What do you need to make the most of your time away from the climbing gym?
We’re all feeling a little bit like our worlds have been rocked by a tiny virus. With the hopes that some solid isolation will keep the virus at bay, we think there are some ways to keep yourself in good spirits at this challenging time. Here is some much needed inspiration and some equipment you can use to keep moving, keep those tendons strong and feel the gains at home.
Building your own training centre
Your climbing gym is probably closed and if it’s not, you should consider very carefully whether you visit it while the world is trying to flatten the exponential viral curve.
I don’t know about you, but I want to use this time to get conditioned. And the best way I can think of is to revive my old home training setup. I’m going to take you through all that you need to set up your home training centre or revive what you already have in place.
Now, don’t be silly; remember to disinfect your equipment regularly, wash your hands before and after using them. With isolation recommendations expected to continue for months, remember to look after your mental health, too! Get a climbing film watch party together and keep in touch with your mates.
For those who have never trained on systems like these before. Make sure you exercise plenty of caution and ease yourself into using them. The internet has a plethora of advice on training exercises to go along with these setups. Find reliable training programmes and take it slowly!
A good old hangboard is one of the best ways to keep your fingers conditioned. If you install one thing in your house, let it be a hangboard. Stronger fingers? Fewer finger injuries? Look no further.
But which one to choose? These come in so many shapes and sizes and you need to choose a design that’s well thought out, ergonomic and not going to interfere with your natural grip patterns. Some hangboards obstruct your hands as you hang. Rather find one that is slightly overhanging, allowing your hand to hang freely.
Ideally you need a hangboard with a number of holds you can barely hang on and a few that you can’t even hold onto yet. To develop strength, your hangboard needs to be difficult to hang on but must also have larger holds for warming up. If you have gotten to the point where you’d like to hang on holds that cause more pain to your skin (less than 10mm or so), you may wish to begin adding weight (a weight vest or free weight clipped to a harness) rather than selecting smaller holds – note this is only recommended for advanced climbers.
The Metolius Contact is great because it combines a great texture (not too rough or too smooth – easy on the skin) and a huge number of hold size and shape options. It supports most ability levels and will last a while as you progress.
If you are in a scenario where you cannot install a hangboard, such as if you’re renting and can’t drill holes or your walls don’t support a board, then you can always find one of the smaller, portable versions that can be strung up anywhere, are easy to pack into a bag. We love the Scallywag Swank Board.
This compact, wooden, free hanging board is ideal for boarding school – if school starts again, camping trips, and if you plan to move out of your house in the near future. These may have limited hand hold sizes, but there is a lot you can do with a portable board.
The Scallywags COVID-19 training programme is cool and will give you a good start to getting your fingers strong. One of the best things about this portable board is that they are easy on the budget, made of renewable materials and are locally made. I like that I can hang this is a tree and get a bit of sun on my back!
Metolius Rock Rings are also super cool for those of you who are renting or who can’t fix a hangboard. I find these great because you can adjust the distance they are apart, meaning you can isolate different parts of your shoulders.
They are great for the bigger muscles and because they are free hanging they are good to improve your stabilising muscles. They have two, three and four finger pockets, so there is a lot you can do with them. While they lack crimps, you’ll find them rather versatile pieces of equipment. The Rock Rings come with a very cool training programme which you’ll find easy to follow.
Campus rungs are such an awesome addition to your training setup. If you’re a complete beginner, this may not be the best approach. But, if you’ve been climbing for a number of years Campus training is amazing for contact strength, training lock-off power and also excellent for improving your brute pull power and dynamic motion. In the coming weeks, we will be posting some great campus board workouts on the MMO blog so keep in touch.
Metolius campus rungs come in a number of different sizes. If you have no campus experience, stick to the large and extra large sizes. If you’re more experienced at campus training, you can set up the smaller rungs and work up to them, in conjunction with finger board training.
Building your own home wall is one of the most satisfying things around. You’ll need to select a range of hold sizes. Depending on the angle of your new setup and your ability, select jugs, crimps and medium sized hold appropriately.
T-nuts and cap screws are also available online and at the CityROCK gear shop; and your local timber supplier will have plywood (20mm ply is pretty standard). You’ll need some struts too! Be careful about your T-nut choice in relation to the size of the holes in your holds purchased, also match the cap screw sizes to the t-nuts size. Larger T-nuts will last much longer and are more than worth the extra investment. Smaller T-nuts pop easily, especially if you don’t set them properly.
Do your careful reading, such as this article from Rock and Ice below and you can rig an amazing system.
A good set of gymnastic rings will keep your core and shoulders in shape. These are easy to move around an only require a good tree or solid anchor point to set up. There is plenty you can do with these. They perform a similar function to TRX systems, but what’s great is that they are strong enough for more advanced, aerial work for those of you who are on the stronger side.
Slacklines are ideal if you have garden or floor space to set them up. They are amazing for training core and body awareness, co-ordination and balance. If you haven’t slacklined before, now is a great time to give it a try. Make sure your anchors are very sound. Consider some boulder pads to make the setup safer.
Core training helpers
One of the easiest ways to maintain your fitness with very little investment required is core training. A hangboard or pull up bar is great for leg raisers and front levers but a good yoga mat will go a long way to make your floorwork much more comfortable. To choose the right yoga mat, check out our blog post Yoga Mats 101.
Provided you’re healthy, cardio is a great outlet, stress relief and an excellent way to stay in shape. Running outside requires only a pair of shoes. Of course you’ll need a decent pair of shoes and my personal recommendation is the Salomon XA PRO 3D (Available at the CityROCK gear shop Johannesburg, email firstname.lastname@example.org to order a pair). Reason being, they double up as excellent approach shoes for when it feels safe enough to return to the crag but are great for on the trail too. I even use mine for a dog walk on a muddy/rainy day.
Personally I’ve found an investment in a SUUNTO watch has changed my cardio training motivation dramatically. Being able to monitor your progress is wonderful. Suunto’s features are unparalleled and seem to get better with every new addition to the Suunto family. Within the context of social distancing, running through apps like Suunto’s apps or connecting to Strava can be a great way to share your exercise with your mates.
Keeping mentally healthy during this period is going to be tough, and we believe your own training setup will be a great step in maintaining the drive to keep healthy and moving. We hope you keep strong and are prepared to crush all your projects when the isolation period is over.