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Off Season Climbing Training Tips


Diva in Training
I realize this is a ski forum, but I know a lot of skiers are also climbers, and I was wondering if any of you climbers out there had any sort of training regimen for climbing off season. The past 2 ski seasons I actually started doing some strength training leading into winter (rather than just hiking, climbing, and biking like I normally do), and found that it helped a lot. I am skiing stronger, and have had a lot fewer aches and pains throughout the season.

I've been off my climbing game lately, and typically just "train" in the winter by going to the climbing gym here and there. It doesn't seem to be doing as much as I'd like it to, and I'm always coming into climbing season feeling weak and a little disappointed in myself. Most of my guy friends just train at the climbing gym, but they obviously have a better upper body strength base than I do. I'm curious if any female climbers do anything special in the winter? I'm talking more weight training than hang board/climbing gym stuff.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
TRX would be a great addition to your workout. I use daisy chains so you might not even have to buy anything and you can add weight etc. check out the dynaflex ball for hand strength. It looks whacky but pretty cool actually. There is another cool thing you can use, and maybe even with daisy chains where you pull your way up a ladder. Its been so long I can't remember what its called, jenga or something. Then of course there are the handhold pull-ups. However, after having two trigger fingers operated on, and living with all 10 fingers that never go completely straight, DH thinks they are horrible on your tendons though. Other than that full body weight training should help. Deadlifts etc. And burpees.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I know you said that you wanted more in the line of weight training, but honestly the best training for climbing is to climb. That being said, you can do a more focused climbing gym workout that will help you get stronger. I've always found doing reps of up and down climbing easier routes really builds strength and endurance. Some climbing gyms will also have training classes designed to help strengthen the muscles used in climbing.


Staff member
I'm not a climber, but I know that yoga (especially ashtanga) is common for cross training with the climbers I know. In fact, some of my favorite ashtanga yoga teachers teach at the little studio at one of the rock climbing gyms in SLC. More restorative styles of yoga wouldn't build up strength and endurance, but ashtanga is quite a workout. I've only gone climbing a few times, but I can also see where it's good mental cross-training. Ashtanga involves a lot of arm balances and transitions that involve a lot of strength/balance and more than anything, commitment.


Diva in Training
Yeah, I agree that climbing is one of the best things to improve climbing, but being a female I feel like I have always struggled with overall strength. I feel like the wall I have hit the past year has been strength related, and after seeing an improvement in my skiing by strength training, I am inclined to think that at least in my case some strength training would be beneficial for my climbing too. I've been hitting the gym more too, we'll see if hitting the regular gym more does anything for me.

Thanks altagirl, I have just started getting back into yoga again. I'm pretty stiff, so I agree that it probably does a lot to prevent injury and improve mental toughness!
Totally!!! I did some strength training early in this climbing season and I think it was part of my having my best climbing season ever!!! I've been following the TrainingBeta.com podcast and downloaded/started following the program in Steve Bechtel's book Strength: Foundation Training for Rock Climbers (which is all stuff that can be done at the your regular gym). I've also been playing with the regime in The Rock Climber's Training Manual by the Anderson brothers.

Here are some thoughts I have based on my personal experience:
  • I've been a climber for 16 years. I do A LOT of climbing. Like 2-3 days a week through most of the season. Depending on a variety of factors 'just climbing more' may not be the answer. For one, there is that whole job thing. I'd have to give up gainful employment to 'climb more.' Strength training was one of the keys for be to unlock a door and get off of a plateau I had been on for quite some time, which brings me to...
  • If you are on a plateau, that indicates you've got to change something because you've gotten as far you can go on what you've been doing. IMHO, this is another reason why the 'just climb more' thing fails. We are creatures of habit. And ego. Unless you are making a concerted effort to get on different routes, climb different areas, work on weaknesses, etc. by 'just climbing more' you are more than likely going to be climbing routes that maximize your strengths, not develop your weaknesses, which is where you are going to get the most bang for your buck!
  • The thing about training is that it's systematic. Just climbing more is too random. A good example is that where I climb mostly, we have lots of overhang juggy roofs, even in the moderate range. So I can do pull-ups off of big holds, but crimps and small holds are my kryptonite because I am generally not forced to used them. When I started hangboarding and getting my fingers stronger, big holds seemed bigger, I used less strength to hold on (or rather I had more strength in reserve) and my confidence went way up. If I did push myself to train that in a systematic way, I'm not sure how I would have ended up training it at all.
  • Yoga is great for cross-training and be great for mental training, but if you're training time is limited, I would put my money on things that will give you a greater ROI for climbing, like strength training or hangboard workouts.
  • I was really intimidated by hangboarding too at first. The Anderson brothers make a great case for it in their book. It's really the most sport-specific training tool we climbers have. I'm now a big fan, because I put one in my home and I can 'train' without leaving my house and probably while I cook dinner. Which means I am much more compliant. It's tough for sure, but done properly with the pulley system, you decrease your risk of injury. And building mental toughness is good for you!
Feel free to reach out if you want any more specific advice, thoughts, resources, whatever! Good luck to you!!!

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