• adam ondra
TBP 017 :: Adam Ondra on All Things Training 2017-09-26T11:46:19+00:00

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Direct Download: LINK

Date: February 18th, 2015

I was honored that Adam Ondra took time out of his very busy day (he’s a full time student and trains for climbing a LOT) to let me pick his brain about climbing and training.

About Adam Ondra

He doesn’t really need much of an introduction, does he? He’s debatably the strongest overall climber in the world, having the most impressive climbing resume I’ve ever even imagined. Here’s what his Wikipedia page has to say about him.

He is the only athlete to have won the World Championships in two disciplines, lead and bouldering. In addition, he succeeded to win both medals in the same year, during the 2014 edition. He has also a similar record in the World Cup, being the only athlete to have won the World Cup in two disciplines, lead in 2009 and bouldering in 2010.

As of 7 December 2014, he climbed 1,162 routes between 8a (5.13b) and 9b+ (5.15c), of which 3 were at 9b+ (5.15c) and 548 were onsights, including 3 onsights at 9a (5.14d) and 15 onsights at 8c+ (5.14c).

[1] He is the first climber to have redpointed a route with a proposed grade of 9b+ (5.15c) (Change, Flatanger, 4 October 2012)[2] and the only climber to have redpointed three 9b+ (5.15c) routes.

And that’s not even including his bouldering accomplishments, which include 202 boulders between V11 and V16. Jeeeeez…

Here’s what we talked about:

  • How he trained to win both bouldering and route climbing world championships
  • How he used to train before he started training with Patxi
  • How he manages to go to school full time and climb 5.15c
  • The prospect of climbing 5.15d
  • His thoughts on diet and body weight

Related Links

  • Adam isn’t online of his own accord (he’s a little busy), but www.adamondra.com is a fan page that someone else made for him…

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  • Please give the podcast an honest review on iTunes here to help the show reach more curious climbers around the world 😉

Music

Intro and outro song: Yesterday by Build Buildings 

Photo

Photo credit goes to Dario Rodriguez of Desnivel.com

Transcript

Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta podcast where I talk to climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and I’m talking to you from Las Vegas, Nevada, still where it’s sunny and warm and beautiful and perfect for a person who is starting to climb again after my shoulder surgery. It’s been three months and I’m super psyched with my progress. I did a .12b the other day, on top rope, but still my shoulder held up and it feels really good.

We, unfortunately, have to go home to Boulder in about a week so that Seth can get surgery on his shoulder but it’s okay. He’ll get through it and he’ll be better on the other side and hopefully we’ll have a really awesome fall season in the Red. Maybe I’ll see some of you there.

Today, I’m extremely excited and honored and all of those things to tell you that I got to sit down via Skype with Adam Ondra, who is debatably the strongest climber in the world right now having sent 5.15c three times. He’s done two V16s, 202 boulders between V11 and V16. He also won the World Championships in both bouldering and sport climbing which nobody has ever done. He did it in the same year.

I wanted to talk to him about how he trains for that and how he’s so strong or if he’s just a mutant or what’s the deal. I think it’s a combination of all of those things so I asked him all of those questions about how he’s trained, how he’s trained up until now, and recently he started training with Patxi and that changed his whole philosophy on training so he’ll tell us a lot of details.

I also asked him about nutrition and his own diet and the thing that I took away from this interview most of all is that Adam is a super smart guy. He’s really humble and I was extremely impressed by him. I’ve of course been impressed by him, as we all have, for his climbing ability but when I actually got to sit down and talk with him he has really great answers for every question that I asked. He’s very calm and he has a really amazing outlook on life that I – yeah, you’ll see what I mean when you hear the interview.

Before I get into that – I know you’re excited to hear it – I would like to ask for your support to continue this podcast and to continue TrainingBeta in general. The way that you can support us besides continuing to listen to us. and thanks for that, is by going to www.trainingbeta.com and checking out our training programs that we’ve created to help you get stronger and more powerful and smarter about your training.

We have our bouldering strength and power program, which is a subscription program for boulderers. We have a power endurance program by Kris Peters, we have an endurance program by Kris Hampton, we have a nutrition guide by Acacia Young, we have an injury prevention guide by Jared Vagy, and we have a strength guide by Steve Bechtel. If you want to check those out we would love that.

Anyway, here is Adam. I hope you love this interview.

 

Neely Quinn: Alright. Hello, Adam. Welcome to the show. Thanks so much for being here.

 

Adam Ondra: Hello.

 

Neely Quinn: I have a ton of questions for you and I really appreciate your time. A lot of our listeners and readers have a ton of questions for you. I think I have way more questions than an hour will allot but we will do our best here.

 

Adam Ondra: Alright.

 

Neely Quinn: First of all, I know that you started climbing at a young age, right? You started at six years old or something?

 

Adam Ondra: I think since I was six I’ve always considered climbing as a very serious thing. I had climbed even before because it was natural. I was born into a climbing family and my parents just brought me to rocks since, I don’t know, I was two. I was playing in the dirt at the bottom of the crag and I was just watching my parents. It felt kind of odd, I think, to be the only one around not climbing so I wanted to climb as well.

But since I was six I’ve been climbing four or five times a week.

 

Neely Quinn: Actually, are you an only child or did you have siblings with you?

 

Adam Ondra: I’ve got an older sister.

 

Neely Quinn: Is she into climbing?

 

Adam Ondra: She’s totally into climbing but the strange thing is that when she was little, she didn’t like it. She started climbing only when she was 15.

