Training for a new climber

5:30 p.m. on March 8, 2011 (EST)
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I am a pretty new climber and since I have started climbing I've noticed improvement in my climbing strength.  I was curious to see if there are any types of training or workouts that anybody would recommend to get more out of my climbing. 

So far I've been climbing at the gym every couple of weeks while I save up for a year membership (not many outdoor rock climbing opportunities in southern Michigan) and I would like to be able to improve my progress in between my climbing sessions.

3:32 p.m. on March 9, 2011 (EST)
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Pull ups on the trim framing doorways, using only your finger tips.  Try using only two or three fingers on each hand. 

Tie one end of a 3’ cord around a 1 1/2” diameter dowel rod, and the other end to a 5 – 15 pound weight.  Practice winding and unwinding the cord around the dowel with your hands, gripping the dowel like handle bars, while the weight dangles below.  Outstretched arms increase difficulty.

Toe lifts: Step on edge of a stair tread, facing up stairs, with all your foot except your toes hanging off.  Flex your toes up and down from this stance. Do this straight legged and with flexed knees.

Soft sand jogging.

Squeeze a squash court ball in your hands.  Using a stiffer ball increases risk of carpal tunnel syndrome injury.

Chimney up opposing walls of a hallway.

Walk around placing your weight primarily on your toes.  Doing so with knees flexed increases difficulty.

Chase young children by crawling on the ground after them, or through the tubes at Chuckie Cheeses.  This is harder than it sounds.  (do not do this with strange children) :)

Ed

3:41 p.m. on March 9, 2011 (EST)
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Yeah that cover a lot of it. Watch out to start small to avoir tendon injury.

The best training for a sport is to do more of that sport. So more climbing for you. ;-)

3:48 p.m. on March 9, 2011 (EST)
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Agree with both Louis-Alex and whomeworry..But Coyote I have to ask what are they chargeing you for membership initial and monthly? Iam curious..

5:37 p.m. on March 9, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for all the training tips whomeworry and Luis-Alexis.

dneis daly - a day pass is $16, 1 month is $95, 3 months is $250, 6 months is $375 and 1 year is $650.  The prices are on par with regular gym memberships in this area.  I'm thinking that since I already have weight lifting and general workout equipment at home I might as well spend the money on a gym that will help me to eventually rock climb on real rock :-)

5:55 p.m. on March 9, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks coyote- I just wanted to make sure you were getting a square deal..it sounds like you are. This is one of the former gyms I use to play at besides being on rock in El Paso bouldering and at Steiner Ranch and Enchanted rock outside of Austin. www.AustinRockgym.com

I am excited for you, have a great time...

6:07 p.m. on March 9, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks coyote- I just wanted to make sure you were getting a square deal..it sounds like you are. This is one of the former gyms I use to play at besides being on rock in El Paso bouldering and at Steiner Ranch and Enchanted rock outside of Austin. www.AustinRockgym.com

I am excited for you, have a great time...

Looks like a cool gym. The gym I go to is http://explore.planet-rock.com/.  Sooner or later I would like to move out west so that I can do some rock climbing that doesn't involve a gym.

6:16 p.m. on March 9, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks coyote- I just wanted to make sure you were getting a square deal..it sounds like you are. This is one of the former gyms I use to play at besides being on rock in El Paso bouldering and at Steiner Ranch and Enchanted rock outside of Austin. www.AustinRockgym.com

I am excited for you, have a great time...

Looks like a cool gym. The gym I go to is http://explore.planet-rock.com/.  Sooner or later I would like to move out west so that I can do some rock climbing that doesn't involve a gym.

 Nice! I hope you do..The more friends you make climbing. You will end up jumping in a car and just drive to climb somewhere.  I did and those were

some of the funniest trips...have a great time..

11:51 p.m. on March 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Google some games to play in the gym with others.  A little competition helps you climb harder, quicker.  One of my favorites is an elimination game:  Find a nice boulder problem, or long traverse.  Each climber eliminates one hand or foot hold every time they do the route and you keep going until the other climber can no longer do the route.  

6:19 a.m. on March 15, 2011 (EDT)
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rwd - That sounds like a lot of fun.  Thanks a bunch.

