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chelclock8882


Mar 16, 2008, 8:58 AM
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core strength
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I am fairly new to climbing, and I love it, but due to scheduling, I can only get to the wall a few times a week.

I was wondering if anyone has any ideas for workouts I can do [maybe early in the morning or at night?] to improve my core strength and balance until I can climb more.

In summer the wall will be open more plus I can get on some rock!

Thanks


monkeychild


Mar 16, 2008, 9:46 AM
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Re: [chelclock8882] core strength [In reply to]
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Yeah - there are numerous core workouts floating around this site... if you search them.

Anywho, some good ones are crunches, but instead of going up the normal amount, crunch a little more so you're between a sit up and a crunch. Do a bunch of those and then turn your legs to the side and do side-crunches to either side.

THen you can do planks, which is when you hold a push-up position on your elbows with a straight back for a few minutes. A variation on this is lifting up one leg and/or one arm.

THen there's V-ups.

And bicycles.

And a bunch of others I'm forgetting.

Also do push-ups. Reeeeeeally sloooooow push ups.


roy_hinkley_jr


Mar 16, 2008, 9:49 AM
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Re: [chelclock8882] core strength [In reply to]
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Most core training, including pilates and yoga, is a waste of time for climbers. This recent fitness fad is hyped up by people with an agenda (usually making money) but has little evidence to support the claims. Climbing itself is excellent core training. Most of the focus of "core exercises" is on the front of the body. But if anything, climbers need to focus on the posterior side. While the usual "just climb" advice is lame, in this case it's pretty much true.


mturner


Mar 16, 2008, 10:50 AM
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Re: [roy_hinkley_jr] core strength [In reply to]
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roy_hinkley_jr wrote:
Most core training, including pilates and yoga, is a waste of time for climbers. This recent fitness fad is hyped up by people with an agenda (usually making money) but has little evidence to support the claims. Climbing itself is excellent core training. Most of the focus of "core exercises" is on the front of the body. But if anything, climbers need to focus on the posterior side. While the usual "just climb" advice is lame, in this case it's pretty much true.

I agree but the OP already said they don't have time to get to the gym or crag and are looking for something to do on the side.


monkeychild


Mar 16, 2008, 11:19 AM
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In reply to:
Most core training, including pilates and yoga, is a waste of time for climbers. This recent fitness fad is hyped up by people with an agenda (usually making money) but has little evidence to support the claims. Climbing itself is excellent core training. Most of the focus of "core exercises" is on the front of the body. But if anything, climbers need to focus on the posterior side. While the usual "just climb" advice is lame, in this case it's pretty much true.

You have a point, but there are some "core exercises" that do translate directly into climbing. For example, hanging on a pullup bar and lifting your legs straight up to meet the bar is a core exercise that mimics climbing movement. Say you're climbing across a roof (or over the ceiling at the gym). You need a strong core to keep your feet up on the wall, and that can be gotten by working at home on that type of strength. I think what you're saying is that many of the core exercises people do aren't the right ones and have little affect on their climbing.
Smile


scwillie


Mar 16, 2008, 11:55 AM
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This may not have a lot of applicability to climbing, but here is a core workout I do that is pretty good for general fitness. http://www.runnersworld.com/video/index.html?bcpid=717784762&bclid=909837219/&bctid=1368763974


lena_chita
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Mar 16, 2008, 11:56 AM
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Re: [chelclock8882] core strength [In reply to]
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Well, getting to the rock wall "a few times a week" is plenty for a beginner. (Define few, LOL) Even if it is twice a week, you will get a lot of mileage out of it if you use that time efficiently.

Since you only started climbing a couple of months ago, it is highly unlikely that the kind of climbing you do requires some sort of uber-strong core, so unless you are recovering from 5 C-sections in 5 years, have never done anything physical in your life, etc. etc., you probably already have core muscles that are up to anything you are gonig to throw at them climbing-wise. As you progress to harder climbing, your core muscles will get stronger and keep up with you.

I am not trying to discourage you from doing sit-ups, leg lifts, push-ups, pull-ups, yoga, pilates, or anything else-- sure, they are all good exercises that will be beneficial to your general fitness level-- so will be running, swimming, and anything else you happen to enjoy, other than sitting on the couch typing away on your laptop (which is exaclty what I am doing right now). It it makes you feel good, do pushpups every morning and evening, and as many leg lifts and crunches as you can stomach-- why not? But if you are short on time, and if your goal is to maximize the effect on your climbing, then focus on developing good climbing technique first and getting most out of those couple climbing days a wek that you are at the rock gym.

