Thinking about trying out some rock climbing exercises at home?
Some climbers swear by supplementing climbing with training while others spend every waking moment on the wall. There is no definitive one right way to become the best climber possible. Still, there are so many studies that have shown that training can help prevent injuries and improve your overall athletic performance.
We have put together 19 workouts that you can do at home with little to no equipment, so you can start developing your own workout routine.
Before we get into why training at home is important and some ways to implement it into your life, we wanted to take a moment to talk about some gear that might make working out at home a little bit easier. While most of the workouts we talk about here don’t require much equipment, some do require some minor workout gear.
- A : A resistance band can be purchased online or at most gyms for a reasonable price and can be used to help build up stabilizer muscles. Having one in your home workout arsenal also allows you to utilize so many different exercises.
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- Small barbells or other hand-held weights: These can be added to many exercises to make them more challenging. You can also make your own DIY versions by filling old milk jugs or water bottles with water to the desired weight.
- Dumbbell hand weight: Comfortable, no-slip color-coded vinyl coating is easy on floors and helps to protect dumbbells from wear and tear over time
- Step up your workout with a weights set: These durable hand weights are the perfect addition to aerobics and step workouts, as well as any standard strength training with weights for added intensity and resistance
- Lightweight options: Dumbbells are available in smaller sizes (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10poundss) and work great for smaller hands while walking, running and cardio exercises to help boost calorie-burning - also great for physical therapy
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Why is Training at Home Important for Rock Climbing?
Sometimes getting to the climbing gym or even the regular weight gym isn’t always possible for whatever reason. Maybe a gym membership is out of your budget. Perhaps you pick up some extra shifts at work and miss your weekly workout group. Whatever the reason may be, the gym is not always an option for people.
At-home training also allows you to maintain your training schedule even if you travel. Say you have a big work trip or a family vacation, but don’t want to get totally out of climbing shape. Home workouts could be a good way for you to develop a routine before you leave home that you are able to implement while you’re gone. Developing a good rock climbing workout routine can get you in good habits to stay healthy.
How to Develop a Strength Training Program at Home for Your Climbing
Generally, we recommend working out a few times a week to supplement your climbing. This workout can be tailored to what you need and want. If you are only motivated to climb and not to train, then maybe you pick a few exercises to work the muscles that you neglect in climbing, maybe try some antagonistic workouts. If you are a gym rat transitioning to climbing, then maybe more intense workouts focusing on the muscles you will need for climbing are more your speed.
Working out 2-5 times a week, depending on how often you climb and what your schedule allows, will help you maintain your strength and endurance while helping you to prevent injuries.
An excellent place to start would be picking 3-5 of the exercises listed below and do them 2-5 times a week. That way, you can completely personalize your workout routine to what you want to focus on.
What are the Best At-Home Rock Climbing Exercises for Beginners?
If you’re just starting out, it can be most comfortable to start with exercises that you probably already know, such as planks. Many of these commonly known beginner-friendly strength exercises focus on your core, which is often underappreciated in climbing. If you don’t train your core, you will most likely struggle as the climbs you do start to get steeper and steeper.
These are our recommendations for good rock climbing exercises for beginners to start out with. They have few moving parts and minimal risk for injury, making them perfect for someone who is just starting out!
1. Plank and side plank
Planks are an excellent workout to start with because they don’t have a whole lot of moving parts, and they have a lot of modifications to focus the workout more or make it harder as you get stronger. To start off, it’s often easiest to start on your elbows and toes with your body in a straight line. In general, keep your body as flat as possible, but if you feel like you need to dip down or up with your hips, opt for pushing your hips slightly up. It will change the workout slightly, but you have a much smaller chance of hurting yourself than if you dip your hips down.
A common modification is a side plank. Stack your feet and find a stable position on your supporting arm before raising your other arm straight up in the air, or placing it on your hip. This modification focuses more on the sides of your core, which are just as important as the center part of your core. Same as a regular plank, try to keep your body as straight as possible.
Other common modifications include superman planks (shoulders down but arms above your head on the ground in a normal plank position), one-arm plank, or one- leg plank.
