you’ve trained on a hangboard a bunch before, go back to a protocol that you’ve done and had good results with that fits what you have available right now. For me, I don’t have a ton of different weights available to micro adjust the weight to do max hangs and progress that steadily right now so I would maybe go back to doing something like the 3-6-9 hangboard ladders that Steve Bechtel has put out that I’ve written about in another article. It’s sort of a volume-increased program using the laddering concept. I know my fingers have responded to this well in the past so this would be something I would go back to because if it’s working, don’t stop doing it.

If you’ve never hangboarded before – and I want to tread lightly here because it’s hard to give out one-size-fits-all advice – the one thing we can say is start slow. A little bit goes a long way. It’s better to feel yourself making progress session-to-session, like even if your hanging session is super short like 15 minutes. Recover from that, wait until you’re feeling good, and do it again. It’s better to feel yourself making progress from session to session then build up really slowly than it is to be like, ‘I’m going to really hit the hangboard super hard,’ and risk injury or overtrain in any kind of way.

Neely Quinn: Right. When I first started hanging again a couple years ago after my shoulder surgeries I was doing three sets of max hangs. That’s it. I was hanging on the board for 10 seconds, resting for 3 minutes, hanging 10 seconds, resting 3 minutes, three times period. That was my session. I highly recommend that if you’ve never done it before.

Matt Pincus: Totally. Repeaters are an easy example to use here. People are really familiar with the 7/3 repeaters from the Anderson brothers’ book. Their workout is like six or something grips and you’re doing three rounds. At first it’s seven times 7 seconds on/3 seconds off then you add more weight and it’s six times, and the last round is five rounds. It’s an hour and a half hangboard session. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re ready for that but challenge your assumption that you have to do the whole thing. What if you just did three grips, 7 seconds on/3 seconds off for five reps? There’s nothing that says you can’t do that.

Just start slow, be realistic with where you’re at, and try to train there rather than trying to train where you want to be. Build up really slowly and you’ll make progress rather than undermining your efforts and ending up hurt.

Neely Quinn: The protocol that you did recommend in your article is the one that Tyler Nelson had come up with which is ‘The Simplest Finger Training Program.’ I’ve done a podcast with Tyler on that whole protocol. He also wrote a whole article on it. Matt outlined it a little bit in the article that we just put out. Please, please, if you’re interested in it it’s not complex at all but it’s a little bit different so use those resources to find out about it. Matt, what do you want to say about it here?

Matt Pincus: It’s a really easy protocol to start and implement and that was Tyler’s intention in designing it. You just need an edge to hang from or pull against and that’s it. Any of the hangboards we talked about in the list or the no-hang devices, you can do this protocol on. You don’t need any other equipment. But, like you said, it is a little different. I think it’s a good call to action to say, “Go read the article, go listen to the podcast if you’re thinking about doing this, and learn the why and some of the science behind it so that you know what you’re doing and why.”

Neely Quinn: But in general, can you just describe what it’s like? Basically, my understanding of it – because I’ve never actually done it – is you’re just pulling on the holds as hard as you can and you’re not actually hanging.

Matt Pincus: That would be the recruitment pulls. You’re probably not even picking your feet up off the ground, you’re just pulling as hard as you can. You’re bringing the force on slowly then pulling as hard as you possibly can for 5 seconds on a hold. The idea there is that you’re going to recruit more muscle fibers and be able to then produce more force to have stronger fingers as a result. It’s sort of like the high intensity adaptation that you’re working towards for the recruitment of muscle fibers. That’s one of the interventions there.

Another one is density hangs. Those are longer duration hangs. That would be like aiming for 30 or 40 seconds of actually hanging on a hold at bodyweight with two hands and trying to go to failure. Failure being that you can no longer maintain good form, not like, ‘I exploded off the hangboard.’ The idea there is that when you hang for a long time your tendons are going to stretch. This sort of disrupts the bonds in them and when you recover from them the tendons heal and produce further connections that are a denser and more robust structure that can then stand up to the impact of climbing.

