The Most Efficient Training Exercises
by Nora Kiraly
2018 Hungarian Bouldering Champion and Cafe Kraft Senior Team Member
We all know that the training knowledge base is over saturated and it can be hard to find the exercises that really work for you. We all dream to have plenty of time to climb, train and rest, but the truth is we all usually only have a small amount of time to dedicate to training. This is why picking the best exercises can be very important -- not only to maximize benefits but to maximize the fun climbing part of your sessions too!
I’m a Hungarian climber and balancing a rigorous training regime with studying to become a nurse, plus working in a climbing gym is a difficult task. At the moment I am also doing a personal trainer course on my weekends. I love climbing because climbing takes me to my happy place. I always loved it, since I was a little child, conquering all the trees, even those without a limb on the first 2 meters. Nothing could stop me climbing. I love training because it was always a part of climbing for me since I started to climb indoors. I believe training makes climbing complete. And training can be also fun!
Although some of us may be wonders like Jonathan Siegrist who claims that climbing is the best way to improve your climbing, some of us need a little extra kick from the gym. So I've complied a few of my favourite training exercises that I hope you love too, to help you get the most out of your sessions and get stronger and better at climbing, in the most efficient way.
1 CAMPUS BOULDER
Benefit: Increase power & use of momentum
Campus bouldering is one of my favourite exercises. I prefer to campus on boulder problems instead of on the board, because it is closer to real climbing and more gentle than pure crimp strength. Campusing is a great exercise for improving spontaneous movement, momentum, contract strength, and explosive power.
Careful! Relying too much campusing can prevent you from learning technique or deteriorate your existing skills. Make sure to pay attention to your footwork when climbing in your other drills.
Choose 4 boulders that are within your ability to complete without using your feet. Try campusing each boulder 3 times with a 3-4 minutes of rest in between, or until you don’t feel tired.
*Please Note: Campusing is an advanced exercise designed for those with a base of strength already and can be damaging to the fingers and shoulders if you’re not careful. Please see this Safety Protocol as a guide.*
2 BUTTERFLY TRX
Benefit: Improve shoulder strength & antagonist conditioning
I like to use TRX and rings in my training routine because I can target more muscle groups at the same time. The Butterfly is one the great exercises you can do on the TRX or rings. I find it especially useful since I am quite short and the TRX
helps train the muscle groups needed to make long moves.
Exercise: Prone Butterfly TRX
Place your feet hip width apart and lean forward 45 degrees onto the TRX with your arms extended in front at a right angle to your body and palms facing each other. Open your arms out into a T position, as if they were wings. Bring your arms back to in front of you. Repeat. Try 30 second intervals with a few minutes of rest between.
Activate your core to keep your body in one line and chest open and elbows slightly bent to prevent joint problems. You can adjust the difficulty of this exercise by moving forward or backwards with your feet.
*Please Note: Shoulder posture is incredibly important. If you can’t complete the exercise with good posture, decrease reps until you get stronger. Do them in front of a mirror or have someone watch you if you’re uncertain.
3 TIC TAC TOE
Benefit: Core training and precision
Tic Tac Toe is a classic exercise for good reason! It is a straightforward exercise
that utilizes (and therefore trains) complex combinations of strength and
technique. It works your core, grip strength, and footwork as well.
Pick two handholds on an overhanging wall. Hang and lift one foot at a time to
a foothold, touch it, and return to hanging. I like to do a few moves on one
side before switching to the other.
I like to really put weight on the foot as I place it back on, not just kick the foothold. I also stop my momentum for a second before I go for the next foothold. This means I work harder to generate new momentum for the next foot.
4 TRX BALANCE
Benefits: Increased body tension and core
For this exercise, you need a partner. Their job is to try to throw you off balance. The only thing you need to do is to stay on your hands and toes. I really like this exercise because it trains your full body tension, shoulders, and core
without being too stressful on the joints.
While you try to stay balanced, pay attention on your posture, activate your core muscles, and don’t bend your back. This will help you avoid injuries.
5 BALL SQUATS
Squats on an inflatable ball is a favourite workout of mine. Doing squats while balancing on a ball trains both the major muscle groups in your legs and core as well as the small but crucial ligaments and tendons in your knees and ankles.
Stand on a ball with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Squat as you would on the ground, with your arms straight out in front of you and hands together. Try in front of a mirror if you can to make sure you have proper technique.
*Note: If you’re nervous, have a spotter there until you feel more confident. First, you must be able to stand confidently on the ball. Once you’ve mastered this, then you can add squats.