Get More Specific Strength for Ice Climbing

Training for Ice Climbing? Time to dial it up!

Icing on the Climbing Cake–more specific strength for ice climbing.

Ice climbing is a different beast. Solid general fitness and specific strength is key to success.

If you’ve been following the Chicks Training tips recently you know about the last two ice-climbing-specific workouts.

Swing! Training for Ice Climbing helps build ice climbing fitness from a solid fitness base.

10 Steps to Muscular Endurance for Ice Climbing gives you some tips for using a climbing gym to build ice climbing fitness. Indoor climbing can help with grip strength and stamina. Climbing indoors with a pack will increase your pump and add core strength and muscular endurance.

Now it’s time to dial in a couple more pieces as well as take things up a notch.

This workout is for those

  1. Who have been training
  2. Have some ice climbing under their belt, and/or
  3. Are preparing for an upcoming Chicks clinic or ice climbing trip.

Train your Arms, Grip and Calves for Ice Climbing.

5:00 min warm up  (jump rope, ski erg, treadmill, cycling)

2 × 8 shoulder openers

2 x 5 cuban press

2 x 5 push ups

2 x 10 (5 x per side) turkish get up with light weight


Pull ups

The technique you use for this workout will depend on where you are with your pull up strength.

The following three videos show pull-up variations. The final one shows the lock off training sequence.

Do Pull ups on dowels or your ice tools placed over a pull up bar.

Use assistance if necessary. Use a band, small jump, toe on a chair, or a friend holding your feet to help take some weight.

Lock off at the top of the pull up for 1- 3 secs depending on your strength. Lower to 3 more positions from the top. Lock off for up to three secs at each position.

These lock offs should be controlled.

Try not to drop into the shoulder joint at full extension.

Do 3 – 5 reps in a row, depending on your strength.

Rest 5 minutes between sets and repeat 3 – 5 times. Again, reps, rounds and technique variation will depend on fitness.

Weighted Calf Raises

While resting, load up a pack, wear a weight vest or hold something heavy (15 – 30#). Do weighted calf raises, ideally, in your ice climbing or mountain boots. Calf raises can easily be done on a step.

Do 10 calf raises every minute on the minute for 3 minutes. In other words, start the clock or timer for 1 minute. Do 10 reps and rest for the remainder of the minute. When the second minute starts, do 10 reps again and then rest for the remainder of the second minute. Do the same for the third round. Three rounds/minutes will use 3 minutes of your 5-minute rest. Fully rest the remaining 2 minutes.


Go back to the pull-up-lock-off drill.

Repeat both exercises 3-5 times.

This calf workout in between lock off practice is a great combo for ice climbing.


We all know core work is critical.

Here’s a little “Ab-pocalypse” for the end of the session:

30 sec sit up

30 sec V-seat hold

60 sec mtn climber

30 sec flutter kick

60 sec plank one foot off the floor for 30 sec then switch elevated foot.

30 sec KTE – knees to elbows

60 sec rest

3 – 5 rounds



And Happy New Year!!


If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:


Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Train Muscular Endurance for Ice Climbing

learning to ice climb in the ouray ice park from Chicks guide, Carolyn Parker

Thumbs up for core endurance. Learning to ice climb in the Ouray Ice park. ©Carolyn Parker

Train muscular endurance for ice climbing this season!

Ice climbing is different. There are no crimpers or slopers. You always have a jug to hold onto—your tools! But swinging a tool overhead, holding on while placing or removing protection, longer pitches, the weight of winter gear (boots, crampons and multiple layers of clothing) and often climbing with a pack, all add up.

Ice climbing can give you a full body pump and gas your arms like never before.

So, we need to train muscular endurance.

First, before you start to train, you should determine if you are on your game strength-and-fitness-wise.

Go to Swing! Training for Ice Climbing where you will find:

  1. Questions meant to help guide you towards understanding and building your foundational fitness
  2. Specific strength training exercises for ice climbing

Now, you’ve decided that you’re ready to train muscular endurance for ice climbing, but you don’t live anywhere near readily accessible ice, or you have to train inside due to that funny thing called work, then read on…

10 Steps to Muscular Endurance for Ice Climbing

  1. Head to the climbing gym with your climbing pack and approach shoes or light-hiking boots.
  2. Load your pack with a few full water bottles (start with 8 – 10 lbs).
  3. Pick easier routes to focus on big muscles. Steep is still ok, but with big holds.
  4. Warm up with a few shoulder openers, wall squats, a few push-ups, Turkish get-ups and pull-ups
  5. Wear your approach shoes or light-hiking boots to climb (if the gym is ok with it). The point is to climb with shoes that are less precise then climbing shoes.
  6. Use the auto belay or find a partner who is stoked to train too.
  7. Climb with your weighted pack. Use a reasonable load to start. If climbing with no pack is hard enough, then start there. The pack will pull on your upper body and help mimic the torso position required to swing a tool overhead while ice climbing. (Hint:try a 10 min session without the pack first to gage where you are.)
  8. Climb continuously for 10 minutes. Climb up and down. Don’t lower or rest on the ground. While you are climbing, practice working through the pump: shake, breathe and keep moving. We are working on stamina.
  9. Try four rounds: 10 minutes of continuous movement, followed by 10-15 min rest. Work/rest can be alternated with a training partner using a you-go, I-go approach. If you are training on your own then do mobility work, foam rolling, and core work during the rest period.
  10. If four rounds goes well, increase the time you stay on the wall or add more weight, or both for the next session.

This workout will give you a full upper body pump and a nice pump in the arms too, for “icing” on the training cake!

Enjoy and get the stoke high for the Chicks Ice Season!!

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:


Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

AMGA Certified Rock Guide