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5 At-Home Exercises for Climbing (Upper Body)

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5 At-Home Exercises for Climbing (Upper Body)

Now that we've covered at-home exercises for the lower body and core, let's talk upper body! While rock climbing is a full-body activity, it involves an immense amount of upper body pulling. For this reason, you want to pay close attention to your antagonist muscles, as well as your agonist muscles, when training for climbing. Antagonist muscles, like triceps, lats, and traps, are the muscles that oppose your agonist muscles, like biceps, delts, and pecs. By working both your antagonist and agonist muscles in an at-home workout, you will not only become stronger for climbing but will drastically reduce your risk of injury when you return to rock climbing in the gym or outdoors. Check out these 5 at-home upper body exercises that will benefit your climbing:


Push-ups

push up

The push-up is an incredibly modular exercise that strengthens your triceps, chest, and shoulders. Push-ups will increase your ability to squeeze while climbing and keep your shoulders stable for shoulder-intensive climbing movements. You can target different muscle groups depending on your push-up stance. A diamond push-up will target your triceps while a wide stance will target your chest and shoulders. To decrease difficulty, you can perform push-ups from your knees. To increase difficulty, try elevating your feet or placing your feet on an unstable surface like suspended bands or an exercise ball. For climbing-specific training, we suggest performing the following exercise as part of your workout 2-3 times per week.

  • Complete 10-20 standard push-ups (modify the difficulty as you need). Rest for 2-4 minutes.
  • Complete 10-20 wide stance push-ups (modify the difficulty as you need). Rest for 2-4 minutes.
  • Complete 10-20 diamond push-ups (modify the difficulty as you need).


Tricep Dips

tricep dip

Tricep dips can be performed on an elevated surface such as a chair or table. Strengthening your triceps increases your ability to mantle and press while climbing. While you should take your time and focus on your form with every exercise, it is especially important when performing tricep dips. Tricep dips put extra stress on the anterior deltoids, so sloppy form can lead to increased risk of a shoulder injury. When performed properly, however, tricep dips are a key antagonist muscle exercise for climbers. To decrease difficulty, lower your feet while performing tricep dips. To increase difficulty, raise your feet or add weight. For climbing-specific training, we suggest performing the following exercise as part of your workout 2-3 times per week.

  • Complete 10-20 tricep dips (modify difficulty as you need). Rest for 2-4 minutes. Repeat 3 times.


Bicep Curls

bicep curl

The next two exercises require some kind of resistance band or at-home weight set to perform. Luckily, you can get a set of resistance bands for cheap online and they will greatly increase your at-home exercise options! Biceps curls strengthen a climber's ability to pull on underclings but also increase a climber's all-around pulling strength. To decrease difficulty, simply lower the resistance or weight. To increase difficulty, raise the resistance or weight. For climbing-specific training, we suggest performing the following exercise as part of your workout 2-3 times per week.

  • Complete 10-20 bicep curls (modify difficulty as you need). Rest for 2-4 minutes. Repeat 3 times.


Consider performing bicep curls and tricep dips together in a superset. This means that you perform one set of each exercise without resting in between. This counts as a single set. Perform 3 sets.


Lat Pull-downs

lat pulldown

Lat pull-downs also require bands or an at-home cable system to perform. Lat pull-downs are an intense pulling exercise. If you find that you can hang for long periods while climbing, but have trouble pulling through difficult moves, you must train your pulling strength through lat pull-downs. To decrease difficulty, lower the resistance or weight. To increase difficulty, raise the resistance or weight. For climbing-specific training, we suggest performing the following exercise as part of your workout 2-3 times per week.

  • Complete 8-12 lat pull-downs (modify difficulty as you need). Rest for 2-4 minutes. Repeat 3 times.


Inverted Rows

inverted row

Inverted rows are a critical climbing-specific exercise. Many professional climbers regularly utilize inverted rows to increase pulling strength as the inverted row is an incredibly versatile and low-stress exercise. Inverted rows are best performed with some kind of suspension system like gymnastic rings, but, in a pinch, you can simply lay a broom across some boxes and lay beneath it! To decrease difficulty, bring your feet to the ground and decrease the angle of your body. To increase difficulty, raise your feet higher and increase the angle of your body. For climbing-specific training, we suggest performing the following exercise as part of your workout 2-3 times per week.

  • Complete 8-12 inverted rows (modify difficulty as you need). Rest for 2-4 minutes. Repeat 3 times.


There is no right answer to the question "how should I train for rock climbing?" The answer depends on the climber, the climber's experience, and the goals of the climber. But these 5 upper body workouts are a great start for any climber looking to start their climbing training journey at home.


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