Training and climbing

I’ve had this post in draft for a long time however I’ve been given a nudge by a great post on this blog (well worth checking out):

Although my post might seem a reaction to their post it’s not at all, I think they make some great great points especially about plateaus (the 6b + one did my head  in before injury, the 6b one is even worse now) I also loved how much they talk about what your climbing time is actually like not what you think it is like, once a week is actually very little, it won’t build muscle and you are likely to learn very little and if in this one session you spend half of it spotting others, giving out beta, having a catch up and a good coffee break it whittles down to almost nothing.

Their conclusion is climb more, and I cannot disagree with that…..however….

Of the people I climb with many are busy, have families, none climbing partners or jobs with anti- climbing hours. For these people it’s difficult to hit a wall or rock more than twice a week. Others don’t have the money to buy the gear for outdoors or to pay for indoor walls more than once a week.


Therefore is training a viable option to improve climbing?  This doesn’t have to be in a gym, plenty of parks have usable equipment and there are classes everywhere these days.


Starting with the basics, any exercise is going to be good for us, just walking more will improve our health, being healthy improves our stamina, fitness and mental wellbeing all good for climbing.


Where I see a lot of people going wrong (in my opinion) is that they don’t think about how their training could be applied to climbing moves. For instance….pull ups,  great idea, working the right muscle groups for climbing but when do we ever find a climb where both our hands are directly above us on great holds, shoulders width apart….? Try varying hand width, find different things to pull up on if you don’t have a fingerboard, if your gym has bars of varying height have one hand at each level, make sure you fully extend to improve your crank ability, try locking off and moving on a horizontal plane at the top.

Think about how we move, we rarely push up on both legs at the same time so train them individually. For cardio the treadmill is fine but the rower is much more applicable to climbing muscle groups and movement

Yoga and pilates work your core, improve mental balance and anxiety control and improve range of muscles. This is likely to show more gains than going and benching twice your weight.


Furthermore when building muscle it has to be useful….no point carrying extra weight up climbs that isn’t useful!!!

Make training count!


7 thoughts on “Training and climbing”

  1. I row real boats – now that really uses muscles – shoulders, arms, back – the lot! I never found the gym rowing machines seemed to be doing anything in the short while I ever used a gym (when I had a broken bone and couldn’t go out), even on their highest setting – seemed to work my legs mostly.

    I agree with you about varying your hold positions though on the machines and used to do that.

    My problem with trying to climb more often is that the climbing wall is a 50 mile round trip and, with all the trips to Scotland I do, I’m loath to put many more miles on my cars, much as I enjoy going to the wall. I don’t get outdoors nearly often enough as I tend to put my hill-bagging trips first and many of them clash. Other problems are having a partner to climb with. I haven’t so have to rely on club meets to limestone crags or once-weekly social nights at the wall.


  2. I hear ya! It’s a constant battle finding partners and like minded partners too. Sometimes I just go alone to climbing gyms or outdoors. Yoga helps me wonders! I do a lot of balance poses, which helps a great deal when out on the rock. Good footwork is so important. Also, as you said, it’s super good for the mind! Couldn’t recommend it enough. Keep at it dude.


      1. No need for classes man. I do all mine at home 😀 If you want to ease into the idea, try just a sun salutation each day to begin with. It can take a little while to get into it, but once you get going, you feel the benefits and want to improve. Also, try apps and youtube. It’s all there waiting to be used 😉


      2. Not to make it sound like i’m plugging it, but it’s genuinely a great app! I use an app called Yoga Studio, it was recommended to me by someone when I was in Australia. I think it’s like £2,99, but has loads of videos on it, which is perfect. Just pop on a beginners 15 minute combination session and your good to go and then over time work your way up to the other vids 😉


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