- 30 exercises for practical Climbing/Bouldering Training.
- 2 Training Plans for Climbing-Specific Training.
- 2 Training Plans for Stabilization and Antagonist Training.
Training Plans for Climbing / Bouldering
As we all know, it is not always possible to follow the training plan “according to plan”. But as long as you manage to stick to it “most of the time”, you will make tremendous progress with the help of a structured program.
The training is composed of:
- 3-4x climbing / bouldering (per week)
- Stabilization and Antagonist training
- Climbing specific training
- Recover / Mobility
#1 Example: 3x Climbing / Bouldering
#2 Example: 4x Climbing / Bouldering
#3 Example: Weekend Warrior
Of course, the specific weekdays are only a suggestion; you can (and probably will) have to juggle something and adapt the training program to your circumstances.
If you cannot go climbing/bouldering 3x a week, then replace each missed session with a “climbing-specific training” – Down below, you will find 30 exercises.
30 exercises – Climbing / Bouldering Training
At the bottom of the text, will find 4 ready-to-go training plans:
- 2x training plans for “Climbing-Specific Training” (circuit training)
- 2x training plans for Stabilization and Antagonist Training
1. Finger Strength Training
To effectively train climbing-specific finger strength, you need to be able to hang your fingers onto somewhere.
So you need some kind of ledge or edge to hang your fingers on.
The ideal tool for training finger strength is a hangboard. Alternatively – a door frame, a door beam, or a pull-up bar do work.
Years ago, I did my first finger-strength workout on a door frame – and it worked perfectly. Now I train on a hangboard because it offers more variety the training.
1. Finger Strength Training – Maximum Strength
- The goal is to hang from an edge for 12 seconds.
- The size of the hold must be such that 12 seconds will bring you close to failure (your maximum performance limit should be around 15 seconds).
- After the 12 seconds of hanging, take a precisely 3 min break (complete recovery is essential).
- Repeat the whole thing 5 times, and you have completed a set.
- Do 3-5 sets (5 min rest between sets)
2. Finger Strength Training – Power Endurance
Hangboard or door frame – There’s no better finger strength training for the home – Just Do IT!
Check out my full article on Finger-Strength-Training:
Finger Strength Training
- 3 Protocols for Maximum Finger Strength.
- 1 Protocol for Power Endurance.
2.Body Tension / Core
Exercises that target the core and abs are always uncomfortable – This includes planks in all variations. Planks are one of the simplest and most effective exercises for more body tension.
- The entire core is activated.
- Straight back
- Do not let your hips sag
- Hold tension
A climbing-specific variation.
- Starting position Plank
- Bring your knee up sideways towards the outer elbow – hold briefly
- Bring your knee under the body towards the inner elbow – hold briefly
- Return to the starting position – change leg.
- Start with 10 reps and increase to 30.
Upper body rotation
Additionally trains the muscles in the shoulder girdle.
- Slowly raise the arm and bring it up sideways until it points vertically upwards.
- Gaze follows the arm.
- Hold up for 2 sec and switch arms.
A great exercise – The Giga Plank trains the body tension both back and front.
- Simultaneously lift the left leg and right arm
- Hold 5 seconds
- Lower and change
This exercise originally comes from yoga – I have modified it slightly and made it more dynamic and climbing-specific.
Starting position is “the boat” – then bring elbow and knee together alternately.
Train your lateral abdominal muscles. You can perform the exercise statically (hold up) or dynamically (lift and lower the hips).
- Lower and raise hips – hold at the top for 2 sec.
- The body forms a straight line – do not bend the hips.
The best exercise for the entire back muscles.
- Lift opposite arm/leg and hold for 3-5 seconds.
- Consciously build and maintain body tension (especially in the lumbar region).
Possible variation: Lift both legs and arms at the same time.
To isolate the training of the abdominal muscles, do not let the legs sink too far. The further you lower the legs, the more the hip flexor muscles are activated and trained.
Lower and raise – hold at the top for 5 seconds and repeat.
Knee Rolls – knee to elbow
The range of motion is wider here, which means that the shoulder girdle and parts of the Latinismus are also activated.
- Roll knees “up” to the elbows
- Don’t use momentum – be sure to execute static and with precision.
- Lower slowly.
Variation: Perform the exercise with legs extended.
- Starting position: Hanging but not “sagging” (shoulders activated)
- Bend knees and twist lower body sideways.
Variation windshield wiper: execution with straight legs.
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Take a look at the 9 Best climbing shoes.
Training with Gymnastic Rings or Sling Trainer
Mega Core 2000
- Starting position: Kneeling with arms stretched out in front – rings/slings approximately at the level of your belly button.
- Slowly bend forward and hold the position for a second – the pelvis must not sag. Keep a straight back (otherwise, you will stress the lumbar vertebrae).
A variation of the “knee lift exercise”.
Starting position: feet in the loops – straight body.
