• Ask Sean McColl

    Ask Sean McColl

    World Champion Climber. Future Olympian. Canadian.

ask “Sean McColl”

Thanks for all the questions, keep them coming! Make sure you read the “FAQ” (Frequently Asked Questions) which can be found here. Note: I’ve limited the number of comments per page to avoid having to scroll very far down the page. The newest question that was answered will be at the bottom. You can always find older questions by clicking “older comments”

Comments (1914)

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    sylvain

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    Hello Sean ! To begin with, congralutations for your first place in the semis at the boulder WC in Innsbruck, good luck for the finals. I would know how many pull ups can you do ? And with one arm ?

    Thanks

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      Thanks! I’m excited for finals. I’ve never really worked on pullups but I imagine I could do at least 30, but not more than 50. With one arm, I’ve been able to do 6.

      Reply

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    Shaun Hunter

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    Hey Sean,

    congratulations on your third place win at Innsbruck. I have 2 questions for you, how many climbing related injuries have you had and how do you handle them both mentally and physically?

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      I’ve only had a few “bad” injuries. Back when I was 13, I monoed in a bolt hole and hurt my finger. I took a few weeks off, but since I was so young, it healed pretty fast. After that, no serious injuries until last year. I pulled tendons in both my ring fingers. It hurt me the most because i couldn’t train at 100%. I went to physio, and tried to warm up for a long time. I’d tape my fingers in competition which was pretty annoying. This injury stayed with me for 6 months until I finally did 3-4 weeks of not touching a climbing wall. I was lucky in the fact that I went on an 11 day cruise followed by coaching at Jr. World Championships. Those two things combined made it impossible to climb anyways, so I took it and tried to recover. It worked, and since that break, I haven’t really felt my fingers hurt. I also had a bad sprain in my knee where I couldn’t walk for a couple days. To heal that, I went to the one physio I trust in North Vancouver 2-3 a week, and wore a brace for a while. Mentally, you have to know that it’ll recover, and do everything to help it. It’s easy to recover for a month or two and blow it because you didn’t feel like warming up for an extra 10 minutes…

      Reply

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    Mark

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    hi, I was wondering if you could tell me roughly what grade the boulder problems in the world cup are? I’m curious because there are some really strong climbers (8C outdoors) who don’t even make the finals. Thanks.

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      I’d say that the men’s boulder problems are between V7 – V12. Some of the slabs are really not that hard, and they’re just hard to read, that where the lower end of the spectrum comes in. As for the V12, some of the boulders aren’t even done in world cup, and with good beta, it might only go up to V11. I’d say on average, the boulders are V10. It’s hard to do 4-5 of them in a round with only 5 minutes per boulder and a 5 minute rest. Climbing 8C and competing in world cups are very different elements. There are many 8C boulderers on rock who don’t make finals at world cups…

      Reply

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    Cory Milne

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    Hey Sean,

    I had the pleasure of watching you and Mathilde climb at Stelly’s (twice in fact). I was a belayer in both of the comps. I’ve found my way to Europe and am currently hanging out in England until mid July when I intend to head into France. Although I doubt you will remember either of us Megan Hagar, one of the Boulders employees, is finishing up her final year of Uni in Montpellier. Her and I are intending to get together and climb both rock and plastic. Verdon, Boux and Ceuse are obviously on the tick list (can’t visit a country without sampling the classic crags). I was hoping you might offer a recommendation on a really good gym or two worth climbing in and further wondered if there are any hidden gems of outdoor areas that get over shadowed by the mega destinations.

    I appreciate your time on this! If I end up seeing you at one of the World Cup circuits this season I owe you a hello from Andrew Wilson (he speaks so highly of you). Hope you’re well and riding the high off of the two impressive comp results.

    Cheers,
    Cory

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      For gyms around France, I know a few but for hidden outdoor areas, I’m at a bit of a loss. Competing the whole year limits how many crags I can visit. In Lyon there’s a great gym called Mur Mur owned by Francois Petit. It depends whereabouts you’ll be, but the gyms in France are usually a lot better than in Canada if you’re good at making your own problems! Let me know exactly what city you’ll be in if you’re looking as well.

      Reply

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    Nehbur

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    Hi Sean, a question about something different than usual. I’m currently trying to get on the right body weight. I’m 1m75 and weighing 75 kg’s at the moment. I’m closing in on climbing 7a’s, meaning that i’m not chubby, but also not that strong. I find i’m in ‘alright’ condition. I feel like I could do a lot better if i’d lose some more weight, but whatever I do, or don’t eat. I can’t get those last few kg’s off. I climb 3 times a week for about 3-4 hours and sometimes I cycle (too few, it could be the solution). What can you advise me to do to lose those extra kg’s and what do you think is a good weight/body fat/length ratio? What goal would I want to set for myself and also, what is your % of body fat, weight and length? I’m not very wide, but also not very thinly build. A bit average. Your advise is greatly appreciated.

