Over the past decade, one of the activities that has strengthened its position in the fitness industry is climbing. While climbing largely remains an outdoor sport, modern gyms are beginning to offer a controlled environment in which to focus on building and enhancing skill, technique and physicality for outdoor climbing. A fit for purpose climber needs to be highly skilled in many components of fitness, ranging from flexibility and balance, to having a great amount of strength to lift their full body weight. Areas to focus on include grip strength, unbalanced body positions, long limb reaches, and pulling movements.
With these goals in mind the following exercises will challenge general strength and endurance, trunk stability, balance, coordination and flexibility. You can incorporate these exercises individually into an existing workout, or perform them in sequence as a skill-based workout for climbing. In any case, perform each of the following exercises as many times as possible in 30 seconds, focussing on control over speed. Once you have completed all exercises, rest for 1 minute and repeat two more times.
Hold onto the handles of a TRX (waist height) and position your body at a 45° incline. Initiate the row by squeezing the shoulder blades together, then pulling the chest towards the handles. Pause at the top for 2 seconds, before slowly returning and releasing the shoulder blades. Repeat continuously.
Standing ball press
Hold a 4-6kg medicine ball close to the chest, using only your fingers to grip it. Keeping the shoulder blades squeezed together, press forwards horizontally until your arms are straight. Keep the arms parallel to the ground throughout and maintain a strong posture. Return and repeat continuously.
Climbing wall squat thrust
Find two suitable holds at the top of the climbing wall and hold. Walk your feet up the wall until they are hip height; from this start position then perform two footed jumps against the wall, jumping your feet as high as possible on the wall and then returning to centre. Repeat continuously.
Using a pull up bar in a wide overhand grip position, pull your body upwards simultaneously lifting one knee up as high as possible towards the elbow on the same side. Lower yourself slowly and repeat with the other knee.
From a push up position, lower your body and simultaneously move one knee to touch the same side elbow. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side.
Swedish bar push-pull
Stand in front of the Swedish bars and place one hand on a bar at waist height, and the other hand on the highest bar you can reach. Keeping your body close to the bars, simultaneously push on the low bar and pull on the high bar. The bottom arm will straighten and the top arm will bend. Return and switch sides.
Plank to hip flexor stretch
Start in a push up position (plank) and hold for 7 seconds. Without moving your hands, step one leg forward to just outside the hand on the same side (hip flexor stretch) and hold for 7 seconds. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side.