However, if you do want to do something other than climbing, then my personal bias is that yoga and pilates ARE more beneficial than isolated exercises like sit-ups and leg lifts b/c they work on balance and coordination, and work the muscles in many subtly-different ways than any single exercise. Part of the reason I prefer them also has to do with a simple fact that I am bored to tears after doing 20 sit-ups... But I will happily do 90 minutes of power yoga. So if you are like me and doing sit-ups isn't your thing, pick some activity that will appeal to you, and keep in mind that the effect on climbing is going to be minimal, but effect on you overal lis probably going to be good.


chelclock8882


Mar 16, 2008, 1:08 PM
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Re: [lena_chita] core strength [In reply to]
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I get to the gym usually 2 times a week, sometimes three, but I can only go for two or so hours at a time.
I'm not trying to get super buff or anything, it's just that in general I am not a very strong person, and I'd like to improve, even if gradually.


granite_grrl


Mar 16, 2008, 1:40 PM
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Re: [lena_chita] core strength [In reply to]
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lena_chita wrote:
Part of the reason I prefer them also has to do with a simple fact that I am bored to tears after doing 20 sit-ups... But I will happily do 90 minutes of power yoga. So if you are like me and doing sit-ups isn't your thing, pick some activity that will appeal to you

Bingo. This is pretty much the same was I feel.


Climbnkev


Mar 16, 2008, 4:50 PM
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Re: [roy_hinkley_jr] core strength [In reply to]
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roy_hinkley_jr wrote:
Most core training, including pilates and yoga, is a waste of time for climbers. This recent fitness fad is hyped up by people with an agenda (usually making money) but has little evidence to support the claims. Climbing itself is excellent core training. Most of the focus of "core exercises" is on the front of the body. But if anything, climbers need to focus on the posterior side. While the usual "just climb" advice is lame, in this case it's pretty much true.

The only strength training I do besides climb is Pilates and I can climb 5.12 off the couch so it seems that Pilates is doing some good for me. I have also seen an increase in my active range of motion and my back is healthier than is has been in years. Have you actually taken a real Pilates class or are you generalizing based on an incomplete understanding of what Pilates actually is?


overlord


Mar 17, 2008, 1:54 AM
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roy_hinkley_jr wrote:
Most core training, including pilates and yoga, is a waste of time for climbers. This recent fitness fad is hyped up by people with an agenda (usually making money) but has little evidence to support the claims. Climbing itself is excellent core training. Most of the focus of "core exercises" is on the front of the body. But if anything, climbers need to focus on the posterior side. While the usual "just climb" advice is lame, in this case it's pretty much true.

actually i have seen quite an improvement in my climbing after i started doing pilates. some moves, like tricky heelhools (where you need to use your core to keep the body stable, else the heel will slip from the poor foothold), that require a bit more core strength have become much easier.

but it is true that i have added a bit of extra posterior excerises because the original program was kindof lacking in that field and i'm a strong believer in working opposing musclesWink


yomomma


Mar 17, 2008, 6:02 AM
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roy_hinkley_jr wrote:
Most core training, including pilates and yoga, is a waste of time for climbers. This recent fitness fad is hyped up by people with an agenda (usually making money) but has little evidence to support the claims. Climbing itself is excellent core training. Most of the focus of "core exercises" is on the front of the body. But if anything, climbers need to focus on the posterior side. While the usual "just climb" advice is lame, in this case it's pretty much true.

Oh yea? What makes you the expert?


lena_chita
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Mar 17, 2008, 7:04 AM
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Re: [chelclock8882] core strength [In reply to]
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chelclock8882 wrote:
I get to the gym usually 2 times a week, sometimes three, but I can only go for two or so hours at a time.
I'm not trying to get super buff or anything, it's just that in general I am not a very strong person, and I'd like to improve, even if gradually.

2-3 times a week is REALLY quite enough. I have never been able to go to the gym more than 3x a week-- and one of those 3 times usually involves my kids, so I spend more time belaying and spotting than actually climbing.

The first 8 months or so after I started climbing I was only going to the gym once a week b/c that was all I could find time for. And even with that little bit of time spent climbing, and no additional training, I was still quite a bit stronger after 8 months. Of course going 2x a week made me progress faster... But the best thing I've done after those first 8 months of just climbing was to take a technique class. I felt that the 2-day technique class was more beneficial than all the sit-ups I could have possibly done. And the next most-beneficial thing was reading the Self-Coached Climber and developing a training plan.


bonin_in_the_boneyard


Mar 19, 2008, 3:04 PM
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All Lena's advice is good. Ignore Hinkley. Core is vital. Your hands will always be the weak link no matter how strong the get, so the name of the game is to get the rest of your body as strong as possible in order to take the weight off your hands.

