The holidays are upon us, which means friends and relatives will soon be pestering you for your wish list. If you don’t already have it, I highly recommend asking Santa for a copy of Jerry Moffatt’s outstanding autobiography Revelations.
Jerry Moffatt was probably the best climber in the world for most of the 1980s, and he continued to push standards throughout the 90′s. He was integral to the explosion in free climbing standards that occurred during the 1980s. He was also a highly accomplished trad, headpoint, and solo climber and perhaps the best on sight climber of his generation.
While Moffatt’s story is a fascinating and entertaining read in itself, I mention it here because the book also offers countless insights for the performance-oriented climber. Moffatt was among the first climbers to really embrace training, and he goes into considerable detail explaining how he trained for different objectives. He also recounts the legendary characters (like Bachar and Gullich) that influenced his ideas on training, while discussing his thought process when developing training plans for different goals.
Moffatt possessed legendary focus and determination. He dreamt big, but he backed up his dreams with hard work and tremendous effort in the moment of each ascent. His book describes in detail how he approached stressful performance situations (like the first On Sight ascent of the Gunks’ Supercrack and World Championship competitions). Any climber, of any ability, can benefit from these lessons.
While Moffatt was often head and shoulders above his peers, he was not superman. He provides a glimpse into an elite world that most of us will never experience, yet his story is very relatable. He frankly describes his various injuries and accidents, humanizing himself while tackling the frustration and despair that comes with any setback. He confronts many of the same challenges we all face on our own paths to continuous improvement, giving us real hope that we can overcome them too.
I’ve read the book cover-to-cover three times now, and I will surely read it again. Its hands-down my favorite climbing book. His trials and eventual triumphs never fail to motivate me, and should give you the extra boost you need to fire up your winter training sessions.
For those who’ve already enjoyed Revelations, here are some other recommendations. None of these are technical manuals; they are entertaining reads that also impart random snippets of climbing wisdom:
- Wolfgang Gullich: Life in the Vertical by Tillmann Hepp. This biography of the world’s most beloved climber is now out of english print and therefore correspondingly rare and expensive. However, if you can get your hands on a copy you won’t be disappointed (check your library or ask around–the AAC Library in Golden has a copy). In addition to recounting Gullich’s countless ground-breaking ascents, the book also discusses his training methods, tactics, and attitudes, including several interviews and short pieces penned by Gullich himself.
- Beyond the Summit by Todd Skinner. This book describes Todd’s quest to free Trango Tower, but also details his development as a climber and other groundbreaking ascents like the Free Salathe Wall. As a training tool, this book will help you with goal-setting and motivation.
- Full of Myself by Johnny Dawes. To put it simply, Dawes was a rock genius, in the sense that he was an artist of completely unique ability and vision. He was never the strongest climber, but his talent for movement was incomparable. His book goes neck-deep into what it takes to become a technical climbing master. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, consider viewing his legendary film Stone Monkey to get an idea of his abilities (in fact, if you can find the DVD, you might just ask for that instead of the book!):
- A History of Freeclimbing in North America: Wizards of Rock by Pat Ament. This tome is an encyclopedic catalogue of noteworthy ascents from 1869 to 2001. It’s not the kind of book you would normally read cover-to-cover, but many of the entries include long, first-person accounts from the players themselves. It’s absolutely essential for any lover of climbing history, but it also has some good insights for the performance-oriented climber, such as interesting training and tactical tidbits from legends like John Bachar, Tony Yaniro, and Alan Watts. Ament’s occassionally editorializing on style comes off as petty at times, but it’s generally easy to ignore.
If you have any other recommendations for books that offer a bit more than an entertaining read to get us through the long winter, please post them in a comment below.
I think if people realized how little I train (and climb) they would be shocked. I often joke with my wife that I should be quarranteened in a plastic bubble and studied by teams of cruel government scientists (ala E.T.). There is certainly a trend among top climbers to perform massive quantities of training (like, 6+ hours per day, 5 or 6 days per week). That’s not me. First of all, I don’t have that much time, between work and my family. Second (and foremost), I truly believe “less is more” when it comes to climbing training. Even if I had more time to train, I would probably spend much of that time resting anyway.
Considering those factors, my overarching strategy is to train as efficiently as possible. That is, I strive to maximize my improvement relative to the training time (and energy) invested. Doesn’t everybody do that you ask? No, frankly. Many people figure ‘the way to improve is to pile on more and more training. Anyway, it couldn’t hurt, could it?’ This philosophy is popular among runners, cyclists, swimmers and other ultra-endura athletes.
