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Stay-At-Home Climbing Training Routine: Day One

The first of a 14-day cross-training plan for athletes looking to progress during self-isolation

As the coronavirus grips the nation, many people are focusing on isolating themselves at home for a few weeks. Most climbing and fitness gyms have closed and crag climbing isn’t recommended (due to overcrowding).

In light of the current situation, we’ll be posting daily training routines. If you’re going to be home, you might as well keep training. Thanks to everyone who is out and continuing to work in public during the outbreak, including essential services and folks at the grocery stores.

For our 2021 weekly hangboard routine visit here and board routine here.

Day 1

As gyms close across the country, climbers will have to get creative to maintain their strength and progress. Though access to a home-wall or hangboard would greatly benefit any climber practicing self-isolation, these tools are not always accessible.

Fortunately, there are many ways to improve at climbing without a climbing wall. Over the next 14 days, we will release daily cross-training plans that can help you maintain that strength you worked so hard to attain.

Without a hangboard or home wall, it is difficult to strengthen the forearms. Thankfully there are a lot of ways to get stronger at climbing that do not require high end training equipment. As climbing is a purely calisthenic exercise, it benefits greatly from increased fitness and calisthenic strength. By raising your level of fitness, you will reduce your risk for injury and possibly return to climbing even stronger than you were before.

If you are unable to make it through all of the exercise, then prioritize those exercises that isolate your weaknesses. For most people that will mean targeting core, flexibility and antagonist muscles. These 14 days of training are a part of a three-week training cycle with a deload week on the third week. Strength gains occur in this third week because your muscles are allowed to heal.


Footwork and technique are a function of core strength. The stronger the core, the better the climber. For maximum gains, train the abdominals daily.

  • Plank:

    • three sets of two-five minutes. Strive to hold a plank for the full five minutes.
  • Big Kicks:

    • Lay on your back. Assume the position for swimmer kicks. Instead of completing swimmer kicks, point your toes and increase the range of the kick. Alternate kicks at a high rate for one-two minutes a burn. Complete three sets.
  • Hanging Leg-lifts:

    • This is the best core exercise available for the at-home athlete. First, hang from a bar. Ideally, you will then lift your legs so that your feet touch the bar while keeping your legs straight. This is very challenging, so do not be discouraged. If this is too challenging, strive to lift your straight-legs as high as possible. If this is also too difficult, complete the exercise with your legs bent at the knee.
      • Beginner: 30 leg lifts
      • Moderate: 50 leg lifts
      • Expert: 100 leg lifts

Antagonist Muscles

The push-up is an irreplaceable calisthenic exercise and important to your cross-training. It strengthens your chest, triceps and shoulders and work to protect your body from joint injury. A strong chest will help with compression sequences and strong shoulders will help with shoulder-intensive gaston sequences.

Strong triceps can help with mantles, presses, and stems. If push-ups are too challenging, complete the exercises on your knees. Don’t worry about completing sets of 5 or 20, but instead focus on having good form. Complete the exercise one push-up at a time if you have to.

  • Elbows back:

    • complete 5-20 push-ups with your elbows in line with your torso.
  • Wide Stance:

    • complete 5-20 push-ups with your elbows perpendicular to your torso.
  • Diamond Stance:

    • complete 5-20 diamond push-ups. Place your hands adjacent to one another in the middle of the floor. Lower your body until your sternum touches your hands, then push up. Elbows should press in-line with your torso.
  • Archer:

    • Create a wide stance with your hands. Keep one arm straight while you depress your opposite arm. Push with the opposite arm, utilizing your straight arm for extra leverage as required. Complete 5-20 push-ups with a depressed left arm, and 5-20 with a depressed right arm.

Agonist Muscles

Jerry Moffatt is credited as one of the first climbers to discover the benefit of pull ups in climbing. For him, it was revolutionary and partially responsible for his success.

If you have a pull-up bar:

  • Beginner:

    • complete 5-20 pull-ups
  • Intermediate:

    • complete 20-50 pull-ups
    • one arm lock-off: lift your body into a two-arm lock-off. Ensure your elbows are bent at 90-degrees. Let go with your left hand and strive to hold your body on one arm for 10 seconds. If this is too difficult, hold a complete lock-off for 10 seconds. If this is too difficult, complete a two-arm lock-off at 90-degrees for 10 seconds. Complete three sets on each arm
  • Expert:

    • complete 100 pull-ups
    • complete a 90-degree lock-off for 10 seconds, three sets a side.
    • One-arm pull up training: Hang a cord from the bar. Put one hand low on the cord and another hand on the bar. Complete off-set pull-ups at five repetitions for three sets.

If you do not have a pull up bar, but have weights or something heavy, try Drew Ruana’s bicep exercises. Choose a weight that produces failure by the tenth repetition of the third set. Rest two minutes between sets.

  • Hammer Curls:

    • This exercise targets the Brachialis muscles. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Curls:

    • This exercise targets the bicep. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Preacher Curls:

    • This exercise targets the brachioradialis. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions.



  • The focus of running should be to increase your aerobic capacity, slow your heart-rate and slow your breathing. Spending the time to increase your aerobic capacity will ensure that your blood will be highly oxygenated when you return to climbing. Oxygenated blood increases the speed with which the body can recover. Running is one of the best forms of cross-training.


Stretching, especially among male climbers, is frequently overlooked. Flexibility is essential to climbing at a higher level and can push your grade if worked on diligently. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and stretch at least once a day.

See day two here.

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