A big misconception for “training for climbing” (especially for beginners) is that, stronger fingers equals stronger climbing, and although having a steel-like-grip comes in handy for those moments when your feet cut out while dangling on those credit card sized grips, hanging from a hangboard incorrectly early on can promote long lasting finger injury. There are other, safer tools and methods you can use to build up a strong base.
Therabands are a fantastic piece of equipment that every climber should have, these can be used both for warming up and strengthening your shoulders and elbows to help prevent injuries. I’ve listed a few exercises below:
- Internal rotations: Tie one end of your resistant band off at elbow height(this can be done on a pole, tree, belay partner whatever you have closest to you), grab the other end with one hand and your elbow at ninety degrees facing sidewards pull the band slowly inwards towards your belly button and back slowly. Do three sets of ten repetitions.
- Rows: Loop the middle of the band at chest height around your pole, tree, friend, whatever so that you have the two end coming out at equal length. Grab both ends at chest level and with straight back and arm pull the band down towards the side of your body and back as far as possible. Do three sets of ten repetitions.
- Scaption: Place one end under your preferred foot and grab the other end with a straight arm, keeping the arm straight lift the band slowly upwards in front of you and back down. Do three sets of ten repetitions.
- Finger warm-up: Bring all your finger-tips together and cover them with piece of Theraband, with your other hand hold the Theraband in place by your wrist while slowly extending your fingers outwards and back in. Do three sets of ten repetitions. This exercise can also be done with Metolius Grip Saver.
Flexbars are a simple yet effective tool for warming up your forearms and strengthening your wrists. They are easy to use, all you have to do is grip both ends and twist in alternating directions. You can even do this while watch Netflix at home.
Gymnastic rings Are perfect for when your fingers are feeling a little tender but you still want to get a good training session in. They are also easy to hang up and are fully portable. Pull-ups are great for keeping your shoulders strong but lockoff strength is more climbing specific; below are a few of ways to train this:
- Pull-up negatives: With your rings hanging above your head use assistance with either a step or by jumping to get into a fully locked off position(where you would normally be at the top of a pull up) hold this for a couple of seconds and then lower yourself as slowly as possible till your arms are straight. Try focus on moving as slowly as possible over the number of repetitions.
- Frenchies: Are harder to train then pull-up negatives but also more efficient, you will start off the same as the pull-up negatives but hold this position for five seconds, slowly move downwards to a position where your elbows are at ninety degrees and hold this position for another five seconds, after this lower yourself again so that your arms are slightly bent and hold for five seconds.
- You can make this harder by stopping yourself at more positions for five seconds as you come down or by holding the lock off for a longer time period.
- Leg raises: are one of my favourite exercises to do on the gymnastic rings as they stimulate the same movement you would do while trying to get a high foot while bouldering. These can be done by hanging with a straight arm (or locked off if you want to work that lock off strength at the same time) and with knees bent at ninety degrees bring your knees slowly in towards your chest and back down again, aim to do sets of ten repetitions.
The best way to build up finger strength from scratch is to do so slowly, portable hangboards such as the Dog-Bone work well as instead from hanging your full weight off your fingers you can attach weights to the hangboard’s cord and with a straight arm and fingers lift the weight off the ground and hold for a couple of seconds. You can build up both weight and time until you get to a stage where you feel comfortable hanging your full weight off the board. We have covered hangboard training in previous blogs.
Doing yoga regularly will help both with flexibility and injury prevention CityROCK offers many different styles and you can grab yourself an Asoka Eco yoga mat to help you get started.
Last but not least the best way to get stronger for climbing is by climbing everything and anything as much as possible. If getting to the gym is a bit of a struggle you can purchase some grips and make your own wall at home. Feel free to talk to the shop staff members as we can point you in the right direction to making your own home wall.
There are many more training methods and techniques out there, explore, ask around and experiment to see what works for you.