The problem is, it actually can, and does hurt. Low efficiency activities sap energy, thus undermining high efficiency activities. In the best case scenario, the added volume forces longer recovery periods between workouts, but far more often, the needed additional rest is omitted, and the athlete simply goes into the next workout under-recovered, thus further limiting the intensity of the next workout. As a result, every workout starts to become an endurance workout, and pretty soon the athlete is no longer progressing, but rather struggling to maintain the fitness he had when he started.
My strategy for maximizing training efficiency dovetails nicely wtih a complimentary training objective – favoring strength and power training over endurance. This allows me to emphasize high intensity training, which is short in duration, almost by definition (there are brief periods during each season that I focus on endurance training, but even then I favor higher intensity endurance training followed by plenty of rest). Furthermore, I only perform activities that I strongly believe provide a direct benifit to my performance; I don’t do any filler or “crosstraining”. [More on Training Intensity here]
This is perhaps easier to visualize on a macro-scale, but it also applies on a micro-scale. For example, Strength Training revolves around my fingers, because they are the single most important factor in climbing performance. I work my fingers first, but not for long. When the intensity is right (really high), my fingers can only handle about an hour of work (or, about 18 ~60 second sets of deadhang repetitions, with 3 minutes rest between sets). Once my fingers are worked, I perform a modest amount of pull muscle, upper arm, and shoulder exercises.
During my Limit Bouldering routine, I don’t do “fun” boulder problems. I only do boulder problems that will make me a better rock climber (as opposed to a better plastic climber). In other words, the Lazy H has very few pinches or slopers, and the walls aren’t super steep. It has a lot of sharp crimps, tweaky pockets, and small, greasy footholds. Very few of these holds are oriented horizontally–my problems require core tension and attention to footwork. It’s often hard to breath while climbing these problems, and my skin takes a fair bit of abuse, but the skill and strength developed translates directly to the rock.
That said, it’s only fair to note that I have pretty good technique, and that took many years to cultivate. Now that I have it, it doesn’t take much to maintain. However, my training terrain is deliberately designed to maintain my technique (in other words, it isn’t “fun” terrain). My warmup time is split between a dead vertical wall, and one that overhangs a modest 8 degrees. The holds on these walls are tiny, and precise movement is required to stay on the wall. Those with performance-limiting technique can apply these same concepts to skill develipment by training on realistic terrain, and emphasizing focused, quality skill practice over zombie-like monotonous quantity.
I permanently installed my Rock Prodigy Training Center last week, and I’ve done my first few hangboard workouts of the new season. To install the RPTC, I took a bunch of measurements of my old, sprawling setup, and used those figures to optimize the spacing of the RPTC. In the end I settled on 4.5″ between the interior edges of the two halves (YMMV!). I have the halves oriented horizontally, and so far this is working well for me.
So far the RPTC has worked out even better than I’d hoped. One thing I really like about it though, is that before I was using four different “stations” to complete my workout. This required a ton of space, but moreso it required a lot of moving from place to place throughout each workout. It made the rest periods stressful as I raced to get in position in time to start the next set (not to mention all the time I spent taping various fingers to protect my skin from overly-sharp holds).
That is all a distant, unpleasant memory now. I can do my entire workout in one place, I don’t need to move weights and platforms all around between sets, and best of all NO MORE TAPE! I haven’t had to use a single piece of tape since I switched to the RPTC. I used to end each workout with a massive pile of used tape. I would regularly go through 1-2 rolls of athletic tape each season, just for hangboard workouts! Good riddance.
That said, the texture on the RPTC is not one-size-fits all. Most of the folks I’ve talked to really like it as is, but more advanced climbers (those using smaller holds, with more resistance) will probably benefit from sanding some texture down in certain areas. It only takes a few light passes to make a difference, so take it easy and check your work frequently. I used 150-grit sandpaper on the following surfaces:
-All pinch surfaces
-The radius of the thin crimp
-The radius of the shallowest Index-Middle pocket
-The radius of the shallowest Middle-Ring pocket.
Usually 3 or 4 light passes with the sandpaper is enough, so don’t over do it! Its much harder to add texture than it is to remove it.
So far I’ve been using these grips, in this order:
-Large Variable Depth Edge Rail (VDER), with outside Position Index Bump (PIB) between my Middle and Ring fingers.