12:46 p.m. on March 15, 2011 (EDT)
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...I'm thinking that since I already have weight lifting and general workout equipment at home I might as well spend the money on a gym that will help me to eventually rock climb on real rock :-)

Coyote -

Gym climbing (climbing on plastic with fake bolt-on holds) is very different from climbing on real rock. While it is good for developing strength in many (but not all) of the same muscles you use in real climbing, many of the moves are quite different. Of course, that is the same as saying that on rock, hand cracks are not the same as off-widths are not the same as slabs are not the same as (list of the dozens of different rock configurations)... For example, most of the gyms have lots of vertical to overhanging wall formations and few if any cracks in the finger to fist size, few if any chimneys, few if any corners, etc. People have spent a lot of time in the gym and can easily climb the taped routes marked as 13 (for example) are usually startled at how much harder a route marked in the guidebook as 5.9 is -  no tape to guide you, and real rock has a wide variety of different consistencies (limestone is very different from sandstone is very different from gritstone is very different from granite (etc for the wide varieties of rock - not to mention that glacially polished granite in the Valley is very different from the granite of Tuolumne just a few miles away, although they are in fact a form of diorite and not granite.

I was a bit surprised a few years ago when I returned to Tahquitz after many years away from it to discover that the new guidebook had shifted the grades of many of the climbs upward, in some cases by 3 or 4 steps. I happened to run into the guide's author in a climbing shop in town and asked why the beginner climb, the Trough, which had always been rated as the classic example of a 5.0 was now listed as a 5.4, and the "standard" for a 5.7, the Switchbacks, was now listed as a 5.9 for the easiest variation for the first moves off the ground (most of the variations are 5.10 or 11). He told me that too many gym climbers were coming out to Tahquitz, believing that a grade they could do easily in the gym would be easy on the rock. So, as a "subtle warning" that rock and plastic are not the same, he and his co-author and other Tahquitz/Suicide regulars had agreed to boost the ratings. I should note that Tahquitz is where the original decimal rating system (originally called the Tahquitz decimal system) was devised by Chuck Wilts, and later expanded by Jim Bridwell into the present "Yosemite decimal system". Techniques and gear (especially sticky rubber shoes) have made a significant change in how hard or easy many climbs are.

Besides, you don't have to pay the exorbitant gym fees to climb on real rock. Oh, wait! you probably will have to deal with rain, snow, or super hot weather and maybe high humidity - no shelter and air conditioning like the gym.

5:05 p.m. on March 15, 2011 (EDT)
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..Tahquitz is where the original decimal rating system (originally called the Tahquitz decimal system) was devised by Chuck Wilts...

I took some of my first formal instruction under Chuck, back when he still instructed, at Tahquitz and Josh.  He never mentioned he was the father of this metric system - very modest and fitting to his character.

Ed

9:51 p.m. on March 16, 2011 (EDT)
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Coyote, there's nothing wrong with learning and becoming stronger in a gym, especially for someone in your situation that's far from an outdoor climbing areas (Lansing was the closest to southern MI that I saw after a brief search.)  Don't let anyone's post here dissuade you otherwise.  Unless you're lucky enough to live in a place that has a crag close to home, a gym is a best second option.  Besides getting stronger, you'll have a nice environment to learn a lot of the basic skills  (drop kneeing, gastons, deadpointing, etc.) and safety (belaying, tying-in, clipping, etc.) in a good environment.  Not to mention the overall enjoyment of getting to meet fellow climbers, hang out and enjoy a nice gym session after work or on a Saturday afternoon.   It's typically those relationships that bud into eventual partnerships and mentorships that get you out on to the real rock, where you can discover all the nuanced differences Bill mentions.   Until then, join a gym, get strong and have fun!

12:28 a.m. on March 17, 2011 (EDT)
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The gym sounds like a good place to work out, they may even have a climbing school so you can practice the basics at close by craigs and make some contacts. I used to traverse on the side of a warehouse that had a carved rock lower wall, I would climb for a half hour, three days a week, every other day in the spring. I would also do the same thing on the side of cliffs, you can climb for long periods of time and work on your endurance, fingers and forearms. Another training technique that helps for the mountains is uphill hiking with ski poles during the winter and spring. Start out with a light pack, hike straight up he fall line. Two to three days a week with time off between workouts. Start with 30 minute workouts and work up to a hour or more. The ski poles help alot and save the knees.

