Introduction to Strength Training

This introduction to strength training program is designed for climbers who have been actively climbing in the gym or outside and are considering adding structured training to their program. This plan features fundamental strength exercises and hangboard work. This is designed to be added to a 2-3 day per week climbing schedule. Time commitment is two sessions per week, with 2-3 hours per week total training time.

 

For the most part, your climbing plan will remain unaffected. However, I will make some recommendations on session length and scheduling. The schedule for weeks 1, 2, and 4 are the same. Week 3 features three strength and hangboard sessions, and is the most intense of the cycle.

 

MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Week 1 Strength Training + Hangboard Climbing Rest Strength Training + Hangboard Rest Climbing – High Volume Climbing – Easy
Week 2 Strength Training + Hangboard Climbing Rest Strength Training + Hangboard Rest Climbing – High Volume Climbing – Easy
Week 3 Strength Training + Hangboard Rest Strength Training + Hangboard Rest Strength Training + Hangboard Climbing Rest
Week 4 Strength Training + Hangboard Climbing Rest Strength Training + Hangboard Rest Climbing – High Volume Climbing – Easy

 

Training Detail:

Week 1, Monday

Strength Training

This session is designed to help you improve the strength that matters most for climbing: upper body pulling, core tension, and single leg strength. If you are familiar with weight training exercises, most of what you see here will be very familiar. The exercises are grouped into pairs, and you’ll complete three sets of each pair before moving onto the next group. Rest 30-60 seconds between exercises, and take 2-3 minutes between groups. Adjust the load or difficulty of the exercises to make sure that you can just barely complete the recommended number of repetitions in the final set. Keep the load the same for all three sets.

 

Each workout should start with a good, solid movement preparation warm-up that is 8-10 minutes long.

 

3 sets each:

A1: Pull-Ups x5

A2: Walking Lunges x5+5

 

B1: Dumbbell Row x5+5

B2: Seated Straight Leg Raise x10

 

C1: Step-Up x5+5

C2: Hardstyle Plank 15sec

 

Hangboard

This hangboard session will feature two different hand positions. You’ll complete 6 sets of position 1 before moving on to 6 sets of position 2. Select one large edge and one small one; the small one should be one you can hang for about 10 seconds. Starting with the large edge, hang for 10 seconds, followed by 50 seconds of rest. You’ll do this for 6 rounds, or for 6 minutes total. If you complete all the hangs easily (you should) this first workout, plan to add 5-10 pounds to a belt in the next session.

 

Once you have completed the 6 rounds on the large edge, rest 2-3 minutes before moving on to the small one. This edge, you’ll hang for just 5 seconds each minute, with 55 seconds rest between. Again, you’ll complete 6 rounds. Instead of adding load if you complete all the sets easily, plan to try a slightly smaller hold next workout. Remember that if you add weight to the large edge, it will make next workout’s small edge hang harder, so avoid increasing weight and reducing the small edge in the same session.

 

To recap:

6 rounds:

Large Edge 10sec hang, 50sec rest.

 

Rest 2-3 minutes

 

6 rounds:

Small Edge 5sec hang, 55sec rest.

 

Week 1, Tuesday

Climbing. Your fingers may be tired from Monday, so start easy and adjust the session based on yesterday’s work.

 

Week 1, Wednesday

Rest. Rest means rest. No easy climbing, no “just going for a run.” Today your training time can be dedicated to shopping for training food, to preparing meals for the rest of the week, or to stretching and mobility.

 

Week 1, Thursday

Strength Training

Based on Monday’s loads, you can probably add weight to today’s training in most of the exercises. Remember, you want to make sure you can execute the movements perfectly – if adding load changes your form for the worse, back off until you are better at the movements.

 

Each workout should start with a good, solid movement preparation warm-up that is 8-10 minutes long.

 

3 sets each:

A1: Pull-Ups x5

A2: Walking Lunges x5+5

 

B1: Dumbbell Row x5+5

B2: Seated Straight Leg Raise x10

 

C1: Step-Up x5+5

C2: Hardstyle Plank 15sec

 

Hangboard

6 rounds:

Large Edge 10sec hang, 50sec rest. Add load over Monday’s session if necessary.

