The Perfect Strength Training Workout for Climbers

We’ve talked about what muscle groups you need to target for mega-sends and building climbing strength, but how do we strengthen our bodies from our neck to our knees? This power-house, well-rounded climbing workout strengthens your major climbing muscles. Perform this strength training for rock climbing workout two to three times a week for maximum gains.

Strengthening Your Shoulders and Mid Back

Strength training for rock climbing stars with a focus on creating sustained strength in your shoulder girdle and mid back. These are the muscle groups you use to hang and without a strong back and shoulders, you’re leaving yourself open to season-ending shoulder injuries.

The Climbing Exercise: Crawlers

Get into a plank position with your arms locked and your shoulders pushed back and downwards, don’t collapse your chest. Move your right hand rest on your elbow. Be sure to align your elbow at a 90-degree angle from your shoulder. Repeat this step with your left hand so your are in a plank position on your elbows. Press your right hand where your elbow was to keep your shoulder stable. Repeat with the left side to return the the starting position.

Reps: 8 to 12 on each side
Sets: 3
Rest: 30 seconds

 Photo by Fancycrave.com from Pexels

Photo by Fancycrave.com from Pexels

Use a Tension Board to Work your Pelvic Girdle and Core

Forget boring sit-ups and crunches, take your ab workout to the wall. Mix things up by utilizing a gym’s tension board to build up your deep core and pelvic girdle. Integrate these core strength training workouts for rock climbing into your routine one to two times a week.

Activate Your Core with Hanging Cross Body Tension Drill

Use a tension board and find a few juggy (deep) hand holds shoulder width apart at least shoulder height. Hang with your shoulders engaged. The more kicked-back the wall, the tougher the workout, so feel free to adjust the wall until you find an angle that challenges you, but isn’t impossible.

Next, place your right foot on any hold at least knee-height and 12 inches away from your body (the further out you reach, the smaller the hold, or the more parallel to the ground you are, the tougher the workout). Let the left foot hang free.

Now, engage your core, squeeze your glutes and pull your pelvis into the wall. Keep a straight line down your body from your arms to your legs and make sure your hips are parallel (squared) with the wall. Engage your core and release your right hand for three to ten seconds. Finish off by bringing your right hand back up to the start hold and repeat the exercise with your left foot.

Reps: start with 4-5 each side
Sets: 3
Rest: 60 seconds between sets

TRX Leaning Lateral Chest Press

Grab the TRX bands holding both handles right in front of your chest. Put one foot in front of the other for balance. Lean away slightly and press your hands forward while maintaining an immobile, braced posture with your core.

Don’t let your shoulders hunch or your back collapse. Your core should be hyper engaged and fight like crazy to stay upright.

Reps: 8 to 12 each side
Sets: 3
Rest: 30 seconds

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Flex Those Glutes and Strengthen Your Hamstrings

Your glutes and hamstrings carry the burden on a climb. Forgetting to train these muscles for climbing is one mistake you won’t want to make. These muscle groups are your powerhouse and take the pressure off of your arms. Here are a couple of exercises to give your booty the power it needs to get it done.

Resistance squats

Place a resistance band just above your knees and stand shoulder width apart. Now sit into a deep squat, pushing your butt back. Your knees should push outward slightly and should not move while you squat (keep them centered over your toes). Next, squeeze your glutes together and stand up straight, using your butt to propel you back to a standing position. Increase difficulty by adding side steps back and forth at bottom of squat, using a heavier band, or walking forward and backward in a static squat stance

Reps: 8 to 12 (if adding movement - add 12 steps either side to side or front then back to the squats)
Sets: 3
Rest: 30 seconds

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Kettlebell One-Legged Deadlift

Select a 10 to 20 pound kettlebell and hold it in on hand. Stand with your feet together, back straight and shoulders pulled back. Slowly balance on one leg (the same side as the kettle bell). Lift your other leg back and hinge forward with a straight/flat back, bringing your back leg towards your butt. Keep your knees over your toes. You should feel this in your hamstring. Pause for a count of two, then hinge back to the starting position slowly, by squeezing your glutes. Be sure to keep your back straight and your hips pointed forward.

To make it harder, keep your free foot close to your standing foot through the entire movement (this removes the ability to counter-balance which puts more work into your core and glutes). Be sure not to allow one shoulder or hip to dip - keep them squared to the floor throughout the movement

Reps: 8 to 12 each side
Sets: 3
Rest: 30 seconds

Now you’ve got a well-rounded climbing workout that works your total body from your neck to your knees. This workout results in a body built for climbing. Do this climbing workout a few times a week to get in send shape. Expect to see results in four to six weeks.