The Battle

We need to talk about weight.

It matters in climbing - a lot, the only people who say their weight doesn't matter in their climbing are either liars or so naturally skinny they couldn't lose anymore. I've always had to battle to keep my weight down, a beer or two here a burger there and the weight piles on. I'm a naturally heavy climber due to a reasonable amount of muscle mass. The hardest part of a comeback to climbing is getting my weight to a stage where I can pull on small holds again with minimum risk of injury. Yesterday I tried a crimpy V6 for the first time, the moves felt easy but at the penultimate move I dropped off due to the pain in my joints. I was asking them to do too much too soon and there's no doubt I was putting too much weight through them.

At the start of 2017 when I set out on this journey back to fitness I weighed in - I was 187.4 lbs. A shockingly heavy amount for me. When I was at my strongest, just before I gave up climbing in 2011 I was 146 lbs. Granted I looked unhealthily thin and I wouldn't want to get back to that, but it shocks me that I was 40 lbs heavier now. I've found that my finger strength has largely remained, but putting 40 lbs more weight through them is causing my body problems.

It creaks.

I would never have trained on crimps with a 40 lb weight vest all those years ago when fit - yet that is essentially what I'm asking my body to do now. I think its also one of the main reasons my comeback last year failed, leaving me with finger injuries. So I'm moderating my conditioning regime this time around, I'm staying well and truly off the crimps until I'm close to my weight goal. I've set weight my goal close to my old training weight - 165 lb. At this weight I know I'll be able to start asking my fingers to do their thing again, they'll be able to take the strain.

This morning I weighed in at 178.4 lbs, I've shed nearly 10 lbs since the start of the year, only 13 more to go...

Neal Mann

New York City

Editor