 

Rest 2-3 minutes

 

6 rounds:

Small Edge 5sec hang, 55sec rest. Reduce hold size if necessary.

 

Week 1, Friday

Rest. Spend your training time today, if you have time planned, walking. You might think it’s crazy, but medium-paced walking is excellent for recovery, for keeping your metabolism moving, and for weight control. Walk, don’t run.

 

Week 1, Saturday

Climb, high volume. Whether you typically boulder or climb routes, today should be looked at as adding 10-20% total work time over your typical session. If you boulder for an hour normally, go an hour and 10 minutes. If you normally climb 10 pitches in the gym, go for 12.

 

Week 1, Sunday

Climbing. This should be a normal climbing day. Since tomorrow is another strength day, consider controlling the intensity to allow for recovery before that session.

 

Week 2, Monday

Strength Training

Based on last Thursday’s loads, you can probably add weight to today’s training in most of the exercises. Remember, you want to make sure you can execute the movements perfectly – if adding load changes your form for the worse, back off until you are better at the movements.

 

Movement PRep 10 minutes

 

3 sets each:

A1: Pull-Ups x5

A2: Walking Lunges x5+5

 

B1: Dumbbell Row x5+5

B2: Seated Straight Leg Raise x10

 

C1: Step-Up x5+5

C2: Hardstyle Plank 15sec

 

Hangboard

6 rounds:

Large Edge 10sec hang, 50sec rest. Add load over last week’s session if necessary.

 

Rest 2-3 minutes

 

6 rounds:

Small Edge 5sec hang, 55sec rest. Reduce hold size if necessary.

 

Week 2, Tuesday

Climbing. This is your fourth day on. Adjust the volume and load as needed. Remember, the focus of your training this month is strength, so less-than-perfect climbing is OK.

 

Week 2, Wednesday

Rest. As I said before, it’s a good habit to take you training time and dedicate it to meal preparation and flexibility training.

 

Week 2, Thursday

Strength Training

Based on Monday’s loads, you can probably add weight to a couple of exercises.

 

Movement Prep, 8-10 minutes.

 

3 sets each:

A1: Pull-Ups x5

A2: Walking Lunges x5+5

 

B1: Dumbbell Row x5+5

B2: Seated Straight Leg Raise x10

 

C1: Step-Up x5+5

C2: Hardstyle Plank 15sec

 

Hangboard

6 rounds:

Large Edge 10sec hang, 50sec rest. Add load over Monday’s session if necessary.

 

Rest 2-3 minutes

 

6 rounds:

Small Edge 5sec hang, 55sec rest. Reduce hold size if necessary.

 

Week 2, Friday

Rest.

 

Week 2, Saturday

Climb, high volume. Whether you typically boulder or climb routes, today should be looked at as adding 10-20% total work time over your typical session. If you boulder for an hour normally, go an hour and 10 minutes. If you normally climb 10 pitches in the gym, go for 12. This should be roughly the same total volume as your session from last Saturday.

 

Week 2, Sunday

Climbing. Today, you’ll probably feel stronger and fresher than you did last Sunday. Keep the volume steady, and don’t push too hard. Next week gets tough.

 

Week 3, Monday

Strength Training

Keep the loads the same as you did last Thursday, but try to get 2-3 more reps in each set than you did last week. Again, only push until your form starts to break down.

 

Movement Prep, 8-10 minutes.

 

3 sets each:

A1: Pull-Ups x8

A2: Walking Lunges x8+8

 

B1: Dumbbell Row x8+8

B2: Seated Straight Leg Raise x12

 

C1: Step-Up x8+8

C2: Hardstyle Plank 15sec (do not increase duration, increase intensity)

 

Hangboard

On the hangboard, we are going to increase your hang times, but as with the weight training, keep the loads the same as last week.

 

6 rounds:

Large Edge 15sec hang, 45sec rest.