Neely Quinn: Cool. That’s a great overview of it.

Matt Pincus: There’s also velocity pulls and that’s like a speed component. You could sort of think like contact strength there. I think, and Tyler says this in the article, it makes more sense to start with recruitment pulls and density hangs. That’s what you move to down the line. How to do those velocity pulls or speed pulls, he outlines pretty well there, too.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so you’re saying for yourself you’ll do 3-6-9 ladders. That’s a Steve Bechtel protocol that you’ve outlined before on TrainingBeta. I will link to that and any information we have on it. That’s a paid program so I can’t link you to something that will tell you exactly how to do it but that’s one of the things we’ve talked about. 

We’ve talked about the Tyler Nelson ‘Simplest Finger Training Protocol,’ which I will also link to. Anything else you want to talk about? 

We also mentioned the Anderson brothers’ protocol which, at this point, would not be a terrible idea or a bad idea at all if you have a lot of training experience, or at least some training experience. Would you agree with that comment?

Matt Pincus: Yeah, I think so. In their book that is sort of the staple of their strength training phase. During that strength training phase you’re not really climbing at all in their program, so if you’re not really climbing at all right now, if there’s ever a time to put yourself through that now is probably the time.

Neely Quinn: The Anderson brothers had and have very busy lives and that’s why they built these training programs. They weren’t able to climb very much so it is kind of a perfect time.

I’ve also written about my protocols. Basically, I wrote out my program on this site and it’s just ‘Training for Short Climbers’ on TrainingBeta so if you want to look at what I do besides climbing that is there and that’s another protocol.

I think we’ve laid out a lot of hanging protocols for people that they can do. One question I want to answer preemptively is: if I’m a route climber in general and I’m prepping to go back for routes, how is that different than if I were a boulderer prepping to go back to boulders? What do you have to say to that?

Matt Pincus: I honestly don’t really think there’s much of a difference, if any. I know that kind of sounds crazy. There are ways to train endurance and power endurance on the hangboard but again, like I said before, the hangboard is just a tool. It’s just a strength training tool and the good news is, within climbing, strength is sort of the foundational physical attribute. Everything else kind of starts with strength. Power we can talk about as strength being applied with speed. We can talk about power endurance and endurance as sort of strength expressed over time. 

If you’re not strong enough you’re not going to be able to do the move, right? In a time like this, even if you’re trying to get back to route season, it’s never a bad time to get stronger. I think if you keep that the focus, and that’s sort of what I default to, then it really looks the same for sport climbers as for boulderers.

Neely Quinn: And if you think about it, I did an interview with Adam Ondra and he was like, ‘Look. It doesn’t matter if I’m training for routes, World Cups, or bouldering because the stronger I am the more endurance I’m going to have.’ If you think about it like that then basically, max hangs are always going to help you and repeaters are going to make you stronger either way. I don’t know, it’s neither here nor there, right?

Matt Pincus: Yeah, I think so. Obsessing over what is going to be better for a route climber versus a boulderer on the hangboard is kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees. Pick a protocol that works for you and your space, that is appropriate for you and your training history, and stick with it. You’re going to come out better on the other side of it. Let’s move past the idea of something being perfect.

The only other thing I’ll add here is I’m sure there are route climbers right now who are dismissing this answer and saying, “Yeah, sure. I won’t have any endurance when I get back.” Remember that endurance and power endurance are sort of more transient adaptations, right? They come and go much more easily. Yeah, you might lose some endurance and whenever you are able to get back outside it might take a handful of days to sort of rebuild that but it’s going to come back quickly. That’s okay. 

Strength takes a long time to build but it’s really persistent. Once you have it you’re not going to lose it as much. Focus on building strength now and when we can get back to climbing you’ll get your endurance back more quickly than you think and you’ll be better off for the strength work that you did now.

Neely Quinn: That’s great. It is something that is known. You can get it back quickly so I’m glad that you said that.

Matt Pincus: Awesome.

