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Listen to the Master: Iker Pou
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Listen to the Master: Ben Moon

Interview by Piotr Dro┐d┐

Iker Pou (photo: Jabier Baraiazarra)

Iker, how do you do this – that after all these years of your climbing carrier and going to expeditions and trips you are still able to make 8b+ onsight and make the first ascents of 8c+ sport routes?

I think that my best quality is the motivation. Always when I come back from an expedition or a long trip, feeling totally destroyed, all I wish for is to get my shape back. Maybe I cannot compare myself with people who are training a lot in indoor gyms, they are stronger than me for sure, but on climbing on the rocks is totally different. Maybe you aren´t strong enough to do some routes, but in my case the head is all that matters, and you can do more than your real power should theoretically allow you to do. Sometimes it is too hard to start climbing again after you’ve come back from an expedition, but I like climbing too much to stop doing it!!!

The main rule in physical training is to listen to your body. Do you agree?

I do agree with you very much. Being a climber for a long time usually means that you know your body very well. I think that one of the most important issues in one’s training plan is to know when you need to take a rest. The truth is that your body will always tell you when it needs to rest.

What are your other fundamental beliefs when it comes to training?

The principal is “If you want it you can do it”. Another one is, that if you train hard, then in the end, you’ll reach the appropriate shape. And the hardest thing is to start training, training itself is easier…

There is an English proverb “use it or lose it”. You proved last year that your sport climbing level is still like 8b+ OS and 8c+/9a RP. It’s interesting what your level is when your climbing shape is bad, like after some long expedition? And how fast can you rebuild your shape?

Normally when I come back from an expedition my onsight level is about 8a or less, and I can do 8b, 8b+ more or less in redpoint. To rebuild my shape just a little bit, I need more or less one month (to reach 8c, 8c+ level), and to send 9a it usually takes 2 or 3 months. Usually in two months time, I reach my standard climbing level. The problem is when you go on two or three expeditions within one year. It takes a lot of motivation to rebuild your shape again and again.

I guess it’s power (not endurance) that you lose faster. Or both?

I always lose more of the endurance than of the power. It’s easier to keep the power, since it is more natural. You lose the endurance faster, but it is also easier to rebuild it.
When you train, developing your endurance comes easier, the hardest progress to make  is the one in power.  

You are lucky to live in the country where you can go rock climbing all year round. Do you still sometimes train indoors or you train mostly at the crags?

Most often I train at the crags, I am very lucky because I have a lot of crags around my house, and if the weather is bad in the Basque country (the winter period is usually the worst one) I can always go and visit other parts of Spain that are not so far, and the weather conditions are definitely much better there. Sometimes, I do indoor bouldering for fun when the weather is not so good, but generally I don´t like indoor training.

Which of these training tools did you use most in your climbing career: campus board, regular bar for pull-ups, lock-offs, Bachar ladder, fingerboard? Can you describe any exercises you did using them?

When I have some time I like to do Campus board, because it is very effective and you don´t need a lot of time for that. When I want to improve my endurance, I do a lot of going up and down continuously. And when I want to work on my power I take the 1mm crimp and I do a lot eccentric sequences.

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