Your rock climbing training should include all the three muscle functions: Endurance, Strength, and Burst. If these functions are not being developed in the right rock climber's balance, then you might experience that you cannot climb the way you want.
For this reason, you should continually analyze your climbing performance and modify your type of training to target and improve specific muscle functions. Understanding how to target and train particular muscle functions will help you develop and manage your training plan. It's the need of balance of Strength, Burst, and Endurance that create the following 7 types of training:
ROCK CLIMBING TRAINING 101
Rock Climbing Training - Strength
If you want to climb overhanging, negative sloping, and long-reach moves, you should train your muscle strength.
Stress your muscles by doing appropriate exercises in order to increase or improve your muscle strength.
Burst or Explosive Power
Burst training is very taxing on muscles and should never be done without adequate Warm-up and Stretching. Learn what Burst Training is and how it affects your speed in Rock Climbing. Know the different exercises that can improve your burst power.
Rock Climbing Training - Endurance
If you want to take higher climbs without being too exhausted, you should increase your Endurance. Improve your Endurance level by continuously doing some low resistance exercises so you can climb higher and longer.
Rock Climbing Training - Strength and Endurance
To improve your ability to "lock-off", clip, and continue climbing without burnout, you should gain strength - endurance. Learn several exercises that you can include in your training in oder to improve this muscle function.
Rock Climbing Training - Aerobic Capacity
To improve mental and physical alertness throughout the day, you should train your aerobic capacity. In this section, learn how you can apply the two aerobic training methods (Circuit and Interval Training) to Rock Climbing.
Facts About Counting Food Carbohydrates
Rock climbing is a sport that requires tremendous energy levels. Carbohydrate consumption is a critical ingredient for a successful climb. Bonking during a climb must be prevented at all costs. Learn more by reading this article.
Hand Exercises & Grip Strength Training
Rock climbing requires a unique combination of skill, strength, endurance, and flexibility in order to be successful. A focused strength-training program for the hands and grip will quickly improve your time before fatigue during a climb. Discover a few exercises by reading this.
Part 1 - Rock Climbing Training - Strength
If you want to climb overhanging, negative sloping, and long-reach moves, then you should train your muscle strength. Working out the muscles to their maximum ability with resistance and in a repetitive fashion is one way to increase your muscle strength. This stimulates muscles to synthesize more contractile protein, thus increasing strength.
Remember that repetition is the key when you want to increase your strength. You can either do this climbing-wise or in the gym by training with weights. Also, do not forget to do some warming up and stretching before you start exercising. Afterwards, do some cooling down exercises.
Type of Exercise
Gym Exercise - Use a high weight to complete 5 - 10 repetitions until muscle failure. Do sets of 4.
Climbing Exercise - Repeat a strenuous bouldering problem or climbing route four times and then take a break to allow your muscles to recover.
A note on the Gym Exercise:
When pulling weights, make sure that you choose the right weights. Select a weight or resistance that you can barely move five to ten times before your muscles give out. Do four sets of the exercise (of 5 to 10 repetitions). Do these exercises three or four times a week. Target specific muscles and muscle groups. Moreover, do not forget your training goal: you want to increase your muscle strength and not look like a body builder. Having muscle mass more than what you need is just additional weight and will make it harder for you to climb.
Add more weight if you can do more than 10 repetitions. Take weight off if you cannot do at least five repetitions. Faithfully and methodically continue this pattern. Your strength will improve after just a few weeks of training.
Part 2 - Rock Climbing Training - Burst or Explosive Power
If you want to improve "dynos", dead-points, burst climbing, and enhance your speed climbing, then you need to develop your muscles' capacity to provide or increase "burst" power. Burst training is very taxing on muscles and should never be done without adequate warm-up and stretching. Afterwards, always perform some cooling down exercises.