Neely Quinn: I feel like we’ve covered fingers. The next thing that you covered in your article was complexes and circuits. Do you want to talk about that?

Matt Pincus: It was just the idea of general strength training. Again, the same idea of strength being the foundational physical attribute. We just covered finger strength but what about the rest of your body? 

I think at this point in the climbing training world people are becoming much more accepting of the idea that what you do for strength training doesn’t just have to look like climbing. The idea is that if we’re stronger athletes overall, that’s going to help our climbing because we’re going to be more resilient, we’re going to be able to stand up to the forces that climbing puts on our body so we’ll be more injury-resistant there, and we’re just going to be able to express more force. That’s just what strength is, right? That’s going to help us do harder and harder moves on the wall.

Trying to get stronger is something that climbers should generally, strength-wise, be doing most of the time in their training, period, in normal times. That’s something that obviously, with climbing gyms being closed right now, is something else you can focus on.

Neely Quinn: So how do we do that?

Matt Pincus: Optimally, we advocate most of the time that in strength training we are looking for high load, low reps, and plenty of rest. That basically means you’re sticking in that 3-5 reps per set range, like a 3×5 or 3×3, something in there. Obviously, doing 5 reps of something with a super light weight – and light and heavy are relative to you and your strength levels – means you’re not going to get that much out of it if it’s light for you and you’re taking plenty of rest. The classic protocol is high load, low reps, plenty of reps but that’s a hard thing to do for people right now if you don’t have a really well stocked home gym with weights.

What I did there in the article is outline some ways that you can sort of work around that to still have a quality session. Let’s start with bodyweight stuff and TRX and gymnastic rings and things like that. What I like there is with bodyweight, anyone can do that at home. We all have that. Rings and TRX are smaller investments than a whole weight room. I think the important thing to remember there is you can progress and regress the difficulty of any exercise to match your current strength levels. 

We can use the example of the ab rollout or an ‘I’ on the rings or TRX. If you do that and the rings are at ground level, you’re standing behind the rings and you go all the way out – so you’re Supermanned, parallel to the ground – then come back up, that’s a really advanced and hard exercise. That’s going to challenge even the really strong athletes but if you raise the starting height of the rings up and start with your feet closer to the rings, that would make it easier. If you start from your knees that would make it even easier because you’re shortening the lever. 

There are ways with all these exercises that you can progress and regress the difficulty of them. Rather than just doing more and more reps at a progression or regression that you find pretty easy and just getting really tired doing it, I would suggest making it harder or making it easier as needed for you and stick to that strength range for building strength, which let’s call that 3-7 reps. Take plenty of rest in between and chase quality reps, not just the feeling of being tired.

Neely Quinn: 3-7 reps so it’s actually not out of the strength range?

Matt Pincus: I think that’s the beauty of TRX and rings and bodyweight stuff. For most athletes you’re going to be able to move to progressions that are hard enough that you’re still working in that strength rep range.

Neely Quinn: So what kinds of exercises are we talking about? You mentioned the ab rollout. Anything else?

Matt Pincus: Planks are a great example for bodyweight training. We linked to Zahan’s workout that he made available from Samsara Mountain Training, from his bodyweight program. He does a great job of showing different progressions and regressions there. 

Planks are an easy one, right? If you can hold a standard plank, like you’re on your elbows and on both feet and you can hold that for a minute, simply just doing a lot of minute plank holds isn’t going to make you stronger. You’d be better off eliminating a leg so now you’re in a three-point plank. Adding in that instability is going to make that harder. If you can hold that for a minute maybe switch to two legs and a one-arm plank. That’s going to be more challenging. Work up to a one-arm, one-leg plank. That would be a harder progression there. 

You can kind of do this for any bodyweight exercise, most TRX exercises, most ring exercises. There are progressions and regressions available and you can find those things on Youtube and elsewhere on the Internet.

Neely Quinn: There are endless numbers of TRX exercises that you can do. I will outline what I do. Do you think that’s valuable right now?