 

Neely Quinn: That’s interesting. But you seem to like it. You had a draw to it.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah. Since I was six I was totally hooked. I started going for the competitions, I was reading books about climbing, I was dreaming about climbing, and since I was seven, pretty much, I knew I wanted to be a professional rock climber.

 

Neely Quinn: That’s pretty crazy. That’s insane, actually. Were you drawn to it a lot by your parents? Did they encourage you to take it so seriously or is that something that is just from you?

 

Adam Ondra: It was 100% from me. Well, my parents have always been there to support me but only as long as I liked and I wanted to do it. Actually, when I was seven or eight I was totally hooked in climbing in the sense that if I could, I would climb just every single day. My parents were there thinking that maybe they would try and stop me, not to climb every single day because they didn’t think it was smart.

Even back then when I was six or seven I wanted to do climbing my own way. I would hate my parents to tell me that I should do this route or this route. I wanted to be an individual and choose my own routes and the way I wanted to climb. I think that was cool.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that is cool. I think it’s been very individual. You’ve had this incredible drive throughout your career.

 

Adam Ondra: Totally. Totally.

 

Neely Quinn: I wanted to ask you a bit more about your drive because you seem to be one of the most, if not the most driven climber today. Is it like – can you tell me more about that? Where it comes from?

 

Adam Ondra: It’s totally natural for me. The drive is within me. I don’t even have to try to somehow increase the motivation and passion for climbing. I just love it 100%. I would say that – as I was saying since I was seven years old I wanted to be a professional rock climber and I think the book that influenced me a lot was a book called Rock Stars. It was written, like, in 1995 and it talks the story of the best sport climbers in history. There are really nice pictures from famous photographer Heinz Zak and somehow, to my naive eyes of a young child, those guys on the pictures somehow seemed really happy to me and I just wanted to be just like them, to be one of the rock stars.

Since then, I’ve never really regretted this decision because, at the same time, it wasn’t like I sacrificed anything really. I just did everything that I love, and it was climbing, in order to proceed into a place where I am now. It feels just perfect. For me, climbing is of course a big challenge. I love sending hard routes, pushing my own limits, and I love even the competitive part of climbing, going for the competitions and training hard for it. At the same time, it’s like this huge spectrum of things which is connected to climbing for me. If I think about climbing it’s not only about the climbing movement itself but it’s also about traveling, about sleeping in the dirt or in the car, seeing new places, meeting new people, and stuff like this.

 

Neely Quinn: So it’s all-encompassing.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, and I think I love all the aspects of climbing. For me, it’s like everything fits. All my interests just fit into climbing. That’s it.

 

Neely Quinn: I wanted to ask you a little bit more about the competitive side of it. I hear that you love all aspects of it but the drive, does it come – how much of it would you say comes from wanting to be the best or better than so-and-so or win such competition? How much of it is external?

 

Adam Ondra: I would say of course maybe 60% of why I love climbing is the challenge part of it, but the main motivation is not for sure to beat the others but to beat my own previous performance or to get continuously better. I’m inspired by certain projects, for example, outdoors or if I train for a competition I’m not really thinking about beating the other opponents. I’m just thinking, in the training itself, I’m thinking of making my own personal progression and coming for the competitions as much physically prepared and mentally, of course, as possible.

 

Neely Quinn: Okay, well let’s talk about your training then. Actually, before we get that I wanted to ask you about what you thought your biggest climbing successes and failures are.

 

Adam Ondra: [laughs] Well, outdoors for sure it’s my first ascents of 9b+, La Dura Dura or Change. For the competition part it’s the two World Championship titles.

 

Neely Quinn: Right, which was pretty impressive. I really want to know how you trained for that. What about failures?

 

Adam Ondra: Failures? I can’t think of many. [laughs] Of course I always try to make the best out of every failure that I’ve had. I think every failure motivates me, eventually, to make something different, train harder, and come better prepared for the next challenge.

 

Neely Quinn: I think that’s sort of one of the things that sets you apart from other people. You seem to have a very positive outlook overall on your climbing and your abilities.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, I think I’m a pretty positive person in general.

 

Neely Quinn: Which I’m sure helps keep you motivated to keep going back.

 

Adam Ondra: I think it helps you to perform better in climbing, to perform better in general in your life, and at the same time to be happier with your life. I think that should be the ultimate goal for anyone, to be happy and satisfied with your life. I’m pretty sure that I am a satisfied and happy man. I’m really conscious that not that many people are in my position in this state of happiness and I really appreciate it.

 

Neely Quinn: You mean as a top climber?

 

Adam Ondra: No. In general. I think one of the reasons why I am so happy is just because I found climbing.

 

Neely Quinn: Well, something that we all aspire to is finding that happiness. Your schedule seems very, very busy. It’s surprising to me how happy – I mean, you must love to be busy because you’re in school and you’re training and climbing, right?

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah.

 

Neely Quinn: I was wondering why? I mean a lot of climbers who are even remotely at your level choose not to go to school because they want to pursue being a pro climber instead. Why do you continue to go to school?

 

Adam Ondra: I found it a wise combination because as I set my goals for the last year, my goals would be competitions and competitions require a more organized and structured way of training. At the same time, I really wanted to try this super organized and much more hard core training than I’ve ever experienced before. But at the same time, if you don’t go to school you have the freedom to travel around. It’s really hard to force myself into this hard, structured training so if I chose to go to school I know that I would have to stay at home and attempt my classes. If I am at home, what else would I do other than training? For me, that works perfectly.

 

Neely Quinn: [laughs] Nice.

