What does a saucepan, five pairs of shoes, a good luck note and a kendama all have in common? They’re all items you can find in the gym bags of climbers on Team USA, of course. The shoe variety makes a ton of sense. Different climbing disciplines or routes call for different shoes. We could all use a motivational good luck note to carry around. It might even be a good idea to tape it to an arm for easy access. The kendama is a Japanese toy that works concentration, balance and persistence — a similar skill recipe to what climbers use on the wall. The saucepan remains a mystery. But we’re into the gym bag saucepan since it’s a means to nutrition. And we’re pretty into nutrition here at Gnarly.
We recently checked in with four climbers on team USA who are making huge moves in the sport. Aside from checking out the contents of their gym bags, we asked about how their training is progressing, how they’re using Gnarly Nutrition in everyday life, and what it’s been like to climb at the new team USA training center in Salt Lake City.
Good morning, climbers
Let’s start at the beginning of the day by sitting down for breakfast. But not before 9am, please. Our climbers — Kya Condie, Ben Hannah, Nathaniel Coleman and Alex Johnson are not especially early risers. Most actually break up training sessions throughout the day which means some late nights, giving a valid reason for sleeping in. Case in point: Alex gets nine hours of sleep, trains for three hours, rests for six, and then does off-the-wall strength for one to two hours.
Kyra, Alex and Ben’s daily training menu includes Gnarly Vegan protein, vanilla to be exact. Ben also has a bowl of oats before setting off for the day’s training. Alex combines her morning oatmeal with Gnarly vanilla protein. Kyra takes her vegan protein for a whirl in the blender combined with almond milk, banana, flax seed, walnuts, some cinnamon and a bit of ginger. After breakfast, it’s time for climbing.
The benefits of team training
At the training center, it’s every man for themselves in terms of what you feel like focusing on. But it comes with a team mentality — something all four of our climbers mentioned they’re getting huge benefits from. It’s a private facility, so it’s not crowded. It’s useful to watch teammates send problems, gaining new beta ideas. And generally not training alone as individuals is working well for team USA. As Ben points out, “The honest truth is that gyms in America just don’t set for elite athletes, and so what the training center has allowed the USA team to do is train on the boulders that we really need to be climbing on.”
All four climbers mentioned how the routesetting at the training center is significantly advancing their skills, especially in areas of weakness. Josh Larson is the man to thank for the comp-style routesetting, a coach and head setter for team USA. “I trust him to set me challenging boulders and help me find those delicate differences that make the difference between doing a boulder and not,” is how Kyra attributes the routes to helping her train her biggest weakness — movement in comp-style boulders. “Josh has put so many hours into that place making it into a center fit to make Olympians and train Olympians.”
With summer heat creeping in soon, team USA will put an extra emphasis on hydration. Kyra and Nathaniel use Gnarly Hydrate (sports drink mix) throughout the training, especially sweaty sessions. Kyra is prone to dehydration when traveling to comps which can lead to poor muscle cramping and prolonged muscle recovery, so she brings Hydrate with her on the road. Alex does the same. “During competition weeks I need the extra electrolytes so I’ll throw a packet of Gnarly Hydrate into my bottle.”
Hydration will be especially important for Kyra and Nathaniel next summer at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. The climbing venue is outdoors, and Tokyo summers can see temps soar to a humid 90 degrees.
Drink your greens
Greens. Something that almost every American could be eating more of, is a focus for Nathaniel who has a special recipe he says we really gotta try. “Anytime I can’t find a quality protein source soon after a workout, I mix up a dank chocolate protein shake with Vegan Protein [chiseled chocolate] mixed with lemon mint Performance Greens (tastes like choco mint I swear).”
If you’re noticing a pattern that all four of these climbers are using Vegan protein several times a day, we salute your attention to the details. As elite athletes, protein plays a huge role in their ability to successfully gain strength and endurance. When we asked Kyra about which flavor she uses, she replied with, “I loveee the vegan vanilla and chocolate protein powder. It’s so nice to have a protein product that’s clean and actually tastes really good so you don’t dread drinking it.” And when it comes down to it, life is too short to be consuming anything that tastes bad.
Kyra touched on something here that Gnarly has always stood behind — clean ingredients. Nearly all Gnarly products now come with NFS or NSF for Sport certification — a label that ensures quality and safety in the ingredients we use to fuel athletes.
Make the hurt stop
The final thing our climbers agreed on is utilizing BCAAs during and after a training day. Their training schedules are rigorous, spanning long hours with not many rest days in between. The caffeinated flavors of BCAAs are preferred for during a session, while decaf works best for evening sessions, followed by protein. Ben mixes his BCAAs with Gnarly PreWorkout for an extra boost 30 minutes before training begins.
Our climbers are training hard and feeding their bodies with clean nutrition they need to get stronger. If you’re looking to tear up core muscles, Nathaniel led us into that beautiful misery with his notorious core workout. While we’re not all elite athletes, listening to how the pros train and stay on top of their nutrition can help us on our individual journeys to be stronger than we were yesterday.