The principle to develop burst power or speed climbing is simple. Train in maximum intensity bursts and completely recover before your next set. Glucose is converted to ATP and Lactate. Allowing a complete recovery will recharge the glycogen (glucose) in your muscles and give your body a chance to remove the lactic acid - preventing the aerobic system from fully kicking in, thus stressing the burst or speed function of your muscles.
Quadriceps, leg, and thigh muscles are the muscle parts that you should focus on. By strengthening your leg and thigh muscles' burst power, your push off speed from the hold will increase, lengthen your reach dynamically, and improve your speed climbing.
Type of Exercise
Burst / Explosive Power
Gym Exercise - Burst Training is all about making quick and strong movements, not slow straining exertions.
Improving your Burst power is essential if you are into Rock Climbing. Make sure to pay attention to this aspect as you prepare yourself for your next climb.
Part 3 - Rock Climbing Training - Endurance
The harder your workout is, the quicker you will deplete your muscle glycogen. Once your glycogen is decreased, you will feel exhausted and I can tell you - this is not a comfortable feeling! So if you want to climb higher or longer without being too exhausted or pumped, you should increase or improve your Endurance. Muscle and fitness go hand in hand. Understanding how muscles work will help you target specific types of training to achieve your fitness goals.
To improve your Endurance, you should continuously do low resistance exercises. This will promote muscle endurance. To gain maximum muscle endurance, you must exercise for close to two hours in order to deplete your muscles' glycogen as well as to stimulate new blood vessel formation and maximum aerobic-enzyme development. Likewise, you can gain considerable endurance with shorter periods of exercise, particularly if you intensify the exercise. You need to exercise at less than maximum strength for at least 20 minutes, three times a week to see a benefit.
Type of Exercise
Gym Exercise - Increase the repetitions using low weight.
While doing your Endurance training, it should not be forgotten to perform adequate Warm-up and Stretching. Afterwards, perform some Cooling Down exercises.
Part 4 - Rock Climbing Training - Strength - Endurance
In the world of Rock Climbing, Strength- Endurance refers to the strength of a climber to continue climbing for a considerable period of time without sacrifing efficiency. To improve your ability to "lock-off", clip, and continue climbing without burnout, you should gain strength-endurance. To achieve this, you want to increase the duration of a specific exercise movement. For example, do your pull-ups slowly and concentrate on duration rather than the number of pull-ups. In addition, use heavier weights than what are normally used for endurance, but less than for strength training.
Another basic exercise which develops strength is the dead-hang. This increases your forearm and finger strength-endurance. You should be able to go past a minute without too much pain. Keep working it up to two minutes and beyond for improved endurance.
You can also modify an Aerobic Training method called Interval Training to promote strength-endurance ( more details in next part).
Type of Exercise
Strength - Endurance
Gym Exercise - Increase the duration of a specific exercise movement. Increase the number of sets during a workout.
Improve or increase your Strength - Endurance so you can climb longer without burnout. Make sure to have the appropriate type of exercise included in your training program. While doing your Strength - Endurance Training, never forget to perform adequate Warm-Up and Stretching. Afterwards, always include a Cooling Down routine.
Part 5 - Rock Climbing Training - Aerobic Capacity
To improve mental and physical alertness throughout the day, you should train your aerobic capacity.
There are two commonly used aerobic training methods that provide a good balance between Strength and Endurance. They are Circuit and Interval Training.
If you would like to apply Circuit Training to climbing, choose two parts of your body and the muscle functions that you want to train - for instance, your leg strength and forearm endurance. Then decide on the exercise. All in all, you will have four exercises. With a Circuit Training, you should alter these four exercises. For example: 1) boulder vertical up and down four times; 2) boulder on 45 degree wall for one minute 3) dyno four times 4) traverse back and forth on a 70-degree wall for five minutes. The climber repeats the circuit for 30 minutes. Again, this is just an example.
