We all want to be better and stronger climbers, but simply being on the wall doesn’t always do the trick. On days you can’t be climbing, workouts are the easiest way to strengthen muscles. Here are 5 simple workouts that you can do at home watching TV, at work, or almost anywhere.
1. Grip Strength
High repetition and low weight (or resistance) simulates having to repeatedly grip the rock over a long period of time. We all know the feeling of being deep into a route and our fingers feeling like they can barely squeeze or hold on any more. There are a variety of simple tools you can purchase that all focus on strengthening your grip. These tools use motions of squeezing or flexing the hand to an “open position” repeatedly. Choose one and carry it with you for the chance you can use it at work. The repetitions are also at great workout while watching the nightly news.
2. Antagonist Muscles
In climbing, the arms tend to do a lot of pulling. That motion works a very specific muscle group, and too much stress on these muscles can lead to injury, such as “Climber’s Elbow” (Medial Epicondylitis). To prevent injuries, and to keep yourself well-rounded, make sure to work “antagonist muscles”. For example, push-ups work on the “pushing” motion (who’da thunk!) in pectorals and shoulders. Another easy “at home” exercise is the Tricep Dip, which can also be done on a couch or chair anywhere.
All types of climbing engage your core, and some specific routes require very precise muscle tension in your abdominals. Whether you are looking to move past the crux in your project, or just to step up your fitness and climbing game, choose to fit in a core workout daily. Easy core exercises include crunches, planks, twists, and leg lifts. Clear out a space in your room, in front of the TV or in a local park and fit in a core exercise.
4. Pinch Strength
While technically a “grip strength” exercise, these focus on the act of pinching (a notoriously brutal grip that relies on the power of your fingers and thumb). Having a good pinch game will benefit you greatly when it comes to climbing. A simple and low-tech way to work on this grip is to literally pinch something for long periods of time. Grab the biggest book you have and pinch it by the spine while holding your arm straight out. Soon you will feel the burn in the fingers, and likely your shoulders. You also can pinch an open door and lean back, letting your body act as a weight and forcing your digits to do the hard work. If you want a pinch-specific tool, then simply take a block of wood and screw in a hook. Attach a weight or heavy object to the hook, pinch the block, and practice raising and lowering it in a controlled manner.
Don’t forget that legs are key players in the world of rock climbing. Climbing smart is using all your body, especially your legs. Using the strength of your much larger hamstrings, calves ,and quadricep muscles will preserve your arm strength allowing for more endurance on the rock. Fit in leg drills easily with movements like squats, lunges, calf raises, or wall sits. These only require about a body-length’s space to do and require no special tools or equipment.
There’s no excuse not to train with these simple exercises to enhance your climbing. No matter where you are, fit in at least a rep of each targeted muscle group a day. Then, start to see the difference and growth in your climbing!