The Coronavirus pandemic has been a less-than-ideal situation for pretty much everyone, but especially us climbers. Since March, we haven’t had unrestricted access to the outdoor climbing venues or gyms that we would normally frequent. So, we made compromises. We got creative and climbed the cabinets, bouldered kitchen tables, and traversed fireplaces. Instead of stewing over the fact that our ideal training program had become a distant memory, we made the best of what we had. We stocked up on hangboards and other home training gear…and for those of us lucky enough to own a freestanding home climbing wall, there were plenty of creative options to help us keep up a consistent routine.
Your home climbing wall doesn’t need to be the size of the Green Monster to be an effective climbing training tool. To train effectively, all you need is something like our Rocket Wall, coupled with a good assortment of holds. In terms of actually how to train, you can start by separating out your workouts into those that focus on strength and those that focus on endurance. Make sure to factor in a good warm-up routine, as well, to avoid injury.
Let’s take a look at several workouts that can be done on your freestanding home climbing wall that check the boxes of either building strength or endurance.
Training local endurance helps you to stay on the wall for long periods of time and raises the difficulty at which you can rest and recover. If you have ever felt pumped out, it’s because blood is having trouble reaching the muscle tissues in your forearms. The goal of local endurance is to prevent the shutdown of blood supply to allow your muscles to relax with each movement.
The best way to train local endurance is with ARC training which stands for aerobic, respiration, and capillarity. To do this, you want to pick terrain that you can climb on continuously without taking a rest or creating pump. The goal is to do a cumulative time of 30-45 minutes per session. If this means starting with sets of 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off or 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off to work your way up to 30-45 minutes, that’s great. Keep working at it until you can reach 30-45 minutes on the wall in a continuous push. Remember that this type of workout is very low intensity and can be used as a good recovery exercise as well.
Power endurance kicks things up a notch from local endurance training. This training comes in handy when you can climb easy terrain but multiple hard moves in a row cause you to pump out and fall. The methods for working power endurance involve lots of climbing that pushes you to the point where your forearms should be sore. Start with two sessions per week and progress to three, taking plenty of time to rest in between.
There are two methods of training power endurance that would work well with a freestanding home climbing wall.
The first one is bouldering 4x4s. This requires you to set four routes that are a grade or so below your climbing limit. The routine entails climbing your first problem four times in a row, following with a rest of four minutes. Then move on to the next problem and climb it in the same fashion. Do this for all four problems. Alternatively, you can climb each of your four problems, rest for four minutes, and repeat four times. The idea is to do four sets of four boulder problems, back to back.
The second exercise is circuits. You can use the same problems that you set for the 4x4s, or set some different ones depending on the holds you have available. Aim for picking three to five different boulder problems that are, again, below your flash limit by about one grade. This time you will be climbing each problem once, only coming off the wall to begin the next climb. When you have finished your circuit, rest for the same amount of time that you spent on the wall. After completing your circuit four times with equal rests, take a longer break up to ten minutes and then start another set of four circuits. Step it up a notch and try to avoid hitting the ground after each climb altogether!
Training power helps you focus on those singular movements, whether it be one dynamic movement, a deadpoint, or latching on to a hold after a big move. By training power you are forcing your body to use more muscle fibers at once, as well as changing the type of fibers from slow twitch to fast twitch. This type of training can easily lead to injury, so make sure that you are fully rested. Each exercise should only take 10-15 seconds with significant recovery time in between.
The way to train power is to incorporate limit bouldering into your exercise routine. Limit bouldering really forces you to push your power limits in order to give your body the stimuli it needs to improve its power levels. To accomplish this, set several sequences of three to seven moves, all of which should be at your limit. You should be somewhere between completing the sequence on the first try and falling off the first hold. Give each of the sequences three to five solid attempts, with plenty of rest, before moving on to the next. You should aim for your session to take about 30 minutes to an hour.
Featured Climbing Training Gear
*NEW* The Rocketeer Wall: our free-standing adjustable solution for those who can’t mount a hangboard anywhere in their home or apartment—or who are limited on space. The Rocketeer gives climbers the additional option to set specific climbing holds. Recreate the crux holds of your proj and get ready to send, bruh.
The Rocket Wall: Available in 6’ and 8’ widths, it’s been tough for us to keep up with the demand for this innovative home climbing wall solution. Slightly overhanging, the Rocket Wall is big enough to set routes on, or to build a systems board.
The Rock-Stah: Our handcrafted version of a traditional hangboard, with curving crimp rails to help alleviate unnecessary strain on your pulleys. Because ain’t no one got time for a finger injury…
Christopher Schafenacker started climbing in Western MA before moving to Granada, Spain, where he now writes, climbs, and runs education-centered training camps for competitive youth climbing teams.