Matt Pincus: Sure.

Neely Quinn: I talked about this in the TRX episode, too, and Mark Campbell gave a really great workout, like a full body workout or a beginner climber workout. What I do is just really simple and easy to remember. I choose three exercises: the pike, the crunch, and mountain climbers. I’ll do the first exercise for 30 seconds then I’ll rest for 30 seconds, then I do the second exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and the third exercise for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds. Then I do all of that 2-3 times depending on what I’m willing to do that day. [laughs] Like he said, you can make those easier or harder for yourself or you can just pick exercises that you like more or are more doable for you. 

Sometimes with the TRX it can hurt certain things. It hurts my hips to do certain exercises and I think it probably hurts peoples shoulders to do certain exercises so you can modify. I definitely modify things to make my hip not hurt. You definitely don’t want to be hurting yourself.

So that’s what I do. You could do something very similar. I’ll do that now 2-3 times a week so that’s one workout you could do.

Matt Pincus: There’s countless, countless options there.

Neely Quinn: Which is part of the problem and why people are like, ‘What do I do?’

Matt Pincus: I think we can use that as sort of a segue here. When I write general strength programs or look at other coaches’ or athletes’ general strength programs I try to not live at the exercise level. Like we said, there’s just too many options. You can kind of get lost in the, ‘Where do I start?’ I think a really good way to look at that is by movement patterns rather than exercises. 

We can look at basic human movement patterns of a pull, a press, a hip hinge, and a squat. If you’re covering all of those bases in your strength program, you’re not missing the mark. You’re not leaving anything out.

Neely Quinn: Can you describe what those movements mean? I think some people don’t know those terms.

Matt Pincus: A pull would be pretty relatable for climbers. We can think of a pull-up. You can think of any kind of rowing variation like a bent-over row or a dumbbell row or an inverted row on the rings or TRX. 

A press, same thing, should be fairly familiar for most people. We can have horizontal presses like a bench press or a push-up. We can have vertical pressing in the vertical plane so that would be like an overhead kettlebell or barbell.

Neely Quinn: Or handstands.

Matt Pincus: Yeah, exactly. 

A squat is also fairly relatable for most people. Most everyone can picture somebody doing a heavy squat in the gym with a barbell on their back or in front of them in a front squat, but you can do that with a kettlebell.

Neely Quinn: Or just air squats.

Matt Pincus: Air squats, pistol squats so you can go unilateral there and train one leg at a time, whether you can do a full pistol or different variations of that using a TRX or a box or anything like that.

The last one of those is a hip hinge. That’s one where I think a lot of people don’t always know what you’re talking about right away. Think of a deadlifting-type movement, so hinging at the hip and then loading it that way. Deadlifts, something like kettlebell swings, you can even think glute bridges which would be a bodyweight version of that, although it’s pretty hard to increase the load super heavy there. 

If you’re covering all of those things in your program, and we can add core and trunk stability to that list as well, it’s going to be pretty hard to miss the mark. Rather than just being like, ‘What TRX exercise should I do? What bodyweight exercise should I do? What kettlebell exercise should I do?’ and getting lost in that, just make sure that you’re doing something for all of those movement patterns in your training and you’ll have a fairly well-rounded general strength program.

Neely Quinn: You had given some samples of what a workout could look like. I know that you tell your clients to do these things all the time. Can you just lay one out for us?

Matt Pincus: The examples I gave were either a circuit or a complex. I don’t think it really matters which one you do but the reason I chose these is because –  kind of like me at home right now with a 30-pound kettlebell, it’s not heavy enough for me to really train in that classic strength training protocol – it’s not perfect but we can still have a quality session. Pick an exercise for each of those movement patterns. You’re going to be doing slightly higher reps because the weight is low and we’re going to restrict the rest. This is blending into capacity work and out of the realm of pure strength but it’s still going to be better than nothing and we’re going to be better for it when we get back to more normal circumstances. 

