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/ Gym exercises for climbers

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charliesdad - on 04 Dec 2018

Looking for ideas on gym-based exercises which people have found help their climbing.

Background;

I do a range of outdoor sports, primarily climbing, kayaking and mountain biking. I’m doing 3 sessions a week at the wall, plus cardio and High Intensity Interval Training, and three sessions a week at the gym doing resistance training mostly with free weights. The gym work is not specifically targeted at climbing, it’s just about general strength and conditioning, and includes the obvious upper body exercises like pull ups, pull downs, bench presses etc.

So I’m looking to add in some specific exercises which people have found help their climbing...all ideas welcomed.

 

alx on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to charliesdad:

Sounds like you have all the climbing and general pulling exercises sorted, instead work up to an interesting push skill like the planche. This has helped me no end and the extra strength and stability in my shoulders has helped my climbing strength no end.

overdrawnboy - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to charliesdad:

Look at John Gill and his regime, seems to work well for him. 

rgold - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to charliesdad:

Perhaps none of my business, but dude, you are training way too much.

With that out of the way, perhaps the following book by Steve Bechtel would be useful, as he is a believer in foundational weight training for climbers. 

https://www.amazon.com/Climb-Strong-Strength-Foundational-Training/dp/1495201538#reader_1495201538

 

Heike - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to charliesdad:

Wow, you are a dad, you do 3 climbing sessions and three sessions in the gym a week? I am in awe! ;-) What does your partner do....?  They climb as well? I try to do sessions on the stair master for about 25 minutes waving /flinging small weights above my head at the same time. Seems to work for me to an extent - in addition to what else you are already doing, but only three times a week in total! More is not possible for me.

Post edited at 23:02
Mark Stevenson - on 04 Dec 2018
In reply to charliesdad:

Well, at least according to Simple Strength for Outdoor Athletes (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Simple-Strength-Outdoor-Athletes-Movement/dp/1515176231/ ) you are probably not doing all three of the key general conditioning exercises:

Press ups

Squats

Back bends

 

Post edited at 23:57
douwe - on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to charliesdad:

If you're putting that much time and effort into your training, I would definitely book a session with a climbing coach to help you target your gym training effectively towards your climbing goals.

Post edited at 08:45
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to alx:

I would say learning to planche at 57 is asking a lot! I tried doing all the different steps towards it and ended up f*cking up my wrists (but that's probably just a weakness specific to me) and I am quite a bit younger than 57

Presley Whippet on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to Mark Stevenson:

What's a back bend?

Ciro - on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

> I would say learning to planche at 57 is asking a lot! I tried doing all the different steps towards it and ended up f*cking up my wrists (but that's probably just a weakness specific to me) and I am quite a bit younger than 57

I recently caused myself a bit of time out with wrist problems from this as well (at 43), but I think (hope!) trying again on parallettes instead of the floor should produce better results...

Bjartur i Sumarhus on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to Ciro:

Don't bet on it, I have parallettes and dip bars at home. The damage done was slow to realise and slow to heal, and now I have issues when rowing or nordic skiing any distance, mainly in the thumb joint where it hits the wrist.

Just be very careful and warm up (I also noticed on most of the calisthenic instagram and you tube videos that nearly all practitioners have their wrists strapped up to high heaven....<taps forehead with forefinger> ;-)

Ciro - on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Cheers, I'll bear that in mind

Ciro - on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to charliesdad:

Most of us don't do enough shoulder stabilisation work, so that's generally worth specifically targeting.

Otherwise, what's going to improve your climbing performance the most will depend on what's weak.

As a mostly endurance limestone climber, I hit a plateau for quite a while I was struggling to break. Moving to Newcastle and hitting the boulders highlighted the weakness of my posterior chain and the limits of my flexibility - dedicated gym strength sessions for my legs a couple of days a week and daily flexibility work is resulting in rapid improvement on the boulders, and I'm sure will help push my grade when I get back on the euro limestone in the future.

 

stp - on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to charliesdad:

As others have said it sounds like you're doing a lot. Do you keep a training diary? And if so are you seeing regular strength gains? If so then what you're doing is probably OK. If not you might be doing too much, not giving your body enough time to recover.

The most specific climbing exercises are things like campusing and finger tip pull ups. For the former you obviously need a campus board. However for finger tip pull ups all you need is a bit of wood and way of fixing it to whatever you intend to fix it to. For instance if working out at a gym you could hang it or bolt it to a pull up bar or other structure.

Ordinary pull ups are good too, especially if you're not wanting to work your fingers on a certain day. To make them more specific to climbing (and harder) do them with your knees raised or in an L-hang position. This will work your core too.

Not sure why you're doing pull downs if you're also doing pull ups too. They're a very similar movement and pull ups are the better exercise. So I'd consider ditching those.

The core is important for climbing so you definitely want to include that. Planks type exercises are good for climbing, particularly one-legged type of exercises. Make sure you keep good form. You can alternate plank exercises with crunch based movements and bar movements knees to elbows or toes to bar type stuff. Choose the exercises to suit your fitness level.

Many climbers rate deadlifts. I think they depend on how your back is. Good all round strength builder but they will drain you if you do too much. Kettlebell swings work similar muscle groups and are less hard on the back and possibly more specific to climbing.

For finger strength you could do heavy finger curls with dumbells. I've seen some comp climbers recommend these.

Finally doing some flexibility stuff will help climbing. The very successful Japanese team do 2 hours of stretching every day. Yoga is a good way to this. Watching experienced Yoga practitioners climb is always a joy and inspiring to see.

Post edited at 18:38
charliesdad - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to stp:

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful and considered responses; I’ll be following up several of them...tho’ planching may prove a step too far!

alx on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to Ciro:

It will definitely help, you can also rotate your hand out so you put less pressure on extension at the wrist.


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