 

Rest 2-3 minutes

 

6 rounds:

Small Edge 8sec hang, 52sec rest. Reduce hold size if necessary.

 

Week 3, Tuesday

Rest. Walk if you need some activity. Nothing else.

 

Week 3, Wednesday

Strength Training

Maintaining the same reps you did on Monday, you might be able to add load to an exercise or two. If not, just work through the same weight.

 

Movement Prep, 8-10 minutes.

 

3 sets each:

A1: Pull-Ups x8

A2: Walking Lunges x8+8

 

B1: Dumbbell Row x8+8

B2: Seated Straight Leg Raise x12

 

C1: Step-Up x8+8

C2: Hardstyle Plank 15sec (do not increase duration, increase intensity)

 

Hangboard

Maintain loads and durations from Monday.

 

6 rounds:

Large Edge 15sec hang, 45sec rest.

 

Rest 2-3 minutes

 

6 rounds:

Small Edge 8sec hang, 52sec rest. Reduce hold size if necessary.

 

Week 3, Thursday

Rest.

 

Week 3, Friday

Strength Training

Maintaining the same reps and loads you did on Wednesday.

 

Movement Prep, 8-10 minutes.

 

3 sets each:

A1: Pull-Ups x8

A2: Walking Lunges x8+8

 

B1: Dumbbell Row x8+8

B2: Seated Straight Leg Raise x12

 

C1: Step-Up x8+8

C2: Hardstyle Plank 15sec (do not increase duration, increase intensity)

 

Hangboard

Maintain loads and durations from the previous two sessions.

 

6 rounds:

Large Edge 15sec hang, 45sec rest.

 

Rest 2-3 minutes

 

6 rounds:

Small Edge 8sec hang, 52sec rest. Reduce hold size if necessary.

 

Week 3, Saturday

Climbing. Do a normal climbing session, but understand you are probably a little weak from the hard training this week. Don’t go too hard today.

 

Week 3, Sunday

Rest.

 

Week 4, Monday

Strength Training

This workout, you’ll keep the same reps as last week, but add load as able.

 

Movement Prep, 8-10 minutes.

 

3 sets each:

A1: Pull-Ups x8

A2: Walking Lunges x8+8

 

B1: Dumbbell Row x8+8

B2: Seated Straight Leg Raise x12

 

C1: Step-Up x8+8

C2: Hardstyle Plank 15sec (do not increase duration, increase intensity)

 

Hangboard

Add load or reduce small crimp size if you are feeling especially strong. Otherwise, maintain loads.

 

6 rounds:

Large Edge 15sec hang, 45sec rest.

 

Rest 2-3 minutes

 

6 rounds:

Small Edge 8sec hang, 52sec rest. Reduce hold size if necessary.

 

Week 4, Tuesday

Climbing. This should feel like a pretty normal climbing session. Your overall strength is up, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing a little better performance.

 

Week 4, Wednesday

Rest. Meal prep and mobility.

 

Week 4, Thursday

Strength Training

This is your last strength session of the phase. This workout, you’ll keep the same reps as Monday’s session, but add load as able.

 

Movement Prep, 8-10 minutes.

 

3 sets each:

A1: Pull-Ups x8

A2: Walking Lunges x8+8

 

B1: Dumbbell Row x8+8

B2: Seated Straight Leg Raise x12

 

C1: Step-Up x8+8

C2: Hardstyle Plank 15sec (do not increase duration, increase intensity)

 

Hangboard

Maintain loads from Monday.

 

6 rounds:

Large Edge 15sec hang, 45sec rest.

 

Rest 2-3 minutes

 

6 rounds:

Small Edge 8sec hang, 52sec rest. Reduce hold size if necessary.

 

Week 4, Friday

Rest.

 

Week 4, Saturday

Climb, high volume. This will be your highest-volume day of the phase. Go 10% over your best for the month.

 

Week 4, Sunday

Climb easy today. At the end of this phase, take 2-3 days completely off and then start your next 4-week training plan.

 

If you are a boulderer, consider a Power Bouldering plan. A route climber might move on to a Strength-Endurance plan.

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