To apply Interval Training to climbing, climb hard and long enough to get your heart rate up (just be conscious of your pulse, don't try to actually take it while climbing). Get down and walk to lower your heart rate - or instead of walking, shift to a vertical traverse and continue bouldering at lower intensity. Before your heart rate fully recovers, shift back to hard climbing. This kind of training is uncomfortable - it causes sore muscles! The increased lactic acid brings fatigue and discomfort. Some can take it, some cannot. However, it will increase your heart stroke volume and help your body become more efficient at lactic acid removal, thus increasing your aerobic capacity.
Type of Exercise
Gym Exercise - Any type of Cardio in order to elevate heart rate to target for at least 20 minutes, three to four times a week.
While doing your Aerobic Exercises, don't forget to perform adequate Warm-Up and Stretching. Afterwards, always include a Cooling Down routine.
Part 6 - Facts About Counting Food Carbohydrates & Rock Climbing
Rock climbing is a sport that requires tremendous energy levels. For every hour of ascending, an average person burns about 800 calories. Problems may arise on longer climbs since the glycogen (carbohydrate) stores in the body will be depleted in about 2 hours of climbing unless a constant supply of carbohydrates is provided.
When the glycogen stores in the body are depleted (otherwise known as bonking), the symptoms are extreme fatigue, disorientation, and sleepiness which are definitely not good when you're suspended 1,000 feet in the air, with over 2 hours to go before you make it to camp. It's clear that a well-planned eating and drinking strategy is needed in order to avoid bonking on the rock.
Now, if your climb takes less than 2 hours, carbohydrate depletion isn't much of a concern. Still, it wouldn't hurt to bring extra food just in case the route takes longer than anticipated.
If you're planning a climb that lasts longer than 2 hours, then you may want to begin your planning up to a week in advance. One method that has been used successfully by marathon runners and long-distance cyclists for decades is carbohydrate loading. This strategy starts 1 week before the big climb and involves eating a low carbohydrate diet for 3 days with intense exercise each day. This program will deplete the glycogen stores in the body. Then, for the next 4 days, exercise should be light and the diet should be high in carbohydrates. This strategy boosts the glycogen stores to double or triple the normal levels of glycogen in the body. This technique will allow you to climb longer before "hitting the wall."
On the day of the climb, you should start with a balanced breakfast of 700 to 1000 calories with 500" class="related_products_container" to 600 calories coming from carbohydrates. This meal will give you enough carbohydrates to make it through the climb but also provide adequate fat and protein, which are significant sources of energy during extended periods of exercise.
During the climb, about 50 grams of carbohydrate per hour should be consumed. For example, 50 grams of carbohydrates are found in about 1 quart of energy drink or in 1 energy bars. Over many hours, eating these amounts of carbohydrate becomes quite a task. However, it must be done because the consequences are severe. When you're rock climbing, there is no room for error and this includes your nutrition program. Aside from this steady supply of carbohydrates, make sure that your diet includes foods rich in vitamins to include proteins, fats, and plant-based phytonutrients. One of the richest sources of natural phytonutrients is unprocessed aloe vera juice. Just a couple of ounces can go a long way.
As a rule, carbohydrates supply most of the energy during exercises lasting less than 20 minutes. Beyond 20 minutes, fat provides an increasing amount of energy for exercise. Once you get to 2 hours, protein is even being used for energy. If your diet during the climb doesn't contain enough protein, your body will still get the protein it needs by burning muscle tissue for fuel. This is definitely not a desired outcome.
Last, but definitely not least, nutrition immediately after the climb is critical. In fact, there is a 2-hour window immediately after exercise where carbohydrates are easily absorbed. By consuming about 100 grams of carbohydrates inside this window, you will ensure that your glycogen levels are full again. If, however, you wait for several hours after the climb before you eat or drink, then your glycogen levels will likely be incomplete for days afterwards, no matter how much you eat or drink.
Carbohydrate consumption is a critical, but often overlooked, ingredient for a successful climb. Bonking during a run only feels bad but isn't terribly dangerous. Bonking during a climb, however, is life threatening and must be prevented at all costs.
