Off the Wall: Must-Try Cross-Training Exercises for Climbers

Off the Wall: Must-Try Cross-Training Exercises for Climbers

Many people may have the pre-conception that rock climbing is all about total upper body strength. While this is partly true, rock climbing is essentially a full-body workout.

A large part of rock climbing focuses on your core and leg strength too, as well as your mobility, range-of-motion, and endurance. This is why cross-training exercises are so important for rock climbing conditioning.

If you’re looking to improve your time on the wall, here are three cross-training sequences to focus on during your time off the wall.

Understanding Rock Climbing Fitness

Rock climbing is a strenuous sport and can take a toll on the body and the skin. While the thrill of being on the wall may be far more entertaining as a form of fitness, a certain amount of conditioning off the wall is also important.

Ultimately, the better condition your body is in, the better your climbing is likely to be. It also makes for a safer and far more effective climb each time.

The key to off-the-wall training is to focus on building up both your cardiovascular fitness, while also conditioning the body. Essentially, your cross-training sessions should combine a bit of both.

Cardiovascular Workouts

In order to build on your cardio fitness, some of the best exercises include running and the cross-trainer machines. Avoid exercises which tend to bulk out the leg muscles.

If you want to incorporate cycling, stick to open roads and focus on your speed and cadence. Try and avoid hills that will build up your legs muscles too much.

Swimming tends to tire out the arms, shoulders, and upper body in general. So stick to swimming during your active rest days or conditioning training.

Remember this general overview of how to train your body for top-class rock climbing:

  • Spend time on warming up your body for maximum range-of-motion during your workouts – this also helps you to avoid injury
  • Crank up the power in your upper body, but don’t neglect your lower half
  • Build up your endurance so that you don’t get too fatigued before you’ve even made it to the exciting part of the wall
  • Work on your balance which will help you to better position yourself throughout each climb

The theme to focus on during your cross-training circuits is variety- mixing up your exercises, while focusing on low weights and high repetitions.

The overall goal is to avoid building hefty muscle that will only weigh you down. You should focus on developing your anaerobic fitness as well as conditioning your muscles.

Three Cross-Training Exercises For Strength and Conditioning

Generally, every single workout should begin with a 10-minute warm-up period. You should then move onto your cross-training circuit.

Upper Body Strength Training

  • Ring push-ups – 15 reps x four sets
  • Dumb-bell chest flys – 15 reps x four sets
  • Tricep dips – 10 reps x four sets

Take a 30-second break after your four sets of each exercise. After you’ve completed all of the above, rest for two minutes before moving onto the next circuit.

Lower Body Strength Training

  • Squat Jacks – 20 reps x four sets
  • Single-leg squats- 15 reps x four sets
  • Squat thrusts – 10 reps x four sets

The same applies as above: rest for 30 seconds after all four sets of each exercise. Rest for two minutes before moving onto this last circuit.

Stability and Conditioning Training

Equipment needed: resistance band.

  • Shoulder rotation to pull apart exercise -15 reps x four sets
  • Shoulder external rotation exercise – 15 reps x four sets
  • Side plank with lateral pull-down exercise – 15 reps x four sets

Rest for 30 seconds after all four sets of the above exercises, then cool down with 10 minutes of stretching to complete your workout.

Ramp Up Your Rock Climbing Gear

Now that you have a clearer idea of the best rock climbing cross-training exercises, it’s time to add to your gear for a top-notch climbing experience.

Check out our range of climbing shoes, bouldering pads, chalk bag, and more for your best climb yet.