3. Pull & Lock-Off Strength
Prerequisite: door frame, pull-up bar, hangboard, or anything else you can use to pull yourself up from.
In addition to the classic pull-ups, a few more climbing/boulder-specific variations provide some variety.
Also called pull-up square. Since we don’t just pull straight up when climbing and bouldering, this exercise is more climbing-specific than regular pull-ups. The pulling muscles are loaded and trained in various positions.
Attach a sling or rope to the pull-up bar, hangboard, etc. Make a knot in the sling for better grip.
Pull-ups with extra weight
To improve maximum strength, it makes sense to use additional weight.
Once you can perform 10 or more clean pull-ups, you can use some extra weight.
Training of explosive power. Perform “normal” pull-ups as fast and explosively as possible. Accelerate upwards as quickly as possible – lower down slowly and controlled.
Variation: Flight phase Try to accelerate upwards so hard that your hands lift off the bar at the end of the movement. The strong ones among you can clap their hands during the flight phase.
Strengthen your blocking power – Frenchies are regular pull-ups but locked-off in 3 different positions – for 4 seconds each.
Similar to the above square dance, only here you stay on one line. The grip position is wider than with regular pull-ups.
Move from left to right and lock off at the end for 1-2 seconds.
One arm Lock-Off and release slowly
Pull up with both arms – release one hand and lock-off as long as possible. Then release down as slowly as possible (negative-load).
- Super save and durable
- Soft catch
- Best bang for the buck
4. Stabilization & Antagonist Training
Here is a small selection of my absolute favorite exercises – You can find more Antagonist & Mobility exercises on “Antagonist Training -The 20 Best Exercises“.
1. Push-ups and Variations
Push-ups are the BEST! The shoulder and chest muscles are trained. In addition to the usual execution, I present 3 variations.
Much more demanding – besides the regular push-ups, these also work the abdominal muscles and hip flexors.
Push-up and raise on hand
Here the entire shoulder girdle and parts of the lateral abdominal muscles are also trained.
Push-up on rings/sling trainer
Due to the “unstable” position, those are significantly harder than ordinary push-ups. Additionally, train the otherwise rarely used muscles in the shoulder girdle.
Climbing and bouldering are all about pulling – the handstand is the “pushing” counterbalance to this. In addition, the stability of the entire shoulder girdle is improved.
If you have problems with your wrists (like me), I advise you to invest in a set of Parallettes (Amazon price). This way, you can train handstands for hours without hurting your wrists.
Stabilisation and Antagonist Training:
T Y I
One of my absolute favorite exercises – anyone who climbs a lot should incorporate this exercise into their Antagonist Training. It pulls the shoulder blades backward and straightens the upper body. Counteracts the climbing hunchback.
- Keep arms straight
- Bring arms back as far as possible
- Move shoulder blades as close together as possible.
- Through the positioning of your legs, you can easily adjust the difficulty.
Shoulder blade pull-up
The arms remain extended – the upward movement comes solely from bringing the shoulder blades closer together. The extent of the movement is only a few centimeters and trains the rotator cuff in the shoulder girdle.
These exercises counteract the “climbers back” – they stabilize or strengthen the muscles responsible for contracting the shoulder blades (straightening the upper body).
- Climber’s back
- Problems with the Neck – cervical vertebrae
- Lower back (posterior pelvic tilt)
A good climbing harness is:
We tested 14 climbing harnesses – take a look at the 6 Best Climbing Harnesses.
Legs and Glutes
Strong leg muscles help when climbing and ensure to spare you from back pain. Especially the lower back does cause problems for many climbers. There can be many reasons, but one of the most common reasons is muscular imbalances.
A weak gluteal or leg flexor musculature can lead to malpositions in the hips (posterior pelvic tilt). The following simple exercises help to strengthen the neglected muscles.
Pay attention to the angle in the front knee joint. Try to activate the backside of your legs (glutes and hamstrings). If you have dumbbells at home, you can add some extra weight.
One leg squat
Pay attention to the angle in the front knee joint – big lunge. Concentrate on activating the glutes and hamstrings.
Super exercise that additionally improves hip mobility. Also, an ideal warm-up before bouldering / climbing.
Make sure to stay low – to keep the tension in the muscles.
Training Plans for Climbers
The following muscle groups are trained:
- Finger Strength
- Pull and Lock-Off-Strength
All exercises are described in detail above and can be combined as desired.
Training plan #1
Total: approx. 30 minutes = 6 exercises & 5 Sets.
6x exercises: 30 seconds each – then 30 seconds rest.
2x finger strength: 12 sec maximum load (hangboard).
Training plan #2
Total: approx. 30 minutes = 6 exercises & 5 runs.
6x exercises: 30 seconds each – then 30 seconds rest.
2x finger strength: 12 sec maximum load (hangboard).
Training Plan | Stabilization – Antagonist Training #1
Training Plan | Stabilization – Antagonist Training #2
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