/ Pull ups?
My thinking is that since I am mainly interested in bouldering and the problems are short, I shouldn't really need a lot more endurance when it comes to pulling myself up but more power. I am sure that doing more pull ups will also get me stronger but wouldn't it be better if I started doing weighted pull ups and kept the number below 10 rather than keep doing more and more?
Also I really don't feel that the muscles involved in pull ups are really a limitation for me as my fingers give out first usually (unless on massive jugs) so would it make more sense to turn my attention to the campus board instead of traditional pull ups?
Pull-ups are great for strength in the back but don't really isolate the forearm muscles. for that I would recommend doing some dead-hangs - hanging on reasonable holds, maybe with your feet on some holds too, for as long as possible. Make sure if you do this that you don't lock your arms straight; bend them slightly.
Thanks for the advice, I've avoided the campus for exactly this reason but when I tried while keeping my feet on the board below it wasn't particularly bad but still challenging. I would definitely not do it without support from my feet.
Will try to focus more on dead-hangs and see how it goes but doesn't again the same thing hold as my original question? ie just keep holding longer and longer make you stronger or is it best to work up to a reasonable time and then up the weight?
Thanks, have tried most of these in the past although not the Frenchies, they sound useful for lock offs. Sounds like I should build up a bit more on the pull ups before considering using weight...
If pure finger strength is the limiting factor to your climbing, then focus on that. Using a hangboard/fingerboard/campus rungs/holds to work the various grips (open hand, pocket, pinch, sloper, and some say crimp). If the hangs are getting too easy (probably unlikely at your level unless you start with massive holds) then just use smaller or harder holds, or start adding small amounts of weight. Most of the stuff I have seen advocates holding on for not more than 10 secs max, between 6-8 seems to be the done thing
> Thanks for the advice, i.e just keep holding longer and longer make you stronger or is it best to work up to a reasonable time and then up the weight?
yeah but don't over-do it/use too crap holds. I used to do pyramid intervals so I'd hang for 10sec, recover, 15 sec, recover 20 then back down to ten. Ideally you want to finish before you exhaust yourself. Just make sure you take heed to what your body is telling you.
Thanks... That's a lot less time that I would have guessed I had to hold on for. Yes big holds won't be a problem I think but I'll start there and then try to go to smaller holds that I think will be quite challenging for me.
Hard to know for sure but it does feel like finger strength is my main limiting factor (well after technique that is) plus forearm strength. Certainly don't feel like it's my back but I don't know how that would manifest in my climbing even if it was... :-)
I agree that high reps of pull ups has a diminishing benefit.
Also agree about deadhangs and your finger strength is probably limiting (almost always the case)
However if you're interested in strength, consider other muscles:
-Shoulders for stepping into an undercut
-Triceps for pushing down on a hold
-Shoulders to push a hold out to the side
Variations of press ups is good for these and also balances out your pull up muscles.
And about pull ups, there are lots of ways to make it harder so you're doing <6 reps, then you get stronger IMHO
I hear you on ligament injuries (actually had reconstruction on both thumbs so know how much they s@ck); it was the main reason I didn't do campus work so far. However I feel (might be wrong of course) that I am more likely to get injured when I try problems that need me to use a lot of finger strength - it's mainly because while bouldering positions are sometimes awkward/unbalanced I find and even feet can slip, I also find myself over gripping when high up and tired. With the campus board using feet it felt like I could control things pretty well - have no idea if I could campus without using my feet but don't want to try either :-)
V8/V9 is a VERY long time away obviously - maybe I posted 10 years too early :-)
Makes total sense - already doing pushups, dips and some handstands for all those reasons, they have helped A LOT!
I am trying to aim between 6-10 reps for all the exercises if possible.
Another (probably silly) idea I had was, instead of doing any pull ups, deadhangs or campus, to do a few problems until I am comfortable and then try to repeat them while carrying some extra weight (eg weight belt). Haven't seen anyone do it so probably a silly idea?
Because you've already posted about experiencing problems with elbow tendonitis I would definitely not add any weight or do campus exercises. If you want to do strength training I would focus on core strength. A good core will allow you to use the finger strength you already have more effectively.
