Climbing doesn't just require overall strength and endurance. Explosive power also plays a significant role, particularly when a climber moves to higher grades. Explosive movement becomes critical for completing that next move, especially in tougher boulder problems.
Try these ideas for increasing the explosive power at your disposal:
- Aim for a short, high-intensity workout. When you're genuinely seeking to increase your strength and power, you can't train for an extended period--your muscles just can't sustain it! Instead, shoot for a shorter high-intensity workout that will push your body to its limits. If you're at the gym for more than two hours, you've dropped your weights too low or done too few reps.
- Try a single-arm hang. You should ideally perform this movement in the three most common hand positions for climbers: open, half-crimp, and full crimp. Let your weight hang from one arm for 3-5 seconds. That will help increase functional strength, particularly if one side is weaker than the other.
- Burst up while doing pull-ups. There are many different styles of pull-ups, including wide-hand, close grip, and chin-ups. Each method targets your muscles a little differently, so make sure you're mixing it up in training to get the maximum benefit. When you're performing pull-ups as part of your power training workout, try bursting up instead of pulling slowly and smoothly. Then, lower yourself back down.
- Add in upper body pulls. Keep in mind that when you're aiming for burst power increases, you don't want to work at a moderate weight for high reps. Instead, 2-4 reps 1-3 times per session should be your goal.
- Choose power exercises that will challenge you at your current level without pushing you too hard. Power exercises that are specifically designed to target your training level will build your muscles in a way that's designed to support you through your climbing sessions. One example? Choose a move that requires you to go from one great hold to another, but through a complex movement that's difficult to achieve. You can also try hard drops from head height to around waist height, catching yourself and controlling the movement. Keep in mind that you should exercise caution when completing this stage of your training process.
- Engage in regular campus board training. Campus boards are a highly efficient method of power training that are designed to mimic the movements associated with climbing, building a high level of power and endurance that will help you add a substantial amount of strength. Campusing encourages aggressive, dynamic movements, making it an ideal way to train the explosive power movements that you need to be a more efficient climber.
Things to Keep in Mind
Keep in mind that when you're training for increased burst power, you're pushing your muscles right at the limits of your endurance. For that reason, there are several things you must keep in mind while engaging in this type of training:
- Short reps of high intensity, rather than high reps, are best for building your burst power.
- Pay attention to your body: if something starts to hurt, it's time to stop.
- Warming up before exercising and cooling down when you're done are critical to preventing stiffness and injury.
- Allow yourself rest days and time to recover following intense exercise sessions. The last thing you want is to end up with an injury because you pushed too hard!
By choosing to work on burst power, you'll discover that you can hit your goals faster. That, of course, needs to be paired with understanding body positioning, footwork, and grip strength. How has training for explosive strength helped your climbing? Let us know in the comments.