• 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)

  • Avatar

    Danger

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    Sean,
    Congratulations on your success on the world cup circuit this year! I’m personally transitioning into trying some sport climbing and it’s inspiring to see a great boulderer doing so well in the Lead World Cup too.

    I just saw your training video and I have 2 questions:
    1. You do pushups with your arms almost parallel to your body – what’s the benefit of this?
    2. All the training you do looks tough on the elbows. How do you pull hard while staying injury-free?

    Cheers

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      To answer your questions:
      1) The arms straight back shift the workout into your triceps instead of just on your shoulders. Proper technique and execution is very critical here.
      2) I don’t find it’s too tough on my elbows although I try to always do a good warm up, and if any muscles are sore, keep warming up. If something hurts, I stop. No point in getting injured and being forced to stop for a month when you can take 12 hours off, and be just fine afterwards.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Matt C.

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    Quick question…and sorry if you’ve already answered it…here goes.

    I saw your awesome video on youtube titled “Sean McColl Training Video” and I was wondering how many times a week you do it? Every day? Every other day? Twice a week? etc etc…
    I’d like to start training like this (I would scale WAY down though because I’m not a stud like you), but I wonder how often I should do it?

    Thanks in advance! And good luck on the WC circuit!!

    Best
    MC

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      Hey Matt,

      As for the number of times I do it in a week, I’d say something around max 2. I also only do it when I’m trying to physically build muscles or do a “rappel de force”. To start it, I’d just recommend doing the exercises that you come up with for like 10 seconds. If at the end of the set, you feel good, then maybe push up to 15 or make the exercises a bit harder. Whenever I do this, I do 2-3 sets, so the first one is usually pretty easy compared to the others.

      Let me know how it works out, and make sure to do a good warm up to avoid injuries!

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Curtis

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    Could you write a little bit about your diet. What you eat day to day and post workout. Hopefully this isnt top secret information.

    Loved you training video, looking forward to more of them.

    Keep crushing!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      Not so top-secret, not until Climbing makes the Olympics… j/k. My diet is nothing too special. I try to watch what I eat to a certain extent, but love to eat things that I enjoy. On training days, I usually drink 2L of Skratch Mix with a good breakfast of cereal, pasta or rice (some sort of energy) for lunch and something to recover for dinner. My dinner’s vary, sometimes I’ll make a big salad with a bunch of things, sometimes some meat mixed in. We make pizza’s, quiches, lasagna. During competitions, I try to eat a lot of pasta to make sure I have enough energy and on days that I rest, I drink around 1L of Skratch recovery mix…

      Reply

  • Avatar

    John

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    Hey Sean,
    Just with regards to your training video, I noticed that a lot of the movements are at full lock, as someone who has had a few elbow issues in the past, I’m wondering if you’ve ever experienced any problems with yours? Or do you do any antagonistic work (beyond push-ups) to keep them in check?

    Also, this routine seems to focus on core conditioning and lock, more so than fingerboarding and campus boarding which would probably be the most common supplemental training done by climbers (?), just wondering if you feel that factors like core and arm strength are overlooked by most climbers.Thanks in advance, would love to see more videos!
    Cheers, John

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      I must be lucky because you’re not the first that says my drills are hard on the elbows. Besides doing very precise push ups, I don’t do anything specific for elbows. While warming up, I’ve only ever felt tight in my shoulders and had to stretch them out.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Kevin

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    Sean,

    Enjoyed the training video you posted. Especially the ab knee to elbow exercise. One of my goals is to climb 5.10 consistently without falls. Do you have any training tips for breaking through to a new grade?

    -Kevin

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      One of the best things I can recommend is climbing with someone that is also motivated to reach a new level. This way, you can push each other to that new level, regardless of the actual number.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    moby

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    Hello sean, will you participate at “24H oloron” this year ?
    Hope to see you win again !

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      I currently plan on competing at this competition, yes!

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Kegan

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    when working on a project, how do you keep psyched and motivated when you are getting shut down?

    I think its great you have something like this on your site, really cool way to get some great info/tips from one of the best

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      Getting shut down is one of the hardest things in the world. I suggest getting some friends up there to motivate you because I know that helps a lot. I also find a day in the gym, or just trying other boulders is good as well. Then take a rest day, and back onto the attack…

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Cody

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    Regarding your training video…I have been doing these sorts of circuits for awhile now, and I always plan them out like this.
    1. warm-up 10-15 minutes with V0-V2, slow motion bouldering
    2. rest 5 minutes
    3. take 2 projects (bouldering, lead, or top-rope) and work on them: 30 minutes – 1 hour getting in as many attempts as time allows
    4. begin the 8 exercise trainging circuit.
    5. end with a good cool-down stretch
    My question to you is this..is it pointless to work on actual routes when you plan for a day of circuit training?
    often times I come to the gym and want to climbing the new stuff that has been set, or the stuff I am trying tick off. Once I feel I can’t put forth any GOOD attempts at the projects, I move onto step 4. lately though (after having to recover from appendicitis) my hands can’t take the punishment from the projects and then the circuits..I feel like rawness of my skin is not allowing me to put good work on my arms and shoulers. I can’t remember if this was occuring BEFORE my surgery or if it is just happening now that I lost a good callus layer?
    I read something where you warm up for 75 minutes? is that true? and does it consist of doing warm-up routes?
    when you pick two days to do these circuits is that ALL you do in the gym during that session?

    Thanks for any information you can give me, and looking forward to future training videos. and congrats at briancon..the write up was almost book worthy(you have a nice way of describing routes)

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      My belief is that it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing at training to a certain degree as long as you’re doing moves and they’re hard. If you want power, do short routes, endurance, do long ones. I find it’s never “pointless” to do any type of training… As for the hands, you have to push through that pain for the first week or two, and then you’ll be able to do it easily. When I stepped up my training from 11h/week – 16h/week, my hands were on fire for the better part of the first week. Now it seems standard that I train that much.

      I warmup for between 45-75 minutes only during competitions (full warmup). If it’s super cold in the gym, I start with cardio, but if I’m already warm going into iso, I can warm up easily in 25 minutes. At training, as my first circuits are a bit easier, I can jump on them sooner as well. The reason I don’t warm up so much in training is because if there’s a super hard or tweaky move, I just let go (and go warm up more), where as in a competition, I probably won’t…

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Etienne Asselin

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    Hey man. I’m a trainer that works out of Ottawa, Ontario.

    I’ve recently experimented with the “Marc Pro” device.
    I think you should look into this, and take it into consideration.

    Basically, in a nutshell, this device ( a muscle stim.) will contract muscles, and stimulate the lymphatic system, to increase recovery time, and decrease excess swelling. And is far superior to icing injured areas.

    From a climbers perspective… I know that we can tweak tendons from time to time… This tool (the Marc Pro) would help decrease recovery time, and get us climbing harder… earlier.

    anywho, check it out man, I thought it was very interesting, and I wanted to inform you of it (in case you didnt already know)

    Cheers!

    Etienne

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Geff

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    Hey,
    You’re awesome.
    How much do you weight, and what’s your height ?
    I’m often frustrated seeing lighter people beating me. I weight 75 kilos with no fat and mesure 1.84m, but either my extra height or muscle seem to help me.
    I guess nothing of that matters.

    Geff.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

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      I’m around 59kg (130lbs) and 169cm (5″7). I’ve seen climbers that are much lighter, shorter, taller, bigger. You just have to work with what you have, and “try” not to get to absorbed about other people can do…

      Reply

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