@Paul D Jones; thanks, haven't read the 'use your dick' comment on a climbing forum in a while. It is actually good advice to press your crotch towards the wall on vertical climbing since you will have better balance and it allows for better footwork.
Very helpful, thanks mate :-p
It's an excellent exercise man, keep it up.
I know enough people who "train" who simply do it because they're avoiding the fact that they're technique or flexibility or strength in other parts isn't up to scratch.
My advice would be to climb lots, climb the problems you don't like and then 'treat' yourself to the ones you do throughout your session. Do some pull ups, press ups and leg raises or whatever at some stage too. Concentrate on climbing well, I can almost guarantee it's nothing to do with finger strength.
Making up your own problems at the wall is also a fun & good exercise in my opinion. It helps you visualize the problem before climbing it and sharpens your problem solving abilities.
Yes tendonitis is also one of my concerns too but oddly the thing that does seem to make it better for me is not so much resting but actually getting stronger (in a controlled way of course).
I decided against using weights for now (thanks all!) but if I do add weights in the future I think I will almost certainly have to up the intensity of pushups, dips (maybe add weight too) etc to keep things balanced.
Will definitely climb as much as I can - didn't mean that the pull ups would be in any way taking away time from climbing. I have a chin up bar at home so thought it'd be good to also do some pull ups, especially when I have to miss a climbing session. Thought about getting a finger board too for the same reason but I think it's too early and will probably end up injuring myself.
mine is as follows-I normally start from 10 pull-ups ,
do it on everyday basis one week, every next week adding one pull-up,
in 5 weeks when I do 15 I comfortably go climb my level,
40 years the same. Lucky climb!
As someone who can useully do lots of pull-ups I would say that it is a really poor exercise for climbing and more likely to cause elbow and shoulder problems. Like you even on jugs my grip will give out long long before my ability to do pull-ups does.
I'd concentrate on technique, footwork, flexibility and balance first. Look at some of the top women climbers and see how they move.
I'm sure many of the lady's flowing up a route are unable to do the same number of pullups as the sweaty 'monkey' type " look at me" 'big noise' type blokes climbing the same route or grade!
Out of all the people on this thread, I'd listen to andi turner and Dan Heath the most. If you're wondering why, look at their profiles and see how hard they both climb (RP sport grades - Dan, 7c and andi, 8a...).
However to echo Dave MacLeod you probably just need to climb more. As you've said yourself, 'my fingers give out first', so get on the hard problems with small holds. And don't knacker your elbows in the process.
Stuff that limit me personally is either forearm pump, fingers or footwork. Never felt that the number of pullups I could do has ever limited me.
While I do focus a lot on 'climbing well' and I am totally with you on that, I don't fully agree in that you underestimate a bit the importance of power. Perhaps if you couldn't do many pull ups you'd feel the need to get stronger more. Technique matters more but you need the strength too to progress beyond a level I am sure.
I've actually had a case in point today: much better than me female climber (but not too strong) trying a problem and really getting stuck on a move. Tried the problem too and copied pretty much the way she tried to do the hard move (technically was right) and found it fairly straightforward for me, all it needed was a bit of strength to pull myself up. Strength needed was very similar to doing a pull up, only difference being that I was holding using fingers on a hold instead of grabbing a bar with my hands.
Maybe it's just me but there are plenty of problems that I feel that I wouldn't be able to easily do without strength - if not anything having a bit of strength gives you options when climbing I find but of course is not an excuse for poor form. And I find pull ups relevant especially if you slow down/ focus on the negative part (coming down) as the ability to hold off with arms out wide and with the elbow bent at 90 is a position encountered often in climbing.
Perhaps if my body type was naturally more muscular I wouldn't have felt it was important but being naturally on the skinny/weak side, I've seen a lot of improvement when I started getting a bit stronger, even to my technique!
Checked those already, thanks :-) not that someone that doesn't climb really hard can't give good advice though...
True that there are weaker links than big pulling muscles - I'll work on those too, nothing is mutually exclusive. It's amazing how much easier everything feels when you get the footwork/balance right - like all the weight is lifted from your fingers all of a sudden! :-)
Sample size of one so take this for what its worth (not much).
Over summer my climbing has gone up 3 font grades and im by far the strongest ive ever been. In the same time my max pull ups have gone from 8 to 10. I dont think pull up strength is directly transferable. Climb more powerful bouldering if you want to get strong or if you cant then fingerboard. Even if your just starting as long as your careful itll be helpful.
