Tag: upper body

Ice Climbing Training Upper Body [archive copy]

Part One of an in-season upper body Ice Climbing training program. You should alternate this with Part Two. Since this is an in-season program we’re not going to try to get stronger. Ice climbing training should assist the primary activity of ice climbing, but not take away from it. Proper strength training would require you to take 3-5 days off from training to let the muscles recover fully before training again. This would take away from your outdoor climbing fun, since most of the week you’d be recovering, and in the long run the load would be too high. Begin with about 5-10 minutes of a light duty warmup to get the whole upper body full of hot blood and nice and flexible. I like a full range exercise like the Concept2 SkiErg. You could substitute bands, which I’ll show you in Ice Climbing Training Upper Body Part Two.

Ice Climbing Training: Warmup on SkiErg

Remember, this should not be a workout or cardio. Just crank away till you’re nice and warm and your joints are soft. For most people 5:00 to 10:00 minutes should be good enough warm up for an ice climbing training session. I’ve actually gone without it a few times and been none the worse for wear and tear. But I do recommend it until you know your own body. My first exercise in this upper body program is a very light, fairly quick, nearly full range of motion power rack bench press. Since I’m alone I use a power rack to protect myself from dropping the weights. I set the safety bars about half an inch off my fully expanded chest. If you’re just starting out you might want to set it a few inches higher until you know what works best for you. I usually do a set of 25. I think anything from about 10 up will do, but if you can’t do 25 with pretty good form it’s probably too much weight for this type of in-season ice climbing training program.

Ice Climbing Training: Bench Press

UPDATE:

This is as far as it got when I saved it as a draft on March 13, 2014! I’m only putting it here for historical purposes and will get my new Ice Climbing Training articles up about once a week for the next few weeks. Remember, if you wanted the free pre-season General Physical Prep (GPP) training program – fill out this form. I’ll totally keep you in the loop.

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Remember – Train Smart and Hard for Best Progress!

Ice Climbing Training: Ice Tool Chinups

Ice Climbing Training can involve many aspects of fitness. One that is often overlooked is Ice Tool Chinups. For me this is a power and strength exercise, not an endurance exercise. Any normal ice climber on any normal route shouldn’t have to do too many full chinups on their tools. I don’t see a lot of reason to work these as an endurance exercise. For Ice Climbing Training Endurance I’d prefer to do these assisted. That more accurately reflects the type of climbing you’d be doing.

Ice Climbing Training Tools: Hangboard and Ice Tools (sideways view)
Ice Climbing Training Tools: Hangboard and Ice Tools (sideways view)

For this exercise I’ve used protocol for power improvement. I’m doing 5 to 8 sets of 3 reps from a full hang to an upper position with the tools by my neck. If you have any previous injuries to your wrists, elbows, or shoulders you might have to adjust your ice climbing training accordingly. I’ve found this position with the tools just inside the width of my shoulders to work best for my joints.

If you want to work toward strength training, stay with 5 sets of 3 reps and work toward 5 sets of 5 reps by adding in a rep here and there as your own strength improves. You’ll know when you’re ready because you won’t feel so beat up on your last few sets.

Ice Climbing Training: Results

Ice Climbing Training Upper Body Results
Ice Climbing Training Upper Body Results

If you’re already pretty strong, or want to adjust your ice climbing training more toward endurance you can change up some things. I’ve started with my feet on the floor. The hangboard is over the doorway so that starts me about halfway up to full chinup. I just use my toes lightly to launch into an ice tool chinup then drop down under control onto the balls of my feet. Then I pop back up. You could do this for sets of 25 reps, then with a few minutes of rest do another 1 to 3 sets.

An option for even more power would be to add in a weighted belt or vest and do singles. Normally in a protocol for singles you’d do one rep as strongly and quickly as possible. Then you’d do a full complete rest for one to three minutes and do another rep. If you’re wearing a heart rate monitor you could do as many single reps as possible until your resting heart rate spikes and won’t go down within the three minutes rest period. Then your ice climbing training is done for the day.

