The Truth About Climbing Supplements

Note that your substance in question is a “supplement,” meaning it is in addition to something else. That other thing is a good diet, rest and structured exercise.

By Rock and Ice | March 30th, 2010

I saw a new training/climbing supplement drink that claims to give you more power and help you stay less pumped. Is this a hoax? 

Twenty years ago I read an article that said common baking soda neutralized lactic acid, the chemical your body produces that makes your muscles get tired. The baking- soda theory made sense and the notion of never getting pumped was appealing, so I dumped some baking soda in a tall glass and stirred in cold water. I guzzled the elixir, then set about testing myself on a fingerboard. About a dozen pull-ups into my sesh I felt strong as a black bull on green grass. Then I felt a little quiver. Then a big quiver somewhere low in my guts. Within seconds I discovered that baking soda has a powerful effect on your plumbing that surpasses that of even Ex-Lax, and taken in large doses can cause heart attacks or worse. I spent a solid hour on the commode listening to my stuffings splatter. The onslaught went off and on for at least a day. Afterward, I was dehydrated and dizzy, but not quite ready to give up on baking soda. I packed a box of Arm and Hammer off to Hueco.

At Hueco, I let my buddy Jack in on my little secret sauce. We giggled as we stirred a tablespoon or so into our quart bottles, then glugged away. The first route went down fast and hard, but as I put the finishing touches on the next climb, a familiar guttural gurgling hit me. 

“Lower me now!” I screamed to Jack. 
Almost simultaneously, his guts cramped and he nearly dropped me straight to the ground without any braking at all. We spent the rest of the day running from bush to bush, fertilizing Hueco’s sacred soil. 
In your case, note that your substance in question is a “supplement,” meaning it is in addition to something else. That other thing is a good diet, rest and structured exercise. Hit on all of those cylinders and the supplement might temporarily boost your climbing, but beware of wild claims, especially on the Internet. Anyone can dish up dookey but make it sound like soufflé in the unregulated world of supplements. Proceed with caution—if getting more powerful and less pumped was as simple as drinking something, you would be worshiping Gear Guy instead of that puny Chris Sharma. Next!

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