Lifting for Climbers

One of the most common statements I hear a climber say after they fall on a project is, "I need to train harder". Usually when I hear this, I always listen for the question, "What does your training consist of?" The most common answer I hear from those who climb is something along the lines of "long climbing in the gym" or "lots of hard climbs without stopping".

It shouldn't come to a surprise that rock climbing is very sport specific. Stuff such as technique, finger strength, and forearm endurance are rather difficult to train off of the rocks. However, climbing is such a complex sport and there is more to it that just being good at these three things. Power, and more specifically power that comes from core strength, core endurance, and a high strength to mass ratio are also extremely important to the sport. Some climbers may even argue that power is more beneficial to climbing than having good technique. In my personal opinion, they both are important have have their place in climbing training. 

Naturally climbers are attracted to the word power. Everyone is always trying to firgure out how they can get "more power". For me, the answer is obvious. Actually, for really anyone in the strength and conditioning world the answer is obvious. Want more power? GO LIFT. 

This thought process always leads me to my next question for climbers. "Do you lift?" The responses I get from this question usually go something like this, " I look like I lift?" or "I don't lift heavy weights because I don't want to get bulky."

"I don't lift heavy weights because I don't want to get bulky.".....I hate this answer. This answer not only is an un-educated statement, but it also mis-informs the masses. 

I think some education needs to be distributed about lifting. See, in climbing we want to have a high strength to mass ratio. Meaning that our training must increase strength by a greater percentage than our mass. Makes sense since we are only pulling up our bodyweight on a climb. But there are many lifts out there that are really awesome for increasing climbing power! If these lifts are done properly and also done with the intention of gaining power versus muscular hypertrophy, you will still have a higher strength to mass ratio. 

One of the lifts I am speaking of is the Clean and Jerk. Below is a video of me from Febraury 2014 doing a clean and jerk at 165lbs. 

February 2014 clean and jerk PR.

Note in this video I do not look all that bulky. I weigh 140lbs. The same weight I weighed before I began lifting. Let me also tell you that since I began lifting almost 2 years ago, I have been able to 100% recover from all of my finger issues and overuse injuries. I have not just overcome these issues, but started climbing off the couch v8. Oh, I also lost 4% of my body fat. 

If that isn't proof enough that lifting can improve climbing power than let me just show you. Here is a video of me dong two finger double dynos on a campus board just 2 days after the 165lb clean and jerk was taped. 

February 2014: Two finger double dynos on campus board!

...My fingers do not seem to be struggling with my muscle weight. Not only were my fingers tape free and pain free while doing this, but they also did not hurt right after, a day after, or even now! 

So I rest my case. Lifting, at least from what proof I have here, is so good for climbing power. If you have the option or ability to learn olympic lifts and power lifts from a professional, I highly suggest you do so. Not only will it increase your power, but lifting has the ability to decrease your chance of injury, decrease overuse symptoms, cut body fat, and get you training harder! 

Stay Tuned for my "Lifting series" blog posts under "Training Tips".

For now, go check out my "Core Series" under "Training Tips"!


'Till Next time!