Skip the Treadmill with These Heart-Pumping Cardio Exercises for Climbers

Do treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes make you want to snore? I get that. It can be hard to keep a good cardio routine fresh and exciting. If you’re a climber, I’ve developed three amazing cardio routines that don’t involve counting down the minutes on a machine. These rock climbing exercises are designed to keep you on the crag so you can practice your technique and get that heart rate going.

Build Endurance while Honing Technique with the 4x4 Challenge

Challenge yourself with this crag-o-riffic rock climbing exercise. Choose four bouldering problems roughly two grades below your on-sight (highest level you can send) grade. Climb each one four times in a row with no rest. After the fourth climb, take a two to three-minute rest before starting the next route. Add to the challenge by down climbing if you can.


Lap the Wall with Lead Rope Suicides

Select a route that is two grades below your on-sight grade. Climb and clip up to the second clip. Down climb to the first clip. Now power back up to the third clip, then down climb to the second clip. Continue this pattern until you reach the top. Lastly, down climb the entire route, unclipping as you go. Do this as a ten-minute endurance exercise.

If you don’t climb on lead, or you don’t have a lead belayer, you can do the same thing on top rope, tying in a lead rope without a belayer to clip as you go. The act of clipping requires you to hold on to the wall with one hand, increasing your endurance.

The Mighty Pyramid Climbing Challenge

This beastly rock climbing exercise builds endurance and cardio, but beware, it isn’t easy! Select three V1s, two V2s and one V3. Start by climbing the first V1 three times without rest. Immediately do 10 burpees then rest for one minute. Climb the next V1 three times and follow with ten burpees. One minute rest. Repeat these steps with the third V1. Take a one to three minute rest before continuing.

Next, on the pyramid is the V2s. Climb the first V2 two times without rest then do ten push-ups. Rest for one minute. Repeat the process with the second V2. Rest one to three minutes before continuing, taking as short a rest as possible.

Lastly, climb the V3 then do 20 mountain climbers. Rest for one minute. Now it’s time to head back down the pyramid. Repeat these steps in reverse order, climbing the V2s with ten push-ups in between, then the V1s with the burpees between routes.

These three cardio workouts for climbers not only build up precious endurance, but they also increase climbing strength and technique. Tackle one of these circuits two times a week for four weeks to see the best results. Better yet, integrate them into your training routine for climbing.