-Shallowest Middle-Ring pocket
-Mono, using outside part of shallowest Index-Middle pocket (#4 below)
-Shallow VDER, with outside PIB between Middle and Ring Fingers
-Shallowest Index-Middle pocket
When I finish my Strength Phase in a few weeks I’ll post some charts showing the resistance I used from workout to workout so we can compare notes.
One more note, Trango is now offering a pulley kit which you can install under your hangboard to facilitate removing weight. If you aren’t using pulleys, you probably should be. As explained here, you should train on hold sizes that are typical of your goal routes. For most climbers, that will mean at least a few small holds, with weight removed.
The Rock Climber’s Training Manual has been sent to the printer! That means as far as my contributions are concerned, the book is “done”. According to the guys at Fixed Pin, it normally takes about 3 months from the time the book is submitted to the printer until it arrives on bookshelves.
Once the printer has the electronic file, they scan all the pages to ensure everything is of sufficient resolution for printing. Then they will select 16 “representative” pages and print these all (in color) on one giant sheet of paper, which they will air-mail to Fixed Pin. This will give us one last chance to review the colors and make sure everything looks “right”. If we see any problems, we highlight them and send the sheet back to the printer. Once they get the green light, they’ll configure the press to begin printing books. Once the presses start running, the first book off the press is over-nighted to the publisher, and we have one last chance to “stop the presses” before the full run is completed.
Once the books are printed, they’ll air-mail a small quantity of books (which are mostly used for promotional purposes), and the rest are boxed and put on a ship. A large portion of the “3-month” process is consumed by the cargo ship crossing the Pacific Ocean. If we’re lucky, the books clear customs without any snags and then they will be ready for distribution.
If all goes well, hopefully we will see it in stores/online by Valentine’s Day; tell your sweetheart: nothing says I love you like a climbing training book
Performance rock climbing is all about strength-to-weight ratio. We tend to fixate on the “strength” side while ignoring the “weight”. Perhaps because the strength side of the equation seems actionable, and the weight side is all about restraint. The reality is that losing weight is probably the easiest thing a climber can do to improve. Unlike strength and technique, body weight can be improved substantially in a matter of weeks. However, many people just feel powerless to affect their body type. There is also now a bizzare element of social pressure to discourage any form of dieting, or even any interest in healthy eating.
There’s a story circulating right now about former NFL Offensive Lineman Matt Birk. Birk recently retired from football and sought a lifestyle change for the sake of his health. He dropped 75 pounds over the course of eight months. I found the before and after photos pretty inspiring; he looks like a totally different person:
I didn’t start paying attention to my weight until 2011, and that is probably the single biggest training mistake I’ve made in my career. I would weigh myself before hangboard workouts, but that was just to better understand my training intensity for that day’s workout. I never weighed myself during my performance phase. And I used to eat garbage, mostly. When I first got out of college, I would routinely consume an entire 12-pack of Dr. Pepper cans over the course of 2-day weekend trip to the Utah dessert. My staples were pizza (usually frozen/cardboard) and spaghetti. At the time I felt I was pretty fit and healthy (amazingly), because I excercised all the time. While exercise certainly can help, its very easy to wipe out hours of exercise in a few minutes of over-eating. Furthermore, often excercise increases your appetite, making dieting much more difficult (these days, when I’m trying to get lean, I limit my exercise to a few brisk walks throughout the day. I save the intense cardio work for the months when I’m not concerned about my weight).
Any serious climber should have good muscle definition throughout their body. If you don’t, you could probably stand to lose some weight, and the amount may surprise you. For me, the difference between my mom thinking I’m skinny and actually being skinny is about 10 pounds. Anyone with hangboard experience knows that’s a huge amount of weight to your fingers, and so, a tremendous variable in climbing performance (obviously the amount will vary from climber to climber).
If you’re already lean, you may be able to trim a significant number of pounds by shedding un-needed mass in your lower body. If that sounds like you, see this post.
The rest of us just need to go on a diet! It’s easy to adopt a fatalistic attitude, but the fact is we have a great deal of control over our destiny. The human body is amazingly “plastic”, meaning it can adapt and change to suit different needs. Even for those at the advanced age of 37, like Matt Birk ;).
