OW Resistance Training Exercises

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PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 12, 2011 - 07:25pm PT
As winter rolls around and I am confined to exercising more indoors, I've begun working out a gym training plan. I'd like to focus some training on strength, power, and endurance for OW climbing, and I was wondering what some of you do to get in shape. Most of the climbing training material I've seen emphasizes the pulling muscles, while chimney & OW climbing really seem to require training the pushing muscles more.

My best guess for main muscle groups to work on (and likely exercises), based on what is sore on me after a good wide thrashing are:

1. Pecks (pushups, bench press)
2. Biceps (various bicep curls w/ dumbells, butterfly?)
3. Abdominals (situps, situps w/ weight plate)
4. Obliques (side raise w/ weight plate, twisting situps w/ weight plate)
5. Adductor Muscles (adductor machine)
6. Abductor Muscles (abductor machine)
7. Hamstrings (hamstring curl machine)
8. Quadriceps (leg press machine)

Any suggestions for important muscle groups forgotten that are not normally worked during gym climbing? Or exercises not considered? Or what muscle groups/exercises should be emphasized or ignored?

I've also wondered about modifying the above exercises, or inventing new ones, to train for isometric contractions rather than concentric contractions. Just as a skier does wall sits for maintaining the squat position in skiing to complement leg presses & lunges for pressing through turns, it seems to me that much of OW climbing involves creating, maintaining & releasing a static contraction rather than pushing through a range of motion.

Have you OW gurus emphasized more isometric exercises? e.g. Many of these exercises could be made more isometric by locking off in different positions for a certain length of time.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 12, 2011 - 07:42pm PT
Usually it doesn't take much training to resist climbing offwidths.

And anyway, resistance is futile.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Dec 12, 2011 - 07:46pm PT

Some tips:

Pushups are great especially for climbers.

Benchpress: Do your best to find a narrow slightly crowned bench so your scapula are free to move in a natural way. Also, donít stick your arms straight out at 90 degrees, bring your elbows down so your upper arm is closer to 45 degrees to your torso and keep your shoulders down away from yer ears. These two adjustments will really help you get more into your pecs and protect your shoulders.

Abdominals: Donít do sit ups, especially never do them with someone or something holding your feet down. Learn to do a proper roll down Ė roll up. Then start doing them on an unstable foam roller. If youíre curious drop me an email, I can send you the beta on this. Save your back!

Obliques: Twisting sit-ups with weight? Again watch your back. The combo of weight and rotation is risky unless you really have the support from the core dialed.

Now I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that too much isolation work on individual muscles using machines might not be really helpful for the kind of power and functionality one needs to climb well.

Take a look at what Brad Johnson has come up with for body weight training. Amazing!
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2011 - 08:04pm PT
KSolem,

I'll send you an e-mail about the core exercises. I'm always curious to see new ways to do things.

Both of the weighted core exercises are ones I've done before, and I think I've been doing them carefully enough? One tough thing is I often find I can start out with too much weight too easily when resuming those exercises in a fresh cycle, so that I do the exercises feeling fine but then suffer from major DOMS.

For body-weight crunches I usually just do a twist-kick variation that leaves the feet free and really hurts after about 15-20 reps. I definitely like this one since it feels like it works more stabilizers in a more natural way.

I would prefer to stay away from machines as much as possible, except for cases where I don't see many other options (e.g. adductor, abductor, unless doing a cable exercise, though the shear in the standing leg limits the load and feels like a bad idea on my damaged knee) or a few exercises where I do have stability issues to work around (leg press machine feels safer for my rebuilt knee than doing a squat, and some upper body exercises have a tendency to dislocate my shoulders, so it seems easier to back off if I feel that instability coming on.)
scuffy b

climber
dissected alluvial deposits, late Pleistocene
Dec 12, 2011 - 08:11pm PT
I do OW-specific exercises, but only in OW cracks.
For example, I get a move off the floor in the gym crack where I live
(that phrasing might not be quite right) and fiddle around with different
stances, trying to find good rests, most especially trying to find that
elusive no-foot rest.
Using crap footwear seems to help, as well.
Russ Walling

Gym climber
Poofter's Froth, Wyoming
Dec 12, 2011 - 08:14pm PT
Punish the Groove Tube for righteous OW fitness
scuffy b

climber
dissected alluvial deposits, late Pleistocene
Dec 12, 2011 - 08:20pm PT
Just be sure that Groove Tube doesn't punish you too badly.
bergbryce

Mountain climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Dec 12, 2011 - 08:31pm PT
CrossFit
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Dec 12, 2011 - 08:41pm PT
It's one thing to strengthen muscle groups like the adductors of the leg, hamstrings, quads, etc. It's quite another to teach them to work in concert when you are under stress.

This kind of coordination is something lots of people lose as they age, but there are plenty of good ways to incorporate certain execises into your strength training which will help.

One example, which might be very nice for your knee, can be done on the leg press machine:

Set the weight light enough that you can do reps on your toes, heels high. Do some sets with your feet parallel, hip width apart while squeezing a ball between your ankles. The right size ball matters, as does how you set your feet on the platform. You want to see no rotation at your knees or ankles, just engagement of the vmo (google it) and inner thighs.

