Whether you’re locked down, looking to improve strength, bored or a little bit of all three, this guide contains the best home workouts for climbing and bouldering training.
As with any sport, without additional training, there is going to come a point where your climbing ability plateaus. So we’ve written this guide to help you, not only maintain strength and flexibility when you can’t climb, but also to advance your overall fitness and climbing skills.
The first part of this guide covers a series of body-weight exercises that you can do anywhere around the home. The second covers more advanced techniques using training equipment specifically designed for climbing.
10 Body-Weight Exercises
Your upper body, encompassing your biceps, triceps, shoulders, are all fundamental muscle groups for being a good climber. These workouts target these areas to make sure you don’t lose strength when you can’t get out climbing.
- Tricep Dips
With your hands shoulder-width apart and placed on a chair or bench, extend your legs straight out in front of you.
Keeping your feet planted in the same position, slowly bend your elbows to lower your body towards the floor. Bend your elbows until they reach 90 degrees, hold for 2 seconds, then press down, straightening them until you return to your starting position.
To achieve a correct push up, position your hands shoulder-width apart with your legs straight out behind you with your core tight.
Bend your elbows and lower yourself toward the ground, hinging at your ankle joint. Bend your elbows until 45 degrees, hold for 2 seconds and push back up to straighten your arms. Ideally your fingers should be splayed, with your middle fingers pointing toward 12 o’clock.
To start, get yourself into a push-up position. Adjust your arms so that you rest your weight on your forearms with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Keep your core and legs tight, pinning your feet to the floor by your toes. Hold this position for as long as desired
Lie on your side with your legs extended, one on top of the other. Hold your body up using your arm fully extended and hand flat on the floor, forming a straight line from shoulders to ankles.
Hold this position for as long as desired. Switch sides and repeat.
Lie down with your back on the floor, knees bent and feet flat to the ground. Place your hands behind your head and slowly push your head towards your knees, rolling your shoulders off the floor as you go. Do this until your shoulders are about 4 inches off the floor and then slowly lower your head back down. To keep your core active throughout, try not to return your head all the way to the floor.
Lie on your back with your legs fully extended. Place your hands under your behind to lift your legs slightly off the ground. Simulate swimming kick by ‘fluttering’ each leg up and down a few inches, ensuring they never touch the ground. Do this for as long as desired.
Fingers and Forearms
Pulley Sprain Prevention
Place a rubber band around the tips of your fingers on one hand. Spread your fingers as far apart as you can without bending your wrist.
This exercise is best done with dumbbells, however you can also use any two objects of equal weight. Sitting down with your weight in each hand, place your forearms against your leg with your wrist hanging off past your knee. Slowly curl your wrists upwards towards your body, keeping your forearms and elbows still. Hold for 2 seconds then slowly lower your wrists back down. Repeat for as many reps as you desire.
- Bodyweight Squats
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down by bending your knees and hips until your thighs are horizontal, hold for 2 seconds. Press back up to return to your standing position. Repeat for as many reps as you desire.
Standing upright, place the balls of your feet on a raised surface such as a stair. Raise your heels, holding your balance then hold for 2 seconds. Slowly lower them back down to a point where they are slightly lower than horizontal. Repeat for as many reps as you desire.
Workouts with training equipment
If you’re looking to give your upper body, forearms and fingers a more targeted workout, then it might be time to invest in some climbing training equipment.
The products below range in price and complexity to assemble and you should always seek guidance before attempting any vigorous training with these items.
Grip and finger workouts
Using a tool like the Metolius Grip Saver Plus is a great way to give your fingers, wrist and/or elbow a targeted workout to build strength and resilience against injury.
By working the muscles of the hand and forearm through a full range of motion, the Grip Saver Plus strengthens the flexors and extensors of the hand equally to ensure improved balance of strength.
To take your targeted workouts to the next level, rock rings like the Metolius Rock Rings are portable, hanging climbing training equipment, great for finger, core and general upper body workouts.
As the Rock Rings are suspended, they move and rotate as you perform pull-ups creating a more natural movement in your shoulders and elbows and reducing the strain and chances of injury. Rock Rings can be suspended from any solid anchor point, a pull-up bar, tree limb, eye-hooks in an exposed beam or framing member, etc. giving you the opportunity to set up a pair at your home when putting up a fingerboard might not be an option.
Training boards, fingerboard, hanging board, lots of names but one very effective bit of training kit. If you’re very serious about improving your at-home climbing fitness, investing in a training board might be the way to go. However, bare in mind this will involve a fair amount of confident DIY to fasten the board to a wall in your home.
One such example is the Prime Rib Training Board which has three edges that give you everything you need for effective training.