Shannon Faulconer is a guest blogger for our monthly newsletter, providing tips on preparing your body for adventure. She is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer and active member of our local Team RWB chapter. Shannon is a Fredericksburg native and outdoor advocate who is passionate about helping people reach their physical fitness goals by giving them the tools they need to push their limits and succeed.
This month she provides our climbing (and soon to be climbers) with tips on preparing your body for the climb.
Climbing Strength and Conditioning
by: Shannon Faulconer
When I first started climbing, I thought I was pretty strong, but I soon realized how weak my grip and forearm strength really was! How often do we think, “Man, do I really need to strengthen those fingers!” Well in climbing, grip strength is a premium to succeeding and the key to not falling off a wall. There are quite a few things you can do to help! While there are many tools you can use to build grip strength, here are the ones I have found to work for me. I have a Sportsgrip finger strengthener at medium strength, 3 squeeze donuts (30lbs, 40lbs, 50lbs resistance) and a DynaFlex wrist strengthener. These are all pictured below. All are so simple and easy to use that you can do these while at work as a stress reliever, since they are similar to a stress ball. Also pictured below are wrist / forearm exercises you can do with a dumbbell to really build up those muscles. Start off light and do as many as you can stand!
Another very important and large muscle that needs to be worked is the back. I have pictured a few below with TRX bands that are easy to do and provide a big payoff in body weight strengthening. I love the TRX bands as they work the targeted muscles, and you really have to engage stabilizing and supporting muscles as well. Some exercises you can do with TRX bands include: Y’s and T’s, incline pullups (close and wide grip), and gators. Commonly used and very effective, pull ups are a great way to enhance back strength. You can do three varieties: Close grip, wide grip, and chin up grip. Really focus on pulling yourself up and holding yourself there for a second or two before starting your descent. Take your time lowering yourself and really focus on engaging those back muscles. Try a 3 second descent and fully stretch your back at the bottom before cranking out another. Another tool, this one has become my favorite because it’s a crazy challenge, the Rock Rings! They are textured to feel like rock and allow you to practice different finger grip methods. They are not stable so they bring an extra challenge. With this tool, you can do pull-ups and some basic hanging exercises using different finger combinations, which build up confidence with your grip and get your fingers used to the grit of a rock. A similar tool is the Fingerboard, which is affixed to a wall and has no movement.
And here is something we probably all don’t care to do, but we must: work your CORE! Super effective core strengthening exercises include leg raises (you can do these lying down, hanging from your rock rings, hanging from a pull up bar or using a captain’s chair), flutter kicks, ball crunches, weighted crunches (if you have access to a gym) and knees to chest using the TRX bands (these are killer!). If you have a sedentary job like I do, try to get up every hour and do a 1 minute plank! It’s not good to sit for 8 hours straight!
Lastly, don’t neglect stretching! Attend a yoga class if you can—it’s a great way to help your body recover. If you can’t find time for a class, try side body stretching, baby cobra, standing dead hangs, and forward fold. The options are endless. A great thing to have on hand would also be a foam roller to roll out your back muscles regularly. Nothing is worse than trying to climb with a muscle rock!
Get out on the rocks or get to a climbing gym near you! Have fun, be safe and challenge yourself to new heights!
For more info or to contact Shannon for training, please follow the link below to her Facebook page: