Full Body Ice Climbing Workout

Winter is on its way and so is ice climbing season!

Maybe you’re new to ice climbing and you’ve decided to head to Ouray for “The Complete” in January, or possibly more advanced skills in the backcountry are your calling and you are off to Cody or bigger adventures still, Iceland. No matter where you are headed a little extra preparation will make for a vastly better experience.

Normally, I wouldn’t jump into “specific training” for ice climbing or rock climbing unless I knew that the athlete in question already had a good foundation to launch from. All outcome-based training must be laid up a solid foundation.

So let’s check in, ask yourself a few questions:

1) Do I have a well developed cardiovascular system, good resting heart rate, rapid heart rate recovery from high output activities? A regular aerobic fitness program, 4 – 5 days a week 30 – 90+ minutes.
2) Have I addressed my postural and mobility issues? Do my joints have a good range of motion? Have I taken steps to correct my posture if necessary, through yoga or other stretching routines?
3) Do I have a well rounded, balanced strength base on which to begin more difficult training to avoid injury? This could come from rock climbing, body weight workouts, or gym strengthening classes.

If you can say yes to all of the above, let’s dive in! If not, you will benefit, not only in your climbing but in your health, life and injury prevention, if you manage these pieces of your fitness first.

Ice climbing is a unique sport. It requires strength overhead to swing an ice tool, solid core strength to stabilize the body while swinging and while moving upward on single points of contact, and good leg strength and endurance, especially calves, to hang out on your front points while placing gear or finding the perfect tool placement.

Overhead Strength

Overhead strength requires overhead mobility. Add some specific overhead mobility work into your routine. Here’s a suggestion: I call it the overhead reach.
Overhead Reach
Add Overhead Triceps Extensions, Pull Overs, and Pull-ups (can be assisted) on 1” dowels or your ice tools to orient hands and forearms into the necessary alignment for ice climbing movements. Five sets of five reps (5 x 5) on all the above movements, making them heavy and hard, after proper warm up.

See videos below:

Core Strength

We talk about core strength for climbers often and I’ve included many good exercises in the training tips along the way. Add in KTE (knees to elbows)(3-4 x 10), heavy Strict Press, although this is considered arm upper body strength movement it’s a test of your “core” strength to stabilize mass overhead (5 x 5), and GHD situps or Anchored Leg Lowers if no GHD.(3 – 4 x 10).
See videos below:

Leg Strength and Calf Endurance

Lastly, a little tune-up for the legs. In order to “learn” to effectively use the hips and legs to stand while climbing or what is affectionately known as “push the bush” and to really work the entire system with “external object control” add in KB Swings and Ball Slams. These are both “hip, glute, leg” driven movements but are oh so much more: grip strength, core strength, and so complex that they become a great challenge for the cardiovascular system. (3 – 5 x 10)

Then those calves, always stretch, daily…if you hike, run, bike, they are tight. Each season the first pitch of difficult ice climbing is always a wake-up call, standing on front points can be a calf burner. There’s not a lot one can do to prepare other than getting out there, however, a few sets of 4x 30 secs work/30 secs holding of calf raises on a step won’t hurt. You can increase the challenge by doing multiple sets of 4x 30/30. Or increase the workload to 6x 30/30 or 8×30/30 and so on.
See videos below:

Let’s throw a workout together

10:00 warm up row, bike, run
2 × 8 shoulder openers
2 x 5 Cuban press
work on mobility
3 × 5 wall squats
3 x 6 goblet squats
5x Overhead Triceps Extension
10x KTE
10x Ball Slams
5 rounds – rest as necessary.
5x Pull Up on dowels
10x KB Swing
5x Strict Press
x 5 rounds
Finish with 4x 30/30 calf raise and hold.
Cool Down

This can be broken into two different workouts if the volume of work is too much for the athlete, you can supplement in the other movements I didn’t mention in the workout that is referenced above. Make sure this is in addition to your regular fitness routine and replaces only one or two workouts a week.

And most importantly have fun with this and your ice climbing season!

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me via email or 970-773-3317

Carolyn Parker
Founder Ripple Effect Training
Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor
AMGA Certified Rock Guide

How to Build Strength For Those Ski Legs

Here in northern Colorado the leaves are changing and snow is beginning to blanket the high country. Winter will be upon us in no time, which means…Ski season is upon us! If you are new to the Chicks Training Tips take a few minutes to read the previous newsletters, there’s a lot of great information in there. This is training tip #25 which includes focusing on building strength in your ski legs! It’s incredibly beneficial for “the Chicks” to be introduced to new movements and concepts for training.

Maybe you’re stoked to get into backcountry skiing this season so you’ve registered for one of our many new Intro to Backcountry Skiing courses or Avalanche Rescue Courses with Chicks and the Silverton Avalanche School. Or perhaps you’re a more advanced skier it’s off to La Grave to ski the steeps of the French Alps.

Whatever the case may be, we need to build a good base of aerobic stamina and ski leg power into the mix for uphill travel, carving turns, dropping in for epic fluffy pillowy powder for days and 5,000 vertical days, so here we go! If backcountry is your game you’ll need uphill stamina and enough strength left for the downhill you earned.

Uphill is dramatically different that just going on a run around the neighborhood. If you live in an area where hills are available let’s log some vertical outside. If not, get on a step mill or find a tall building with a stairwell, run or speed hike up that stairwell. We’ve got 8 weeks to prep, then we’ll want to start fine tuning your skills on the slopes in December. Whoop!

Week 1- 4:
2 days a week set a goal of a minimum of 60min uphill effort, whether outside or inside, use that iPhone, Suunto GPS, or whatever the machine you’re using tells you is the vertical you are accomplishing. Numbers are fantastic motivators. For 4 weeks build a base and try to push yourself to accomplish a little more each week. For example, week one in 60min you manage 1000 vert feet gained understanding there is an up and a down element if outside. By week four maybe you’ve improved to 1250 vert.


Week 5 – 8:

Let’s push a little now that you have a base. Let’s try one slightly longer session a week 90 -120 minutes of sustained uphill for vertical gain. Maybe this is 2000 vertical feet maybe more. For our second day of the week we’re going to push our threshold a bit, warm up for 10 minutes then go hard for 10 minutes uphill, recover for 5 minutes, repeat this cycle three times and cool down.

Once the snow flies and you are skinning and skiing for days you’ll be so stoked that you took the time to prep your legs and lungs!

Now that we’ve started to fine tune your legs and lungs for the stamina for the uphill we need to build a reserve of strength and power for the down hill. Here are a few example works for gym training, all workouts can be accomplished in an hour, with a few minutes extra for cool down. All the movements in these workouts have been covered in past training tips aside from two movements with videos at the end.

Check out the training section of our YouTube Channel.


WO#1 for ski legs
Warm up 10:00 row, run, ski erg.
2 x 8 Shoulder openers
2 x 5 Cuban press
3 x 5 Wall squat
2 x 8 Goblet squat
2 x 5 Squat jumpThen:

Work up to 3RM Front Squat


3x FS + 8x Box Jump @ 18 – 24”

6 rounds reciting as necessary keep all movements quality. if no box available you can substitute jump with a heavy KB swing.


60 sec wall sit with a weight in your lap, medicine balls or slam ball work well followed by
30 secs split jumps and
20x Good morning or back extensions.

x 5 rounds


10x push up
10x leg lower
5 rounds
Cool Down


WO#2 for ski legs
Warm up 10:00 row, run, ski erg.
2 x 8 Shoulder openers
2 x 5 Cuban press
3 x 5 Wall squat
2 x 8 Goblet squat

2 x 5 Squat jump


Dynamic-Isometric Back Squat with 5-sec pause in each position, 4 stops (Hold at top, three stops to bottom, after last hold jump out of bottom of squat, complete six rounds of these efforts. Followed immediately by 8 burpees + rest 60 secs.
5 total rounds.
Use a reasonable weight on your back squat so you can actually jump and you can finish all six reps per round without reduced quality on hold and jump.
30 sec box jump
30 sec jump on and off a bosu ball on the floor, laterally round side up.
30 secs squat hold
30 secs rest

x 5

Finish with:

10x KTE
5x Pull Up
x 5
Cool Down


WO#3 for ski legs
Warm up 10:00 row, run, ski erg.
2 x 8 Shoulder openers
2 x 5 Cuban press
3 x 5 Wall squat
2 x 8 Goblet squat

2 x 5 Squat jump


10x Headcutter with KB
10x Back extension
10x Split jump
60 secs rest

5 rounds


1 – 10

Squat Ladder with partner. Begin reps from the bottom of the squat, each partner holds a squat while the other works.

Player one does one squat then holds at the bottom. Player two then does their first squat. Player One then performs two squats while player two is holding. Then player two does two squats while player one holds at the bottom of the squat. Players alternate reps and holds up to 10. Challenge yourself and try to go back down the ladder.

Finish with:
60 secs mtn climbers + 60 secs sit ups + 30 sec ring support or plank if no rings available.
5 rounds

Cool Down

There are videos of all movements in previous Chicks Newsletters on our YouTube Channel, and I’ve added videos of movements that are new in the above workouts:


Back Extensions

As always if you are unsure how to perform any of these movements get professional instruction.

If you need information on building your ski leg strength for a specific trip of any nature you can contact me via email.

Carolyn Parker

The key to getting stronger and avoiding injury

key to getting strongerWhat is the key to getting stronger and avoiding injury?

The answer may surprise you, but before we give up the secret, let’s do a quick check-in. rock climbing season is in full swing and if you’ve been following the newsletter training tips, training and climbing hard, it’s time to stop and assess things.

Recently I had a young strong athlete come in to the gym for a training session, I always check with my athletes before we start our session to make sure they aren’t working around pain or discomfort. I do this because athletes are notorious for just pushing through rather than listening. She sheepishly said that her shoulder was flared up again and was irritated like her old injury was coming back. She admitted tripling up on strength training, a finger board workout and rock climbing. She had just “sent” her first 5.12 and was pushing hard. I sent her home, told her to take a week off, get a massage and to begin to learn to “listen” to what her body was telling her so she could continue to improve. She did. And we are back on track pain free.
It’s fun getting stronger, progressing, and climbing well. However, our bodies will start to send us messages we like to ignore when it’s time to rest and recover. If you haven’t taken appropriate rest, gotten a massage, spent time on deeper recovery now is the time. Schedule some you time and attend to any ache or pain that’s been hanging around just under the surface.

Maintain Balance

Even if you’ve been following the programming I’ve given you over the course of weeks and months, you will still develop imbalances due to the nature of climbing. We pull so much in the world of climbing we can develop major strength imbalances, so these exercises work your pushing muscles. It’s time to add in oppositional movements to your training program. Each time you climb or on a recovery day,  add in the following pushing exercises to your  routine to help keep your body in balance.
    • 20 push ups toes or knees between routes at the gym.
    • Practice handstands at home against a wall is fine, work up to holding them for a minute. Rest some between and try a few rounds.
    • Do Assisted dips on the rings. 4 sets of 8 – 10.

    • My favorite movement of all time the Turkish Get Up, (TGU). It incorporates core strength, overhead strength and single leg strength.

Ready to step it up?
If you want to try handstand push ups, here’s a simple way to learn the movement and gain strength with an assist from a strap or against a wall

Lastly, remember the key to getting stronger and avoiding injury is intelligent training and adequate rest and recovery. You’ll see more progression and have more fun if you take the time to check in and create balance where needed.
Until the next newsletter.
All my best,
Contact me for further training information and programming @
Carolyn Parker
Carolyn Parker
Founder, Instructor, Athlete, Mountain Guide
970-773-3317 cell
Founder Ripple Effect Training

Lock Off Strength

I’d like to address a common issue women often face: Lock off strength. Typically, not always, women initially rely on solid technique and great foot work to climb and they climb well. But so often I hear “Carolyn, I need to be stronger.” “Steep climbing is so hard for me.” There are times where just going climbing can make us better and stronger but at some point we have to train weaknesses and that’s where lock off strength training will help you the most.

Why do you need to lock off strength in the first place?

A lock off is most commonly called for when you have to reach an arms length (or slightly longer) to the next possible hand hold. In this case you will need to perform a “lock off” to reach the next handhold. You’ll find this type of move most commonly on steep sport climbs, boulder problems and even crack climbs. Lock offs require a certain amount of strength from any given climber. Most lock off strength is generated from your shoulder and latisimus dorsi, so training these muscles is a good idea to prevent injury while performing a lock off.

What is a lock off?

A lock off is a static move, meaning there is no jumping or dynamic movement involved when you move to the next handhold. You start off by grabbing a handhold with one hand, and pull that hold down as far as necessary to reach the next hold with your free hand. Generally when this move is done, the hand you are holding on with is level with your shoulder as you reach for the next handhold.

How do you lock off?

1. No matter what level of climber you are, establish good footholds and make sure you are balanced over your feet as best as possible.
2. Pick two good starting holds and identify the target hold you will reach to. Typically this target hold will be a full arm length away.
3. Grab onto your two starting holds and stand up on your feet until your arm is in a bent position with your hand level with your shoulder.
4. Reach with your free hand and grab the target hold identified in step two, keeping eye contact with the target hold.
Now that you have an understanding of why, what and how you lock off, it’s time to do some practice drills. Here’s a fun way to break through the lock off strength barrier.

The Three Second Lock Off Strength Drill: aka The Hover

You can do this inside at the climbing or outside at the crag, top rope or bouldering is usually the most effective. Find a route or boulder problem that you can do that is comfortable for you and slightly overhanging. Instead of climbing the route as you normally would here’s your challenge: For every hand movement on the climb, as you reach to the next hold, you have stop with your hand just hovering over the hold you want to grab next then count to three before you grab it. And I mean a real one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, three second count. Repeat this for every hand movement up the entire climb or boulder problem.

This will require you to lock off with the arm/hand holding on as well as focus on foot placement and complex core strength. The route that used to be reasonable for you just got hard. Possibly really hard. Try this drill at least once a week when you climb after a warm up. Use it as what it is, training, its a drill designed specifically to train lock off strength applicable to climbing. 


We can train lock offs in the gym (e.g. pull ups, bent over row, type-writers), but as I’ve mentioned in past training tips, lock off strength tends to be fairly linear. It will help, however having a tool to transition that strength to the complex multi-planar sport of rock climbing will be the icing on the cake!


One to two times a week for 4 – 6 weeks, try this on multiple routes or boulder problems each session, and not always the same route. 
2 – 3 routes/4- 6 boulder problems per session. 
Try this and let me know how it goes. If you want to put this technique to practice on the rock in one of Chicks’ programs, consider Maple Canyon, Rifle and Red Rock. They all offer great single pitch sport and crack climbs that you can apply your new lock off strength upon.
Until next time!
Carolyn Parker,

The Importance of Rest and Recovery

Rest and Recovery is the secret to improving your climbing performance:
Training Tip #22

rest and recovery
I hope you’ve all been having a blast training hard and pulling down. Now it’s time to talk about rest and recovery. We all want to climb harder, run faster, feel stronger and better at everything we do athletically. The number one mistake most athletes make is doing too much of a “good” thing. By that I mean… the idea that more is better right? Not exactly.
Having adequate rest and recovery is the most important piece to improved performance and often overlooked. If one of my athletes is tired, under performing or gets injured (aside from an actually impact trauma) it’s usually because she is “under” recovered, not over trained.
Even though we love our sports and training for them we need to keep in mind that even the things we love athletically are also stressors and take from our bodies. To stay healthy and balanced take an honest look at your life and try and correct imbalances in your recovery plan where you can. Here are some guidelines.
  • One full rest day a week.
  • 8 – 10 hours of sleep a night depending on how hard you are training.
  • Balanced training week and long term rest schedule (I will elaborate).
  • Honor outside stressors, take more rest and get more sleep if you have elevated life stress; in a relationship or at work for example. 
  • Hydrate properly.
  • Eat quality foods and plenty of food, balanced with healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Practice Yoga or other balancing muscle elongating or stretching modalities weekly.
  • Massage and/or Chiropractic, Acupuncture or other body work 1- 2 x a month minimum, weekly would be ideal.
  • If you are not following these guidelines some where along the way we will have breakdown in the athlete. Injury, illness, decreased performance, and/or burn out.
How to further balance your training program with rest and recovery:
We’ve discussed this in prior training tips on a weekly format and a monthly format.
Need a reminder on how to get started? Or perhaps you’ve moved on to the next step of strength training
WEEKLY: Your week can look like this or something similar that fits into your life and work schedule.
  • Monday – Yoga or active recovery
  • Tuesday – Strength session gym and power climbing
  • Wednesday  – Strength session gym and Strength Endurance for climbing
  • Thursday PE session gym/Cardio vascular output
  • Friday – Rest and recovery day
  • Saturday – Climb
  • Sunday Climb or Rest if overly tired, listen to your body this is a lot of volume. Climb  2 – 4 days a week to the best of your ability.
  • Week 1 – 3 hard weeks push yourself
  • Week 4 – easy week- take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or worse break.
  • Week 5 – 7 hard weeks push yourself again.
  • Week 8 easy week – take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or worse break.
If you have been following these tips through out, have built your training program and are following these guidelines, eventually you need to take a more extended break. Often many of us are forced out of a sport due to the change of seasons however now we have so many indoor facilities, I’ll use climbing as an example, we can continue training through the winter.
If you have been training in a focused manner for 8 weeks or longer you have been making gains and are psyched and don’t want to stop. However you should. By stop I mean take a break, take that training time to do deeper recovery. 1- 2 weeks based on age and length of training cycle.
In your 20s:
12 week intensive training cycles are usually fine, following this cycle of Week 1 – 3 hard weeks push yourself Week 4 – easy week- take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or worse break.
Then take a one to two week break, off from climbing.
Then start up again ((: 
In your 30s:
10 week intensive training cycles are usually fine, following this cycle of Week 1 – 3 hard weeks push yourself Week 4 – easy week- take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or worse break.
Then take a one to two week break, off from climbing.
Then start up again ((: 
In your 40s:
8 week intensive training cycles are usually fine, following this cycle of Week 1 – 3 hard weeks push yourself Week 4 – easy week- take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or worse break.
Then take a one to two week break, off from climbing.
Then start up again ((: 
In you 50 – 70s:
6 week intensive training cycles are usually fine, following this cycle of Week 1 – 3 hard weeks push yourself Week 4 – easy week- take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or worse break.
Then take a one to two week break, off from climbing.
Then start up again ((: 
80 and older: you rock keep doing what you’re doing! (((:
Now you’ve established a weekly, monthly and long term training schedule. I always recommend for people to write this down and make a plan. Random disorganized training will lead to decreased potential and frustration in most athletes. Remember, set a goal, make a plan, write it down, execute! And most of all have fun.
Until the next newsletter…
carolyn Parker knows how to rest and recover during trainingCarolyn Parker

Sport Climbing Strength Training

sport climbing strength trainingChicks Training Tip #21
Advance Rock Climbing Training Part II: Sport Climbing Strength Training
It’s here already gals the next newsletter and training tip. Hopefully you were able to practice most if not all of the movements I recommended in Part I of Advanced Rock Climbing Training featured in last months newsletter.
Now we need to discuss how to implement them into a structured sport climbing strength training cycle. 
Step 1. Pick a 6-8 week Training Window
Look at your calendar and make a commitment to yourself and your training and pick a 6 – 8 week window to train consistently.
Step 2. Pick exercises to train your weaknesses
The week before that start date choose 8 – 10 movements from the list below that you can do and you want to get better/stronger at (some may be too difficult still). Pick movements that are challenging for you, do not just train your strengths, train your weaknesses. Make sure to select two to three pushing movements, as well as pulling, one to two core movements, and a leg movement or two. The TGU (Turkish Get Up) counts as all three. After you’ve selected the movements you’d like to train we can build workouts based those movements. Here’s the full list to choose from:
  • Single arm body row 
  • HSPU 
  • Floor Wiper
  • Anchored Med ball raise lower between rounds
  • Bent Over Row with lock off in three positions
  • Archer
  • Static holds
  • KB Swing
  • Superman
  • Weighted sit up
  • Toes to bar 
  • TGU – Turkish Get Up 
  • Hanging Windshield Wiper
  • Single arm offset pull up with lock off use band for assistance if necessary 
  • KB Chest Press on Bosu 
  • AB Wheel 
  • Weighted pull up
  • L-seat pull up
Step 3. Establish a Baseline
The week before you begin structured training, and on two separate days, warm up and test all movements selected to see how many reps you can do or how much weight you can move, for 1 – 5 repetitions. If you can do up to 10 reps on any movement its too easy and we need to make it more difficult. Write your numbers and weights down and use these as a reference for difficulty when you do your workouts, try to increase weights and or reps each week or every couple of weeks depending on how you feel.
Step 4. Put together your workout
I’ve selected a group of movements from the list above and created a few WOs (workouts) based on these movements as an example:
  • Single arm body row
  • Single Arm Pull up
  • Weighted Pull Up
  • KB Bosu Chest Press
  • HS holds  or HSPU
  • Archers and Supermans toes
  • Anchored leg lowers
  • Hanging Windshield Wiper or Floor Wiper
The following workouts are templates and examples to guide you in the process of setting up your own workouts during your strength for climbing training cycle. Depending time available you’ll want to add one to two strength workouts a week and keep track of those workouts, weights used, and reps completed:
Example Work Out #1 
10:00 warm up light aerobic work
2 x 8 shoulder opener
2 x 5 cuban press
3 x 5 wall squat
and any mobility work you need to work on.
3x Single arm body row 
3x KB Bosu Chest Press
10x – Floor Wiper, 5 complete cycles
x 5 Rounds
Rest as necessary
HSPU Ladder  (5 – 1) x 2
rest as necessary
** The first number is sets, the second number is reps
Example Work Out #2
10:00 warm up light aerobic work
2 x 8 shoulder opener
2 x 5 cuban press
3 x 5 wall squat
Any mobility work you need to work on
2x Single arm offset pull up per arm
8 – 10x Anchored leg lower add weight if appropriate, hold med ball between feet.
x 6 rounds – rest as necessary
5x Bent Over Row with lock off in three positions
10x Archers (5 per arm)
10x Hanging Windshield Wiper (5 per side) legs straight keep hips high
x 5 rounds
** The first number is sets, the second number is reps
Example Work Out #3
10:00 warm up light aerobic work
2 x 8 shoulder opener
2 x 5 cuban press
3 x 5 wall squat
Any mobility work you need to work on.
3x weighted pull up
3 x 5 Supermans
5 x 5 HSPU
2 SLSLDL per leg with Heavy KB or Barbell
5 Dip or Ring Dip
** The first number is sets, the second number is reps
You’ll notice the set and rep structure calls for more sets of fewer reps. This is because we want to focus on building sport climbing strength. Once the athlete understands the lift, the movement, the skill to be performed and the athlete is properly warmed up; you will want to focus on a total rep count for that movement of (12 – 25 reps) this can be done in sets and reps as such: 5 x 5, 5 x 3, 8 x 3, 6 x 2.
The goal is to find a body weight movement, and external object movement or lift that requires a high muscle output from the athlete where finishing this low number of reps causes near failure (but not failure) on the last rep or two. Failure is that of strength NOT form, do not let your form go! This is the basis for the set and rep structure above, the first number is sets, second reps.
Your training Week may look like the following:
  • Monday – full rest and recovery day, light movement, easy aerobic and stretching or mobility work.
  • Tuesday – climbing and strength day: Focus is bouldering and a strength workout.
  • Wednesday – recovery, light aerobic work and/or yoga
  • Thursday – climbing and strength day: Focus is route climbing and strength workout
  • Friday – full rest and recovery day, light movement, easy aerobic and stretching or mobility work.
  • Sat and Sun – outdoor fun climbing days!!
On training days try to increase reps or weight as mentioned before each week or every few weeks depending how you feel, keep track of these numbers. This invaluable information to track your performance and provide motivation for continued hard work and focused training.
As always, I highly encourage you to seek professional help to make sure you have the best form possible on all movements and you understand the formula to put together a well structured training plan.
Please feel free to contact me with training needs at:
Carolyn Parker

Chicks Training Tip: Advanced Rock Climbing Training

Chicks its rock climbing season! I am so ready for tank tops and basking in the sun. Whether or not you are a weekend warrior who hits the rock gym during the week or someone who has a lifestyle that supports multiple days of climbing each week. We all need to strength train to improve our climbing. Our strength program should be designed to balance the body; improve imbalances created by the sports we love, make us stronger and injury proof.

Many athletes, climbers, runners, cyclists and the like believe that to get better we just need to do our sport more. Initially when beginning a sport that may feel like its true however more is not better, smarter is better, and cross training with strength helps fight off injury which often comes from imbalance and over use, and can help you breakthrough a performance plateau.

In previous newsletters, I’ve discussed basic and intermediate rock climbing strength programs. If this is you stick to the program, don’t stop! If you’ve done the Basic Training Program then try the Intermediate Training Program. Intermediates maybe it’s time step it up to the advanced. Now it’s time to get some training tips out there to keep you moving forward or to target the gals who need a more advanced level of training. So here we go…

Advanced Rock Climbing Training 5.11 or harder grades

What I have found to hold true for 90% of my climbers female or male; Once you climb at a certain level, and have been climbing for 3 – 5 years you have sport specific imbalances that are holding you back, as well as fairly typical strength deficiencies. In this training tip we will cover movements and next month put them into a training program to complement and improve your climbing.

Remember to warm up before all strength sessions and climbing sessions:
Shoulder openers, cuban press, cross over symmetry work Ys, Flys, Row, Pull down, should be done for each session. I covered these is previous training tips.

I’m going to give you a big list of movements, these will be used in your strength workouts. You’re first goal is to learn and/or review all  the movements and practice them one to two times a week. Pick 4 -5 different movements to work on each week. Perform 3 – 5 sets of 4 – 6 reps on all movements. This is prep work so when you’re ready to progress to the more difficult workouts you aren’t so sore that you can’t move. Practice these movements on days you’re not climbing or after climbing.

**Note all of these should be done with focused effort on scapular stabilization. Try to retract or squeeze your shoulder blades together like you’re holding a pencil between them while performing all movements.

Here’s your list: (**covered in previous training tips).

These are your NEW movements. Click on the links for how to videos on each of these movements:
I mean it, practice all these movements, if you go through all of them and build a proper base of quality movement and a knowledge of how much is heavy or what feels hard you’ll be ready by the time the next newsletter comes out which will focus on structured workouts and when to fit them in your training cycle.
As always, I highly encourage you to seek professional help to make sure you have the best form possible on all movements. You can watch my short videos, google and you-tube most of this stuff, however having someone watch you and give you feed back is invaluable.
Please feel free to contact me with training needs at:
Carolyn Parker

Chicks Alpine Training Tips

Chicks! This isn’t our first installment discussing the demands of the world of Alpine Climbing, so it’s worth going back and reviewing some of this information and adding to it as we move forward into our new summer season for alpine climbing. I’ve copied some of the information from previous newsletters in the content below and added new information for you.Past alpine issues:

General Alpine Training 

Let’s talk training: fundamentally the basis of all athlete training is to begin with strength. This is an often overlooked fact. Let me give you an example of why we need to be strong first.Let’s take a 5’4” woman who weighs 125#. She really wants to alpine climb, her goal is a Mt Baker trip. This will require a minimum of one but usually more nights out. Carrying a pack into a base came that weights 50 – 60#, with food for her climb, tent, stove, climbing equipment, extra layers. You get the picture. That pack weight is 1/3 to 1/2 of her body weight. She has to walk miles, uphill, with that pack to get to base camp. Every step she takes she is moving 175-185#. If we haven’t developed adequate leg and core strength to manage this load, our climber with be exhausted to the degree that climbing to the summit of Mt Baker, even with a light summit pack might not happen.Wow! Now this seems intimidating doesn’t it. It doesn’t need to be, we just need to be prepared.So gals, first we get strong! Then we start training for the long days out.

STRONG: Spend 6 – 8 weeks completing one or two strength workouts a week. However, keep in mind you are also wanting to work your long endurance. As you add hours to your training (see below) decrease your strength training. Begin your strength phase 4 -6 weeks before you start ramping up your endurance. As your training days get longer you’ll be done with strength building and you may only do one maintenance day in the gym depending on time and energy.

Let’s get those legs and core of the body strong!

A few of my favorite two leg or “close” chain movements for the mountains are the standard deadlift, romanian deadlift and front squat.Front Squats develop combined leg and core strength for managing the weight of a pack on our back.
The Romanian Deadlift targets Low back, Glutes and Hamstrings.
Training for climbing romanian deadlift
The standard Deadlift works grip strength back strength leg strength and core strength.
climbing training deadlift
Then: single leg movements for glute strength, balance and hip stability, Single Leg Straight Leg Deadlift (SLSLDL), weighted walking lunge, and weighted step ups.I’ve included videos of all of the remaining movements in the following workouts in previous newsletters.Here are a few sample WO to give you guidance of how to begin working these movements in to your routine in a productive manner for your alpine training.WO#1

warm up 10:00

3 x 5 wall squat
3 x 6 goblet squat
30m walking lunge forward and backwardThen:

Work up to something that’s heavy for 3 reps (3RM) for your Front Squat.Then:

8 x 3 Front Squats@ ______# rest 1 – 2 minutes between sets.Then:
10x weighted split squats (5 per leg)
10x ball slam
10x split jump
x 5
Cool down 20 min recovery endurance and stretchingWO#2

warm up 10:00
3 x 5 wall squat
3 x 6 goblet squat
5 x 3 SLSLDLThen:

Work up to a heavy-ish DeadliftThen:

5 x 5 Deadlift
Rest 2:00 between sets:
During rest complete 8x Ring Push up or standard push upsThen:

1-10 Squat Ladder with a partner.
Partners begin holding in a quads parallel position at the bottom of the squat movement. Person 1: does 1 rep while P2 holds. P2 does 1 rep while P1 holds.
P1 does 2 reps while P2 holds, P2 does 2 reps while P1 holds.
Continue until you complete the ladder to 10. No cheating.Finish with:

60secs mtn climbers/60 secs Deck Squats/30 ses rest
x 3 – 4 rounds
Cool down 20 min recovery endurance and stretchingWO#3

warm up 10:00
3 x 5 wall squat
3 x 6 goblet squat
30m walking lunge
3 x 10 RDLThen:

Work up to a weight that is heavy for a step up. Ideally use a bar bell on your back or two Kbs held in front rack position.Then:

5 x 5 Step up in 16 – 20” box depending on height
complete 5 step ups per leg with weight that makes the movement challenging, slow grinding movements.
In between sets compete 8x Pull upThen:

10x KB Swing+
8x Push Press
5x Push Plank Row
x 5
Cool down 20 min recovery endurance and stretchingLONG DAY TRAINING:

Most people have busy lives, with careers, homes, children, spouses, so much so that they don’t have a lot of time to train. We’ve got to be smart and efficient with our training time.So, let’s assume you’ve had some practice at rock and ice climbing and some basic snow travel its now time to build a fitness base for the long days ahead.Truthfully this can’t be done in a gym setting. No matter how hard the workout is what you need now is stamina. That’s not to say that gym work isn’t important or valuable it is, we’ve just covered the topic of being STRONG and why that’s important.

Climbing in the Alpine world can mean 12hr days, 20hr days, multiple 14hr days, carrying a pack the entire time.  Before you go on a trip either on your own or with a guide you should have a good basic understanding of how long the day or days will be, that is where your preparation will begin.

Now how to you go about training:

For a climb like the Grand Teton, or other alpine routes with rock that must be climbed with a pack.
  1. Top rope easy routes with your pack on 15 – 20# of weight to get a feeling for how it feels.
  2. Often we have to down climb in the mountains, practice this in the gym, climb up and down routes, or outside if that is easier. Then try it with your pack on.
  3. Climb moderate rock routes in your approach shoes or boots before hand so you begin to get comfortable trusting your feet with more bulky less sensitive shoes on.

Additionally, for climbs like Mt. Baker where you are mostly concerned with glacier travel and moderate alpine ice as well as The Grand, the days are LONG:

FIRST: Begin hiking with a slightly heavier pack than you normally would, this is key. Find time to walk with weight, even if you don’t have good hiking trails close and you can only get out periodically take your pack to the gym and walk on a step mill with weight on your back, no you don’t look weird you look committed. No Step Mill at your gym and you can’t stand the idea of the gym; there are stairs in most buildings you can walk up and take an elevator down, repeat, yes with a pack on your back. You can walk back down the stairs take in to account that this is hard on the knees as is any downhill. We want to prepare for down hill just don’t do lots of extra down.