Part 7 - Hand Exercises & Grip Strength Training for Climbing
Rock climbing requires a unique combination of skill, strength, endurance, and flexibility in order to be successful. Once a climber has mastered basic rock climbing techniques, upper body strength, and in particular, hand strength, is usually the limiting factor. In fact, once your grip is gone, you're done climbing. Therefore, climbers, especially novices, should undergo specific training to increase hand and grip strength.
First, it is important to emphasize that the best way to become a better climber is to climb. No amount of weight training will significantly improve your climbing ability. So when in doubt, don't substitute a climb for a weight training session. However, if you are climbing regularly and having difficulty with forearm and hand fatigue, then one or two sessions per week in the weight room can be beneficial.
Most weight lifting regimens use isotonic muscle contractions which means the joint moves when the muscle contracts. For example, when you contract your biceps muscle, you're joint moves and the hand moves toward the shoulder. However, rock climbers should emphasize a different type of muscular contraction when training the hands isometric contractions.
If you think about the actions of the hands during a typical climb, the fingers flex to grab a handhold and then they stay flexed. The muscle is contracting but the joint is not moving. That is the main principle of isometric contractions. Obviously, when you grab a handhold, you don't open and close your hands. You keep your hands flexed. So why would you train your hands with isotonic contractions in the weight room? Remember, the rule of specificity states that if you want to improve in a particular sport, you must practice that sport as much as possible and you must simulate the actions of that sport when training to become stronger.
The next step is to identify effective hand and grip exercises.
A staple exercise for climbers is heavy-duty spring hand grippers. However, instead of just doing repetitions with the grippers, practice holds with the grippers instead. For example, squeeze the gripper and then hold the position for 30 seconds. Release and rest for 30 seconds. Then, repeat another 30-second hold. Complete four sets of 30-second holds.
Another subtle shift in technique that can improve your open hand strength (strength without use of the thumb) is to use a thick training bar. With a standard 45-pound Olympic bar, you can lift more weight since you can wrap your thumb around the bar and lock the thumb on your pointer finger. With a thick bar, you can't achieve this lock. Although you can't lift as much weight this way, it demands a much greater level of hand strength to maintain your grip.
Hanging on a pull-up bar with the palms facing away is another great way to build isometric muscle strength not only for the grip, but for the back and biceps as well. Try to build up to 3 sets of 1 minute each. Once this level can be reached, try these holds in a location where you can hang with only your fingertips, which more closely simulates true climbing technique. The final level is to complete these hangs with one arm at a time.
A final exercise that incorporates isotonic contractions of the chest, shoulders, and triceps, but isometric contractions for the hands, is fingertip pushups. Perform a standard pushup, but instead of resting your palms flat on the floor, support yourself with your fingertips only. Although this exercise is excruciating for most beginners, hand strength will improve quickly with regular training.
Finally, if grip strength is a true weakness for you, you should do your grip exercises at the beginning of a strength training session also known as priority training. If you do your grip work after doing upper body exercises, your grip will already be shot before you start your focused hand and grip training.
Rock climbing is a strenuous sport that requires the climber to be in peak condition. Another way to insure success with this remarkable sport is make sure that a proper diet is followed. Whole unprocessed foods that are abundant in natural vitamins and minerals are a staple for a healthy and strong rock climber. While many athletes may depend upon vitamin supplements in order to maximize daily nutrition, it is best to get your daily dose of vitamins from fresh whole foods.
The bottom line: Grip strength is a critical component of rock climbing success. Although plenty of training time on the rock is important, a focused strength-training program for the hands and grip will quickly improve your time before fatigue during a climb.
Your Rock Climbing Training should be totally customized to you. It is only then that it will help you to meet the goals that you have set. For instance, if you want to work on your Endurance, you should do other exercises that can improve it.