7:57 a.m. on March 20, 2011 (EDT)
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133 forum posts

...I'm thinking that since I already have weight lifting and general workout equipment at home I might as well spend the money on a gym that will help me to eventually rock climb on real rock :-)

Coyote -

Gym climbing (climbing on plastic with fake bolt-on holds) is very different from climbing on real rock. While it is good for developing strength in many (but not all) of the same muscles you use in real climbing, many of the moves are quite different. Of course, that is the same as saying that on rock, hand cracks are not the same as off-widths are not the same as slabs are not the same as (list of the dozens of different rock configurations)... For example, most of the gyms have lots of vertical to overhanging wall formations and few if any cracks in the finger to fist size, few if any chimneys, few if any corners, etc. People have spent a lot of time in the gym and can easily climb the taped routes marked as 13 (for example) are usually startled at how much harder a route marked in the guidebook as 5.9 is -  no tape to guide you, and real rock has a wide variety of different consistencies (limestone is very different from sandstone is very different from gritstone is very different from granite (etc for the wide varieties of rock - not to mention that glacially polished granite in the Valley is very different from the granite of Tuolumne just a few miles away, although they are in fact a form of diorite and not granite.

I was a bit surprised a few years ago when I returned to Tahquitz after many years away from it to discover that the new guidebook had shifted the grades of many of the climbs upward, in some cases by 3 or 4 steps. I happened to run into the guide's author in a climbing shop in town and asked why the beginner climb, the Trough, which had always been rated as the classic example of a 5.0 was now listed as a 5.4, and the "standard" for a 5.7, the Switchbacks, was now listed as a 5.9 for the easiest variation for the first moves off the ground (most of the variations are 5.10 or 11). He told me that too many gym climbers were coming out to Tahquitz, believing that a grade they could do easily in the gym would be easy on the rock. So, as a "subtle warning" that rock and plastic are not the same, he and his co-author and other Tahquitz/Suicide regulars had agreed to boost the ratings. I should note that Tahquitz is where the original decimal rating system (originally called the Tahquitz decimal system) was devised by Chuck Wilts, and later expanded by Jim Bridwell into the present "Yosemite decimal system". Techniques and gear (especially sticky rubber shoes) have made a significant change in how hard or easy many climbs are.

Besides, you don't have to pay the exorbitant gym fees to climb on real rock. Oh, wait! you probably will have to deal with rain, snow, or super hot weather and maybe high humidity - no shelter and air conditioning like the gym.

Bill - All very good points.  The only problem is that, until I can move, I would spend more money then I can afford to get to real rock.  So for now the gym is the most practical solution for me.  I do look forward to getting onto real rock at some point in the future, but for now that will have to wait.

8:05 a.m. on March 20, 2011 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
133 forum posts


Coyote, there's nothing wrong with learning and becoming stronger in a gym, especially for someone in your situation that's far from an outdoor climbing areas (Lansing was the closest to southern MI that I saw after a brief search.)  Don't let anyone's post here dissuade you otherwise.  Unless you're lucky enough to live in a place that has a crag close to home, a gym is a best second option.  Besides getting stronger, you'll have a nice environment to learn a lot of the basic skills  (drop kneeing, gastons, deadpointing, etc.) and safety (belaying, tying-in, clipping, etc.) in a good environment.  Not to mention the overall enjoyment of getting to meet fellow climbers, hang out and enjoy a nice gym session after work or on a Saturday afternoon.   It's typically those relationships that bud into eventual partnerships and mentorships that get you out on to the real rock, where you can discover all the nuanced differences Bill mentions.   Until then, join a gym, get strong and have fun!

Thanks for the encouragement rwd.  That's what I kind of figured.

8:07 a.m. on March 20, 2011 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
133 forum posts

The gym sounds like a good place to work out, they may even have a climbing school so you can practice the basics at close by craigs and make some contacts. I used to traverse on the side of a warehouse that had a carved rock lower wall, I would climb for a half hour, three days a week, every other day in the spring. I would also do the same thing on the side of cliffs, you can climb for long periods of time and work on your endurance, fingers and forearms. Another training technique that helps for the mountains is uphill hiking with ski poles during the winter and spring. Start out with a light pack, hike straight up he fall line. Two to three days a week with time off between workouts. Start with 30 minute workouts and work up to a hour or more. The ski poles help alot and save the knees.

Thanks for the tips Mt. Guide. I hadn't thought about the uphill hiking as a way of training for rock climbing.

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