Let’s go through the sample conditioning circuit that I did because I think it will be easier for people to relate to. For the hip hinge I said doing a single-leg deadlift. You can use a dumbbell, a kettlebell, some kind of weight there. For the row I said doing a two-arm inverted row on a TRX or the rings. For the press I was sticking with the rings and TRX and I went with a suspension push-up. For the squat I went with a goblet squat, so that would be holding a kettlebell in front of you. That could easily be dumbbells or any kind of weight, or an air squat.

Neely Quinn: Or a jug of water, honestly.

Matt Pincus: Totally, and that could turn into a pistol or anything like that. With all of these you can sort of adjust the intensity as needed to your individual strength levels.

The basic structure of this workout is you would do each exercise in a row for 30 seconds and then rest 30 seconds before moving to the next one. It’s really similar to what you were doing on the TRX with your core circuit. It’s limited rest. You’re probably going to get 15-ish reps in per 30-second block, rest 30 seconds, and I was suggesting you repeat that for five rounds. 

That’s a good starting point. If you don’t have heavier weights to move to you can intensity this as your conditioning level improves by adding a sixth round or a seventh round and moving on from there.

Neely Quinn: So there’s never more than 30 seconds of rest, even between rounds?

Matt Pincus: I think I said to take two minutes of rest between rounds.

Neely Quinn: Why is that a circuit? Can you briefly explain what a circuit is?

Matt Pincus: A circuit is just a series of exercises done in order. The opposite would be straight sets and that would be like, ‘Okay, we’re going to do five 30-second sets of a single-leg deadlift and we’re going to do those all in a row, with 30 seconds of rest in between, rest 2 minutes, then move on to the next exercise like the two-arm inverted row and do all our sets of that.’ That would be straight sets. 

The issue there is you’re not getting as much rest for the working groups in between sets as you are by cycling through this series of workouts that’s working different movement patterns and different muscle groups while you’re resting.

Neely Quinn: I want to throw in something that I did the other day. I was like, ‘Okay, this is my first circuit kind of workout at home. I’m not used to doing this. I’m just going to do what I learned in the days when I was doing CrossFit.’ I was injured for a while from climbing but anyway, I just went down and I did a certain number of push-ups, a certain number of pull-ups on the jugs on my hangboard, and then I jumped. I just did max jumps. The last thing was a core thing. I did it without resting and I did each exercise for a certain number of reps. I didn’t rest and I went through that three times. By the end of it I was very out of breath, warmed-up for the rest of my workout, and two days later my legs are really sore. [laughs] 

What do you think about that kind of workout? It’s all bodyweight, there were no weights involved whatsoever. 

Matt Pincus: What I was doing while you were listing those exercises was checking off the movement patterns. I think you said push-ups so there’s a press. A pull-up is a pull. The jumps would be like a squat jump so there’s a squat movement pattern. And then you had a core component to that. There wasn’t a distinct hinge movement pattern there, or it seems like that’s the one sort of missing, but it’s a hard movement pattern to train at bodyweight. There’s just no way around that.

Neely Quinn: The core thing I was doing was bicycling crunches. I’m not into core movements like that very much but I just figured that maybe that could be a little bit of a hinge. I forgot I also was doing air squats.

Matt Pincus: My point there is there is nothing wrong or bad about those exercises. I’m just looking at: are you covering the movement pattern bases? It sounds to me like it’s a well-rounded workout.

Neely Quinn: Is there any difference in me not resting at all through all three or four of those rounds and you talking about these resting rounds? It seems like it’s just a matter of max output when you’re not resting at all, but what do you think about that?

Matt Pincus: You’re moving more towards – anytime you’re timing or restricting rest you’re moving farther away from a true strength training protocol. But again, you’re working with what you have available so that is one way to sort of adjust the intensity. For climbers out there trying to decide between these two things, I don’t think one is necessarily far superior to the other. Obviously, if you’re going to rest less the exercises are going to need to be less intense or a lower percentage of your max for you to be able to sustain that work than they are if you’re going to have 30 seconds of rest in between each exercise. 

