stay strong when not climbingNot having time to climb is frustrating.

But, what’s arguably even worse, is not being able to enjoy those infrequent moments when you actually can make it to the gym or the crag because your climbing performance is well below your expectations.

Let’s be serious…it flat out sucks.

Is it just me, or do you also feel like you’re starting from scratch every time you hit the climbing gym even after just a short time off climbing?

No endurance. Skin is hurting. Burnt out after the warm up. Pumped 2 seconds into the climb. Rapid onset of fatigue. Projecting what you expected to flash. Rapid decline in confidence. Questioning if you even know how to climb.

Any sound familiar?

We all like the feeling of progression, so being at a standstill or even moving in the opposite direction can be extremely demotivating.

Climbing is about exploring our limits and pushing ourselves to places that are beyond what we thought we were capable of. Those are some of the best moments in climbing, when you unexpectedly hit a hold and stick it. The feelings are indescribable and only something that a climber can really understand.

Unfortunately, it can be hard for the busy climber to get out and climb multiple times a week and really experience this kind of exhilarating progress.

So, what’s the next best thing?

Home training!

Being a busy climber myself, home training is something that I’ve benefited substantially from.

This home training is absolutely not a rigorous training regimen because…

a) that takes time (if busy climbers had time they’d go climbing!), and

b) I do not like training

Instead, it is an efficient way for busy climbers to stay feeling strong by just dedicating a minute portion of their day to training. Or, maybe you’re not that busy, but have a strong aversion or lack of motivation to rigorous training, then this type of training may be more up your alley.

My philosophy with this home training is that doing something is A LOT better than doing nothing. After doing nothing for a while, I very quickly realized the benefits that come with simply doing just one thing a day that could contribute to my climbing potential.

That is essentially the idea with this home training. Depending on the amount of time you can dedicate to it, pick at least one exercise a day to focus on. One day you may want to focus on core, another on finger strength, and another on shoulder strength, just making sure you still schedule in some rest days and alternate between muscle groups (p.s. yoga is great everyday including rest days 😉 ).

So, just like climbing, we also like to experience progression in our training. A good training program will provide progression by gradually increasing frequency, intensity and/or duration over time. Then, just simply tracking what you’ve achieved during each training session is an excellent way to see your progress and serves a source of motivation for your next training session.

Below I’ve listed several exercises, most of which require no equipment, that can be used for this training. All together I’ve provided a collection of 20 exercises that can be done virtually anywhere. Having this kind of variety is great because it allows you to alternate with different types of exercise and helps prevent boredom, which is the main reason why most abandon their training.

As a result of my uncontrollable need to keep things in order I’ve categorized the exercises based on muscle group, but in reality each exercise works a combination of different muscle groups. In fact, I’ve listed the exercises below specifically because they are efficient and they allow you really maximize your time by working a variety of muscles all at once, that are of particular interest to climbers.

As a busy climber, by performing home training you will feel strong even if you can’t climb as frequently as you’d like. You’ll get on climbs feeling strong and be able to leave the frustration aside, leading to more productive and enjoyable sessions.

Fingers

Dead hangs

dead hangHow to: Hang on your fingers with a slight bend in your elbows while sliding your shoulder blades down your back. Developing finger strength takes time and patience. Start on friendly holds and gradually work towards more challenging ones.

Areas worked: grip strength, forearms, shoulders, back

Rubber Band Finger Extensions

finger strengthHow to: Buy some broccoli from the grocery store and use those perfect thick elastic bands for this training. Place the rubber band around your fingers and spread your fingers apart and then slowly back together. You can literally do this anywhere. Keep a rubber band handy in your pocket. 🙂

Areas worked: finger extensors, forearms

Biceps

Pull Ups

How to: Palms face away from you or even face each other as you pull yourself up so that your shoulders come in line with your hands. To incorporate more grip strength, gradually increase the difficulty of the holds you use for your pull ups.

Areas Worked: biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, grip strength

Triceps

Push Ups

tricep push upHow to: The closer the stance of your hands the more effort required from your triceps. Start with your hands shoulder width apart in a plank position (on your knees or your toes). Before lowering, rock forward slightly so your chest is in line with your hands, then lower, making sure to hug your elbows in right by your sides, until your shoulders come in line with your elbows, and then push back up. In other words, for all the yogi climbers out there, a chaturanga push up. Eventually you can work towards bringing the hands closer together creating a diamond with the pointer fingers and thumbs.

Areas worked: triceps, biceps, chest, shoulders, abs, quads

Bench Dips

bench dipsHow to: Place the palms of your hands on a bench or chair (fingers pointing towards you) and extend your legs straight out in front of you so that you’re resting on your heels. Keep the elbows pointing back as you lower yourself down and back up again. To increase the difficulty, elevate your feet.

