Rock climbing

This rock climbing wall workout is a complete body burn

Indoor rock climbing is having a moment, with around 53 new facilities launched last year in the United States and the number of climbing gyms having doubled in the last 10 years. Fun, right? Sure, but it’s also a workout. “Climbing is often mistaken for a glorified pull-up diet, but nothing could be further from the truth,” says Dylan Waickman, director of First Ascent Climbing and Fitness in Chicago. “Rock climbing is a full body workout that constantly asks you to move in new and creative ways. Efficient movement, cardiovascular endurance, and a high tolerance for extreme forearm pump and muscle build-up. lactic acid are the hallmarks of a successful sport climber.

If you know, you know, and those who know rock climbing know that there are two buckets for this discipline: bouldering (climbing a wall 10 to 20 feet high with a crash pad underneath in case of a fall) and sport climbing (use a harness and rope for added safety when climbing higher walls). “A combination of coordination and explosive power will do well in bouldering, while sport climbing has a higher cardiovascular demand,” says Waickman.

Either suit promises to seriously strengthen the arms, hands, core and legs. “You’re constantly engaging your forearms to hold yourself up, your core to stabilize you, and your legs to propel you upwards,” says Waickman. Major back muscles like the latissimus dorsi and trapezius also come into play, he says, and unlike other forms of fitness, tendon strength is just as important as muscle strength. “Training your finger tendons is also an important part of the equation.”

Grip strength is important because you’re constantly grabbing holds, agrees TJ Ciotti, director of instruction at The Cliffs, a series of climbing gyms in the tri-state area. “If you’re just starting out, the fingers will feel more tired at first,” says Ciotti. “While it’s tempting, if you’re at a basic level of fitness, to go all out, your finger tendons aren’t used to that kind of abuse.” As a general rule, ride no more than two to three times a week when you’re just starting out, he says, and build from there.

Ultimately, those who stick with climbing become addicted to more than the physical benefits, Waickman says. “Climbing can be meditative because you learn to recognize your fears and overcome them instead of pushing them aside,” he says. “Climbing is also, by nature, a competition between you and the wall, as opposed to a competition between you and another person. This makes it a great sport for pursuing personal growth without getting drawn into comparing yourself to others. .

Ready to give it a try – or just up your game? These suspensions, maneuvers and pull variations are just what you need. You will also need a set of 15 pound dumbbells and a hanging bar and/or a wall and should try to get through everything in one push. (Best tip, says Waickman: When doing a hanging workout, keep a slight bend in your elbow to protect your joints.)

7/3 repeater

Why: This is a simple movement to build strength and endurance in your forearms.

How: Start standing on the floor or on a box under the pull-up bar. Catch it and grab it. Hold onto the bar for 7 seconds, rest for 3 seconds, and repeat for a total of 6 reps (this set takes a total of 1 minute). Rest for 1 minute, then do another set.

How much: Try doing 3 to 5 sets of suspensions, with a minute of rest between each.

Raising hanging knees

Why: This movement strengthens the shoulders and core.

How: Hold on to your board (using a wide grip) or pull-up bar with your arms straight. Engage your core, bend your knees and pull them towards your chest. Hold for a while, then release.

How much: 8-10 reps x 2 sets

Push-up with single row of arms

Why: This exercise builds strength in the pecs, triceps, and biceps while mimicking the vertical rock climbing motion on a wall.

How: Take the dumbbells. Start on all fours, placing the dumbbells lengthwise on the floor under each shoulder. Wrap your hands around the dumbbells, palms facing inward. Get into a lying push-up position with your arms and legs straight. Bend your elbows and do a push-up; As you straighten your arms, bend your right elbow and lift the weight of your right hand towards your chest. (You will need to shift your weight slightly to the left to maintain your center of balance.) Do another pushup; repeat on the left side.

How much: 10 reps (alternating sides) x 3 sets.


Why: With a focus on your hips, obliques, and lower back, this move (as the name suggests) is great preparation for the real thing.

How: Start in a flat plank position. Keeping your back flat, bend your right knee and raise it towards your chest. Straighten your right leg back to the starting position. Repeat on the left side.

How much: Do as many as you can in 60 seconds, keeping your legs moving fast.

Toe taps

Why: This exercise, which requires a climbing wall or a board or pull-up bar placed near a wall, teaches you to rotate your core and navigate lateral space while maintaining arm strength.

How: Grab two wall holds in a wide arm stance (or hang from your barbell), feet above the floor. Cross your right leg in front of your left, twisting your body to the left. Reach to the left with your right foot to tap the wall away from your midline. Return to the center, then to the right, letting your left leg cross your right leg. Hit the wall with your left foot. Back to center.

How much: Five shots on each side. Rest for a minute. Repeat once.

Arm extension

Why: Finding ways to hoist your free arm above your hanging arm is what rock climbing is all about. This exercise forces you to go further and higher with each press.

How: Hang on your wall, table or bar placed close to a wall, the feet above the ground. Inhale and extend your left arm as high as you can, letting your right arm support your weight. Tap the wall above you with your left hand. Exhale and bring the hand back to the grip or bar. Repeat on the opposite side. With each press on the wall, try to reach your finger higher and higher on the wall.

How much: 6 reps (alternating sides); rest 30 seconds. 3 sets.

4, 3, 2 hanging fingers

Why: Grip and finger strength are everything in climbing; this movement trains your fingers to support your body weight.

How: Reach out and grab the holds on your wall or board, or grab the pull-up bar using an overhand grip with four fingers (minus the thumb). Hang for 8-10 seconds. Release and rest for five seconds. Repeat the blocking but this time exclude your little finger so that you are suspended by three fingers. Hold the position for 5 to 7 seconds. Release and rest for five seconds. Repeat with a two-fingered hand (index and middle finger). Hold for 5 seconds. Release and rest for five seconds.

How much: Repeat this sequence 3 times.

The hover

Why: Strong shoulders and latissimus dorsi (upper back) muscles are essential for rock climbing – this exercise works on both.

How: Face a climbing wall and identify a route to climb. Take the first hold with your right hand. Bend your right elbow to draw this hold to your right shoulder (known as the lockout), reaching up with your left hand for the next hold. When your left hand is in front of the grip, pause and hold your body in this position for three seconds. Then grab the next hold and repeat on your left side.

How much: 10 hover of 3 seconds, then return to the ground. Repeat the climb three times.

Peter Pan

Why: Core and lower back strength and flexibility are essential for effective climbing and will help you avoid injury.

How: Use a wide grip on a rock climbing wall, hanging board or pull up bar. Hang with arms straight, knees slightly bent, and feet off the floor. Cross your ankles, bend your knees and gently swing your legs behind you, arching your back. Allow your feet to swing forward again, but stop them before they touch the wall or cross your midline. Engage your back muscles and pull your feet back and behind you again.

How much: 10 reps x 2 sets

Last words of wisdom? “The best way to get better at climbing is to climb,” says Ciotti. “Don’t think too much about it. Just go up. Waickman adds, “Just get on the wall and let your inner child take over.” Speaking of which, if you’re taking your youngster, don’t be surprised if they’re better at climbing than you are. “In a sport where strength-to-weight ratio has a big effect, kids just have an unfair advantage,” Waickman says. Just ride with it and be sure to sprint it home.