Crush This Year's Climbing Goals by Fixing Common Muscle Imbalances
Most Americans typically give up on their new year’s resolutions two weeks into every new year. Climbers seem to be a different breed. If I’ve noticed anything at Movement Englewood over the last few weeks, it’s a committed focus towards crushing your climbing goals this year.
Conversations I’ve overheard in the last week:
“I’ve kind of plateaued in my climbing over the last year. I really want to break into the next number grade”
“There’s this bouldering project I’ve been eyeing on Mountain Project, but it feels WAY out of my pay grade.”
“I’ve only been climbing for a few months, but I’m so stoked. I can’t wait to see what I’m climbing by the end of the year!”
I’ve got some great ideas to help you reach your climbing goals this year. Let’s start by heading into the fitness area/weight room!
Wait, what? The fitness area? Yes! The fitness area will be your friend for injury prevention, balancing out your weaknesses, and help you finally reach the just-out-of-reach handholds you’ll find on harder routes.
As you climb more, you’ll find that a few, specific muscle groups get stronger rapidly. That’s why it’s important to strengthen the other muscle groups and joints that are gaining strength, but more slowly, such as your lower abs, your chest and triceps.
4 EXERCISES TO CORRECT COMMON MUSCLE IMBALANCES
Here are 4 exercises that will balance out some common issues climbers battle: general muscle weaknesses, antagonist muscles imbalances, and joint weakness.
Perform these exercises after your climbing session or after performing any pull exercise, such as pull-ups. Soon enough, you’ll be on track towards building a healthier, stronger body that will help you reach your climbing goals this year.
- Spidermans: After all, Spiderman does climb walls! Spidermans will challenge your stability from your core and shoulder joints and will also test your hip mobility.
- Shoulder Taps: Shoulder taps are another exercise that will challenge your stability from your core and shoulder joints and will also test your hip mobility.
- Shoulder Raises: This exercise will help you strengthen your anterior shoulders and balance out your pull muscles.
- Hanging Knee Raises: Challenge those lower abs while keeping proper engagement of the muscles surrounding your shoulder joint and shoulder blades.
- Get into a plank position. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your elbows. Balance on your toes and make sure your quads and glutes are active.
- Lift your left foot and bend your left knee. Bring your left knee towards your left armpit. Make sure to keep your hips at the same level throughout the exercise and keep your toe out, as if you were climbing a wall! Repeat on the other side.
Modification: If this exercise is too intense, start in an elevated elbow plank position.
Progression: When spidermans become easy, here are some ways to intensify the exercise:
- Extend your leg out after you raise your knee to tap your armpit.
- Add a pause when you tap your armpit.
- Get into a plank position. Place your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Balance on your toes, space your toes hip width apart. Make sure all the muscles in your legs are engaged from your glutes to your quads.
- While shifting your hips and shoulders as little as possible, lift your left hand off the ground and tap your right shoulder. Keep pushing through your shoulders to avoid sagging into your shoulder blades. Make sure to maintain tightness from your toes to shoulders. Repeat on the other side.
Modification: If this exercise is too intense, start off the exercise with a knee plank.
Progression: When shoulder taps become easy, here are some ways to intensify the exercise.
- Raise your feet to a box or a wall.
- Handstand against a wall and alternate shoulder taps.
Dumbbell Front Shoulder Raises
- Grab a couple of very light dumbbells.
- Sit upright on a bench with your core tight, squeezed armpits, chest open and shoulder blades squeezing towards each other.
- Hold your arms straight at your sides holding the dumbbells as if you were holding a suitcase on each side.
- While maintaining this position of the dumbbells, raise the dumbbells to shoulder height in front of you. Make sure to keep your shoulders down, give a slight bend in your elbows and keep your shoulder blades squeezing down and back.
Modification: If this exercise is too intense, try doing it with no weight or lesser weight.
Progression: When shoulder taps become easy, here are some ways to intensify the exercise:
- Stand and maintain a neutral lower spine.
- Increase weight.
Hanging Knee Bar Raises
- Hang on a pull-up bar. Your hands should be a bit wider than shoulder width. ‘Set’ your shoulder blades by bringing the shoulders down away from your ears.
- Bring knees up as high as you can and aim towards your armpits.
- Lower down slowly to start position.
Modification: If this exercise is too intense, here are some ways to take it down a notch.
- Try with assistance from a resistance band hanging from the bar
- Try on an incline bench with your hips being lower than your head. Hold yourself in place with your hands on the bench above your head.
Progression: When hanging knee bar raises become easy, here are some ways to intensify the exercise.
- Slow down your leg lowers and raises.
- Aim your knees towards your elbows.
- Add a pause at the top position.