Thanks makes sense - I think you misunderstood me a little. Not saying that there aren't more specific/useful exercises than pull ups (there are many!), nor am I saying that pull ups alone can improve my climbing (they won't!). All I am saying I guess that they are (much) better than no strength training at all and also quite accessible (to me at least) as I can do them at home so don't see a reason not to (apart from injury).
Also forgot to mention but as the chin up bar is fairly thin, it's quite easy to just use fingers only when doing pull ups, which I feel works the forearms too.
Anyway thanks to all - I do really take on board all of the above and fully appreciate than pull ups won't make a big difference, if any. Sounds like increasing the number of pull ups won't help and adding weight might cause injury right now so will try to have some setup at home for some deadhangs. Obviously will focus on climbing well and often and improve my technique rather than specific training like campus boards for now and maybe revisit in the future if I feel I've made enough progress.
Probably the best single piece of advice the OP could get.
I could do almost the same number of pull ups when leading E3 (say physically F6c max) as almost (but sadly not quite!) F8a.
Not the greatest correlation going between pull ups and performance, in my case.
Not to hijack too much, but what if climbing a lot more is an impossibility - due to job or situation - say once a week at best. What could be done in the interim?
Your first decision is:
1. Am I climbing for fun?
2. Or do I want to get better?
The reality, for most people, is that it's 1. but their ego is telling them that they should get better. So they start on ill-thought out training programmes, get injured, etc.
If it's 1. then just enjoy it, whether it's once a week or more/less.
If it's 2. then, if it's just once a week, more important than the interim, is how you spend the session. You'll need to focus on where you need to improve, whether technique (always a good first port of call!), power, endurance, whatever.
Then do what you can to back up your weekly session. For most, it will probably be simple stuff, maybe a little aerobic, plus general/antagonistic body conditioning exercises. (The four best I know and do are push ups, sit ups, leg scissors/crunches and sidebends - no more love handles!)
Pull ups, maybe. A finger board - be careful, to be treated with great respect. A campus board, forget it unless you're bouldering at least V6, imho.
To doubtless slightly misquote, 'The thing is to get strong - but not get injured!' (Wolfgang Gullich)
Being a weak girl I can do about 5 (having rp'd a few 7as) - took me a year and a half of climbing to be able to do 1. What seems to stop me on steep boulder problems (font 6c and above) is ability to pull off with one hand a lot higher than other (offset pull ups), so I'd say training these might be more useful than simple pull ups
I found the same in some cases too although (luckily) I can just about pull when needed. I considered doing offset ones at the climbing wall as they have a rope hanging off the bar I could use and also holds at different heights but don't want to waste too much time at the climbing wall doing pull ups but want to do them at home, hence why I asked.
Also most of people are posting that their climbing improved a lot but they can still do the same number of pushups more or less and quoting high (quite impressive if i may add) grades - I suspect at such a level pull ups are almost irrelevant as by that point enough specific strength would have been built and difficultly is based on smaller holds and situations where more specific training is needed.
It does seem to confirm my original 'concern/suspicion' though in that beyond a certain number it doesn't pay off to just try to do more, hence why I was considering to add weight. Maybe doing different typed like offset ones will help more. Just to repeat, this is NOT instead of climbing but in addition to...
You are not hijacking at all, it's actually one of the main reasons I asked too as I am moving somewhere without easy access to a wall and want to do something at home to help with climbing (and ideally keep me fit) as much as I can.
Since the general consensus seems to be that more pull ups (or even just pull ups in general) won't help much, what credible options do you reckon are there for home-training that can help with climbing?
Dunno if this has already been said, but for someone starting out the stuff you can do at home, i.e. on a finger board, isn't very suitable. I'd say before your fingers get strong enough to stand up to doing pull-ups and dead-hangs on a board I think a pull-up bar is the best option.
But also, be wary of increasing strength before you've developed good technique. IMO, gaining strength before technique makes for an awful climber! The "I can climb 7a after only 3 months [if it's just campusing, I never worked out what these things on the end of my legs were for]" climber is not one that inspires huge respect in me at least.
