Climbing is good for the mind, body and soul. It requires an enormous amount of focus, hard work and dedication along with a fearless approach to heights.
Whether you’re scaling rocks or walls, you’ve got to be in top physical shape. We have some great strengthening exercises for climbers to give those vital back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers some extra power and tolerance.
Building strength in fingers and wrists fights off fatigue, making you a stronger climber
Climbing requires fingers and wrists to be strong. The best way to build that strength is by actually climbing. But when you’re not, using an adjustable pair of heavy-duty spring hand grippers like the Harbinger Hand Grip, which you can gradually increase resistance with, will improve finger and hand strength a great deal. A grip master is another great way to build strength in individual fingers.
When strengthening wrists and fingers and increasing range of motion, focusing on balancing both the flexion and extension is key. Climbers often have more elbow injuries when these two areas aren’t strong and balanced.
Improving your muscular balance helps prevent injuries and provides better climbing technique
A climber needs stability, full range of motion and mobility throughout their body. Not just hands and wrists. Shoulder, back and hip balance is equally important for climbers. Having a muscular imbalance causes injuries in even the most top-performing climbers.
“When we’re out of balance and don’t move with biomechanical efficiency our linear movements don’t “track” correctly. When this occurs an injury can happen anywhere along the body’s kinetic (movement) chain.”
These 8 quick exercises will improve your balance and strengthen your shoulders and back ensuring your linear movements are inline:
- 15 per arm protractions
- 15 per arm of retractions
- 10 pull-up retractions
- 25 weighted pull-ups and pull downs
- 15 plange push-ups
- 25 pull-aparts
- 15 per arm of external rotations
- 15 per arm of one arm T’s on a platform
Protractions – Reverse the last position and lie with your back flat on a stable surface. Lift the weight with a straight arm. With your shoulder doing the work, fist pump.
Retractions – With one knee and one arm resting on a stable surface, stand with the other leg and a light weight in the other hand. Flatten your back and tuck your pelvis. Shrug your shoulders.
Pull up retractions – With straight arms hang from a bar and focus on your scapula. Pull from the middle of your back. You should be in control as you pull up and as you lower back down.
Weighted pull ups and downs – Using a weight belt while doing your pull up and down work will make you feel noticeably lighter once you’re on the rock. Adding weight to your body makes gravity work in your favor and strengthens your pull work. You should not hang with straight arms to rest between reps, because of the stress it puts on the shoulders. Also, if you experience any discomfort or pain in the shoulders or elbows, lower the weight or cut it out entirely.
Pull-aparts – Hold a resistance band horizontally in front of you so it spans your shoulders. With palms up, squeeze shoulder blades together.
Plange Push-ups – At the top of a normal push-up, protract your shoulders (put a hump or arch in your back).
External Rotations – Wrap your resistance band around a steady vertical object and pull it out horizontally across your core. Your arm should be at a 90-degree angle with your elbow tucked tight into your side. While holding the band handle and without moving your elbow, rotate your forearm to a 90-degree angle. This will strengthen the usually weak rotator cuffs.
One arm T’s – This also benefits the four weak muscles in your rotator cuffs. Sit on the ground with your elbow resting on a stable surface shoulder height. With your free hand palm down on the ground, raise and lower the weight without losing the 90-degree angle that forms the T shape.
Adding these exercises to your climbing workout will help you get to those hard to reach places by balancing muscles; increasing hand, arm and wrist strength; and steadying the body.