 

Adam Ondra: And at the same time, going to competitions and training and going to school, for me, is a perfect combination.

At the same time, I think climbers who are only just focusing on climbing, at certain points it’s not healthy anymore. I think you need some mental challenge. You need to think about something else. Thinking about climbing 24/7 is just not good for your mind and it’s not good for your climbing either, I think.

Even if my schedule is pretty busy, if there are some school days and at the same time I have to train, I can leave home at 6:00AM and I can come back at 8:00PM and pretty much the whole day is packed but there are different activities. I’m training, then I go to school and if I go to school I know that I’m totally wrecked from climbing but at the same time I just occupy my mind with something else. Otherwise, if I just went home and I would just think about how tired I am, that wouldn’t make me feel any better. At the same time that I’m occupied in my mind by school duties I think I can even recover better.

 

Neely Quinn: I think it’s so funny that your going to school is motivated in part, or in large part, by your climbing goals.

 

Adam Ondra: [laughs] Well, I’m studying economics, business management, and I pretty much love it. I think it can be useful at a certain point in my future. I think it’s good to have some kind of back-up and to know something more than just climbing.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I think that’s smart. Do you think that you’ll be climbing for a long time professionally at this level? Or do you want to have a career and completely veer off?

 

Adam Ondra: No, I’m pretty sure I’ll be climbing as long as I can move my hands and feet. On a professional level I hope I will be able to proceed like this for a long time still but, you know, with the business I can’t really tell you how I see myself in five or 10 years. Pretty much anything can happen but the only thing I really know that I want is to climb and what happens in 10 years? I don’t really know if I’ll focus on some kind of work but it will always be about – I don’t want to work in a way that I would go to the office at 8:00 and I go back from the office at 5:00. I want to be more flexible with my job. Let’s see. I can’t really tell you.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’s hard to tell the future.

 

I know what can happen next year or in two years but I don’t really have any clue what the future is going to be like in 10 years.

 

Neely Quinn: Do you think you’ll stay in school or do you think you’ll continue to take time off so that you can take trips?

 

Adam Ondra: I think I’ll finish the bachelor and then I’ll take some time off, travel around, and then go back to school and finish the master’s.

 

Neely Quinn: Wow. You’re an ambitious guy. I think we all knew that.

Alright, let’s talk about training. Can you give me sort of a progression chronologically throughout, even when you were a young kid, of how you trained and how that’s changed over the years?

 

Adam Ondra: Well, as I said I’ve always liked to be individualist and I wanted to train my own way. I hated being told what to do, how I should train, so even when I was eight years old I had already experimented a lot. I hadn’t done any campus board until I was 16 or 17. The only way I trained until I was 16 or 17 was just by climbing. That was it. That helped me, I think, acquire this intuition of climbing in order to be really efficient with my climbing.

In terms of power, when I was 16 I was not really strong but I knew perfectly how to use all this power that I had in order to give my best. At that point I was thinking that it would be wise to go a bit more serious into training to acquire more power and that would be the only solution for how to progress further. That’s what I started doing but it was, every time, it was kind of this amateur kind of training. It wasn’t very structured but so far it worked, I would say.

At the same time, I’ve always struggled to plan my training according to the competitions. I knew that I had this fixed date when I was supposed to be really strong but sometimes my shape was really good two years earlier before the comp and at the comp I felt tired or weak or something like this. That’s why I was thinking about how to improve my training and that’s why I accepted that I would be coached.

There are not so many coaches that I would trust and the only coach that I could trust was Patxi Usobiaga, my friend and very, very good ex-competitor and still very good climber. I totally, 100% trusted him. With him – we started working last spring and – that was something totally different, you know? Patxi, especially as a competitor, was very famous for hard core training. No one else, maybe ever, had ever trained harder than him. I think my training schedule is not as tough and hard as in the years when he became World Champion but it’s quite close to that.

I have never trained as hard as I did last year and I’m training this year. At the same time, I was really curious about how it’s going to be because in the past, I’ve always wanted to be strong for the next weekend when I had this little project somewhere outdoors or these competitions. I could not train super hard during the mid-week because if I trained too hard I would be just too tired for the weekend. This was a different situation. I knew that I had a next competition in two months and I could take advantage of these two months for really hard training and to sacrifice the next weekend because I would be too tired.

In the end, I love climbing and in these two months of really brutal preparation, during March and April, I just got to climb a lot. Of course, sometimes I was just climbing way too much and it was painful, skin was really sore, every single muscle could have been sore but I was still trying to kind of convince my mind that all I’m doing, I’m doing it for a good thing. It would make me a better climber. At the same time I was just enjoying the process because it was just climbing. As long as I climb it’s just perfect.

 

Neely Quinn: Right. Do you have more? I mean, I have a lot of questions but did you want to continue?

So, you said that you just started training with Patxi – when was it? This last spring?

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, last February.

 

Neely Quinn: So up until that point, I mean, you had done La Dura Dura, you had done Change, you had climbed super, super strong. I want to get an idea of what you were doing. You said that you were, “just climbing,” but do you mean that you were climbing seven days a week?

 

Adam Ondra: Until I was 17, just climbing. It meant a lot of bouldering, a lot of longer problems on a bouldering wall like 15 or 20 moves, and a lot of circuits on a bouldering wall up to, let’s say 60 moves. That was pretty much it. When I was 17 I started doing campusing, too.

 

Neely Quinn: Before that point were you doing pull-ups? You weren’t doing fingerboard, you weren’t doing anything else?

 

Adam Ondra: No. Not at all.