What if it's both? My situation is that I get to a centre, am bored by all of the routes that I can do without getting pumped (maybe bad route setting? Find another centre?) and feel that I am limited by a lack of conditioning to climbing on the routes I want to do (I just can't pull on such a small hold or I get pumped too quickly) - routes that involve technical moves a well as inclined terrain, or simply smaller holds on steep terrain.
Deadhanging can be a very controllable safe exercise and if you are aware of good practice I would say it is good to do it from the start as:
A. gains in real finger strength (and strengthening the supporting structures)takes a long time to achieve and because the forearms are relatively small and
B. because it is so important for climbing.
For beginners use all fingers and bodyweight (or less). Generally no less than 5 secs per hang or more than 30secs. Vary the grip positions in your routine. Thorough warmup is essential for injury avoidance and performance. Be hydrated. Dont go nuts - ie dont do it every day and take a week off if you get a tweak - in fact take a week off once a month anyway.
> The "I can climb 7a after only 3 months [if it's just campusing, I never worked out what these things on the end of my legs were for]" climber is not one that inspires huge respect in me at least.
There is a difference between those that have climbed a 7a and those that can climb 7a's.
Being a weak girl I can manage ~5 (grade wise I have rp'd a few 7as this year). Took me year and a half well into climbing to be able to do one pull up.
What seems to stop me on steep boulder problems (font 6c and above) is inability to pull off a handhold where my hands are at very different height or where I need to lock off. So maybe training offset pull ups is more beneficial than just the simple ones
This will be way more useful and effective than pull ups.
Why don't you have two grades - onsight and worked (redpoint), the latter say two grades higher? Just get on the latter and mess around. What's your experience telling you? Can you really not pull on the holds at all? (If so, sounds like power needed.) Are you getting pumped? (If so, sounds like fitness needed.) Your worked routes will provide a training needs analysis and a mode of training.
Caveat, further down the line you may find yourself getting bored pulling on the same hold time after time without much happening. But that's how you get better. (Be careful though not to get injured.)
The personal response is most appreciated. My experience is telling me that I am getting pumped. I cannot solve fitness by going climbing more - can I solve fitness by a reasonably rigid (if gentle to begin with) fingerboard routine?
The advice I've had on strength training for fat bumblies from One Of The UK's Top Climbing Coaches (tm) was pretty similar to that - basically, start on a fingerboard hold or campus rung that you can hang for between four and ten seconds. Do deadhangs on that hold for as long as you can in sets of four with a good rest between hangs. Don't do more than a couple of sets in a session. Once you get to the point that you can hang your hold for more than ten seconds, move to a slightly harder hold. Repeat until hench.
And yeah, like everyone says, don't injure yourself: warm up properly first, don't overdo it, keep good form (thumb placed next to fingers, arms slightly bent at the elbow, no swinging around), chalk up if you need to so you don't slip off, use a half-crimp rather than a full crimp etc
The other thing you can do with a pull up bar that's probably more useful than pull-ups is core strength stuff eg leg raises.
Just to mention there is nothing wrong with pullups they just aren't as useful for most uninjured climbers as deadhanging but the exceptions might include the less burly such as girls where prioritising pull ups and other upper body exercises might yield better results which Eva Lopez talks about here: http://en-eva-lopez.blogspot.co.uk/2012_07_01_archive.html
In short doesn't have to be either deadhangs or pullups it could be both
[Caveat] I'm probably not the best person to answer because I've never used fingerboards that much. Absolutely nothing wrong with them imho; quite the opposite, I've just always had alternatives. And I probably should use them more.
If you really feel you're unfit, I'd give pull-ups a go first. (I know this is where we started!) If you do go on to fingerboards, please be really, really careful. You have to get so used to listening to your body. Ironically when people do get used to listening to their bodies, they've almost always been injured (usually several times). And, even worse, they may also be old and knackered, having taken quite some time to learn the lesson. (I plead guilty to the lot!)
I'd still be surprised if you couldn't maximise your climbing session. Even if the routes are boring, if you reverse them, taking the clips out, go straight on to another, etc, it will get seriously pumpy. Obviously you have to agree 'mini-sessions' with your belayer - else you won't have one!
Pretty soon though, you're mentally begging your belayer to go slower, so your rest extends.