It bears repeating: Core is vital. You cannot keep your feet on the wall on steep terrain without abs. And you cannot pull on an undercling or lieback without a strong lower back. But there are dozens muscles that you have that you don't even know about, all of which will take the weight off your hands and put it back on your feet. Get them all strong.

Accomplish that by doing exercises that use LOTS of muscles. Don't do sit-ups, do bicycles. And mix it up. Add at a new exercise at least every other week, and discard one that has gotten to easy. Google video search "core exercises" to find new ones. Crossfit.com is a great resource. Bosu balls are amazing at finding those weak little muscles. Also, by doing exercises that use lots of muscles simultaneously, not only will you be improving coordination, you'll be getting your cardio at the same time without the damage of jogging, which doesn't do jack for your climbing anyway.


irregularpanda


Mar 19, 2008, 3:13 PM
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bonin_in_the_boneyard wrote:
All Lena's advice is good. Ignore Hinkley. Core is vital. Your hands will always be the weak link no matter how strong the get, so the name of the game is to get the rest of your body as strong as possible in order to take the weight off your hands.

It bears repeating: Core is vital.

I agree 100% However, if hands are always the weak link (which I agree with) get a hangboard and do some workouts on that too. If you're cognizant of your body and how you use the hangboard you can also work the core in certain ways while you build forearm strength.


bonin_in_the_boneyard


Mar 19, 2008, 3:19 PM
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irregularpanda wrote:
I agree 100% However, if hands are always the weak link (which I agree with) get a hangboard and do some workouts on that too. If you're cognizant of your body and how you use the hangboard you can also work the core in certain ways while you build forearm strength.

Right. But even in training the hands give out first. Don't stop there! Keep working everything else!

As for the hangboard specifically, someone just starting climbing isn't going to get much out of it other than boredom (I know! I tried!) If you're climbing 2-3x/wk just climb as hard as you can. Fall a lot. Your hands will be shot for days afterwards anyway, so I really don't see the benefit of adding the tedium of hangboarding. For the first year or two or three or four it's all about technique anyway. Learn the skills. The strength will come.


roy_hinkley_jr


Mar 19, 2008, 3:46 PM
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bonin_in_the_boneyard wrote:
You cannot keep your feet on the wall on steep terrain without abs. And you cannot pull on an undercling or lieback without a strong lower back. But there are dozens muscles that you have that you don't even know about, all of which will take the weight off your hands and put it back on your feet. Get them all strong.

Of course, this is precisely wrong. The abs are not really used to keep your feet on the wall on steep terrain. The abs do one thing and that is curl you forward; they cannot help you push, nor do the obliques. To apply pressure to holds with the feet requires the posterior muscles of the spine. Most of the so-called "core exercises" only train the superficial front side and some, like hanging leg raises, aren't even training the abs (the way most people do them). Even pilates doesn't really get at the deep core such as transverse abdominis and muscles of the pelvic floor.

Most climbers are better off spending the time climbing instead of doing bazillions of crunches, bicycles, or yoga classes, assuming that they've actually identified the core as a weak area. Lifting heavy is better than any of the fad core exercises if you have to do something to address weakness. Sure core is vital. But it really isn't a limiting factor for most climbers because they're already training it with a specific activity. If forearm strength is holding you back, work on that instead of core.


sidepull


Mar 20, 2008, 4:27 PM
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In this case I agree with roy, you'll strengthen your core far quicker doing full-body lifts (deadlifts, squats, rows, pullups, etc.) than you will messing around with a Bosu ball or doing crunches.


piton


Mar 20, 2008, 4:52 PM
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going to let you in on a secret.

do lots of leg lifts and when you do them keep your arms above your head, Not under your butt


Rufsen


Mar 21, 2008, 8:26 AM
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Agree. I usually wake up with sore abs after a day of doing lots of overhanging bouldering, crunches just seems like a waste of time if i can train the core while climbing.


chelclock8882


Mar 26, 2008, 8:41 AM
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Okay, it's more that I am just not a strong person, and feel that my lack of strength is really holding me back. I'm looking for something as a supplement to climbing. I burn out really quickly. I am not looking for a quick fix, but something I can do to improve my strength over time.


levai


Mar 26, 2008, 9:40 AM
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I've been climbing for a few years and when i started taking pilates, i noticed a good acceleration in my technique, flexibility and strength. I started pulling out new beta that made moves so much easier, i realized i could get up the wall with my core, not just my arms or legs. I think it's a perfect supplement to climbing. be sure not to sell yourself short; get real, professional pilates instruction. no videos or stuff like that.