 

Neely Quinn: Okay. And how many days a week were you climbing?

 

Adam Ondra: I did some pull-ups when I was like six or seven but then I found it not very efficient, to be honest, and not as fun as climbing. [laughs]

 

Neely Quinn: And how many days a week?

 

Adam Ondra: I was always kind of intimidated by campus board because I heard some stories that it’s super dangerous and I was told by many people that it’s not good for kids. I thought, I think maybe even when I was 10 I was thinking in a smart way. I thought that if I campused at that moment it would make me climb harder in that moment but at the same time, it would cause me injury that could be with my body for the rest of my life and I thought that it’s more important to work on my technique and efficiency of climbing and what really counts is how I would perform when I would be adult. That’s what I did. I just didn’t do anything that could cause some serious and unnecessary injury when I was a kid.

 

Neely Quinn: That’s incredible. I’ve never heard of a child having so much forethought. You were really serious about this.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, sure.

 

Neely Quinn: So then up until you started training seriously and you were just climbing, were you climbing everyday? Were you giving yourself rest days?

 

Adam Ondra: I think I was climbing an average of five times a week. Pretty much every single day, at the weekend, we were going outdoors. Numerous climbing spots all of Europe. I’ve always tried to be as universal as possible and not only climbing overhangs or slabs, bouldering or lead, multi-pitches – everything. I loved it all and I always thought it could be the best way how to train, to be as universal as possible because you never know. You might need to climb a slab even in a competition. For sure, you will need to climb a slab in a bouldering competition but sometimes even in a lead competition.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, sometimes I’ve even seen you do hand jams in videos.

 

Adam Ondra: Everything can be useful.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, for sure.

 

Adam Ondra: At the same time, I think some people don’t like to climb in a style where they struggle but I find it motivating.

 

Neely Quinn: Really?

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah.

 

Neely Quinn: For instance, what is not your/what are you not as good at?

 

Adam Ondra: I think campus board is my weakest point, no matter I have been campusing for the last year, maybe four or five times a week. It’s still my weakest point. I’m getting better at that or just the raw power boulder problems. That’s the worst for me, and roofs. Nevertheless, I just love it and I’m trying to be better at that.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I mean you’ve definitely done a lot of roofs that are very hard so obviously you’re not that bad at it.

 

Adam Ondra: Well, my hardest routes are not in the roof though. That’s it.

 

Neely Quinn: Alright, so last February you started training with Patxi. I never know how to say his name. Tell me what you noticed and what did you change? How did your training schedule change?

 

Adam Ondra: It was different because my year was divided into periods where I just trained really hard and it wasn’t really important if, at that moment, I felt strong or not. What really counted was to make every training unit as good as possible. That’s what really counted. Then, some periods I trained much less and I was recovering from the enormous fatigue that I had from the previous period. In two or three weeks I felt in incredible shape.

The first time I experienced this kind of incredible power that I had was in May when I went to Spain to actually visit Patxi and I managed to onsight Il Domani, a 9a which I think is a pretty solid 9a. It’s my hardest onsight to date and that was really a nice thing because it really made me super confident about the whole structure of the training that we were doing with Patxi. I just couldn’t wait for the next competitions to come.

 

Neely Quinn: Right, which was only a couple months away at that point.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah.

 

Neely Quinn: So then after that you did another 9a onsight and then you did Biographie and you kept, I’m assuming, kept feeling pretty strong, obviously.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah.

 

Neely Quinn: When you said that you were doing a periodized sort of schedule, did you have four-week blocks, six-week blocks, or what was your schedule?

 

Adam Ondra: Four-week blocks, pretty much. Four-week blocks of endurance, let’s say, then four-weeks block of power, then four-weeks block of a period when I wasn’t training that hard and just waiting for the shape to come.

 

Neely Quinn: Would you mind getting detailed with that? Like, during your endurance blocks what were your days like? What were your weeks like?

 

Adam Ondra: Pretty much every period I was training six days a week, only Friday was off. Everyday consisted of/was very similar. Everyday in the endurance period, everyday I was doing endurance, a lot of TRX training, and some power endurance bouldering. That means that I was doing bouldering but just doing a lot of problems in 45 minutes without almost any rest. The boulder problems themselves were not super hard but it was more like an endurance thing. I didn’t do any campus board then.

During the power period I was doing a lot of campusing, I was climbing with a weight vest, some endurance, some bouldering, and most importantly intervals. I, for example, climbed a 15-move boulder problem, one minute rest, four times like this then some micro break like 4-5 minutes, and doing it like four or five times.

The most important thing here is to do multiple sessions a day but every session is not longer than, say

– in this short period of time, I get tired and at the same time the quality of training is pretty high and pretty intense but during the next two or three hours I can recover a little bit and I can be pretty much ready for the next session. Whereas if I did a two-hour session I would pretty much be done for the day.

 

Neely Quinn: Okay, so you cut out a little bit. Your sessions were no longer than how long?

 

Adam Ondra: Let’s say 45 minutes and at the longest one hour, so every session is focused on one thing. Power – that’s bouldering, campusing, power endurance – that’s bouldering again or campus board, or endurance which is doing circuits on a bouldering wall. In between every session I’m trying to take at least a one hour rest.

 

Neely Quinn: Okay, I read that you were doing three-a-days, like three sessions per day usually.

 

Adam Ondra: Or even four.

 

Neely Quinn: Oh my god. How does that even work? You would wake up in the morning, do a session?

 

Adam Ondra: I would try to wake up as early as possible, go for the morning session, then go back to school, then go back for training, then go back for lunch, then go back to school, then go training, take some rest, and training again.

