What can be trained?Arranged below are a number of exercises under the different headings of the components of ‘climbing strength’ that they address. Whilst by no means a definitive list, it should provide enough information to keep you going for a while at least! Be aware that most of the given exercises have variations that can be applied to vary the difficulty and help progress to the next level of difficulty. Some, however, are just plain hard. Right: John Gill doing a One Arm Front Lever. It goes without saying that you should be fully warmed up before commencing on a pull-up bar session. Also, with all exercises try to maintain good form, i.e. aim to do the exercise well, in control and in good style. The given number of repetitions of each exercise is generally low, as it is assumed the exercise will be performed for a strength work-out. If a more endurance based work-out is sort after, simply increase the number of reps and decrease the difficulty of the exercise to allow for this. For a full-value session, keep changing what you’re working on to give your body a proper chance to recover. Also make sure you have adequate rest between exercises, for a strength work-out rest 2-5 minutes until fully recovered and for endurance obviously much less.
PowerPower (A.K.A. dynamic power)- the ability to move between holds. Pull-Ups: The original exercise. Always performed with palms facing away from you (as per if you were climbing). If your palms are facing towards you then these are chin-ups: flip your hands around! Perform 5-10 reps per set. Progression techniques:
- If you are unable to perform a pull-up, take some weight off your arms by placing a chair in front of you and place your feet on this. As sessions go by, and you get stronger, reduce the amount of weight you place on your feet until you can perform an un-assisted pull-up. To quantify this: place a set of bathroom scales on the chair and place your feet on it. Alternatively, set a sling up over the bar and attach a weight to the other end- place your feet through the sling for assistance.
- If you are getting close to doing a pull up, then a different progression technique is to ‘jump’ into the pull-up. Gradually reduce the amount that you spring into it until you are purely pulling. Make sure you lower yourself down as slowly as possible.
- If these are too easy...move onto the next exercise
- Off-set pull-ups. Use your ‘off’ arm to pull-up on a sling, towel or bungee cord. Try and centralise yourself under your ‘on’ arm and place the minimal required weight on your ‘off’ arm to perform the pull-up. A variation on this is to place a Spring Scale/Balance (think Newton Meter from school science classes) to assist with one-armers. In case you've not heard of these, simply attach to pull-up bar, put a sling on it and use on your 'off' arm. They're really good for quantifying 'progression', as you can see the amount of mass (or force!) being taken by your 'off' arm and so try to reduce this amount with training. Alternatively pass a sling over the bar and connect the other end onto a weight, gradually reducing the mass of the weight until you can perform a one-armer without one. Perform 3-5 off-set pull-ups.
- Alternatively, if you are getting close to doing a one-armer try the jumping progression method; simply ‘jump’ into the pull-up. Gradually reduce the amount that you spring into it until you are purely pulling. Make sure you lower yourself down (the negative contraction) under control.
- One further progression technique is to try starting from a locked off position, i.e. 45 degrees, then 90 degrees, then 135 degrees, until in a dead-hanging position. You can lower yourself down slowly or try pulling up from that position.
- Can also be performed one-armed (with less reps).
- Pull into a one-arm full lock, with a dumbbell in your 'off' arm, slowly release your lock-off. Increase the size, and weight, of the dumbbell until you find the right one: i.e. you can't hold yourself in a locked-off position. Once you've released your lock-off, i.e. you're in a one arm dead-hang position, let go of the dumbbell and do a one armer. Nails. The purpose seems to be so that you're already tired by the time you come to do a one armer.
Static StrengthStatic strength (A.K.A. lock strength)- the ability to hold positions and lock-off holds Lock-offs: As the name implies, this involves locking your arms at different angles and holding your body in that position for 3-10 seconds. Try performing with different angles of lock i.e. 135 degrees, 90 degrees, 45 degrees and full lock. Vary the difficulty as per pull-ups by either removing weight by using a chair or adding weight with a dumbbell or weight belt. French Pull-ups: Lock at each angle for 3-5 seconds, but instead of coming off the bar in between locks, just pull into the next locking position. For every set going up (i.e. starting at 135 degrees and going to full lock) do another set coming down. One Arm Locks: The same as above. Vary the difficulty as per pull-ups by adding or removing weight. Alternatively, perform off-set hangs with the ‘off’ hand on a sling/towel or Spring Balance, again trying to minimise weight on the ‘off’ hand.
- Typewriters. Choose an angle to lock-off at. Travel to one side and lock-off at that angle, but trying to centralise your weight under that ‘on’ arm and take as little weight on your ‘off’ arm as possible. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Travel to a central position and the same angle of lock-off. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Travel to the other arm and perform the same lock. Repeat this at different angles of lock.