How To Have Solid Grip And Sound Body For Climbing?
Strength and endurance is the significant key for climbing. As a climber, besides attaining general body strength, you need to gain particular finger strength. No matter how strong you are and how strong are your back and feet, if your fingers are not strong enough to hold on to the holds you might not be able to reach your destination. Similarly, if your fingers are strong enough to hold you on but your back and arms aren’t strong enough to pull you up then you are again in big problem.
Therefore, in this article, we include several techniques and training to gain climbing-specific strength for particular parts of body, especially:
- Hands and Fingers
- Wrists, arms and shoulders
- Whole body strength
Workouts for Finger Strength
Fingers and hands of rock climbers can go through certain extreme conditions of stress, therefore, we need to train them to gain strength for every joint and tendon. One of the most common used methods for finger training is using fingerboard. Fingerboard or hang-board is a tool specifically designed for climbers to improve finger strength and thus every climber should own it.
- Fingerboard Repeaters
The brilliance of a good fingerboard is the horde of finger positions and grips which is impeccable for training. Repeaters protocol is one of the best ways to train on fingerboard. This protocol focuses on specific grip positions with high intensity repeated contractions. You have to hang by holding a similar pair of holds.
After being warmed up, start your training by your weakest grip position. You have to perform ten hangs using the same pair of holds with duration of three to five seconds per hang and a rest of two to three seconds between each hang.
To gain effective results, these hangs must be of high intensity and you must get as low as possible or use smaller sized holds to stick the grip. After completion of one set of repeaters, take a short break and perform some light stretching. After that, select a different pair of holds and repeat the procedure again.
Figure 1: Adapted from www.eveningsends.com
Bouldering is another interesting protocol to train grip strength. It prepares you for the hardest possible ways to climb without assistance of ropes and gear. Bouldering is a technique that develops mental as well as technical skills simultaneously. For attaining remarkable results, another strategy is to pair bouldering with another finger-strength gaining exercise.
Furthermore, you can increase the time duration of hanging which would place more weight on your hands enhancing the endurance. Grip position matters a lot e.g. for achieving crimp strength you must practice on a larger number of crimp holds.
Take some rest between multiple bouldering problems and then move on towards different bouldering problem that focuses on different grip position, for instance, pinch, two finger pockets or open hand. Continue bouldering technique for approximately 30 to 90 minutes along with appropriate rest intervals.
Here’s some glimpses of what Bouldering looks like;
Workouts for Arms, Shoulders and Whole Body Strength
Pullups is one of the best exercises to gain strength of arms, shoulders, grip and back simultaneously. This exercise basically starts with a jolt of shoulders that pulls the body upwards. During pullups, your focus must be on quality and not on quantity, as your aim is to gain strength and control over your body and muscles. Move slowly and try to reach as high as possible to gain lock-off strength.
perfect demonstrations of pull ups step by step. Image adapted from www.climbing.com
- Pullup with thumbless grip
You can maximize the results of grip and forearm strength by performing pullups with a thumbless grip.
- Using Fat Gripz
During pullups, use of fat gripz will allow you to have a grip with more open hand thus increasing your grip strength.
Image adapted from www.bodybuilding.com
- Single-leg Lever
During bottom position of a pullup, you need to lean back and raise your body to a horizontal position with one leg bent in towards chest and the other stretched. Then gradually lower your body. Repeat the process with alternate legs.
- Spiderman Pushup
This kind of pushup is slightly different than a traditional pushup. In this workout, you lower your body to the floor followed by raising your knee to your elbow, alternating sides in each repetition. This would strengthen your triceps.
Spider-man push-ups make your arms strong for climbing. Image adapted from www.popsugar.com
- One-arm Suspension (Pushup)
In this kind of pushups, you need to open your feet wider than shoulders and using alternate arms pull your body up quickly and hold for two to three seconds then gradually return back to lower position.
- Single-leg Burpee
Burpees are one of the fun workouts. Use one leg at a time and the other one raised from the floor. This would help increase strength of legs. Repeat the process using alternate legs.
- Slow-motion Bicycle
This protocol is again very interesting and fun to do. You just have to lie on your back with your hands behind your neck and move your legs like a bicycle i.e. bring your left elbow to the right knee while keeping the other leg parallel to the floor. Similarly, repeat the procedure using alternate sides.
- Forearm Kettlebell Curl
This exercise is meant basically for forearm strength. In this workout, you need to stand in a staggered posture, take a kettlebell with the base facing towards you and handle on the other side, squeeze the base of kettlebell with your palms. Twist the bell up to your chest quickly and then let it down gradually. You have to press the base with your palms as hard as possible and keep control of the weight throughout the workout.
- Swiss Ball Press-up
In this exercise, you have to get in a plank position with legs stretched and forearms on a Swiss Ball. Raise your hips and lean back on your heels while your palms pressed up on the Swiss Ball. Then gradually move back to your previous posture with your forearms on the Swiss Ball.
Swiss ball press up has proved to be a helpful exercise in climbing. Adapted from community.tribesports.com
- Leg Raise
Lie on your back and place your heel of right foot on the toe of your left foot and keep your legs straight. Now raise your legs towards the ceiling for about 5 seconds and then twist to the left. Slowly bring your legs back to original position. Use alternate legs and alternate sides for each repetition.
Demonstration of Leg raise which can help in climbing. Adapted from pecsappeal.com
- Single-leg Plank
While in regular plank position, lift one leg from the floor for about 10 seconds. Use alternate legs for about 1 minute.
Basic principles of strength training
While training for strength or endurance, there are various principles, which, if followed properly, would be remarkably beneficial for your training. Few of them are described as follows:
- Always try to focus on quality rather than quantity as once you are tired then it is hard to perform effectively to gain strength and power.
- Try to workout for small sessions more frequently rather than longer sessions performed occasionally.
- Focus on being specific what you need to attain from that training session.
- Do not let your body cool down during the rest periods of session, keep it warm because once it has been cooled down it would affect your performance.
- Proper food intake is crucial before and after training sessions to provide you enough strength.
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