8 Ways Climbers Can Stay Fit in the Off-Season

Climbing can be one of the most physically demanding activities this planet has to offer. Not only does it take absolute brute strength in almost every muscle of your body, but you also need the stamina of five oxen to keep moving during long and tough climbs. For these reasons it is absolutely vital to maintain your strength and conditioning during the off-season so you don’t need to start from scratch every year. Let’s skip the obvious with the climbing wall and jump into some other exercises you should be doing when not climbing mountains.

A few long screws, a set of handholds, and some creativity can transform a dull basement (or garage) into your own private climbing studio. Never mind that you’d actually be climbing underground; the point is you can climb anytime. For a simple guide for creating your own climbing wall, check out Metolius’s ridiculously detailed guide for building your own in-house wall or Moon’s guide for building a Moon Climbing Board.

Training Boards
Training boards like the Rail by Rockworks or Metolius’s training boards can prop up right above a door, say on the outside of the bathroom door. That way, if you’re waiting on someone to use the bathroom, instead of storming off frustrated and unrelieved, you can channel that energy into improving your crimps.

Pull Ups
This age old activity is an excellent exercise for not only maintaining, but building upper body strength. The best part about it is that you don’t necessarily have to visit a gym to participate in this basic exercise. An affordable pull up bar can be purchased at any local sports supply store and installed in any doorway of your house. A few sets of pull ups everyday will keep your muscles strong during the offseason.

Pull Aparts
This is another activity that works the muscles in your arms needed for climbing mountains. It can also be done with simple supplies that you can pick up at a local sports store, because all you need is some sort of elastic band. The name of the exercise speaks for itself, you pull apart an elastic band as far as your shoulder blades will allow you.

Pull Downs
Exercises involving the word pull seem to be a theme among climbers! Here’s another great exercise you can do with the same elastic band from the previous activity. In this activity you simple hold the band in both hands and put your hands directly above your head. Just as you would a typical morning stretch that’s usually accompanied with a yawn, slowly bring your arms out wide with the band behind you.

External Rotations
Not only is this another fantastic climbing exercise, but you will also be doing your service to mother earth because you can re-use the elastic band from the last exercise! This time wrap the band around something stable in your home. You need the band to be just above waist height and you will hold the band in your arm opposite to where it’s attached. Hold your arm at a 90 degree angle with your elbow tucked into your side. Next, keeping the elbow stationary rotate your forearm 90 degrees out to your side. This will work all the little muscles around your rotator cuff which are vital to keep up for good climbing condition.

Squeeze Ball
Finger strength is arguably the most important aspect of a successful climber. While it is common to hit the gym in the off-season, many people overlook the importance of simple finger exercises to remain in climbing condition. Get yourself a squeeze ball and keep it by your side at all times if your want to keep your fingers strong. While your watching TV or at work this extremely simple action can be seriously beneficial for staying fit!

This peaceful form of stretching isn’t something that is always associated with climbers, but it definitely should. Not only does Yoga help to build strength, but it will keep your muscles stretched out so you are less likely to sustain an injury. Another nice thing is that all you really need for some yoga is a mat and some basic instruction.

By Alex Vere Nicoll