 

Neely Quinn: [laughs] Do you eat?

 

Adam Ondra: Well yeah, of course. In order to get the proper food I spend quite a lot of time just preparing some plastic boxes of food in the morning or in the evening so during the day I have pretty much all my snacks and lunch in the box and I’m ready.

 

Neely Quinn: Okay, so you would do this six days a week and have one day of rest?

 

Adam Ondra: Uh-huh.

 

Neely Quinn: How much sleep do you get, generally?

 

Adam Ondra: Depends. I wish I could sleep a bit more, that’s for sure. The school is usually Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday, the school is just maybe one class. Friday is off. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I don’t get to sleep that much, maybe seven hours. During the rest of the nights I get to sleep a bit more, maybe eight hours and a half? But for sure, in terms of training efficiency, I know I could sleep a bit more. You know, it’s busy.

 

Neely Quinn: Well, and that’s the question, right? Because you’re not sleeping enough, in your opinion, do you think that you should have cut down on the training? Do you think it was wearing you out or do you think that it does wear you out?

 

Adam Ondra: For sure, if I did it for 10 years yeah, it would wear me out very seriously but semesters are quite short. They’re from September till mid-December then we have two and a half months off for the exam term but, for me, exam term is not as time consuming as normal semester when I need to attend classes. If I’m just studying for the exams, that’s pretty much fine. I can organize my time in order to study for the exams and then again, the spring semester is not so long. It’s from mid-February until mid-May so it’s, again, just a relatively short period of time. In the meantime I just have much more time and I can be more free and more relaxed and sleep a bit more.

 

Neely Quinn: And you have those whole blocks of time where you’re not training as hard.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, and it kind of makes me really happy to know that every single day is pretty challenging. It’s pretty busy but if I can go to bed feeling that I made good work that day it makes me feel pretty happy and satisfied. At the same time, even during this year when I focused on the competition and it was pretty busy, I knew that there would be this week when I would just go outdoors with my girlfriend, for example, and climb in solitude somewhere and I could be more relaxed and I don’t have to have an alarm to wake up on time to get ready for the training.

I kind of really need this change of lifestyle. If I only just hang around at the crag, after a time I don’t think that it gets boring but I feel that I’m getting too lazy. [laughs] I really like switching the lifestyle from one year being so busy and organized with school and training and competitions and the next year just being way more relaxed and just travel around and not really being that focused on performing well at climbing at the same time, maybe.

Even during the year when I’m busy I really love just going outdoors and just enjoying my time.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, taking a break, destressing.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, totally.

 

Neely Quinn: Back to your training a little bit. You said that you were campusing – did you say five times a week during your power phases?

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, at least five times. Some days I had one session campus and some days I had even two sessions of campus.

 

Neely Quinn: So that would be everyday?

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, for sure everyday.

 

Neely Quinn: Okay, to me that sounds crazy. Crazy and so much…

 

Adam Ondra: It’s very dangerous, for sure, but if I want to search my limits I always need to be on this border when the injuries are close but at the same time I’m careful. If something hurts I take some time off, that’s for sure.

 

Neely Quinn: Would you – this is something that seems like only an elite level climber could do. Do you agree with me?

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, yeah, for sure. An average climber – fingers of an average climber are incapable of sustaining this pressure of a campus board session everyday. [laughs]

 

Neely Quinn: I wonder how much of it has to do with – I have seen you do some crazy shouldery moves, like on Change. That first crux? You did it like 90 times, I’m assuming in a very short amount of time, and most climbers would have literally torn their shoulders in half. I wonder if, because you started climbing at such a young age, something is more – I don’t know – better with your tendons and ligaments. What do you think about that?

 

Adam Ondra: I think so because as my level of climbing increased gradually but relatively slowly, all my tendons just had the time to get used to all the pressure of hard training and climbing. Whereas if you start climbing when you’re 16 and you just start campusing straight away, your power increases quite easily and fast but your body is not ready and prepared for it. I think it helped me a lot, just the fact that I started climbing early. That’s it.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, and just climbing. Do you get injuries ever?

 

Adam Ondra: Not really, no.

 

Neely Quinn: No.

 

Adam Ondra: I had some sore – I think I don’t like pockets very much, especially open pockets, so maybe two times in my life I had some strange feelings in the tendons but I took three or four days rest and then it was over, so nothing that an average climber would consider to be an injury I would say.

 

Neely Quinn: No. I think a lot of people are probably smiling to themselves, thinking, ‘That’s not a big deal at all.’ And your shoulders? You’ve never had any shoulder issues?

 

Adam Ondra: No. I think the part of my body that is most prone to injury are elbows. Sometimes I have some slight pain in the elbows but at the same time, I know that if I take a massage, for example, or if I don’t take a massage and I don’t do any compensation exercises like, for example, on TRX training and some stretching, I can feel some sort of pain in elbows. At the same time, if I’m careful and I do the stretching, I take some massage from time to time, I get to see the physio, it’s good.

 

Neely Quinn: So you do massage pretty regularly?

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, I think that’s important, of course. If you train as hard as I’m training then you need to give something back to your body.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, you probably need to have a massage therapist following you around all the time.

Okay, so you said you do TRX and stretching. These are the things that you’re doing to focus on preventing injury?

 

Adam Ondra: Well, TRX, I’ve always thought is a way of only how to avoid injuries but at the same time, if you’re muscles’ perspective is just broader, because even though climbing is quite a complex sport, you get to use quite different sorts of muscles, still some muscles are not very active in general in climbing.