LONG Endurance: 12hr days….that is a long day and your body will shut down if it doesn’t have some kind of preparation. however going out for 12 hrs doesn’t make sense in your busy life and is hard to fit in.

Here’s what we do:

Begin to build your endurance base, let’s assume you already do 2 – 3 hour hikes or rides:

  • Week One: on the weekend, 4 hrs Saturday hiking with weight or a combo of things, follow that with 2hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
  • Week Two: on the weekend, 5 hrs Saturday, follow that with 2hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
  • Week Three: on the weekend, 6 hrs Saturday, follow that with 2hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
  • Week Four: have fun don’t worry about training so you don’t burn out!
  • Week Five: on the weekend, 7 hrs Saturday, follow that with 3hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
  • Week Six: on the weekend, 8 hrs Saturday, follow that with 3hrs of recovery riding or swimming or jogging on Sunday.
And Voila you are all set. The combination of the two days is nearly 12 hrs. And yes this works.Other Ideas for long days: you can combine running and cycling in the same day to break up the long days, yes that counts. Break it up and make it fun. Always try and get time in with that pack on your back. Remember for most of us it hard to fit it all in with family, work, friends, fun so let’s make this achievable. Back to back days with cumulative time works and works well.It doesn’t make sense to train for the grueling nature of alpine climbing by flogging yourself with long days via headlamp in an unpleasant environment before you go to the mtns. Yes you need to prepare your body, but do it intelligently so you still have motivation, you can rest appropriately, and you don’t get injured before your trip.

There are so many specifics to alpine climbing that we just scratched the surface, one day adventure, two week trips, high altitude, trekking in, back packing, using huts. The idea is to understand your body needs to be prepared for the longer days and energy spent. If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me via email.

Carolyn Parker


Chicks Training Tip: Correct Your Imbalances

Winter has been humming along for a number of months now, we are well past the shortest day of the year, the tease of some sunny longer days is happening, we are beginning to dream of sunny pitches, days in the desert, trips, projects, and scratching that climbing itch!  Now it’s time to talk about correcting our imbalances.

Before I blast forward take a moment to look back at the subject matter of the last 10 training installments. There is an enormous amount of great information in these “Training Tips”, every installment builds toward the next. Enjoy!

Chicks Newsletter #9 –Intermediate Rock Climbing. Training Program

Chicks Newsletter #10 – Basic Rock Climbing Training Program

Chicks Newsletter #11 – The “Process” projecting and climbing harder routes

Chicks Newsletter #12 – “Let’s get serious”, Strength training for women

Chicks Newsletter #13 – “Alpine Days” – how to train for long alpine routes for mortals

Chicks Newsletter #14 – “Alpine Legs” – leg specific training for alpine climbing

Chicks Newsletter #15 – “Ski Legs” – additional training specific for skiing

Chicks Newsletter #16 – Solid Shoulders – injury prevention

Chicks Newsletter #17 – Finger Board Training – maintain finger strength in the winter months.

Now on to the meat of the matter of correcting imbalances…

It’s time to start seriously thinking about climbing season. Depending on where you live, your job, trips you’ve planned, your outdoor season will begin in the next month or two. Hopefully you’ve implemented the tips for shoulder injury prevention, Chicks Newsletter #16 Solid Shoulders – injury prevention, through the winter and possibly added some finger board training where appropriate, Chicks Newsletter #17 Finger Board Training – maintain finger strength, in the winter months.


This training tip will cover fixes for climbing imbalances. Remember, climbing is fun, training for climbing is fun, however we are only as strong as our weakest link, that weak link is also our greatest potential injury site. So let’s get rid of those imbalances, you’ll be stronger and more proficient at the sport for the work.


If you’ve been climbing and training for a long time you will have complex muscular imbalances, you fall in the category of “Too Much Of A Good Thing”. Basically what climbing does for our mind and soul is not always 100% beneficial for our bodies long term. If you are new to climbing, let’s ingrain some good practices into your training program to keep you balanced and injury free through your climbing career.


I train dozens of climbers female and male, who climb anywhere from 5.9 to 5.14. The top imbalances that I see in all climbers are:


  • Postural – rounded shoulders, dropped sternum, kyphotic head position
  • Mobility Issues – loss of overhead mobility, tight hamstrings, tight chest
  • Muscular imbalances – weak rhomboids, mid and low traps, over developed upper traps, weak pushing muscles


I could list more, however these are the ones I see “most” often. Beyond these, people should seek one on one professional evaluation, especially if you are dealing with a current injury.


To begin to fix your imbalances:

Before you climb and ideally everyday:


  • Laying on your back on a foam roller, head to sacrum, keep your core tight. Begin with your arms straight fingers toward the ceiling, then let your hands fall toward the floor, overhead. Upper arm by your ears, stretch your shoulders but do not let your back arch at all. Try and get the back of your hands to the floor.

Overhead climbing stretch

  • Then: the same start potion, bend your arms at 90 degrees, and let them fall to the side. Stretch your chest again do not let your back arch. Try and get the back of the forearm to the floor.