Crunches may be something that you associate with elementary school gym class, but they are a good workout and have a variety of modifications, so you don’t have to do the same crunches every time. To start lay on your back with your feet on the ground and your knees bent. Most people like to have their arms crossed across their chest, but as long as you aren’t pulling up on your neck with your hands or swinging your arms and shoulders, you can place your hands where it’s most comfortable for you.
Engage your core and raise your head and shoulders up off the ground.
The goal with a crunch isn’t to sit all the way up, but just to fully engage your core. Make sure you lift up and lower down in a slow and controlled manner. You can pick a certain number of crunches or set a time and do as many as you can in the given time; either option is a great way to get a good core workout.
We all know what a pushup is in theory, but pushups are really only helpful if they are done with good form. As a refresher, a push up is a motion where you push yourself from the ground to being up on your arms and toes before slowly lowering yourself back towards the ground. The most effective form is to keep your elbows in as close to your body as you can, while you raise and lower yourself slowly.
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What are some of the Best Antagonist Training Exercises?
First off, you might be asking what antagonist training is. Antagonist training is working the muscles that antagonize or work against the muscles you typically use in climbing to give you more smooth movement overall. It focuses on working the muscles that don’t commonly get worked as much, the ones that sometimes get neglected, in climbing.
For example, climbing forces your arms to pull a lot, so an antagonist exercise for your arms would be one that forces your arms to push away from you.
Let’s go over some of the best antagonist training exercises:
4. Pulley sprain prevention
Training your wrists can be an important part of climbing to help prevent common strains and pulls. All you need for this exercise is a rubber band. Loop the rubber band around your fingers on one hand, so all your fingers are together inside the rubber band. Next, open your fingers as far as you can without bending your wrist. This will help keep your fingers strong and in good condition for climbing.
5. Triceps extensions
For this exercise, you will need a resistance band. Wrap the band around one hand, so the band is secured to that hand. Hold the hand tied into the band diagonally up from your body, so your hand is out to your side and above your head. Grab onto the loose end of the band with your other hand and create a straight line from your upper hand towards the floor. Slowly bring your untied hand from your shoulder to out straight, bending only at the elbow. Adjust where on the band you are holding to make this exercise easier or harder.
6. Diamond pushups
Diamond pushups are a modification on pushups. Instead of having your hands flat on the ground below your shoulders, place your hands on the ground directly below your face with your thumbs and pointer fingers forming a diamond.
With your hands in this position, slowly and in a controlled manner, raise and lower your body as you would in a normal push up.
7. Finger extensions
This is a great way to start working on general finger strength. For finger extensions, you will need a wide resistance band. Place the band over the fingertips of your right hand and open and close your fingers. Use your left hand to hold the tension on the band and to adjust as needed. After 8-12 reps on your right hand, switch to your left hand and repeat. Hand exercises are often overlooked in many training programs, but as your hands are crucial to rock climbing, working them out regularly is very important.
Free Weight At-Home Exercises for Climbers
If you have free weights, they can be a fantastic way to up the resistance of your workouts as you get stronger. As we talked about earlier on, you can make your own DIY versions or opt to purchase free weights. There are a variety of options out there at a variety of price points, so there’s something for everyone!
Most free weight exercises should be done in 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps, depending on the weight you choose. A lower weight with more reps will work endurance more, while a higher weight with fewer reps will work strength more. There are many good free weight exercises for climbers, but these are some of our favorites!
8. Dumbbell shoulder press
Start holding your desired weight of dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. Extend your arms until the weights touch or almost touch directly above your head before slowly lowering the weights back to shoulder height. Start off with a low weight to prevent injury.
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9. Wrist curls
Start in a seated position with your arm sitting comfortably on your leg. Your hand should be hanging off of your leg with your palm facing up. Hold your desired weight, and slowly curl your wrist to bring the weight closer to you and back down. As with all the other exercises, move in slow and controlled movements.
10. Reverse wrist curls
Reverse wrist curls are just what they sound like, the opposite of the wrist curls listed above. Start in the same seated position, but having your palms facing down towards the ground. Holding your desired weight, slowly rotate your wrist, pulling the weight back towards you.
