Fitness off the wall: Climb stronger with this weight training workout
One great way to improve your climbing is to add regular weight training to your routine.
Yep--it's true! While rock climbing is a skill sport, lifting weights is a preventative measure to help balance out muscles and protect against injuries. Lifting weights will create total-body strength that will allow the body to move in a variety of different ways.
That's why we asked Trish, one of our Alpine Fitness instructors at our Englewood location, for a 60 minute fitness routine that will improve your grip strength and ability to hold tension so you can hold yourself on steeper terrain more easily, while also practicing movements that will support more precise footwork and improve technique.
Try this routine out or check out your gym location's fitness calendar for other awesome instructor-led classes.
off the wall fitness workout for climbers
Kettlebell Corkscrew: Lay on the ground with your back flat (plaster your entire back to the ground), raise a kettlebell in your right hand so your arm is perpendicular to your body. Keep your knuckles straight up towards the ceiling to have a strong, straight wrist. Now, rotate your palms in and out at a steady pace.
15-20 seconds per side. Repeat 2-3 times.
Bear Hold: Crouch on the ground and get into a tabletop position. Make sure your wrists are right under shoulders, knees are right under your hips, toes flexed on the ground, eyes looking forward just above your fingertips (this will keep a neutral spine and tuck pelvis/tailbone in towards your shoulders. It will also encourage an open chest and will help you keep your shoulder blades pulled down and back the middle of your spine--as if you have hand towels stuffed under your armpits that you have to hold there in the bear hold). You should be able to balance a glass of water on your back without spilling.
Now lift your knees an inch or two off the ground.
20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
Bear Crawl Forward: Crouch on the ground and get into a tabletop position. Lift your knees and hover them an inch off the ground. Now, lift your right hand and move it and your left knee several inches forward. Now, lift your left hand and move it and your right knee several inches forward. Repeat on both sides forward a few paces and then move back a few paces.
Make sure to keep your eyes staring forward, just above your fingertips throughout.
20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
Push-ups: As with the bear crawl, keep a neutral spine with tension throughout the entire body. Keep a neutral neck and look right between your hands (don’t tuck it down into your chest). Elbows should be pointed towards the back corners of the room (like the fletching on an arrow), not to the side walls.
Do 5 pushups.
**Quick note: If you want to develop strong wrists with bear holds, crawls, and push-ups, make sure to expand your fingers. Think about screwing them into the ground so your weight is distributed across your entire hand, not just the bottom of your palm, which can cause pain or discomfort.
The first part of this workout will be an upper body ladder. For these exercises, you’ll follow a ladder (up + down).
You'll notice that each of the exercises listed below has a series of numbers listed after it. These numbers represent the number of reps you do each round up the ladder and then back down.
For example, for the first round, you'll do the gorilla rows w/ kettlebells exercise 4 times. Next the reverse grip curls 3 times. Next, the hang for 15 seconds.
For the second round, you'll do the gorilla rows w/ kettlebells 6 times. Then the reverse grip curls 6 times. Lastly, the hang for 30 seconds.
Continue following the ladder up and then all the way back down.
Gorilla rows w/kettlebells (4, 6, 8, 8, 6, 4): Stand in a squat position. Keep your elbows sliding along your ribcage as you pull elbows back towards your hip pockets and the back of the room. Make sure not to row upwards at all.
Reverse grip curls (3, 6, 9, 9, 6, 3): Think of a traditional bicep curl where your palms are facing outwards, as you curl, your palms come in towards your chest while you keep your elbows locked into your ribcage.
With a reverse grip, you start with your palms facing inwards, towards your body and as your curl up just like a traditional bicep curl, keep your palms facing outwards. Make sure to keep a straight, strong wrist so you have a straight line all the way from your knuckles through to your elbow.
Hang (with hollow body hold position) (Hold for 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds): At a comfortable position, reach up and place your hands on a pullup bar. Tuck your pelvic bone in and engage the shoulder blades so you aren't just dangling. There should be a lot of tension all the way from knuckles to shoulders, back, all the way through to the toes. Toes can be flexed or crossed. Remember to breathe!
Now for the lower body ladder. All of these exercises equal a set. After you finish the first set, repeat the set 2-3 times, for a total of 3-4 sets.
3 Variations of Calf raises (standard, inverted toes, outward toes) with double plate holds (hold a plate in each hand): Stand with your feet hips-width apart. Keep tension in your ankles as you raise yourself up on your tip toes don't pop the ankles out to keep the integrity of the movement. Feel the squeeze in the calves at the top. Lower down. Repeat 15 times
Now, stand with your feet hips-width apart, toes pointed in. Keep tension in your ankles as you raise yourself up on your tip toes don't pop the ankles out to keep the integrity of the movement. Feel the squeeze in the calves at the top. Lower down. Repeat 15 times
Finally, stand with your feet hips-width apart, heels pointed in. Keep tension in your ankles as you raise yourself up on your tip toes don't pop the ankles out to keep the integrity of the movement. Feel the squeeze in the calves at the top. Lower down. Repeat 15 times
Make this exercise more challenging by holding Olympic size (or any size) plate weights in each hand to add weight.
Single Arm Suitcase Squat: Stand with your feet hips width apart and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at your right side. Do a standard squat. Finally, step sideways to the right into a lateral/side lunge.
Make sure to keep the weight by your right side in the squat position. Your foot stance should be between hip and shoulder-width apart, your knees should be square (towards the front and slightly outwards) as you squat to get your hips just below the knees.
Repeat 10 times on each side.
Walking weighted lunges: Holding two medium weights on either side of the body with arms at your side, perform 6 lunges forward and 6 lunges backwards.
Try and hit a 90 degree angle of the front leg AND back leg as you lunge. Try not to over extend the lunge. Also, try to have your knee reach as close to the ground as possible (although you do not have to tap the knee on the ground).
The goal here is to reach your maximum range of motion moving up and forward and sinking low into each lunge, and then the reverse.
Repeat 6 times forward and 6 times back.
Now for corework! All of these exercises equal a set. After you finish the first set, repeat the set 2 times, for a total of 3 sets.
Flutter kicks with weighted chest press: Lie on your back and raise a dumbbell or kettlebell above the chest. Tilt your pelvic bone in and upwards (like you're a boat), raise your legs a few inches off the ground and point your toes to alternate moving straight legs up and down, like a swimmer. Kick with the whole leg. Find a rhythm with your flutter kicks and simultaneously press the weight in your hands up and down. Your flutter kicks should have a relatively quick beat.
Do 30 seconds on each side.
Copenhagen plank right and left side (on knees or toes): Get into a plank position with your right knee or foot on a bench. You can plank with your elbows or palms on the ground. Put your knee or foot on the bench and your bottom knee or foot right underneath, sandwiching the bench. If you're on your knees, have your legs at 90 degrees.
Don't look at your toes, look straight ahead to keep a long neck/neutral spine. Feel the tension in the side of your torso, keep your hips lifted, and push forearm into the ground.
Hold the position for 30 seconds on each side.
Bent over arm circles: From a standing position, bend over, dangle your arms, and circle them like an egg beater. Start circling one arm, then join with the other like an egg beater.
Do for 30-45 seconds each side.
Child's pose to updog flow: From a tabletop position, sink your hips back into your heels while arms stay outstretched on the ground. From here, lift and push upper body/chest up, while hips come close to the ground. Look to your right and left to feel the front hip flexors stretching.
Trish is a fitness instructor at our Englewood location. For more fitness tips and classes from Trish, check out the fitness calendar at your local gym.