Areas Worked: triceps, shoulders, chest, back

Shoulders

High Plank

high plankHow to: Start in a plank position; on your toes and palms shoulder width apart. Also, feel the shoulders protract slightly as you press up into the upper back, press out through the heels and crown of head, and feel the tail bone gently press towards your heels. From this plank position come up into a high plank position by engaging and pulling up with your core. Lift up as high as you can so that you come up on to the very tips of your toes, trying to reduce the weight on your toes as much as possible.

Areas worked: abs, back, shoulders, chest, quads, glutes

Push Back Push Ups

push back push upHow to: Start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Lower down as if doing a regular push up while keeping your elbows pointing behind you. At the bottom of your push up, take a bend in your knees, press into your hands and send your hips diagonally up and back so that you come into a downward dog pose with bent knees. Inhale as you come back to a plank position and repeat.

Areas worked: triceps, chest, shoulders, abs, quads

Side Plank

side plankHow to: From a plank position roll onto the outside edge of your foot. Your hand can be directly under your shoulder or slightly in front. Lift up through your hips and bring the fingertips straight up towards the ceiling or extend your fingertips overhead by bringing your inner bicep toward your ear. To increase the difficulty lift the top leg, but make sure that doesn’t allow the hips to sag.

Areas worked: abs, hips, gluten, quad, hamstring

Chest

One Legged Push Up

1 leg push upHow to: Regular push ups are excellent, but to work more into the chest you can increase the work it has to do by keeping one leg lifted as you perform a push up.

Areas worked: chest, shoulders, back, triceps, biceps, abs

Back

Wide Pull Ups

How to: Like a regular pull up except working towards bringing your hands wider than shoulder width apart. The wider the stance of your hands the harder it becomes.

Areas worked: arms, shoulders, back (especially lats)

Supermans

supermanHow to: Lie on your belly with your arms out in front of you. On an inhale reach out through the fingers and balls of the feet and lift up the arms, legs, and chest.

Areas worked: upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings

Abs

Plank

plankHow to: You can perform plank on your hands or your forearms. Regardless of which variation you choose, bring you palms or elbows shoulder width apart and come onto your toes. Feel the shoulders protract slightly as you press up into the upper back, press out through the heels and crown of head and feel the tail bone gently press towards your heels.

Areas worked: abs, back, shoulders, chest, quads, glutes

Leg Lifts

l sitHow to: Hang on a hang board, rock rings, or something similar. While keeping a slight bend in your elbows and drawing your shoulder blades down your back, either lift your knees up toward your chest or keep the legs straight as you lift them up to an “L” position. Try and prevent excessive swinging as you lift and lower your legs.

Areas worked: abs, hip flexors, quads, grip strength, forearms, shoulders, back

Plank Slides

sliding plankHow to: Start in plank with a towel or blanket under your toes. On an inhale use the strength of your core to lift the hips up high and slide the feet towards your hands. On an exhale lower back to plank. Again use the strength of your core to lower slowly instead of succumbing to gravity.

Areas worked: abs, back, shoulders, chest, quads, glutes

Legs

Squats with Calf Lift

squatHow to: Bring the feet hip width apart or slightly wider. Send the hips back as you come down into a squat position then inhale as you come all the way back up onto your toes, engaging the legs and the glutes.

Areas worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abs

Split Squat

split squatHow to: Stand in front of a bench or chair and bring the top of one foot onto the bench, making sure to keep the hips level. Bend the standing leg as you lower down into a squat. The knee of the lifted leg points straight down towards the floor, and the shoulders stay stacked over the hips.

Areas worked: glutes, quads, hamstring, calves, groin, abs

Squat Jumps

How to: Feet come shoulder width apart or slightly wider. Send the hips back as you lower into a squat on an inhale, then on an exhale explode up jumping up as high as you can. Land softly and gently lower down into a squat again and repeat.

Areas worked: glutes, hamstrings, abs, quads, calves

Ankles

Achilles stretch

achilles stretchHow to: Come into a low lunge position and begin to rock your weight forward until you get to the point where your heel is right about to lift off the ground. This exercise is more passive and works into the back of the ankle and the calf muscle. There are no reps or sets needed here, just hold for 1-3 minutes.

Areas worked: Achilles, calf

Pistol Squat

pistol squatHow to: There are a couple of available variations here. You can come into this one legged squat by either staying on the ball of the foot or coming completely onto the sole of the foot. Extend the free leg straight out. If the free leg needs assistance to stay lifted, hold on to the leg or the toes, or use a strap and loop it around the ball of the foot.

Areas worked: ankle, abs, hip flexor, quad

Runners Quad Stretch

quad stretchHow to: Ground through one foot and let the top of your other foot rest in the palm of your hand. Don’t pull the heel in but rather let the top of your foot just rest in your hand as you direct both your knee and your tail bone down towards the floor. This helps to work into tight quads and hip flexors while creating strength in the standing ankle. Hold for 3 minutes.

Areas worked: ankle, quad, hamstring, front of ankle, hip flexor, quad