There are many healthy and reliable ways to lose weight, but I think the biggest barrier facing most climbers is simply that they don’t believe its possible, or important. A lot of people think that weight loss can only be accomplished through copious amounts of suffering and self-denial, but making a few simple substitutions in your diet can go a long way. Our upcoming book has an extensive and thoroughly researched chapter on Weight Management, so I won’t go into too much detail, but here are a few quick tips:
- Get a scale and use it daily; it can be very motivating
- Eat lots of veggies, and most fruits are ok too
- Protein and Fiber are your friends; eat a reasonable amount of LEAN protein each day (not a full rack of pork ribs), and eat as much fiber as you can stand
- Avoid eating foods high in carbohydrates (basically anything that tastes good when you’re already full)
- Don’t drink anything but water
For example, instead of whatever you normally eat for lunch, try a salad of spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and tuna, dressed in a modest amount of balsamic vinagrette. You could eat these foods until your stomach is on the verge of exploding and still loose weight. For dinner, eat a lean piece of grilled chicken breast or grilled fish, with sides of steamed vegetables (like brocolli or sparagus). Skip the rice, potatoes, bread, etc. If you crave lots of sweets like me, load up on fruits (watermelon is king, but canteloupe, grapes, apples and pears are good options too).
If you choose to go on a diet, remember there is a point of diminishing returns. Your body needs energy to perform well, and constantly starving yourself will inhibit your performance more than an extra pound of lost weight will help. Experiment with different healthy weights until you find that “sweet spot” where you perform at your best. For me, I’ve gotten down to 139 pounds in recent years, but I find I perform the best around 143-145 lb. At that weight I’m more energetic, I have a better attitude, and I’m still resistant to illness and injury.
Excessive, persistent dieting can lead to injury and illness. Most serious athletes will “cycle” their weight management on and off, as with physical training. That’s great news for people like me who love food! That means you can have periods of enjoying life’s many treats, and periods where you buckle down and send (that said, “yo-yo dieting” can wreak havoc on your metabolism, making weight loss extremely difficult, so keep your variations within reason).
When I’m ARCing and hangboarding, I eat pretty much whatever I want within reason (although I have a fairly healthy diet now, even when I’m not on a diet). I aim to stay within 10 lbs of my goal weight, but otherwise I will eat (and drink) whatever I please. During my power phase I begin adjusting my eating habits, with the goal of reaching my ideal sending weight near the end of my performance phase.
Weight is a tremendous factor in performance–as important as strength. Fortunately its actually pretty easy to manage once you learn how. If you have any other tips for healthy weight loss, please post them in a comment below.
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The Rock Prodigy Training Center is now available for purchase from Trango’s website! The initial manufacturing run produced a modest number of units, so order right away if you want to be the first climber on your block to have one.
This ground-breaking hangboard was designed by me, with help from my brother Mike and Lamont Smith. In my humble opinion, this is the best hangboard on the market, and is a big leap forward in hangboard design. This board will help beginners unlock the amazing power of hangboard training, by eliminating the top barriers to hangboarding and starting them on the fast-track to finger strength. In my experience, these barriers are pain and risk of injury. This board is exceedingly comfortable, and was built with ergonomics in mind first and foremost.
The most obvious innovation in ergonomics and injury prevention is the two-piece design. I really don’t understand why nobody has created a two-piece board already (though production cost may be one reason). Two independent pieces are absolutely fundamental and essential to safe hangboarding. First, they allow each climber to adjust the hold-spacing to their own shoulder-width, so Jane doesn’t have to do an Iron Cross on Bruce’s board, and Bruno doesn’t have to press his elbows to his ears to use Julie’s board. Second, they allow the two halves to be rotated independently, so the holds on the board can be properly aligned with the climber’s fingers, accounting for variations in finger lengths, and eliminating unsafe strain on the climber’s wrist. Also, nearly every one piece board has a bunch of holds in the center that are useless (for two-arm hangs). This board eliminates that wasted plastic and distributes it where it can be used safely.
All the holds on the board have large-radius, skin-friendly lips to maximize comfort. The board has three textures (completely smooth, medium texture, and rough texture) to give a secure feel on positive surfaces without wrecking your skin. The board includes multiple size options (usually three sizes or more) for all of the most important grip positions, ensuring that climbers of all abilities will find Goldilocks Holds-those that are just right for maximizing your finger strength. Furthermore, the size options provide a built-in ladder of progression that will make the RPTC a valuable training investment for years to come.
While I’m certain the above features will help beginners break into hangboarding, this board was wihtout-a-doubt designed with hardcore training fiends in mind. I’ve been hangboarding seriously for nearly twelve years. By that I mean, three or more seasons per year, with 8-12, 90-minute hangboard sessions per season. That’s literally 100′s of hours spent hanging from all manner of hangboards. Mike has another 15 years of his own experience that went into this design. We wanted to develop a board that would help extremely experienced hangboarders push to the next level, by minimizing all the little annoyances that inhibit your hangboard training sessions (like skin irritation, joint pain, features that encourage cheating, unrealistic shapes and impractical hold sizes). Even if you aren’t a hangboard connoisseur, you will benefit from the thought and attention to detail that went into the design, and you won’t outgrow this board once you become fanatical about training.