Ice Climbing Training Video: Ice Tool Chinups

If you need a warmup for your ice climbing training, consider this quick Shoulder Mobility Circuit before you train.

Concept2 SkiErg Upper Body Warmup Series

I have been using the Concept2 SkiErg for a while now for cross training primarily. I also like it as a warmup for upper body training. The resistance is a large fan, similar to the Concept2 rowing machines, only upright. Inside the post are ropes exiting the top at two rotating swiveling pulleys. There are 10 resistance settings, depending on your training goals and personal fitness level.

Concept2 SkiErg upper body training
Getting my back and Lats ready for Ice Climbing

For my upper body warmup, I set the Concept2 SkiErg (Ski Ergometer – the movement simulates the arm/hand motion of Nordic skiing) to level 5, about halfway on the resistance scale. I mix it up a bit, but in general do a little Lat work and a little Pec work. I do some Core work and occasionally a little Tricep work.

For a more advanced warmup, especially if I’m doing a few extra minutes of core work, I keep a wobble disc [Reebok Balance Board] or pad handy to add some instability. I like how it helps me use my core and leg stabilizers. It’s also a pretty cool mind game, since it’s tough doing a few different things at once.

Concept2 SkiErg Warmup Video

Concept2 SkiErg Warmup Ideas

Some things to keep in mind when using the Concept2 SkiErg for training other than as intended. The pulleys will go a lot of different directions. Experiment and see what different angles you can come up with. Keep in mind that the rope is thin, and limited in length. Don’t try too hard to go past the internal stop. Protect your back, keep your lower back flat. Don’t hunch unless, like ab curls, it’s part of the motion. Even then, do what’s right for your body.

Remember it’s only a warmup. A good burn is a great feeling, but if you can’t lift your arms after, you might affect your other training negatively. Be very careful of what’s in your blind spots, or behind you. Notice that for the high and low diagonal movement I have to clear the racked squat bar.

I use a Nordic Grip on the handles. This is probably the best way to use it, since it’s originally intended for Nordic ski training. But whatever works for you, just grab the handles and go.

Concept2 SkiErg warmup for full body cardio
Warm up for full body cardio on the SkiErg

The Concept2 SkiErg is a little expensive to use only for an upper body warmup. I generally do a few 15 minute sprints at level 10 (max level) every week for cross training, as well as endurance training for Ice Climbing. I noticed a huge difference in my endurance last season after using it in the Fall prior. I’m looking for even better results this season, having worked my way up in levels over the Summer.

If you have a Concept2 SkiErg and want to share your own warmup videos, please post them to my Facebook Page and share with all of us. We’d love to see what you have for us.

Ultimate Upper Body Cardio Training

Concept2 SkiErg Training

The moment I saw a clip of this in action, I knew this would be the most awesome training for low-angle ice, or glacier climbing ever. I think it was originally intended for cross country ski training, and having done some XC skiing way back in the day, I can see the benefit already. I am using poles for a lot of my vertical hiking – another perfect training application.

I ordered the wall-mount model direct from Concept2, and got the PM4 monitor (the higher end of the two monitors available). It took about a week to arrive. After hauling it down to my basement, it really took only a couple hours to assemble and install. Note that I do have exposed studs and no baseboard molding which might have helped it go faster. Also, advice to anyone else doing this – don’t tighten any screws on the sleeve in the middle of the main column until all the screws are started.

I decided to give it a few minutes spin to figure it out and see what I could do. The motion was simple enough, and after messing around I figured out various ways to stand for core activation, and balance and stability training. I’ve been training with it now for a little over a week, including the past 6 days after cracking 2 ribs. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t be doing this, but I can stabilize my core and relax it, using just my upper lats. I wish I could go now, but it will be a few weeks before I can try ice climbing again (4-6 weeks recovery for my ribs) to see if it helps. I’ll let you know.

After this I also did an experiment to extend my range of motion and then do a concentrated squeeze in my central back between my shoulder blades (rhomboid area). This short clip shows that.