Training for Climbing
There are many ways to train for rock climbing–but a combination of cross training and discipline specific training will show the most results. You will want to train your endurance and develop lean muscle. The most important aspect of your training will be to climb as much as possible. This will not only help your strength, but it will also increase you skill. Combining a dedicated climbing regimen with an outside workout program will help your physical abilities keep up with your technical abilities.
One of the keys to rock climbing is your strength to weight ratio—the better it is, the stronger you’ll be able to climb. A running regimen will not only help to increase your aerobic endurance, it will also help to lose weight—increasing your strength to weight ratio. This routine will vary based on your experience, body type, and lifestyle. The best program is one you will stick with, so find a regimen that will work for you and stick with it.
Most people reach a plateau while climbing due to their finger strength. Outside of climbing more often, the most effective method of increasing finger strength is doing hangboard exercises. A hangboard is a board with a variety of types of holds, everything from slopers and jugs to mono-pockets. A typical hangboard regimen will include dead hangs and pull ups from the various styles of holds. When you first begin using a hangboard, you will want to take multiple rest days in between workouts. The tendons in your fingers do not repair themselves as quickly as muscles, this means you have an increased injury risk if you work them too often.
Rock climbing rapidly increases the strength of your back and shoulders—but many climbers neglect the muscles in their chest. Underdeveloped chest muscles can lead to issues with the rotator cuff and poor posture. In order to counteract this, you should lift weights. The best way for a climber to lift is low weight with a lot of reps. This will strengthen your muscles without adding bulk. The two best exercises to re-balance your upper body are shoulder presses and bench press. Climbing leads to an over development of the shoulder muscles that control the pulling motion—so weight lifting should focus on the deltoids. An easy, effective way to do this is dumb bell shoulder presses. These will help balance your shoulders between the pushing and pulling muscles. Another thing climbers are susceptible to are underdeveloped chest muscles. The best way to counteract this underdevelopment is either the bench press or dumbbell chest press. Theses exercises will strengthen your pectorals and help pull your shoulders forward into alignment. It is also beneficial to do lower body lifts such as squats or dead lifts. These will help to build explosive muscles, which will help with making big moves on the wall.
There is no one size fits all training regimen for rock climbing, but anyone serious about improving would be well served to focus on a few specific areas. If you create a program that includes climbing, endurance training(such as running), hangboard training, and weightlifting you will be well equipped to reach your maximum potential.
For expert physical training for climbing, check out the Mountain Strong Gym.