Now that the Covid-19 pandemic had us all tucked up in our homes, getting performant training at the gym or in the open air has become a challenge. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you need to give up your dream of building muscles and becoming stronger. Experienced climbers surely don’t, and some of them have even developed active routines to keep their muscles trained and ready for the next expedition.

Thus, there’s plenty you can do, from exercises that require no accessories at all but the weight of your body to routines that may demand investment in equipment like a free standing pull-up bar, a finger grip strengthen, or a hangboard. If you are a big fan of bouldering, you can also install a climbing wall in your home and get not only strength and muscle training but endurance training as well.

These being said, let’s take a look at what you can do to grow muscles and keep yourself in top shape while waiting for the big adventure. We propose a series of workouts designed to train your upper, middle, and lower body that are used by professional climbers while training at home.

Upper Body Training

There’s no secret that these muscle groups are the most engaged while climbing. Nonetheless, here is how you can train them even behind doors.

  • Antagonist training with push-ups – while climbing engages mostly the pulling muscles, push-ups work the opposite way, and this is why this type of training is called ‘antagonist‘. By doing pull-ups, enhance your balance, which is essential when going up a tall wall or a real mountain.
  • Pull-ups – you will be engaging the exact muscle groups that are involved in mounting, so you will grow muscle and develop more strength even when you don’t get the chance to climb at the gym or outdoors.
  • Weight training – you can increase the intensity of the workout by adding some dumbbells. Dumbbell bicep curls are excellent for arms training.

Core Training

It may not seem that you’ll use much of your belly muscles, and this is a common misconception, present mostly among beginners. Actually, the better you train your core, the easier it will be on your upper-body muscles. When you need to climb steep roofs, this muscle group gets engaged to help you align your pelvis with your chest. You’ll be hanging almost upside down in this position, so you will want the core to take some of the pressure that otherwise will concentrate on your back, biceps, and forearm.

Here are some exercises you could try:

  • Plank – to make a simple plank, take a push-up posture. Then, flex your elbows to 90°. Maintain this posture for as long as possible. If you wish, you can increase the difficulty. For this, extend one arm and one leg while letting your opposite members along with the ab to support your body weight. You can, after one minute, change the arm and the leg.
  • Hanging leg lift – you will need a pull-up bar for these workouts. Grab the bar and let your legs hang. Then, elevate your legs to an angle of 90°. To make one rep, let your legs gradually back down to the initial place. If it seems too hard at the beginning, you can try elevating your legs with the knees flexed.
  • Six inches – you’ll suffer a bit through this workout, but the results are ensured. Here’s how it follows. Laying on your back, stretch your legs, and put your hands along the body. To begin, elevate your legs to form a 6-inch distance between them and the mat. In case you feel too much pressure is put you can support it by positioning your hand under your butt. Try to hold this posture for as long as possible. You will definitely feel your ab burning.

Lower Body Training

Most beginners rely first on their upper body to push themselves up but then discover that the lower body can help them a lot and that real climbing cannot even be practiced without training these muscles. So, let’s take a look at how you can do it:

  • Lunges – simple yet very effective, these exercises can help you boost your legs’ strength. To begin, step forward with one foot and try to form a 90° The other foot should stay parallel with the floor. Exchange feet and do the same action. To make everything harder, consider using some weights. Keep one dumbbell in one hand and one in the other while doing the exercise.
  • Squats – whether you are doing simple, jumping, or weight squats, these workouts are at hand and will engage multiple muscle groups in your legs. Stay with your feet apart in a posture in which each foot matches the shoulder. Flex your knees and squat down. Get back to the initial position and try again. Add weights or jump for more intense training.

Don’t Forget About Endurance

While muscle training is essential, and there’s no doubt you’ll need strong muscles for climbing, you should also pay attention to endurance. You’ll need good lung capacity and resistance if you are going to take this training out in the real world. Thus, don’t forget to get good cardio, which can be attained through biking, long slow jogs, or interval sprints. If you cannot leave your home, you can still get more resistant by doing burpees and set-ups.

The Bottom Line

There’s no secret that regular muscle training will help you build muscles, and this is the rule applied by any professional climber. Nonetheless, it is up to you to decide what type of workouts you want to add to your routine, if you are going to include equipment, and how many hours a week you are going to train. Just bear in mind to train all your muscle groups and don’t forget about endurance training, as big muscles have no value if you cannot breathe while trying to climb a small wall. Moreover, we recommend doing some stretching exercises as well to improve your balance and breathing. Yoga could be a good start.


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