Finally, I was determined to develop a practical yet functional means of progressing to smaller grips, without the need to constantly buy more and more hangboards as the climber improves. Often once your hangboard does its job – making you stronger – there is nowhere to go except to a new, expensive hangboard. I’ve gone through five different hangboards over the years, not counting a hodge-podge collection of bolt-on holds I’ve used to supplement my insufficient hangboards. No more! This vicious circle had to stop. The Variable Depth Edge Rails on this board provide an almost limitless ladder of progressively shallower edges to train from. These features, along with the “Position Index Bumps”, allow tremendous variation in hold size without taking up too much space on the board (or resulting in a fragile design). Each climber will be able to find a spot on the Edge Rail that is perfect for their finger size and ability, and then as their fingers strengthen, they can incrementally progress to smaller holds by shifting their hands outward, using the Position Index Bumps as a reference point for repeatable training.
For moving pictures that further describe the features of the RPTC, please check out the “Using the Rock Prodigy Training Center Video” below.
Last week the Lazy H Barn was the star of its own film. A big part of launching the Rock Prodigy Training Center is creating a few short videos about the board (describing the key features of the board, how to install it, and how to use it), and Trango decided to use the Lazy H for the shoot location. She was very excited, so I spent some time getting her in tip top shape for the camera.
Trango pulled out all the stops for the shoot, sending out Ben Fullerton and Travis Ramos to direct and film the videos. These guys were super-professional; I was totally blown away. They had all sorts of fancy equipment, including boom mics, camera cranes, adjustable light stands and this thing they called a “slider” to get super-smooth panning closeups. They even had a “slate” for marking down the scene and take (with a clacking hinge for shouting “action!”). This was easily the highlight of the day for Adam (that, and trying to find a restaurant that would deliver to the middle of nowhere).
It was really interesting seeing the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of modern climbing film-making. You have no idea how much work goes into making a really professional film until you participate in the process. We shot for 8 hours straight, and the end product will probably be around 5-7 minutes of video. Ben and Travis did a great job of arranging the shots and coaching me on my acting skills. I got my first taste of what to expect on the first shot of the day, a straightforward shot of me walking in to the barn. We did 5 takes of this, varying my pace, what I was looking at, and even how I opened the door, until I got it right. I had no idea I was such a bad walker–it takes practice to nail the perfect pimplimp :) Keep that in mind the next time you’re watching a climbing film with a shot of climbers casually strolling to the crag.
The whole experience was a blast, with lots of goofing around. A hot topic was what I should be doing with my hands during the narration, and we kept joking about the scene in Talladega Nights when Ricky Bobby is being interviewed for the first time and keeps lifting his hands up by his ears.
The narration was fun but exhausting. I was expecting to do voice over, as opposed to on-camera narration, so I didn’t have any of the lines memorized. The script was extremely wordy, with phrases like, “A good selection for an intermediate climber might include the Warmup Jug, Large Open-Hand Edge, Deep 2-Finger Pocket, Small Semi-Closed Edge, Shallow 3-Finger pocket, Wide Pinch, and a Sloper.” Everybody was extremely patient as I fumbled the lines over and over again.
Once the on-screen narration was filmed, I did a straight voice-over read of each script. This will be used to lay over the action shots. This part was much easier because I could simply read the script. Also there was no need to re-load the camera memory cards, so this process went really quickly.
With all the sound captured, we got to do the fun part, filming the ation. This part was much easier, but we still had to do certain steps numerous times to get different camera angles and so forth.
I was amazed by how much work it was to set up a single shot. Lights had to be moved around, then constantly tuned (in terms of position and brightness) to get the right look. Sometimes it might take 30 minutes to set up for 2 minutes of filming (of which only 10 seconds will make the final cut). At the end of the day, I was blown away by the professionalism of the people involved. They did an amazing job and I can’t wait to see the final product; I’m sure its going to be stellar. [Ed. Note: The final videos will be hosted on Trango's site. I'll post a link from my blog once the final videos are up and running.]
