Climbing Training Program | Take Your Climbing to the Next Level

Carolyn Parker putting her climbing training program to use climbing in Indian Creek, Utah

Carolyn Parker, Founder Ripple Effect Training, AMGA Rock Guide, puts her Climbing Training Program to use. Indian Creek, Utah ©Carolyn Parker collection.

It’s time to rock!

Get on the climbing training program.

One of our most commonly asked questions is “How do I take my climbing to the next level?”

This is especially true for intermediate to advanced climbers. It’s common for intermediate to advanced climbers to feel stuck and unable to make progress.

Here’s the straight scoop.

In order to take your climbing to the next level, you need to train.

Your fitness level is one of the most significant factors affecting your ability to progress.

Adding to this, it’s been a long winter.

I don’t know about you but I’m jones’ing for some sun and warm rock climbing.

The transition back to climbing after the winter can be especially difficult. Fingers and other joints have lost their conditioning and avoiding injury is just as important as getting fit and strong.

The following climbing training program will help you build strength and stamina safely this spring. And, it will provide you with a fitness base from which you can rocket to new climbing levels over the course of the season.

Climbing Training Program

The total length of this program is 8-Weeks.

(It assumes training inside during this time of year.)

The schedule is adaptable to fit your specific schedule.

However, your climbing training program should incorporate the following:

  1. One general climbing strength, stamina, and mobility workout/week
  2. Two short climbing sessions/week
  3. Having fun on the weekend
  4. Ideally, a rest day between climbing sessions
  5. Aerobic work and/or yoga anytime

Schedule Example:

Climbing session on Monday, strength workout on Tuesday or Wednesday, climbing session again on Thursday or Friday. Go outside and have fun on the weekend.

Climbing Sessions

Start with a “reasonable” volume and on a “reasonable” grade.

  • Reasonable volume is about half of what you can do when you’re really fit.
  • A reasonable grade is what you know you can climb confidently.

Boulder, or do routes. If bouldering, down-climb for extra volume.

Now, for my special tip:

Count your hand movements to track your progress and volume.

I’ve learned that for me, 100 hand movements is a reasonable place to start after months of not climbing.

However, 100 hand movements may be too much for you.

Scale the number of hand movements that you do to your own ability.

Maybe, you will do only 50 hand movements to begin with. And, rather than increasing by 50 each week, you will increase by 25 each week instead.

When I’m on the climbing training program, my goal is 300 hand movements during a single session by the end of the 8thweek. Once I hit 300 hand movements, I find I can warm up to a difficultly that pushes me technically. Yet, I still have the stamina to work on projects.

Your goal might be 200 hand movements in a single session by Week 8.

Climbing Sessions

Progression Example:

Week One– 100 hand movements on easy routes.

Week Two– 150 hand movements. Increase route grade for 50 of the movements.

Week Three– 200 hand movements. Decrease or drop out easiest routes. Just focus on more volume rather than increasing difficulty.

Week Four– 200-250 hand movements. Increase difficulty and volume.

*This climbing training program suggests that you do two climbing sessions and one general climbing strength, stamina, and mobility workout each week.

General Climbing Strength, Stamina, and Mobility Workouts

Warm Up

Start with a few minutes of light aerobic exercise. Light aerobic exercise gets your body warmed up. Run, bike, row, etc.

And then:

Do 3 rounds of

8 x Shoulder Openers

5 x Cuban Press

5 x Wall Squats or Air Squats

If you want to add more chest opening exercises to your warm-up, check out More Tips for Bombproof Shoulders and Shoulder Strength. It is very important for climbers to keep their shoulders healthy.

Take a few minutes to stretch your calves, quads, hips, and hamstrings.

Workout One

Do 3-5 rounds, depending on your fitness level:

5 x Single-Arm Body Row or Double-Arm Body Row

5 x KB Bosu Chest Press (You can also do this on a bench.)

10 x Floor Wiper

Rest as necessary

And then:

Do 3-5 Rounds of:

5 x Strict Press

30 sec Ring Support

Workout Two

Warm-up (same as for Workout One)

Depending on your fitness level

Do 3-5 rounds of the following:

3-5 x Pull Ups

8-10 x Anchored Leg Lower

And then:

3 – 5 Rounds

5 x Bent-Over Row with Lock-Off In Three Positions

10 x Archers (5 per arm)

10 x Hanging Windshield Wiper (5 per side). Keep your legs straight and your hips high.

Week Five

Recovery Week. Take a week off of climbing. You can still do a general strength workout, some light aerobic training, and/or yoga. Make sure you rest.

Week Six through Eight

You should feel ready to push difficulty and increase volume after a month of consistent build-up and a week of recovery.

Incorporate harder climbing and a cool down on easier terrain each week.

Remember to do one of the general climbing strength workouts every week too!

Week Six

250 hand movements

Week Seven

250-275 hand movements

Week Eight

275-300 hand movements

Week NineRecovery week ( :

Now you’re ready to rock on your projects!! Inside or outside ( :

Carolyn Parker
Founder, Instructor, Athlete, Mountain Guide
970-773-3317 work cell
Founder Ripple Effect Training

Coach for Uphill Athlete

AMGA Certified Rock Guide
Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

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