Correcting imbalances - climbing

  • Next: Laying on your back with your legs up the wall, extend your legs up as straight as you can with out smashing your low back into the floor, try and maintain a natural lumbar curve. You’ll look like an “L” from the side.

correcting imbalances - Climber L stretch

  • In that same position, open the hips by letting the legs fall into a “V” position.

correcting imbalances - v stretch

  • Lastly make a “4’ with your legs by placing the ankle of one foot just above the knee of the opposite leg and stretch the hip of the bent leg, repeat on the other leg.

correcting imbalances - climber 4 stretch 

Hold each stretch or 30 – 60 secs, repeat a few times, if time repeat after climbing and on rest days!
2 x 10 shoulder openers
3 x 5 cuban press
3 x 5 wall squats


These three movements were covered in our First Chicks Training Tip. Pay particular attention to your shoulders blades. In both of these movements you want to squeeze your shoulder blades together like you are pinching a pencil (mid trap), and keep them drawn down your spine (low trap) and try to NOT shrug them up (upper trap taking over), through the entire movement. Shoulder Openers – that means the entire circle the PVC is making shoulder blades are stable, together and down. Cuban press – that means they are stable start to finish until the arms are directly overhead and back down by your side, this is difficult for most. Wall Squat – pay particular attention to stable shoulder blades and lumbar spine through the entire movement.


On days you climb, before you climb add these two movements in addition to the above.
  • 3 x 10 push ups – this movement was covered in Chicks Training Tip #2Pay particular attention to not shrugging your shoulders, allowing them to lift toward your ears as you push. Keep your shoulder blades stable squeezed together and down as you push. This is harder that it sounds.
  • 3 x 8 Bent Over Row or Body Row – these movements were covered in Chicks Training Tip #5


Chicks make this a two part movement for each repetition. Begin this movement by first squeezing your shoulder blades into a stable position then pulling (rowing) with the arms. Once the thumbs have hit the armpits at a full range of motion focus on keeping the shoulder blades stable as you lower the weight or your body depending on the movement your are doing then lastly releasing your shoulder blades. Begin the next rep by squeezing the shoulder blades together and stabilizing before pulling with the arms.
Add all of these tips to your already established climbing training regimen as you begin to prep of the season.

If you are advanced you likely have a plan or work directly with a coach. For Intermediate and Beginning Climbers see Chicks Newsletter with Training Tips:

Intermediate Rock Climbing Training Program
Basic Rock Climbing Training Program
As always, if you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me via email.
Carolyn Parker

Chicks Training Special Edition: Fingerboard Training

If you’ve been following, and more importantly, implementing the training tips from chicks newsletters you are dialed in for winter sports! Mighty and strong legs for back country touring and big powder days. And serious upper body strength and injury proof shoulders for ice climbing. It’s mid-winter and the stoke is high for all the fun to be had. But if you’re like me, somewhere in the back of your mind you’re starting to think about sun, rock, and specific fitness for the next season’s sport!

For most people it’s difficult to get outside rock climbing in the winter unless you live in a nice warm climate. Many places have climbing gyms these days which are fantastic, however, if you don’t have access to a gym or want another resource for getting some fitness to launch into rock season with a finger board may be the answer!

FingerboardFingerboards are a great way to develop and/or maintain finger strength A KEY part of rock climbing. Often we don’t have the time to get to the climbing gym, if you can find the space to hang a finger board, over a doorway, in the garage, somewhere easy and convenient, you can do super productive workouts in a short period of time in your own home.

Here are some great ideas for quick home fingerboard training workouts:

Home Workout #1
  • 4x (30sec Work/30sec Rest) Push-Up do 30 secs of push ups rest 30 secs repeat 4x no additional rest between rounds
  • 2 minute rest
  • Hangboard: 5x Pull up 60 sec rest x 5
  • 2 minute rest
  • 10 sec hangs on holds you can complete 10 secs on 5 secs rest 4x per hold type pick 5 grips (e.g. jugs, pinches, crimps open, three finger pocket)
  • 2 minute rest between hang attempts
  • During that two min rest complete:
    • 20x sit up OR 60 sec v-seat OR 60 sec plank (on foot) OR 60 sec flutter kick
Rotate through these till hangs are done.
Finish with a second round of:
4x (30sec Work/30sec Rest) Push-Up
Home Workout #2
  • 4x (30sec work/30sec rest)
  • Push-Up do 30 secs of push ups/ during rest 30 secs hold plank
  • Repeat 4x no additional rest between rounds
  • 2 minute rest
  • Hangboard: 10 – 1 Ladder of pull ups 10, rest 30sec 9, rest 30…..use assistance (a chair under your feet or a band if necessary)
  • 2 minute rest
  • 8 sec hangs on holds you can complete 8 secs on 5 secs rest 3x per hold type pick 4 grips (e.g. jugs, pinches, crimps open, three finger pocket)
  • Rest 2 minutes between hang groupings (i.e. when you can hold style)
  • In that two min rest complete:
    • 20x sit up OR 60 sec v-seat OR 60 sec flutter kick
Home Workout #3
  • 10 secs hangs during which you complete a pull up while “hanging
  • 30 secs rest
  • 3 x per hold type
  • Rest 3 minute before next grouping of holds
  • Pick 5 grips (e.g. jugs, pinches, crimps open, three finger pocket)
  • 8x 20 sec work/10 sec rest of the following movements with 1 – 2 min rest between.
    • Sit Ups
    • Push Ups
    • Flutter kicks
Anytime you begin to work with a hang board, use caution and build up to smaller and smaller holds. Especially if you haven’t been rock climbing in a while. Protect those fingers. In addition to the ideas I gave you here, most hang boards will come with training tips and ideas. Enough to get you through the winter months until the rock calls your name!
If you are new to the Chicks Training Tips take a few minutes to read the previous newsletters, there’s a lot of great information in there!
If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me.
Carolyn Parker