With the TRX you get to work on all the muscles we pretty much have and that can help you avoid injuries of course but it can also help you in climbing in a way that, in certain movements, I really realize that instead of just pulling hard with my arms I can use some kind of weird muscles somewhere. On my back, for example, that can help me to pull a little less with my arms and ultimately get less tired when it’s some kind of route which requires endurance, for example.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that makes sense. Do you do any extra work with weights, too? Do you do any weightlifting?

 

Adam Ondra: No. The only gym kind of exercises that I do are on the TRX. I think working with [sound cuts out] is more natural and that’s why.

 

Neely Quinn: What was that? What did you say? You think what is more natural?

 

Adam Ondra: Just doing all these exercises with your own weight.

 

Neely Quinn: Oh, right.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, but I get to climb with four-kilos weight vest.

 

Neely Quinn: Oh, right. What does Patxi think about using weights? Obviously he’s not having you do that so you guys are in agreement about that?

 

Adam Ondra: Yes. I was a bit skeptical about it at the beginning and I do climb with a weight vest only at certain periods. Definitely, I would never climb with a weight vest just before a competition or before a trip outdoors. It might spoil your technique. You can get – of course it’s more dangerous. Your tendons, your elbows have to take more pressure, and at the same time it can make your climbing style pretty slow and static.

At the same time it makes you, in my opinion, strong so I’m in that position that I think I have a good intuition for climbing and my climbing style in general is quite fast and intuitive. I hope that by climbing with a weight vest I don’t get that spoiled, or if my climbing technique gets spoiled, in a week of climbing without the weight vest I can get all my climbing technique and efficiency back. But, I would not recommend climbing with a weight vest to certain kinds of climbers who are way too powerful already now.

 

Neely Quinn: Who would you recommend it to?

 

Adam Ondra: Or way too slow, for example.

 

Neely Quinn: What kind of climber would you recommend it to?

 

Adam Ondra: Well, someone like me. [laughs] For sure, you need to have certain experience, a certain level, and you need to climb with a certain level of technique. That’s the basic thing. I think you have to reach this state of your climbing when you feel that it’s really hard to make any further progress. As long as you’re making progression, I don’t think that it’s a wise thing to climb with a weight vest.

 

Neely Quinn: Okay. Do you do any fingerboarding?

 

Adam Ondra: I’ve never found fingerboarding very efficient. Maybe it’s because I have been training for a long time just by climbing itself outdoors, a lot of times on limestone which was pretty fingery so my fingers are, I think, my strength. I have never really had any problems on pulling onto the small holds. I’ve always had a problem to make the move in between them which are very powerful or too far.

 

Neely Quinn: So, I think a lot of people want to know: what do you think that you did differently than everybody else that helped you win both the lead and the bouldering World Championships this last year?

 

Adam Ondra: Well, every climber is different. Every climber has a different background, every climber has a different style, and technique, and training, of course. For me, the Patxi training was definitely a crucial thing because the route on the World Championships in lead was quite long, quite resistant, and I don’t think it fit my style 100%. Normally, my best style is when the route is short, bouldery, and not too long. Because of my body type compared to the other competition climbers – I’m quite tall and – don’t smile, but I’m a bit heavier compared to the other competitors so in order to have the same kind of endurance that they have, I would say it’s harder for me. Just because of that.

Naturally, I don’t even have to train very hard to perform well in the competitions where the walls are short and the routes are short and a bit more bouldery. Whereas for the long routes, I really had to train super hard. Thanks to the hard training I could increase my level of endurance and I could increase my level of power in order to be able to rest in the positions where I wouldn’t be able to.

But, what is crucial in the whole aspect of competitions is, of course, the mental side of it. Training is one thing but then you need to perform your best and show everything that you trained in the last, let’s say six months in, let’s say five minutes of climbing on the final route. That’s, of course, stressful and it creates a lot of pressure and last year was pretty funny because at the beginning of the season, I knew I was in the best shape of my life. I knew I was capable of winning but I just kept failing. In the first three competitions I was 9th, 27th, and 8th. Pretty much my worst results ever. Nevertheless, I just kept the confidence and I knew that I could perform well at the World Championships and in the end, I think my performance at the World Championships was the best and the most relaxed out of all the competitions in that season. I think that’s something that I’m quite good at.

Just because I trained – you can take a look at it from two angles. It can make you feel pretty confident. It can help you. I have been training so hard and at the same time it made me believe that I was in a very good physical state and I was able to win. At the same time it can do you harm because I knew that I was training hard and I was expecting something out of it. Anything else than a victory would be a failure so it’s important to get the good part of it. That’s what I managed, not on certain competitions, but I managed to get the positive side of it in the World Championships.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it seems like those previous three where you didn’t perform very well maybe prepared you better for the World Championship.

 

Adam Ondra: Well, sometimes it wasn’t just the question of pressure. Sometimes it was the question of bad skin, of some really odd and funny problems, you know? That can be super stressful and super frustrating, knowing that you’re so strong and in such good shape and that you’ve worked so hard for it and then you come for the World Cup in China with just too dry skin. [laughs] You know? All the hard work is spoiled for just too dry and hard skin, just un-ableing you to pull very well on slopey holds. Everything can happen and you have to think about everything so I think that was – at the same time, because it happened twice to me last season, I can get rid of this potential problem for the next seasons and I can be better prepared.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah. Basically what I heard you say is that you trained so hard with your power and that means that when you were on the longer routes, because you were so much powerful and stronger, those holds felt easier so you could rest and go for longer.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah. The recent trend for routes in competitions is that, of course, it’s not much fun watching a climber resting for minutes in a knee bar, let’s say, or a big jug so that is forcing the route setters to create routes which are more powerful and offering less rest positions. Nevertheless, the routes still have something like 50 moves and you can’t really climb 50 moves without any single stop, without any single shake out. Just genetically it’s not possible so you have to be strong enough to find a rest position en route where the rest positions are nonexistent for 99% of the climbers.

