Alex Honnold Workout Routine, Diet Plan and Supplements

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: May 10, 2024
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I’ve been following Alex Honnold on social media for quite some time now, and I’m so impressed with his skills that I had to try his workout routine.

I spent hours researching his lifestyle, how he spends his days, what he eats, and what supplements he uses, and here’s everything I found out.

Alex Honnold’s Hangboard Workout

man using a hangboard for workout

"A hangboard is a little piece of wood with edges, holes and slopes," says Honnold.

 

"There's different strategies for different things—hanging, varying grips, adding weight. If I do a hard finger workout, I'm definitely sore."

Using a hangboard will help you choose how many grip positions you want to add to your workouts. The grips usually vary on the style of the hangboard.

Some of the Honnold’s go-to grips include:

  • Three-finger
  • Half-bent/ half-crimp (where the first joint of the finger is hyperextended, or bent the “wrong” way)
  • Open hand position

If you want to try out hangboard workouts, you need to choose a set number of grips and do three sets for each type.

Follow these steps for each set:

  • 7 reps — 7 seconds on 3 seconds of— hang and let go
  • 3 minutes rest
  • 7 reps, body weight
  • 3 minutes rest
  • 6 reps, medium weight added
  • 3 minutes rest
  • 5 reps, heavy weight added

Repeat these steps for each grip, do three sets for each different grip.

Other Workout Routines:

Fitness Routine

Person doing mountain climbing

El Cap champion, Honnold, might climb all day or opt for shorter sessions. Extended hikes to his climbing spots are integral to his training.

Here are some of the essential tips for a successful fitness journey the climber shares.

Honnold says it's essential to:

1. Keep a Journal

Honnold says he keeps a journal where he records all his climbs and notes what he needs to improve.

2. Know When Enough is Enough

Honnold says climbing sometimes doesn't feel right, and you need to know when to say when. The climber always listens to his instincts and credits this practice for his incredible success in free soloing.

3. Practice the Technique

Many think that the most crucial thing in free solo climbing is getting to the top. However, the El Cap champion says that focusing on the technique is an integral part of the training. Practicing the technique is what helps him improve.

4. Recognize Your Weaknesses

Instead of just racing up the wall, Honnold recommends identifying your weaknesses and working on them. Working on those areas and practicing particular skills is what helped him improve his strength.

5. Find a Mentor

Before you actually start climbing, you should find a mentor or several experienced climbers who have already climbed and have been in this sport for some time. Try to learn everything you can from these people.

6. Be a Turtle

Channel your inner turtle, don't rush, and focus. Honnold himself isn't a fast climber. He goes steadily, avoiding burnout and the need to stop.

7. Honnold’s Workout Style

If you'd like to climb a mountain one day or even conquer the El Cap, you might want to start with climbing at the gym. When you feel you're ready to climb outside, look for a community of climbers.

You also want to build strength and muscle balance. You can achieve this by doing press-ups, planks, and hanging leg lifts.

If you want to be strong enough for your climbs, you may want to do some hiking and running, too. You can run or hike on the way to your climb, any day you don't climb, or do some shorter sessions.

Alex Honnold's Diet

green salad in a bowl

Honnold follows a vegetarian diet, closely resembling veganism, mainly for environmental reasons.

His diet remains consistent throughout the year, as solo climbing isn't seasonal. Breakfast usually consists of cereal with non-dairy milk or an egg scramble.

Throughout the day, he snacks on whole foods like nuts, fruit, or avocado on bread.

If you want to follow his diet, here are some suggestions on what you should eat and avoid:

What to Eat

  • Muesli
  • Flax meal
  • Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Hemp milk
  • Eggs
  • Apples
  • Nuts
  • Vegetables
  • Bell peppers
  • Avocados
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cheese (in moderation)
  • Seeds
  • Cookies

What to Avoid

  • Alcohol
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • GMO foods
  • Processed foods
  • Junk food
  • Anything with a long list of ingredients

Supplements

Honnold eats really simply and doesn’t reveal much about his supplementation, but since he’s vegetarian, he might need some of the following supplements:

  • Vitamin B-12 is hard to get from plant-only sources, so the climber probably takes some B-12 supplementation.
  • Calcium and vitamin D are also hard to absorb from plants, and bones and joints take special beating while climbing, so calcium and vitamin D supplements, along with glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen, are recommended to all vegetarians.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce joint stiffness and inflammation.

Vitamins C and E are incredible antioxidants that help our bodies get rid of the free radicals created during hard exercise.

Alex Honnold's Bio

Alex Honnold in the mountains

Born in 1985 in Sacramento, California, Alex Honnold began climbing at age 5 in his kitchen, scaling the fridge and the roof.

By 10, he was a climbing gym regular.

Honnold attended Berkeley but dropped out in his first year, often ditching classes for climbing due to personal issues. He's renowned for being the first to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite.

Honnold also snagged the record for Yosemite's triple crown fastest climb: Mount Watkins, The Nose, and Half Dome's Regular Northwest Face.

Calling Honnold one of the world's top free climbers is an understatement. He's bagged multiple awards, including the Golden Piton and Piolets d’Or.

A Day in the Life

Free rock climbing lacks a one-size-fits-all training method. According to Honnold, it's shaped by factors like season, goals, and rock type, making traditional gym workouts inadequate.

He follows a hangboard routine inspired by an Olympic lifting program used by his climber friend, Jonathan Siegrist, to strengthen his extremities.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Alex Honnold (@alexhonnold)

Honnold's regimen includes tough exercises like hanging leg raises and pull-ups on a narrow door edge, essential for mimicking climbing moves and building core strength.

Crucially, he also practices falling, having trained himself to be unfazed by it. Climbing rope-free means pushing to the brink, and fear can't hold sway.

FAQs

Does Alex Honnold eat eggs?

Yes, Honnold eats eggs. In fact, scrambled eggs are very often a part of his breakfast.

Does Alex Honnold drink alcohol?

No, Honnold has never had alcohol.

Is Alex Honnold vegan?

No, Honnold is a vegetarian and active in environmental issues.

Does Alex Honnold lift weights?

No, Honnold doesn’t lift weights. He uses a hangboard instead to build his strength.

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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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