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      I can’t really comment on weight/body fat/length ratio because it’s really not my domain. I can comment on things I’ve done to use weight. I find it’s not about “not eating”, it’s about eating the right stuff. Try to make 3 meals a day, but only eat until you’re full, not until you can’t stop eating. So eat your meal, then stop. If you get hungry some more, eat an apple, or a carrot, or drink some tea. The problem with not eating at all is your body will go into a state of conservation which can make you gain even more weight!

      Reply

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    leo

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    Hi. Best wishes for the next lead session. I was wondering wiil you shoot any training video or something? Even if it’s something superficial, i would love to see your training program. Those videos can be very ispiring. Good luck again, take care 🙂

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      I’m currently working on a short video for Sportiva. I anticipate it’ll be ready and LIVE in about a month. It’ll just show basic circuit training and some conditioning workouts I do!

      Reply

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    Martin

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    Hi Sean,
    I want to ask you about your training advice for endurance/power endurance. I think I will project one 8b+ which is 50 moves long and I usually climb max 25-30 moves routes. My typical climbing trainings are power with 6-8 moves, PE 18 moves and circuits about 20-24 moves. What do you think to train and how much per week (I don´t want to loose power).
    thank you very much

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      If you’re going to be trying a route that is 50 moves long, you will have to make at least a few circuits that are 50 moves long as well. As long as you’re still training 1-2 times a week on power, you shouldn’t lose that. I would recommend doing circuits twice a week (once 30 moves, the other 50) and then once a week on power, and if you have a chance to climb a 4th time, then you do whatever you feel like!

      Reply

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    Roee

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    Hi Sean,

    I have seen you climb at competitions a few times and I really admire your climbing talent. I used to train with a coach but I recently left. I try to go to the gym by myself as often as I can, but when I do go, I find myself not working as hard as I can because I don’t have a training routine planned out. Do you think you could give me some tips on what to do when training at the gym? There isn’t one specific thing that I want to work on, just my overall climbing.

    Thanks and good luck in future World Cups.

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      One of the biggest things is to find a training partner. That way on the days that you’re not motivated, they’ll hopefully get you motivated for that day. Another is just to get a good schedule of when you’re going to climb. Some training suggestions would be take a 30-60 move circuit, and do it around 8 times in 2 hours. Do the first 4 in the first hour, then take a big 20 minute break, then the rest. If you want to do bouldering, you could try competition style. You set a boulder, then work it for 5 minutes. Roughly one try every 90 seconds. At the end of your 5 minutes, you take a 5 minute rest and during that rest, you create another boulder problem. Repeat 4-6 times. If you complete one of the boulders, just rest 90 seconds, and try it again!

      Reply

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    Amy

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    What are some workouts or drills that build strength and power for bouldering the quickest and that produce the most results? Thanks!

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      This is going to be very subjective, so this is something I’ve done and I think it works quite well. For me, I like doing campus board, deadhangs, lots of ab workouts. Mostly, I love doing training circuits with 10 or so exercises in each and do each to failure. Then take 1 or 2 minute rest in between exercises, and then the next. After you do all the exercises, that’s 1 set, then do another 2 or 3! Hope it works out, let me know!

      Reply

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    Evan Pavan

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    Sean, I’m a university student and come across periods of free time and want to make the most of it. Right now I have the freedom to boulder everyday but I’m worried about over-training and getting injured and don’t think I even have the skin regeneration for it.
    My goal in climbing is better/stronger bouldering. Should I climb everyday? If so when should I hangboard/cross-train? I know this question doesn’t have a direct answer so I will respect any personal opinion that works for you. Thank-you.

    Reply

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      Sean McColl

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      Sorry for the late reply. The best way to stay uninjured is to stay hydrated and eat good meals, especially if you’re going to be doing 3 days in a row, or maybe twice in one day. As for skin regeneration, it comes with time, the first couple of weeks where you’re climbing a lot is going to be hard, then it’s gets easier. I wouldn’t climb everyday as rest days are very important. I wouldn’t suggest climbing more than 3 days in a row. I would hangboard and do fingery stuff only after a rest day as there is more chance of injury on these types of these things while tired. Cross training is whenever you can. Cardio is nice if you can fit in the time to do it and you like it! Hope this answers your questions.

      Reply

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