 

Neely Quinn: And that’s what you did. Good job.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah.

 

Neely Quinn: So, we only have about 10 minutes left and I have a lot more questions. What’s next for you and do you think that you will climb 5.15d or do you think that 9c+ is possible? Or what are your goals and where do you see yourself going with this?

 

Adam Ondra: Well, I think 9c is possible. Maybe not right now. At the same time I decided to do this hard core training for the competitions with the intention of becoming stronger and a better climber and to have a better possibility to send 9c one day. I knew from summer 2013 when I was in Flatanger where I was working on several projects which could be 9c, I did all the moves in these projects but I just felt it wasn’t possible at that moment to link it. Now I’m pretty much taking the advantage of training for the competitions in order to be a better climber and hopefully one day the 9c can happen.

For this year I still decided to do the competitions. I will do both World Cup circuits in lead and bouldering so it’s going to be a pretty busy year. In total, it’s something like 16 competitions and the year after, 2016, it will be rock climbing again and trying some interesting projects either in Flatanger, in Spain, or whatever. I’m really excited.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, so you have these two years to train super hard and do your best at comps and then you’ll go outside and test what you’ve done.

 

Adam Ondra: Pretty much.

 

Neely Quinn: Nice. Well, we’re looking forward to that. So you have a lot of travel coming up. Do you have any trips that you want to share with people, like where you’re going to be and what you’re going to be doing?

 

Adam Ondra: Well, school is starting in a month and I’ve just done all the exams so right now I’m going to Spain for a couple of days and then a two-week trip to North America, Canada, and some climbing around Las Vegas so that’s going to be nice. That’s going to be a bit of a destressing factor and then I will just hit my bouldering and campusing wall hard. Train hard and get ready for the competition season which starts in May.

 

Neely Quinn: Nice. Cool. I need to ask you about your diet because, as a nutritionist, this is something I like to ask everybody about. Can you tell me how your diet affects your climbing and what you eat?

 

Adam Ondra: I’m interested in nutrition and during the years I think I’ve kind of already found what works for me, mentally. For me, a natural diet works. I don’t use any supplements. I’m eating cooked food for lunch and dinner and the rest of it I eat raw, basically fruits, nuts, and seeds, and a lot of superfoods like goji, raw cocoa, hemp seed, chia seeds, and stuff like this.

All these superfoods container a similar substance, like in the artificial supplements maybe not in such a high quantity but I believe and I could feel myself that if I eat in this way, I can train harder or the same way as if I use the artificial supplements. I believe if I eat in a natural way it makes less harm for my body and all these, for instance amino acids, are just more digestible for me if I take it from the natural source.

 

Neely Quinn: So what are you eating for lunches and dinners, for example?

 

Adam Ondra: Lunch I eat some carbohydrates with vegetables. Dinner, some protein with vegetables. That’s it.

 

Neely Quinn: Do you eat meat?

 

Adam Ondra: I do eat meat but maximum two times a week.

 

Neely Quinn: Wow. So when you say, “protein and vegetables” at dinner, what kinds of protein are you eating?

 

Adam Ondra: It’s either legumes, lentils, soy tofu, tempeh, stuff like this.

 

Neely Quinn: So you feel good? Obviously you have enough energy and you feel strong and it’s working.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, totally. I don’t think that it’s that important what I eat when I don’t train hard. I think it almost doesn’t matter what I eat before a comp because I’m just relaxed and I don’t train hard, but it depends a lot on what I eat if I live in this super busy circle of life, of training hard, going to school, and stuff like this. That’s what really counts.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, so you pay more attention to it when you’re training then.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, and at the same time I think it’s cool before a competition itself to be more relaxed with your diet and eat what you really want. As I said, training is one thing but performing well and to be in a good psychological mode in order to perform well is maybe equally important.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah. So what are your treat foods? What would you splurge on?

 

Adam Ondra: [laughs] I think I have this advantage that I don’t really like junk food that much. For example, I’m not really at all appealed to go to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger. If I can choose between a salad and a cheeseburger I think 100% I will always go for the salad.

I think any dried fruit for me is the best thing I can imagine, or any bars from date, cocoa, coconuts, stuff like this is just great. I could eat it forever.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, so you really don’t need processed foods or food from packages at all.

 

Adam Ondra: I’m trying not to. Of course, during Christmastime you visit grandmother and you know, the Czech traditional cuisine is really heavy and contains a lot of fat and meat and stuff like this. Of course I like it and I don’t think that it’s that bad from time to time to eat a nice piece of cake with a lot of sugar and cream and stuff like this. I think from time to time you can spoil your body but I don’t think it’s good to do it all the time, for sure.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that’s good. I’m glad that you’re sending that message to people. I think it’s really important.

 

Adam Ondra: I think it’s most important to believe that you are treating your body well and if you believe that you treat your body well with a nice piece of meat, then it’s great. If you feel that it’s not the best thing that you can do then you should change it.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, so then you’re happier and more content and not doubting yourself. That makes sense.

So my last question for you is about body weight. Obviously, or I’m assuming, part of the reason that you eat the way that you do is to maintain a certain body composition?