I agree with the above possitive remarks regarding pilates and yoga in regards to climbing.

Another perk of finding the right pilates instructor; they usually have a good understanding of anatomy and they end up being a weekly resource for treating injuries. my instructor has taught me ways to get ride of all sorts of pains and aches; whether it was because i wasn't stretching right or because i needed to see a specific doctor, she was able to point me in the right direction.


iwasasportweenie


Mar 26, 2008, 10:47 AM
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roy_hinkley_jr wrote:
[quote
Of course, this is precisely wrong. The abs are not really used to keep your feet on the wall on steep terrain. The abs do one thing and that is curl you forward; they cannot help you push, nor do the obliques. To apply pressure to holds with the feet requires the posterior muscles of the spine. Most of the so-called "core exercises" only train the superficial front side and some, like hanging leg raises, aren't even training the abs (the way most people do them). Even pilates doesn't really get at the deep core such as transverse abdominis and muscles of the pelvic floor.

Most climbers are better off spending the time climbing instead of doing bazillions of crunches, bicycles, or yoga classes, assuming that they've actually identified the core as a weak area. Lifting heavy is better than any of the fad core exercises if you have to do something to address weakness. Sure core is vital. But it really isn't a limiting factor for most climbers because they're already training it with a specific activity. If forearm strength is holding you back, work on that instead of core.

Just a few things to add/amend here.

First: Roy's wrong about abs & steep terrain. If you've ever tried climbing in the horizontal (or near-horizontal), especially without positive footholds, you know that it's not your legs keeping your feet on; you're pushing all the way through your toes from your core. However, unless you're climbing on very steep terrain and/or overhangs with poor/slopey feet, core strength shouldn't be a huge issue. If you do just want to strengthen the core quickly and effectively, use weights. There are gym machines that let you do weighted crunches and oblique exercises, or you can just grab some weights (or a backpack full of books, or whatever) and do your ab exercises au natual on the floor. If you want to make the transition from struggling through crunches to doing front levers, you're going to need weights and/or a partner to spot you during negative-rep exercises. The verdict: you won't need to unless you're into really steep climbing, but if you want to be able to crack eggs with your abs, go for weights and negative reps with a spotter.

Second: as has already been noted, there's a lot more that goes into climbing than "just" finger strength, or "just" balance, or "just" core strength. It's true that yoga and Pilates won't improve your core strength as much or as rapidly as exercises targeting just your core. However, they also increase balance and flexibility, and work muscles all over that you may find useful in climbing even if you don't know you have them. The verdict: Pilates and yoga are definitely helpful, unless you can already do a front lever and stick both feet behind your head at the same time.

Third: everyone who said the fingers are the limiting factor in climbing is absolutely right. If you're "burning" out quickly when you climb, try changing your approach to time spent at the gym. If you get tired after just a couple pitches of 5.9 or 5.10, spend most of your time climbing 5.7s and 5.8s. Do laps - climb easier climbs two or more times in a row, without unroping. Save climbs that feel like they're at your limit for the middle of the workout, after you've done several warmup pitches. Then, go back to easier climbs. As you progress, you'll be able to do more and harder climbs. If you're already climbing 5.11+ or harder, then consider a hangboard or campus training; otherwise, forget about these, as they'll leave you bored, injured, or both. The verdict: finger strength is key, but unless you're climbing pretty hard, focusing on mileage and technique is better.

Fourth: almost any kind of cross-training will help with climbing. Things to avoid include body-building, hardcore cycling, and anything else that will make you heavier or increase lower body weight without strengthening your core or your upper body. Running a few days a week is great - it can decrease overall body mass without weakening muscles, and the improvement in cardiovascular fitness will carry over (a little) to your climbing. The verdict: anything healthy that you enjoy is going to help with climbing. You don't need to worry too much about really climbing-specific training until you're climbing in the hard 5.11/easy 5.12 range, or bouldering at least v4.


ryan00013


May 1, 2008, 7:42 AM
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I do yoga about twice a week. Although it's not a true "core" workout, my flexibility has increased a ton. It helps with general health, not just climbing. It's one of those things you just have to try for yourself and see if it's for you.


joswald


May 4, 2008, 7:03 AM
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I think the "abs" you are talking about are the rectus abdominus and you need to be more specific when you say this and state which abs your talking about as the abdominals are made up of more than one muscle.


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