If you haven’t trained strength or lack it then building a good foundation by doing the standard exercises of pull ups or press ups may be a good start. To make these exercises a bit more interesting, try to switch it up a little by making your press ups/pull ups wide, narrow, offset (hands at different heights), or placing your hands lower down aiming to get as close to your hips as possible for a press up.
‘Frenchies’ are another example of how you can make your pull up training more varied. They consist of doing a pull up but stopping and locking off at a full lock, 90 and 120 degrees for 3 seconds each to start with. You can vary these angles or add more in to change the exercise. It may be an idea to switch some of your conditioning work outs onto the rings as well; their wobbly nature forces you to engage your core a lot more so if you’re looking to challenge yourself this could be your next step.
More experienced climbers may wish to add weight to their training to increase the intensity of these exercises.
Frenchies – 0 degrees
Frenchies – 120 degrees
Frenchies – 90 degrees
Frenchies – full lock
This is clearly very important in climbing and should be trained. To train this as a beginner, trying more fingery, crimpier boulder problems or routes will go a long way. For more advanced climbers, the fingerboard and campus boards are excellent tools for training. You can use the fingerboard for hanging on different edges, choosing smaller/less positive edges as your training progresses.
The most common method of deadhang training operates using a 7 seconds on, 3 seconds off rule. This works by hanging for 7 seconds and resting for a further 3 seconds, repeating this 6 times to make a full minute. After a set you rest for 3 minutes, and then go again for another 4-9 sets.
You can also train your finger strength – specifically your contact strength – using the campus board. The idea of it is to go between the rungs one hand at a time without your feet, increasing the distance between rungs to make it harder. Using the campus board also gives an opportunity to train endurance by ‘laddering’, which is going up and down with your body in the same position and your feet on.
Campus boarding not only works finger strength, as it can be helpful in training power too. However, a more basic way to train power could be through doing dynamic pull ups, where you pull yourself up on the bar and keep going as high as you can, aiming for your stomach to be level with the bar at the height of the bar.
Another more climbing related way to train power is by climbing on a board. These are steep walls that have poorer hands and footholds on, usually requiring more dynamic movement and less technique. Try climbing on the board fairly regularly to see improvements in both strength and power. Aim to complete explosive moves and really drive with your legs and pull with your arms between moves.
Lastly, a less direct power that can be trained is leg power. You may think climbing is mainly about upper body strength but actually using your legs can make climbing a lot easier! Improving leg power allows you to gain more drive and push from your legs on dynos, moves where you have to stand up on a foothold, and more jumpy moves. Train this by doing regular squats, and squat jumps onto boxes at increasing heights.
Give it a try and you’ll start to see your strength and power building. Happy climbing!