You probably did this or something similar when you hurt your knee if you did P/T?

I have built this up now to where I use pretty heavy weight and my knees are great. What you are looking for is the muscular connection from between the knees, through the inner abs to the bottom of the rib cage. Pilates people call this your powerhouse.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Dec 12, 2011 - 08:53pm PT
Lots and lots and lots of back exercises. With the caveat, of course, that anything I, or anyone, tells you on an internet forum will probably cause you serious harm, and possibly death.

That said, squats are the king of the exercise kingdom. And what we used to call hyperextensions but which probably have some cool new name. And deadlifts.

And Kris, instead of explaining all that ab work in a private email, why not share it here?
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Dec 12, 2011 - 08:57pm PT
And Kris, instead of explaining all that ab work in a private email, why not share it here?

I wish it was that simple. Just the basic concepts require pages of reading and comprehension. Video would be good too.

I'm working on a website right now which will have it all there, when it's up (maybe next month) I'll share. Waaaay to much specific stuff to post.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2011 - 09:01pm PT
LOL, great graphic, Bryce. Unfortunately I'm afraid of Crossfit. So many of the exercises they do look like they'd damage my left knee or dislocate my left shoulder . . .

A lot of the strength & endurance needed in general for climbing seems like something I can work out with thoughtful sessions on the climbing wall, but I'm lumping chimneys & OWs in a separate category of 'weak links' to resistance train since I've found they work me so differently. It's pretty rare to get my hamstrings or inner thighs aching like crazy after a gym session. And I rarely to prolonged static abdominal contractions at all on face climbs like I do on an OW.

Usually when I can't rest on an OW and I need to hang, I feel like it is me burning out my pecks & biceps arm-barring, or burning out my abs and inner thigh as I try to hold my torso into the wall. These have been my weak links in climbing Ahab clean or getting Generator clean (I still have to take & rest right at the transition between the lower third and middle third of that route, but the rest goes pretty well)
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 12, 2011 - 09:01pm PT
Wrestle a gorilla. Don't stop when you get tired, stop when the gorilla gets tired.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2011 - 09:28pm PT
I am working the cracks as much as I can, but one can only do so much with weather for getting outside on weekends, and for the weekends dealing with the availability of gym cracks (no OWs that I can get to regularly) and needing a belayer. e.g. I'm pretty well set for hand crack technique, strength & endurance, as I can do half-hour continuous climbing sets or one-legged ascents/descents on a good one at BIW (with patient partners). Finger cracks are tougher but I can at least do up & down sets up to a bouldering height on the finger crack at the same gym.

Of course the ideal situation is to get regular access to an OW crack machine :-)
213

climber
Where the Froude number often >> 1
Dec 12, 2011 - 09:35pm PT
but one can only do so much with weather for getting outside

Weathaz been purty good as of late! :)

Brah, let's crossfit. It's too wet to climb.
Brah, let's crossfit. It's too wet to climb.
Credit: 213

NO EXCUSES! Go climbing.

QED
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2011 - 09:39pm PT
I'm planning on getting a car this coming year, but for now I don't have one so the PG Presidio gym is not feasible for regular visits as it takes me almost 3 hrs RT just to go there (closer to 2 hrs if I get a ride instead of bicycle), plus it's a separate gym membership, so $20/visit is a lot without spending all day there! So PG Presidio is limited to special weekday trips or rainy weekends. I have finally figured out the harder OW though, so I have been making progress on my visits, as irregular as they are.

It's also hard to find a belayer that doesn't mind the time spent or who also wants to hop on these things (e.g. I would have hopped on Doggie Do this weekend but my partner wanted to go somewhere else after we climbed Doggie Diversions).

I do have plans to get to the Lower Merced on a lot of weekends this winter so long as I can find partners for that stuff. So it would be nice to be as fit as possible for when I can get up there!

I've gotten out climbing or mountaineering nearly every weekend since mid-June, which has helped a lot to get in shape & develop technique, but it is nice to use the weekdays as well.

Once I get a car I could at least go to a crack like Generator and solo TR the thing on weekends, but that probably wouldn't be an option until next Fall.
213

climber
Where the Froude number often >> 1
Dec 12, 2011 - 09:54pm PT
In case anyone missed the HORRIBLE WEATHER experienced this past month by those Killafornianz:

Brah, let's crossfit. It's too wet to climb.
Brah, let's crossfit. It's too wet to climb.
Credit: 213

Man, what a soaker!

harrroooo
harrroooo
Credit: 213

Sometimes, you just gotta expose the weather!

Oh, so solar!

ooooo la la
ooooo la la
Credit: 213

Four thumbs up.
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 12, 2011 - 09:56pm PT
Yep, it's been a pretty good winter cragging season so far.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 12, 2011 - 11:17pm PT
Two additional things I'd be careful to do:

1) work on hip flexibility, and flexibility in general

2) work on endurance rather than strength, you probably have plenty of strength you just need to be able to apply it over a long period, OW is usually something that takes place over a longish period of time compared to other climbing

Oxymoron

Big Wall climber
total Disarray
Dec 13, 2011 - 01:07am PT
Just climb. Suck it up, or Can you handle it?
Maybe you should just go to the Mall, instead.
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