Finally, this was my first opportunity to try out the production version of the Rock Prodigy Training Center. It’s literally a pleasure to hang from. I’m almost tempted to cut short my season so I can start hangboarding again as soon as possible :)
My training philosophy emphasizes finger strength training above all else. For a number of mostly obvious reasons, I’m convinced that finger strength is the single most important physical factor (as opposed to mental or technical factors) in rock climbing. That said, there are other elements of physical strength that are relevant, and worth training, if you have the time and energy. In particular, the “pull muscles”, biceps/triceps, shoulders, and core muscles all have important roles to play, and we can benefit from strengthening these muscles.
For some, “just climbing” will do a decent job of developing strength in these muscles. However, just climbing is often not very efficient or effective at improving strength in these areas, for the same reasons it’s not very effective or efficient at improving finger strength (lack of isolation, control, quantification,…). Furthermore, if you follow a periodic training program like the Rock Prodigy method, you are likely spending significant periods of time with minimal climbing, perhaps only hangboarding. Hangboarding is ideal for developing finger strength, but it neglects the muscles discussed above. The fact that the hangboard-heavy Strength phase precedes the Power Phase (where whole body strength is most beneficial) exacerbates this problem.
For all these reasons, it’s a good idea to include some “Supplemental Exercises” to your climbing-specific workouts, especially during strength or hangboard phases. This post will present a few Supplemental Exercises that I like to do to get the rest of my muscles strong for climbing. There are many other possibilities, but I’ve found these work well for me. As for all your training, document what you do so you can track your progress over time.
I introduce these exercises at the start of each Strength Phase. I will select about 4 or 5 exercises from the assortment provided below, and I perform one set of each initially, building up to three sets of each exercise by mid-Strength Phase. These exercises are always performed on the same day as my climbing workout, at the end of each workout (so, on a hangboard day, I finish my hangboard workout, rest 5-10 minutes, and then perform these exercises). I do these in a “circuit” fashion (completing one set of each exercise before performing the second set, and so on), but they could also be done in serial fashion.
During the Power Phase, I adjust the type of exercises and number of sets depending on the day’s climbing activity. On Campus Training days, I skip all the “Pull” exercises and biceps curls, to avoid excessive strain on my elbows, etc, but I perform three sets each of the remaining exercises. On Limit Bouldering days, I perform the same 4 or 5 exercises used during the Strength Phase, but I only perform two sets each. During the Power Endurance Phase, I do as I would on a Limit Bouldering day, but I often vary the exercises somewhat (for example, favoring Lock-Off Laps over other pull exercises).
During the Strength Phase, I perform on the order of 6-8 reps of each exercise. During the Power Phase I try to increase the load and keep the reps in the 3-6 range. During the PE Phase I perform on the order of 8-12 reps.
Here is an assortment of potential Supplemental Exercises to choose from, with a few notes where applicable. My favorites are shown in the videos that follow.
- Explosive Pull-ups: Use free-hanging rings rather than a fixed bar or hangboard to reduce joint stress. Emphasize exploding upward, as for a campus move, and then lock-off the top of the contraction for a breath.
- 1-Arm Inverted Row: More sport-specific than pull-ups. Reach with the inactive arm to make these more difficult.
- 1-Arm Pull-ups: These are a bit of a parlor trick, but in the higher grades, the ability to perform a 1-arm pull-up (or 1-arm lock-off) can come in handy on occasion. Only recommend for advanced climbers. Use a pulley system or inactive hand to take off weight if necessary. In my experience these are more a function of body weight than strength.
- Lock-Off Laps: These are my favorite pull muscle exercise. Very sport-specific and outstanding for improving lock-off endurance. Reach and hover the inactive hand to increase the difficulty.
- Shoulder Press: Allow your palms to rotate as you press. Can also been done as “handstand push-ups”
- Lateral-to-Front Raise: Be careful with these if you have back issues. Use low weight and perform slowly.
- Dips: Not very specific, but can help build general shoulder strength.
Upper Arm Exercises:
- Biceps Curls: Do these slowly and in control. Be conservative if you have elbow issues.
- Most of the Pull Exercises will also improve upper arm strength to some degree. Shoulder Press and Dips also train the Triceps.
There are countless core exercises, here are my two favorites:
- Hanging Leg Raises: Perform from hanging rings for added difficulty. Beginners can do these with knees bent, but try to eventually do these with legs as straight as possible (I lack the hamstring flexibility needed to do these with straight legs).
- Leg Lifts: Lie flat on your back. With legs straight, raise your feet 12-16″ off the ground, hover a few counts, then lower and repeat. These are less specific than Hanging Leg Raises.