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Wilderness Sports > Rock & Ice Climbing > Rock and Ice Climbing Strength Training

Rock and Ice Climbing Strength Training

What is involved in the training for Rock and Ice Climbing?

Horizontal Pull-up

Alpine climbers need stamina in their gluteal, hamstring, and gastrocnemius muscles for upward propulsion as well as in their quadriceps for steep descents with heavy loads. A climber’s elevation gain per mile may match that of the mountaineer or scrambler; however, gain on the technical portion is primarily vertical. Because they must carry a lot of specialized gear and face a greater vertical component, technical alpine climbers need high strength in the entire body, particularly in the upper body. The calves, forearms, fingers, shoulders, hips, and core are also heavily involved in technical climbing. For details about putting together a periodized strength training program for yourself, refer to The Outdoor Athlete, Chapter 9. See also the DVD Train to Climb Mt. Rainier or Any High Peak for motion clips of many of the exercises suggested below. See also Programs and Tips for examples of how to put these movements together in a suitable training program.

The exercises suggested below point you in the proper direction for sport-specific training for alpine climbing. Unilateral (single-limb) exercises are ideal for early season training (see Mountaineering Strength for additional suggestions) in order to correct weaknesses in your legs, hips, and upper body, particularly in the full range of motion you will need on technical climbs. The exercises below are ideal for middle training months where your focus is on building as much strength as possible.

Upper Body Exercises
1-arm Rows
Floor-Assist Pullups
Horizontal Pullups
Variations and Progressions for Pullups, Pushups, Situps
Top Five Pullups Resources: Training Tips and Variations
Reverse Pushouts
Standing Shoulder Press
Planks Variations
One-Armed Pullups: Training Ideas
Resources for Developing Grip Strength
Horizontal Pullups and Side Planks
Top Five Pullups Resources: Training Tips and Variations

Lower Body and Core Movements
Overhead Squats
Cable Deadlifts
Hamstring Exercises: Stiff-Leg Deadlifts
Forward Barbell Roll-out
Snow Shoveler
Saxon Side Bends
Alpine Core Exercises: Oblique Twists
Back Extensions
Calves and Mountaineering




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