 

Adam Ondra: Uh-huh.

 

Neely Quinn: What do you think that has to do with your climbing performance? And climbing performance in general for people, like body weight?

 

Adam Ondra: I think most people think that I’m actually slimmer than I am. Right now I’m 68 kilos. The weight fluctuates from 70 to 66 but I’m not really on a drastic diet. I think if you’re on a drastic diet and you don’t get enough energy you really can’t train that efficiently. At the same time, I feel that my ideal body weight for bouldering, for example, is 68 and if I had less I didn’t feel like I had the same power. At the same time, for lead and for endurance routes, it can be better to have two kilos less. At the same time I feel it’s pretty natural for me.

If I do a lot of bouldering or if I’m just focusing on bouldering, I’m just naturally a little heavier. If I do really, really long routes I don’t have to try that hard and all of a sudden I have two kilos less. That’s it.

 

Neely Quinn: That’s easy. You don’t even have to diet.

 

Adam Ondra: I think it’s a good thing that recently, not that many climbers tend to be extremely thin. I think it was kind of a fashion that the thinner the better in the 80s and 90s. It was not healthy and it was not good for their performance, either. I think the climbers are starting to understand it.

 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I think so, too. That’s pretty much what everybody says on this podcast, the same thing you just said.

So, two quick questions: how do you choose which shoes you wear? You wear the Futuras a lot, right? Do you have anything to say about that?

 

Adam Ondra: I think the shoes that I climb the most with are Speedsters, which are pretty similar to Futuras. The thing that I love about them is the freedom that I feel when I climb with them, but I always choose my shoes according to the climb which I’m preparing for because I can’t really have one pair of shoes for every climb imaginable. Every shoe has an advantage and disadvantage and you can’t really pick one type of shoe that would fit every climbing style. That’s just not possible.

 

Neely Quinn: Right, and it seems like you’ve even put one shoe on the right foot and a different shoe on the left foot.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, exactly.

 

Neely Quinn: So whatever it takes.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah.

 

Neely Quinn: Okay, last question: do you aspire to do the Dawn Wall?

 

Adam Ondra: Yes, I would like to try it one day, for sure.

 

Neely Quinn: Nice. Cool. I think that’s all my questions for now. I wanted to let people know where they can find you online. Do you do social media?

 

Adam Ondra: Nope. There is a Facebook account but it’s not mine. It’s fake. [laughs]

 

Neely Quinn: [laughs] Okay. I’m sure you don’t even have time for that kind of thing.

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah.

 

Neely Quinn: So is there anywhere we can keep up with you?

 

Adam Ondra: No, pretty much not. I don’t have a webpage, I don’t have Instagram, I don’t have a Facebook.

 

Neely Quinn: Good for you. Lastly, do you want to do a shout out to your sponsors at all?

 

Adam Ondra: Yeah, of course. So, thank you very much for my sponsors because they enable me to live as I want and I’m financially independent in terms of where I want to travel. That feels perfect. The most important sponsor is Montura, my clothes company. The next are Black Diamond, La Sportiva, Entre-Prises, Bell [spelling?], Chimpanzee, KIKU, and that’s it. Thank you.

 

Neely Quinn: Alright, well thanks so much for your time, again. I really, really appreciate it.

 

Adam Ondra: You’re welcome.

 

Neely Quinn: Alright, that was Adam Ondra. I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did. I was very inspired after that interview. Still am, by his dedication and his discipline, his willingness to live such a clean lifestyle, and his general happy, positive attitude. It’s pretty refreshing so I hope you liked it.

If you did like it and you like this podcast I would love your support, your further support, by checking out our training programs which we created to help you train harder, train smarter. You can check those out at www.trainingbeta.com under the ‘Training Programs’ tab. We would love that.

I love your support. I love the emails I get. I’m so psyched that these interviews are doing good things for you guys and keeping you psyched so if you ever have any suggestions for who you want me to interview, I would love that. You can always email me at neely@trainingbeta.com.

I think my next interview is going to be with Mike Doyle, who just sent Necessary Evil, his two-year project up at the Virgin River Gorge. It’s a .14c. Mike Doyle lives here in Vegas and is a friend of mine. I know how hard he works at his job. I know that he works a ton of hours and yet he still makes time for this big project and sends it so it’s pretty awesome. Hopefully we’ll hear from him soon.

In the meantime, I hope that you climb hard, train hard, have fun, and I will talk to you soon.

 

[music]

Thanks for listening!

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, a blog, interviews on the TrainingBeta Podcast, personal training for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.


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5 Comments

  1. Jonathan March 31, 2015 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    He’s pretty into TRX training. Do you think you guys could put together a TRX training program? i’d buy that.

    • Seth Lytton April 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the suggestion! We currently have optional TRX workouts included in the Bouldering Strength and Power Program, but a dedicated ebook is a great idea. We’ll talk to some trainers about putting something together.

  2. Gray Irwin February 25, 2015 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Next time, give the interviewee the questions prior to you recording the interview. This way, they can give more thought out answers and insightful information.

    Your line of questioning as to be less generic as well. We want to know more specific information about him, his views and training, untold stories or adventures he had that no one knows about… it’s difficult for anyone to come up with “great” answers without allowing them time to think about it.

  3. Iggi February 20, 2015 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Is it possible to get a transcript of this interview?
    It’s great, cheers.
    Iggi

    • Neely Quinn February 23, 2015 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      Iggi – It’s a great idea and something we hope to do in the future, but not at this time. Sorry!

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