'You know it ain't easy
you know how hard it can be...' (John Lennon)
I embarrassingly don't know who Eva Lopez is but the article is excellent IMHO - makes total sense to me that pull ups will help a lot beginners and weaker intermediate climbers but will not make much difference to advanced levels.
Having said this, probably any upper body strength training (incl climbing) will probably help beginners! :-)
I need to work on my technique :-p
Thanks - sounds like she knows what she is talking about! ;-)
Actually there are some really interesting, well-researched/articulated articles on her blog (and some exercises on YouTube). Will go through them in more detail when time permits, thanks for pointing me to them.
I'm by no means a champion climber, but I do think that my strength in climbing was aided by having done chin ups all my life... my dad had a pull up bar in our home & I did them all the time while at football training on the goalposts. I've always been able to do over 10 with ease... I do them for kicks every now and then. I can campus quite well on broad boards; not so much on the crimpy ones.
So for juggy climbing it helps, for more precise climbing, try a fingerboard.
Can anyone on here do one armers?
What did it take?
It is my ambition to be able to do at least a couple on each side.
Currently I am about 90Kg/14st can do quite a few pullups (did 21 in one set last week), do plyometric pullups and do a supported one hander by pulling on my wrist.
What am I missing?
> Can anyone on here do one armers?
> What did it take?
> It is my ambition to be able to do at least a couple on each side.
Do you mean a training ladder/progression? What is yours?
On a serious note, I can pull up to my heart's content but my climbing is still rubbish because my fingers and forearms are relatively weak. I'd achieve much better gains improving this weakness than by working on back and shoulder muscles.
> What did it take?
> It is my ambition to be able to do at least a couple on each side.
> Currently I am about 90Kg/14st can do quite a few pullups (did 21 in one set last week), do plyometric pullups and do a supported one hander by pulling on my wrist.
> What am I missing?
It would be worth setting up a pulley on a pullup bar and hang weights off one end and use a foot sling in the other to establish how many kgs you are off doing it in terms of strength gain required or body mass lost. You could also measure progress this way.
Cant do them now but found I could by accident a few years ago after a stint of pull-up training that Neil Gresham advocated. I'll dig it out if you're really keen but there are plenty of progressive programmes if you look on the web specifically aiming on achieving one armers.
One tip - doing them side-on is substantially easier than front-on.
Roly Balls or rock Rings?
> Can anyone on here do one armers?
> What did it take?
> It is my ambition to be able to do at least a couple on each side.
Similar stats here - I can do over 20 pull ups with good form, I am 82kg and currently 10%BF (at my last Bodpod). I've been training for a one armer for years - I'd love to do one off each arm.
Over the last three years or so I've never got closer than with about 15kg assistance, but I've also been injury free in that time. For anyone over 70kg (or over about 30 years of age), injury free training has to be a parallel goal to a one arm pull up!
I've not tried a one arm max for a while and am currently doing weighted pull-ups and chins.
If you find 'the secret' let me know!
> Also I really don't feel that the muscles involved in pull ups are really a limitation for me as my fingers give out first usually (unless on massive jugs) so would it make more sense to turn my attention to the campus board instead of traditional pull ups?
If you can do a few pull ups you can do more than enough. If bouldering is your interest I'd turn your attention to bouldering. Sounds flippant perhaps but isn't meant to be.
That is interesting but I suppose 10 reps is moving away from maximum strength training and one arm pullups are very much high intensity for most of us.
Having glanced around on the web it looks like weighted pullups, one arm lat pulldowns and one arm hangs are what I should be trying, low volumes, high intensity and long rests.
Note this is not a climbing related training goal, not even for DTing. I just want to be a smug git.
> Having glanced around on the web it looks like weighted pullups, one arm lat pulldowns and one arm hangs are what I should be trying, low volumes, high intensity and long rests.
> Note this is not a climbing related training goal, not even for DTing. I just want to be a smug git.
Indeed. An OAC is f*cking cool - especially of each arm!
I normally train for this once a week and am currently doing a 5x5 (with 25kg) one week and a Reverse Pyramid set the following week (with 45kg attached).
When I work one armers I normally do it at a pull-up station as this seems to allow for shoulder rotation and I feel it works the groove more than lat pull down cables (although I could be wrong). On occasion I do lock off work in the three key positions.
