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Post-Season Climbing Training Series
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How should climbers maintain their summer
level of fitness to prevent having to start all over again in the
spring? This compilation is the first of a series of Body Results
newsletter articles that will provide you with some varied, challenging,
and effective off-season workouts. Parts I and II will focus on
post-season training, helping you strengthen particular areas of the
body that may have been neglected during your hard summer of climbing
(including hamstrings, rhomboids, and chest). This month's Part
I features exercises that you can do anywhere, with minimal equipment
other than your bodyweight and a backpack or hand weights (heavy gallon
jugs or dictionaries can substitute -- no need to buy anything!) A perfect program to
take with you on the road as we enter the holiday season. No more
excuses! All exercises in December's Part II
will be ones you can do with access to cables or free weights that you'd find in most
gyms. January's Part III will introduce pre-season gym training to help
you increase your upper body and finger strength for the upcoming summer of outdoor climbing.
In order to get ready to do any strength
workout, we recommend you warm up somehow either by doing 5-10 minutes
of cardiovascular activity or perhaps performing some yoga stretches to
get the body prepared for more vigorous activity.
Two poses that help you stretch the lower back, shoulders, hamstrings, lats
and obliques are the Triangle Pose, in the middle, and Side Angle
Stretch, far right. Hold each for 30-60 seconds on each
side. Perform against a wall until your balance improves, and
reach hand up and back toward the wall. Reach arm along top ear
for an even more complete stretch.
Once you are warmed up and stretched (see Climbing
Essentials for other suggestions) continue with the strength workout
in the order suggested below (largest muscles to smallest).
Heel Hook (1-leg Hamstring Curl) 2-3 sets, 6-8 reps each leg
To strengthen your hamstrings for heel hooking, (and balance out
quads/hamstrings) lie flat on your back with both legs on a sturdy
chair or bench, knees and hips at right angles, hands wide to keep
you balanced (then narrower as you get stronger.) Lift
one foot off the chair and bridge your hip up with the other,
striving for a straight line from knee to shoulders. Be
conscious of your pelvis -- make sure your body doesn't tilt or
tip to one side as you lift. Keep the body squared off --
and you'll engage the lower back and obliques as well. Try this
with weight in your lap or feet on a ball as ways to
1-Leg, 1-Arm Deadlifts 2-3 sets 4-6 each hand
This exercise enhances balance as well as strengthens the glutes, quads, ankles, and hips.
Stand on 1 foot, other foot hovering just above the floor behind
you for balance. Hold a dumbbell, dictionary, or gallon jug
in one hand, and then squat down as low as you can toward the
floor (as shown) before lifting back up to vertical standing
position. Repeat 4-6 times with that hand, then switch hands for 4-6 more but remain on that leg.
Shake out the leg, switch to the other, and repeat for 4-6
reps using each hand. To increase the difficulty, pause at
the bottom, increase the weight, add repetitions, or drive
yourself upward as though you were going to hop off the floor on one leg.
Forward Leaning Lunges 2-3 sets 10-12
This move is effective for ski season AND climbing! It will help you strengthen the glutes, the
power horses in your body that propel you up alpine routes in
order to reach your vertical climbs. Instead of taking the
usual posture of vertical torso, lean forward at the hip (keeping
back flat and extended) and out over the front toes. Press
through the front foot to engage the gluteus maximus muscles in
your buttocks. Exhale as you push back, and add dumbbells, a
backpack, or a barbell across your shoulders to increase intensity
as you get stronger.
Side Low Lunges 2-3 sets 10-12 each leg
A great way to stretch hips and strengthen quads for vertical wall climbing and balance is the
side-to-side low lunge, pictured here. Keep torso vertical,
toes turned out, and for added effect, do this while standing face
in to a wall and avoid allowing your knees to touch the
wall. An option is to reach up as though you were going for
your next hold and use primarily the bent leg to lift you up -- a
super quad-blaster. To make it even harder, add a pack on
your back, books or dictionaries in each hand, or hold the pause
longer in bent knee position.
Since most people I've had the pleasure
to train do not have a pullup bar or squat rack (equipped with one) at
their home, we're leaving pulling exercises until December.
Besides, during off-season, it's important to give your body a bit of a
rest and train the other muscles that haven't been used for a while --
in this section, the pushing muscles and rhomboids. Do them in the order presented.
Variable Surface Pushups 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
This exercise strengthens the pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders) and
triceps; we recommend that you incorporate some sort of pushing exercise
to balance out an upper body that has been engaged in a pulling-dominated
activity. Equipment needed: sturdy objects of various sizes.
If you have trouble performing at 10 knee pushups, then stick with regular knee pushups until your muscle
strength increases, as this variation is decidedly more challenging.
Place various objects of different heights around you in a
semi-circle--such as a low bench, dictionary, basketball, stool, or even
a step--and assume the pushup position with hands on different level
objects. Make sure the objects are secure and won’t slide. Perform a pushup (either on knees or toes) and then, keeping back
flat and abs tight, maneuver yourself over to the next objects and do
another pushup. Continue around until you are too tired to continue or have completed a set of 12.
Triceps Dips 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions
Triceps dips are one of our favorite exercises, and have direct
carry-over into counter-pressure climbing moves such as stemming and
manteling. Position yourself on the wide part of a
flat bench, bed, bathtub or couch with your hands just outside of your thighs,
fingers pointing forward and palms on the bench, with feet on the floor
and knees slightly bent. Make sure the bench you are using is secure, so it won't
slide. Start by retracting your shoulder blades (bring shoulders
back and down so as to prevent forward rounding, which can cause
strain). Keep your elbows going straight back and lower your butt toward the floor until your elbows are
at right angles, then press yourself back up. You can make this more
intense by 1) placing your feet farther from you, 2) putting your heels
on another bench, 3) using a stability ball for your legs, and finally 4) adding weight to your lap.
Corner Reverse Pushups 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions
see Photo Archives for picture and explanation of this exercise.
Arm Balance 2-3 holds for 30-45 seconds
Another exercise borrowed from yoga; excellent for increasing abdominal strength (particularly
obliques) and medial deltoids (middle shoulders) for
stemming. To get into position, sit on one hip, extend legs
straight, and prop yourself on your hand. Use your obliques
to lift the hip upward. Until you are strong enough to hold
this position, leave your arm by your side and both feet on the
floor, neck neutral. As you get stronger, extend the top arm
over head and then continue until you can hold the top leg up in the air above the bottom leg.
For questions or comments, feel free to contact us. Remember, with any program, it's important to
vary what you're doing every 3-6 weeks or so in order to prevent
reaching a plateau and keep you motivated, interested, and working
out. The workout above should take you anywhere from 30-45
minutes, depending on how many sets you choose to do, how long it takes
to do each set, and how quickly you move from set to set. Enjoy!
This sample climbing strength program is an example of the individualized type of program
available to you through your Outdoor Conditioning Coaches at Body
Results. Remember, however, that everyone has different needs depending
on training age, body type, individual goals, exercise history, and
time available. To find out how to get your own
personalized program, contact
your local Body Results Conditioning Coach.