Interview | Rustam Gelmanov

When I reach optimal combat state, I see everything differently: I win before the competition starts
— Rustam Gelmanov

Red Bull athlete Rustam Gelmnov was introduced to climbing by a group of mountaineers back in 2003, and since he has grown to become one of the world most famous & successful climbers. Ever eager to improve, Rustam had to invent new training methods for himself (and the sport) to enhance his own performances, his body & his mind.

Since 2009, Rustam has picked up podium finishes at the World Cups in Vienna, Barcelona, Munich, & Slovenia; which means he has been at the top of the sport for almost a decade.

We got the chance to speak with Rustam about his training & nutrition recently...

Rustam, thank you for taking some time to sit with us today! Before you climb, do you eat much, or is it easier on an empty stomach? "As in every sport, 2 hours before training it is better to stop eating".

So will you eat as soon as you finish a climb then? "Many people prefer to recover energy balance right after training by fast carbohydrates. But I prefer to wait for around 1.5 hrs and recover electrolytic balance by isotonic drinks. For me that is the best solution".

Protein shakes, and bars are incredibly popular at the moment; do you tend to have those after climbing (can you carry any with you when you climb)? "I think consumption of energy shakes or other sport food makes sense only in special cases, for example, when you can't be sure about food quality or you have absolutely no time to prepare your food. Of course, healthy food is recipe for success". 

Does your diet change much depending on what obstacle you've got in front of you, or where you are in the world (i.e. does the heat or weather affect your food choice)? Does your diet change between winter & summer? "Probably, like most of the people, my diet changes during the year. We all like to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in summer. I'm used to this from childhood. If you travel a lot and you don't have an opportunity to go to a chic restaurant, it is smart to bring with you simple food supplements or compact cooking device, like rice cooker (this device saved me quite a few times in critical situations)."  

How important is hydration when you climb? "Doesn't matter what you do, as we all know, hydration is always important. Based on individual factors, everyone should choose his own way to hydrate body. For myself, I decided that drinking to little or too much water negatively affects my climbing: in first case suffers endurance, in second case fingers sweat a lot. Of course, everyone should find his own way. Don't forget that extensive travelling affects your hydration".

What is the most common meal in your household? "In my family, simple dishes like buckwheat (traditional Russian meal), rice, whole grain pasta, fresh or light cooked vegetables. I'm trying to cook healthy and simple dishes requiring minimal time".

What food(s) do you avoid? "I'm not avoiding any foods but if I'm eating something unhealthy I control quantity. I don't want to restrict myself, we all know it doesn't end good. It is always good to have intention to keep health diet. Best motivation for doing that is seeing results on you body".

What does a climbing-training session look like away from a rock face? Are you in the gym much? "Mostly I am a gym person. Some people get bored in a climbing gym but I am not. Climbing gym is my second home and I'm enjoying improving my skills and pushing myself to the limit. Honestly I can say for myself, I'm a big fan of different climbing exercises. I'm always creating new interesting exercises and train them with pleasure".

Do you have a favourite place to train or compete? "Usually I train at home and in my local climbing gym Monk, they support me a lot and I feel like home there. I'm not picky for gyms. I love climbing and move forward".

How do you stay motivated? "I don't have a secret, I'm same as everyone. Time is going, I want to learn and life teaches me. All this energy gives me answers and motivation. And of course, my family supports me and motivates me".

Is there an athlete (or anyone) you look up to or who inspires you? "Anonimity and persistence of Markus Bock, energy of Wolfgang Gullich, everything best of Charlie Chaplin"

For a lot of athletes I've spoken to, the fame that comes with their success is sometimes unexpected, and often difficult to manage; how have you coped with the attention that you receive now? "Going that road, you follow the path of many other people from different professions. You can get ready for that by reading information about such people. Otherwise fame will come unexpectedly and go unexpectedly. Those who truly love what they do not give up on provocations."

What has been your best climbing experience so far? "I had it a few times in my life. When I reach optimal combat state, I see everything differently: I win before the competition starts. All energy is in your head. This is not the myth."

Visits Rustam's website or follow Rustam on Twitter & Instagram for more updates on his career.