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The Power Cycle: Stay-At-Home Routine Day 1

The first of a 28-day power-training cycle for the climber looking for strength at home.

Most of us were hoping for something different. We looked to the month and thought the rest might do us some good. As the weeks passed, it became increasingly clear that climbing outside would not act as a respite from the pandemic. Instead, we looked to train inside and condition for the end of isolation.

As the global efforts to quell the disease continue, each of us remain at home, waiting. For many, this is the longest amount of time we have ever taken off of climbing. It has lent each of us a pause for reflection, a moment to appreciate that which we have lost in the wake of the pandemic and that which we still stand to lose. It can be challenging to remain focused, to remain excited about climbing. That is okay.

It can be difficult to avoid feeling like you must be doing more to achieve your climbing goals in this period of isolation. The pandemic has brought about this apparent need for self-actualization and growth due to all of the free time some of us have attained. Though training is important, it is also important to allow yourself the forgiveness required for those days where motivation is low and psych for climbing feels impossible. It is important that we remain kind to ourselves.

Excepting those moments in which peace is preferred to pull-ups, training continues to offer the joys of endorphins. Though finding the motivation to train can be challenging, maintaining positive spirits is essential in the maintenance of moral. Stay psyched, if it is how you are feeling. Train at your leisure, and when you train, try hard. You are capable of great things. It is not the end of the world. Instead, it is an intermission, in which we might appreciate self-reflection and hope for a more positive future.

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Day 1:

Today we begin our second month of training. If you are joining us for the first time, please feel free to look to Day 1 of the first training cycle and the subsequent days for an idea of what is to come. This next period of training is based on the presupposition that the last conditioning cycle was completed. That said, the following exercises are meant to act more as a framework for your training than as a strict set of rules.

The focus of this training period will be power. Power training is high-stress and can cause injury, so please ensure that you are listening to your body as you move through the exercises. The routine is intended to be completed in order. We will retain a portion of our condition exercises for the sake of fitness in an otherwise climb-free world.

Warm Up:

  • Warming up will likely differ between people, but these are a few good warm ups.
    • Shoulder rolls
    • Rotations: hold arms out perpendicular to the length of your body. Your arms should be parallel to the floor. Begin by rotating your wrists clockwise while your arms are straight. Then increase the rotation from the shoulders, maintain g your straight arms. Steadily increase the radius of rotation until your arms are wind milling, then reverse the direction.
    • Hang on a bar and retract and relax your shoulders
      • Complete a number of pull ups that would warm you up but not tire you out


There are a million-and-one ways to hangboard, many of which are included in the linked piece, but for the purposes of this routine we will hangboard twice a week. If you have never used a hangboard before, it is recommended that you both approach with extreme caution and hangboard only once a week for at least the first two weeks you are using the board.

These hangboard exercises listed below are simple and easy to follow. The training is still exceptionally difficult, and that thought remain present at all times. When pulling onto a board, you should constantly consider the safety of your fingers.

Step 1:

Pick an edge. You will use this edge for the entire month. It should be something you can hold for 7-10 seconds. If y9ou can hold it for 16 seconds or more, it is possible that you will need to add weight or decrease the edge size. If possible, retain the edge size, and add a small amount of weight.

Step 2:

Know the hand positions.

  • Open-hand is defined by a straightened pointer finger, a 90 degree bend in the middle two, and a relatively straight pinky finger.
  • Half-crimp is defined by the pointer, middle and ring fingers bent to 90 degrees, with a semi-straight pinky finger
  • Full-crimp: we will not train.
  • Watch Dave MacLeod’s video on hangboarding for alternative hand-positions for more advanced climbers and general tips and tricks

Step 3:

Warm up the fingers.

  • Warm up your fingers by hanging on progressively smaller holds for increasing amounts of time.
  • Pull on various edge sizes while retaining contact with the ground. This is known as the “French Traverse”.
  • After your fingers are warm, a process which should take at least as long as it takes to warm your fingers up on easy climbs in the gym (10-30 minutes), begin training.

Step 4:


  • For those doing two handed hangs:
    • 3 sets of four-finger open-hand for 7-10 seconds
    • 6 sets of four-finger half-crimp for 7-10 seconds
    • Rest for 2-5 minutes between each hang.
  • For those completing one handed hangs:
    • Place on hand on edge, on hand on a static rope to the side of the edge
    • Hang on the edge with one hand, and pull on the rope to counterbalance the weight that your edge-hanging hand cannot sustain.
      • Hold the rope as low as possible and aim to lower that hand between sessions so that you can increase the weight on the engaged hand.
    • Complete 9 sets of 7-10 second hangs on a large edge (15mm-35mm) on both sides.
      • If you fall part way through the hang, move your hand higher up the rope so to ensure that you complete the set on the set.

Agonist muscles:

Once your biceps and shoulders are fully warm, or so warm that you could pull as hard as you would want, begin off-set pull ups.

Offset pull ups:

Offsets are designed to help you build one-arm power. Though we completed a few of these over the course of our conditioning period, we will adjust them for maximum output. For Day 1, hang a rope from your pull-up bar. Place your hand as low as you can on that rope. Either knot it or tape the rope so that you know your maximum offset distance between days.

  • Complete 4 sets of 3 repetitions on each arm
    • Rest for two to five minutes between each set, even between arms
      • Be careful of your wrists during this period.
    • If you are already capable of completing a one-arm pull up, then strive to complete between 6 and 10 one-arm pull ups, a side, separated by two-minutes rest.


Once your offsets are complete, rest for five-minutes and begin your lock-offs.

Try and hold a lock-off with one arm bent at 90-degrees. If this is too challenging, complete the exercise in a full lock-off on one arm. If this is too difficult, complete ten negatives.

  • Negatives: Hold a full lock-off with two arms at the top of the bar. Let one arm go and try and resist gravity with the other arm. You will either hold the lock-off or slowly descend to a straight arm position. The goal of a negative is to increase the time it takes to descend.
    • Complete ten one-arm negatives on each side
  • Lock Offs:
    • If you are able to complete the lock-off, then…
    • Aim to hold lock for 10 seconds. 3 sets a side.


Front Levers:

To complete this exercise, hang from a bar and strive to pull into a front-lever-like position. A front lever is primaruily defined by straight arms, a straight body, and the plane of that body as parallel to the floor. Remaining parallel to the floor is the most difficult part of the lever, so to train it we will pull into as “high” a lever as we are capable, and then we will hold it as hard as we can.

  • Ideally, another person will hold the timer for you so that you can close your eyes and try super-hard. With an exercises like this, trying hard is essential.
    • If you are unable to come anywhere close to maintain a lever, strive to do this exercise with a leg retracted
  • Complete 6 front levers at 10 seconds a lever.
    • Rest 3 minutes between each lever

Antagonist muscles:

100 push ups, elbows back.

  • Strive to complete these push ups in 5 sets of 20 or 10 sets of 10.


Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds:

  • Straddle Splits: This stretch is important to climbing as it increases a climber’s lateral flexibility for moves like stemming in a corner.
  • Hamstring: keep your legs straight and bend down to your feet. Keep your back flat for an alternate version of this stretch.
  • Hip-flexor: Flexible hip-flexors allow a climber to high-step.
  • Quadricep: preventative against injury
  • Triceps stretch: preventative against injury
  • Shoulder stretch: increases mobility
  • Calf stretch: increased heel-hooking mobility


Featured photo of @apurdy97 by Tension Climbing