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11. Farmers carry
This is one of the easiest workouts to do with DIY free weights since it involves holding a weight and carrying it for a set distance. Pick a distance, maybe across your backyard or from one side of your apartment to the other, and a weight that you want to use. Start with the weight in one hand with it hanging down by your side.
Make sure you don’t let your shoulder drop, or your torso leans towards the weight. The workout in this exercise comes from walking the desired distance while keeping your shoulder, core, and arm all engaged.
Upper Body At-Home Exercises for Climbers
The upper body is extremely important for climbers. It’s also at a high risk of injury, so working the joints in your upper body is essential for minimizing the risk of injury.
For all of these exercises, make sure you keep your shoulders down and engaged so you don’t hurt them. Finding good shoulder exercises as a rock climber is very important.
12. Triceps dip
Triceps dips are easy to do in most locations because you only need a solid surface, such as a chair. Start by sitting with your back to the chair. Position your hands on the edge of the chair. With your legs straight out in front of you, slowly lower yourself down until your butt is almost touching the ground and then back up.
13. External rotation shoulder exercise
For this exercise, you will need a resistance band attached at one end to a non-movable surface, such as a tree, pillar, or other immovable place.
Stand facing the band’s attachment point with your arm raised, so your elbow is at shoulder level. Hold the end of the band in your raised hand and rotate at the shoulder, so your hand goes from up (cactus arm) to forward with your forearm parallel to the ground. Try not to move your elbow and only rotate from the shoulder, keeping your elbow held at a 90-degree angle.
14. Internal rotation shoulder exercise
This exercise is extremely similar to the external rotation listed above, but you stand with your band coming from the object it is secured to and towards your back. Still keeping your elbow at shoulder height, hold the resistance band in your hand and slowly rotate from cactus position to parallel to the ground. These shoulder rotation exercises focus on improving your overall shoulder stability, which is extremely important in climbing.
15. Shoulder pull-apart rotation exercise
You will need your resistance band for this exercise too. Tie your band, so it forms a loop and grasp opposite points on the loop with your palms facing up. Slowly open your arms, holding them at a comfortable height as close to shoulder height as you can.
Keep your arms rotated out, so your thumbs face out and open and close your arms, holding slightly in the out position.
16. Door-frame finger hangs
If you don’t have a hangboard, but still want to work on finger strength at home, you can use a solid door frame to do so. Just make sure that you have warmed up your fingers and work into this workout slowly, so you don’t pull anything in your fingers in the process. A good exercise to do in a door frame is to keep an open crimp and hang with straight arms for 5 seconds. See if you can work up to holding for 10 or 15 seconds. Make sure you keep your arms straight, but not locked and your shoulders down and engaged.
Lower Body Rock Climbing Exercises at Home for Climbers
17. Jump squats
Start in a squat position with your butt level with your knees, your feet about shoulder-width apart, and your knees over your feet. A good rule of thumb with squats is that you should be able to see your toes over your knees without leaning forward. Squat down and then launch yourself up. When you land your jump, absorb the impact by lowering directly back into a squat position.
18. Single-leg squats
This type of squat goes by many names, but is an amazing squat for rock climbers, as it mimics a common motion on the wall of having to stand up on one leg. To do this squat, stick one leg out in front of you as you squat down and stand up on the other leg. Make sure you do the same number for each leg, so you don’t have an uneven workout.
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19. Weighted stair walks
A stair walk can be done anywhere that has stairs. You may have seen people doing these at a local park with stairs or outside of a local stadium or set of bleachers. Weighted stair walks are done slowly and carrying weights. There’s a variety of ways you can add weight to your stair walks, including a backpack of weight or carrying weights or water jugs in your hands. However, you choose to hold the weight, make sure you stay upright the whole time as you go up and down the stairs.
Wrapping Things Up: At-Home Rock Climbing Workout Routines
We hope we’ve convinced you of the importance of training for climbing off the wall.
As much as we all wish, there were no barriers to getting to the gym, there are barriers, and creating a workout routine at home is so much more accessible. You could even try inviting friends over or to a park to do a group workout for free. That way, you can all help motivate each other!
However, you choose to implement a training routine into your life; hopefully, the climbing tips here will be of use to you.
If you found this post helpful, you might also like our other climbing tips here.
Here are some to help you out: