Helena

15th Sep 2008

Question:

You say you do some weights as part of your training, what exercises are good for building general climbing strength? Do you train the antagonistic muscle groups as well to avoid injury?

Thanks

Helena

Answer:

Yes I do have phases of weights but I don’t do them all the time. They are very demanding on the body and it would be a lot to ask by doing weights and expecting to climb your best. So I use them when I am in training mode and not when I just want to go cranking.

You need to work out where your weaknesses lie. I have very puny biceps, so I always try and focus on them more than say my back, which is pretty strong in comparison.

There are an unbelievable amount of exercises you could do. You can make up very specific movements using weights and pulleys to try and replicate climbing moves. I am not particularly scientific so have never got into the minutiae like this, also I think it is important not to be too climbing specific as it’s good to work muscles that get ignored through climbing. I have always focussed on balance rather than over-specificity. In the last few years though I have been more specific and really worked on my climbing weaknesses rather than trying to balance my body out. Making improvements in my climbing gets harder and harder, so you do have to specify when you get to this stage.

As a general rule, I will try and incorporate my shoulders, chest, arms and some basic quad stuff for pure strength into my sessions. In between the sets, I will do core work. Again, I know a weakness is in my lower abdomen and hip flexors, so I will try to focus on these things.

In my gym, there is a great machine where you can do controlled one armours and reverse negatives etc. So, I may have a session or two on this to try and build up my lock off strength and general power.

I have always done press ups over the years and I think this has stood me in good stead. When I have had phases of not doing them, I’ve noticed that I have taken on elbow injuries.

The main thing I’ve learnt with weights is that I can’t do too many sessions a week if I am trying to climb too. I have done split day sessions where I have done a weights sess in the morning and maybe routes later on. But you can’t do too many of these before the body starts complaining. I would advise shorter session of intense stuff if you want to do split sessions.

A 4-6 week period is a good length to do weights for and then you might want to change your focus. Within that period it is a good idea to change the intensity every couple of weeks. The body gets used to a routine and you start losing the training effect, so try and mix it up a bit. Have a power phase and then maybe a power endurance phase (lower weight, higher reps).

Have fun!