You can decide based on: how hard are push-ups for me? How hard is doing 5 push-ups, or whatever number of push-ups? If that’s really challenging then maybe do that with 30 seconds rest in between rather than just trying to do it with no rest in between.

Neely Quinn: Okay. Let’s talk about the complexes. Tell me again, what’s a complex and what was the sample one that you put in there?

Matt Pincus: A complex is basically going to be a series of exercises, just like in the circuit, that you’re going to do in order like a-b-c-d then back to a-b-c-d for a set number of reps per exercise this time and without stopping, so kind of like what you just described.

The sample complex I gave here was with a kettlebell. We posted an Instagram video of me doing this. It was 5 reps per exercise per side, repeated for 5 rounds without stopping. The exercises were: one-arm kettlebell swing, a lawnmower row which is kind of like a bent-over row in a lunge position, a single-arm overhead press, and a half-rack squat so that’s just holding the kettlebell in the rack position on one side and squatting.

Neely Quinn: So you do it for a set number of reps for each exercise, which you laid out, and no rest in between. How many rounds?

Matt Pincus: I suggested five there.

Neely Quinn: That sounds hard. [laughs]

Matt Pincus: It’s definitely a challenging workout but again, with all of this you have to customize based on the equipment you have available now, right? If you had a rack of kettlebells of all sizes sitting in front of you and that was the prescribed complex by your coach for the day, you’d pick a light enough kettlebell that you could complete that work with good form and quality of each rep. If the kettlebell you have is too big for that, you need to do something where you’re resting in between. 

That’s maybe a good way to give people an idea of how to choose between these. Even though with these there is going to be an element of fatigue like you said, like breathing heavy, getting sweaty, feeling like you’re really working out, we should still be chasing quality reps here not just the feeling of fatigue and being destroyed. We’re not really interested in how many times or how quickly you can do something poorly.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, although that’s pretty much how I’ve sent a lot of routes. [laughs]

Matt Pincus: Fair enough. Whatever works, right?

Neely Quinn: I’m wondering for the people who don’t have kettlebells, like I personally don’t have kettlebells so I couldn’t do that workout, is there something else they could do?

Matt Pincus: Yeah, just sub in any bodyweight or any TRX exercise that covers those movement patterns.

Neely Quinn: Can I pop quiz you right now? What would you do without any kettlebells in this complex sample that you just gave?

Matt Pincus: Maybe do something like substitute a TRX pike for a one-arm kettlebell swing, an inverted row for the lawnmower row, a suspension push-up for the overhead press, and an assisted pistol squat for rack squat.

Neely Quinn: Nice, Matt.

Matt Pincus: The only issue there is the idea here is to do it without rest and obviously you’re going to have to transition between taking your feet in and out of the straps and things like that. It’s going to be a little more challenging but you could for sure do that.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, totally, but it does really magnify the importance of having suspension straps. They are so versatile. If you can sub out kettlebells for suspension straps then if you can only have one thing – I don’t know. Maybe it would be one or the other?

Matt Pincus: I don’t know. Personally, I’d rather have a kettlebell but different training modalities comes down to personal preference there and what you enjoy doing. I know we’re all stuck at home right now and that’s not the most fun thing but we don’t have to punish ourselves by making ourselves train in ways we don’t enjoy at all, either.

Neely Quinn: I know. For a while I was like, ‘Well the gyms are closed for two weeks. Maybe they’ll open back up?’ But now they’re going to be closed for six weeks so now is when I’m like, ‘I need to get some stuff that is going to make my life easier.’  Like I said before, not everybody has this amazing advantage in life to be able to buy things right now and have space for them. If we really want to make this time – I mean, I said to Seth last night, “We could be spending this time getting strong as shit, like really strong.” I think you can do that with the things that you’re talking about.