I suspect that arm-bone geometry might have an influence...
Only a few people I know can do an OAC, and of those, most I see are light (under 70kg). I've seen one big guy on You Tube doing an OAC but he was extraordinary.
Best of luck with training. I am actually psyched by this thread! ;)
Why do call it an OAC rather than OAP ? Hope its not because you are using an underhand method...
> Why do call it an OAC rather than OAP ? Hope its not because you are using an underhand method...
Yep. I start straight armed, palms out in an open shoulder position. As I pull up I rotate in to a chin, finishing with the thumb touching the sternum. I don't use this as a climbing exercise. I rate full ROM movement and also rate this approach for following the body's natural trajectory. Weighted work is normally a mix of pull ups and chinning.
Anyway, talking of OAPs long time no see. How's life? Your kids still crushing?
I've been through phases of weighted two armers, bachar ladder sessions, campus boards and long slow negatives...
> I've been through phases of weighted two armers, bachar ladder sessions, campus boards and long slow negatives...
That's a big claim! Do you start hanging straight armed and finish with chin above bar? If so, very impressive!
Definitely in your head :)
Apparently I've got big arms! The most I've done fully to the bottom and chin over is 3. I usually stop short of locking the shoulder out fully and then I could do a couple more (about 150 degrees).
> Apparently I've got big arms! The most I've done fully to the bottom and chin over is 3. I usually stop short of locking the shoulder out fully and then I could do a couple more (about 150 degrees).
I'm inspired! At 82kg I'm a veritable lightweight in comparison. I've got no excuse now.
Actually I had a 'fitness' test on Tues at the gym: cardio, chest, back and legs; load of tosh really but it estimated 1RM and vo2max. My lat pulldown 1RM is apparently about 160kg so I'm within a whisker of 2xBW.
Training tonight included some unweighted, 2x2 one handed, 5x5 with 20kg dumbbell, 6of3 one hand lat pulldowns 60kg.
Probably Monday I'll go v.heavy and low volume and include some plyo style pull ups catching a bar to train power as well as fibre recruitment.
Not ready for unaided hangs yet, try them in a few weeks.
Agree. Fwiw I think my max pull-ups to a set came when I was climbing about 6b on an optimistic day. Unsurprisingly this is because I'd been doing lots of pull-up training for an ice trip rather than doing training that would work on my weaknesses as a rock climber.
I struggle with locking off on a wall. Any particular pull up exercises suitable for that?
> I struggle with locking off on a wall. Any particular pull up exercises suitable for that?
One way is using Three Position Static Holds.
Do a pull up and then hold yourself at the top of the move, with arms at 90 degrees and then at 'just above the bottom of the move'. Hold each position for 5s. Do the holds on the upward and downward phase.
She struggles with 2 palm-out pulls.
I don't push my grades on trad (super comfortable cruising at VS; should really start getting on with HVS and E1). Whenever I go to the wall I'm onsighting (I never seem to do redpoints) high 6s.
My girlfriend is onsighting mid 6s.
Long story short; at our level, our strength has very little impact on our grades. IMO technique is much more important to train than strength!! I would humbly suggest to practice your footwork and body positioning rather than your pull ups.
For anyone looking to invest time in lock off training for the purpose of improving their climbing should check out Eva Lopez's exhaustive series of articles on the subject:
Series of articles on locking off:
How big was the ice cream?
A fruity Chilly Billy; at least 100g!
To me this doesn't prove anything really. Equally a non-climber who is a gym rat and does 50 pull ups will be rubbish at climbing.
Nobody is suggesting that pull ups are a substitute for technique; far from it. They are not even a substitute for other strength training. The question is whether adding gaining extra strength by doing pull ups, over and above the climbing itself, is significantly beneficial (I say significantly because I don't think it's counter-productive).
For the record from the responses above I've dropped the pull ups altogether for now and started working on core strength instead when I have time at home.
> The question is whether adding gaining extra strength by doing pull ups, over and above the climbing itself, is significantly beneficial (I say significantly because I don't think it's counter-productive).
A coach with a bunch of qualifications and stuff advised me: doing a few pull ups and stuff won't do your climbing any harm. I think that's about the size of it.
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