/ Gym for mountaineering/winter climbing

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Mr Fuller on 11 Nov 2013
I’m recovering from skier’s thumb, for which I had some minor surgery and was in a short arm and thumb cast for 9 weeks. I have now been out of the cast for five weeks and have the all-clear from the doctor to go do pretty-much anything. I’ve spent the last couple of months running and much of the summer cycling, so my cardio’s in pretty good form. However, having not used my upper body for months I’m weak as anything and my grip strength (specifically pinches) is obviously pathetic.

I’ve joined the local gym for two reasons: 1) I want to get some strength back quickly and before-work gym sessions are more convenient than climbing sessions; 2) I do a fair bit of cardio stuff, climbing and circuit training but have never used a gym.

At the moment I’m still finding my feet and finding out what stuff does what, but I’m also guilty of sticking to the stuff I know (pull-ups, press-ups, dips, lunges, burpee pull-ups, etc.) and some of the machines are a bit lost on me. I’ve a couple of friendly gym-going mates who can show me how to use stuff, but what’s the best bar-bell stuff for mountaineering-specific strength training? Deadlift, squats and benchpress, then bodyweight stuff on top? Should I be going for high reps and low weight or low reps and high weight? If someone could name say, five gym-based exercises that’d be useful for Scottish winter and alpine summer stuff that’d be great.
frqnt - on 11 Nov 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:
My top 5 (to make proper use of your membership); deadlift*, clean + jerk, snatch* and military/shoulder press - all with an Olympic bar. Fifth would be weighted pullups*. Personally, I'd be going for low rep's, high weight for those with the * and maybe higher, up to 12, reps for the balance.

I'm a huge advocate of body weight training but you asked for gym based exercises and BW routines don't really draw on the gym aspect. I'd also suggest worrying mostly about technique/good form before you concern yourself with the statistics.

Contradictions from others will no doubt follow my post so experiment and if climbing is the motive, use this as your benchmark for improvement rather than getting caught up in the numbers game in a body-builders environment.

NB Find a recent discussion here; http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=567634 and plenty of other similar discussions if you look hard enough.
ice.solo - on 11 Nov 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:

theres good and bad sides to gyms and its all in your head. treat the place as a virtual environment and it works, but get caught up in the hype and it starts to be about the gym and not you.

id mix it up a bit: alternate 'top end' lifting with 'baseline' lifting. so some heavy stuff for 3 reps and some light stuff for +12 reps. maybe a 2:1 ratio each session (2 of one to one of the other, maybe 6 lifts per session).
the light stuff you could do with just a stretch bar and on a balance platform.

5 lifts? front squat, clean+jerk, overhead squat, standing row, deadlift.
all of those could also be done with DBs or KBs.
none of that really is direct climbing stuff, rather its for strengthening the bits that make general climbing easier.
get some good shoes for that as regular trainers are crap. barefeet is ideal for learning if the gym allows it (good luck).

another angle is to do your lifts then 90secs of hard cardio effort straight after.

mountaineering specific training in a gym i think is only about 50% to do with bar bells. the rest is about +body weight, range of motion, output, body integrity and complex stress.

unless you feel like it, theres no need for any of the machines except maybe one or two cardio things like a treadmill or rower so you can guage speed/kcals/etc. dont get dazzled by all the levered junk, learn to blindspot the stuff that you can do better without.

and if your gym does bellydancing classes, find out when they are. its easier to train when the place is full if girls with their navels showing and their hair out.
Mr Fuller on 12 Nov 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller: Cheers guys, that's really helpful. I know exactly what you mean re 'virtual environment' and 'numbers game'. I think that was my problem with the gym in the past - looking at numbers, what others were doing, then thinking 'yeah, but I can run faster or climb harder than you' which is a counter-productive mindset. I'll try out the various exercises over the next few months and see how I get on. There are classes at the gym, and I'm sure some of them allow a good bit of ornithology - I'll take a good look... Cheers.
matejn - on 12 Nov 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller: I can´t recomend highly enough a combination of kettlebells and bodyweight training. By kettlebell workout I mean GS style and for bodyweight, well, take a look at Gymnasticbodies.com

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