Matt Pincus: Totally. I think maybe a good way of thinking about this, and I forget who said this, but there’s basically the saying of, ‘Never waste an injury.’ You hurt something so you can’t climb and you have to be creative about ways you can train around that injury. Lo-and-behold, you come back and you’re stronger in all these other ways and your climbing performance can go through the roof. You’ve invested time and you’ve learned new skills that are then in your tool kit moving forward.

Hopefully you’re not also injured right now but we can still make the most of this time, even though we can’t be climbing like we want to, and get strong. That’s going to give you a really good foundation to keep expressing climbing skill and developing climbing skill and trying hard on projects when we are able to get back to it, when life is more like normal.

Neely Quinn: You just said something that brings me to a point I want to talk about. If you are injured, you said, “Hopefully you’re not injured right now,” but if you are, honestly maybe this is a blessing in disguise because you can take all the time you need to do all the PT you need. A bunch of PTs are doing virtual sessions now and they can help you from wherever. This might be really good for that and to let yourself heal from not overdoing it at the gym any more and all of that. I just wanted to bring that up.

Matt Pincus: Totally. A situation we run into because we all love going climbing, like if you’re listening to this podcast obviously you enjoy going rock climbing, is that it’s really hard having a gym available or outdoor climbing available most of the time to separate out what you need to be doing from just participating in the sport sometimes. Maybe a silver lining that you could find from a climbing and training perspective right now is that we don’t have the sport to participate in so it’s a good time to address any nagging injuries, address any nagging areas of weakness, and get strong. Build up that base so that when we do get back to being able to resume doing our sport that we love, you’re stronger and healthier and better for it.

Neely Quinn: Exactly. What did we miss?

Matt Pincus: I think we kind of covered it. Hopefully we gave people enough options to be able to pick from what they have available, whether that’s weights, TRX, rings, bodyweight stuff, and fingers, and thinking about how to train during this time and to customize that to everyone’s individual situation right now.

Neely Quinn: Okay. Well I do want to take a moment and just say that the gravity of this situation has not escaped us at all. Both of us, Matt and I, are being personally affected by this situation financially and otherwise, and we want to express that we’re here for you if we can do anything for you. We feel for our community and we know that a lot of you are struggling. I just want to put that out there and hopefully this will pass sooner than we think it will.

Matt Pincus: Agreed.

Neely Quinn: Thanks for listening. Matt will be probably doing more of these to answer specific questions for people during this time. I really appreciate all of your wisdom and education and knowledge about this.

Matt Pincus: No problem.

Neely Quinn: Talk to you soon.

Matt Pincus: Have a good one.

Neely Quinn: I hope you enjoyed that interview with Matt Pincus. He can be found on Instagram @trainingbeta. Sometimes he’ll do training tips and videos and he also has his own Instagram @mpincus87. 

If you go to the episode page for this interview, which is at, it’s episode 146. I’ve put a bunch of links in that page for you about all the things that we talked about including blog posts and stuff about equipment and home wall beta and the 3-6-9 ladder progression that he talked about. It’s all there for you. 

Remember, if you’re training at home and all you have is a fingerboard and you want some guidance, we do have those finger training programs for you. Again, the discount code for 25% off is HOME. You can find those at

You can also find Jared Vagy’s protocol for injuries on Just go to the Training Programs tab and you’ll find them in there.

One last resource that I want to mention is that Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and Hazel Findlay have a podcast called The Curious Climber Podcast. They recently did an interview with a virologist who knows a lot about this pandemic and the person is also a climber. If you want to know more about how this is affecting climbers and how climbers might be affecting it, definitely check out The Curious Climber Podcast anywhere you find podcasts.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Stay tuned for more episodes coming out soon. I hope that wherever you are, you are safe and you’re healthy and hopefully your families and friends are as well. Thanks for listening all the way to the end.


TrainingBeta is a site dedicated to training for rock climbing. We provide resources and information about training for routes, bouldering, finger strength, mental training, nutrition for climbers, and everything in between. We offer climbing training programs, climbing training classes, nutrition classes, regular blog posts, interviews on The TrainingBeta Podcast, personal coaching for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.

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