Climbing is an adventurous sport that requires specific skills and deep concentration. It is important to train (workout) the body and mind to climb safely and efficiently. Training reduces the risk of injury and prepares the muscles and connective tissues for the stress of climbing.
Some Exercises You Can Do Off The Rock Wall
Crawling is a part of the neuro-developmental sequence that a child undergoes when learning to walk. Crawling (workout) stimulates every system needed for climbing: vestibular (internal balance), visual, and proprioceptive (self awareness of one’s own physical position in space). It forges a synthesis of coordination between the upper and lower body. The spiderman crawl calls for full range of motion at the hips. Hip flexion plays a vital role in climbing as it does in most sports.
– Begin on the floor in a crouched position with your weight supported on your fingertips and toes.
– Reach forward with the opposite arm and leg as far as you can and grab the floor. Shift your weight into the front hand and foot. Continue to press your weight forward as you reach with the opposite arm and leg. Keep moving forward in this way with opposite arm and leg for 30 seconds.
Mid-phase Turkish Get-up
Like crawling, this exercise stimulates the neurological systems needed for climbing. The movements are based on how a child gets up from the floor. They do so by pressing their extremities into the ground because their upper bodies are not yet strong enough to pull themselves up. In climbing it is important to lead with your feet and press your weight down to propel your upper body vertically. Otherwise you may resort to using only the smaller bicep and forearm muscles to bear the brunt of this burden and cause fatigue much sooner than necessary. (It is also safer to know where your feet are first). While the whole phase of the get-up is important, this article concentrates on the middle phase because it mimics situations a climber faces on the wall where they may need to swing a leg through to the next mark while holding themselves up with the other extremities in an awkward and unstable position.
Practice without the kettlebell first. Performing this exercise without the bell is also beneficial for increasing mobility of the hip joint and stability of the shoulders. Then when you have the proper technique down add the bell as it will force your to create more tension in your body. I recommend choosing a bell on the lighter side and having someone spot you the first few times.
– Begin at the end of the of the first phase of the Get-up. You are sitting up tall with the legs apart if a small “V,” the left leg is straight with a flexed foot and the right is bent with the foot flat on the floor. The left hand is down next to your left hip and the right arm is straight overhead.
– Press into the left hand and right heel to lift your hips up off the ground leaving enough space to sweep your left leg through. Bring your left leg back to line up the shin of that leg so that it is on the same line as your fingers, making your front and back legs about perpendicular to each other.
– Perform a hip hinge here by relaxing in the front of the left hip and shifting the left hip towards the left heel. The torso should be in a straight line from head to tail and facing straight ahead.
– Shift the weight back forwards to the left hand and reverse the movements back to the starting position. Do 5 on this side and then perform 5 on the other side.
As stated above, it is important to lead with your feet in climbing and develop good footwork. This exercise requires concentration and balance as you carefully and strategically place each foot down to maintain balance while moving forward.
– Begin on the floor in a crouched position with your weight supported on your fingertips and toes. Lift your arms up off the floor and reach forward with your right heel. Place the rest of the foot quietly on the floor and shift your weight on to it. Push off your right back foot and sweep in through to the front reaching with your heel and finally shifting your weight on to it.
– Continue this process for 30 seconds keeping the hips as low to the ground as possible.
Deep Squat Jumps
This exercise will help keep the hips mobile and strengthen the legs. The landing is also important as you must land safely when jumping down from the practice wall.
– Begin in a deep squat with feet slightly wider than hip distance. Jump straight up into the air and land by controlling your weight through the foot and bending the knees to absorb impact. Continue to bend the knees to return to your deep squat position. Your landing is also the preparation for the next jump. Do as many as you can for 30 seconds.
TRX 1-Arm row with Rotation
This works your back like a row but with one arm which changes the center of gravity so your core is forced to work harder. The TRX also adds an element of instability and the torso rotation with the arm reach mimics climbing technique used to progress from one ledge to another.
– The TRX should be on a single loop setting with one handle pulled through the other and tightened. Hold the handle in one hand and walk your feet out in front so you body is in a plank position. Make sure you are “packing” the shoulder of the working arm by pulling the shoulder blade down and back.
– Retract the shoulder blade of the working arm and perform a row action to pull your body forward in one piece. Then reach the opposite arm forward towards the fulcrum of the TRX by rotating the torso. Then return to the starting position. Do 10-15 on each side.
A pull-up should always be initiated by pulling the scapula down and stabilizing them on the ribcage rather than from the front of the shoulder as this will cause injury overtime.
Most of climbing involves concentric contractions of the muscles as you are moving against gravity to pull yourself up. Eccentric contractions involve contracting of the muscles in a lengthened position to maintain control. In the negative pull-up you are slowing the down phase. You can make enormous strength gains by using eccentric contractions which will also prepare you for down-climbing that can require the most coordination of any climb and can often be the most perilous segment of any excursion.
– Grab the pull-up bar with both hands with a wide grip. Initiate the movement by pulling your shoulder blades down the back, not by bending the elbows and lifting the shoulders up. Then pull your body up so your chin is above the bar. Lower yourself down for a 10 second count. Then repeat as many as you can to fatigue.
Note: To prevent elbow pain, make sure not to leverage your wrists over the top of the bar. Not only does this common mistake rob the larger muscles of the back of the full potential benefit of the exercise, but it can also cause pain at the elbow, wrist, and fingers.
Training finger strength is vital for climbing but not everyone owns a training board. The dead hang will help develop grip and forearm strength.
– Grab the pull-up bar with both hands. You can choose to use an alternate grip with one overhand and the other underhand. Just make sure to switch sides each time. Hang here without engaging your back muscles so you are solely relying on grip strength to hold you up. Hang for as long as you can.