Training Women For Upper-Body and Core Strength

Most female climbers who train want more upper-body and core strength. Climbers are strength-to-weight-ratio athletes. They want to gain strength without growing bulky, heavy muscle. Training should focus on set and rep combinations structured to that end. As for all athletes, climbers also want to balance the demands of the sport to avoid imbalance injuries.

The first set of exercises is designed to balance the climber. Our musculoskeletal system is complex, and human beings are strongest when all systems are balanced and working together. Climbers pull a lot. And they need to balance those movements with pushing movements. The following basic movements are the most beneficial initially, yet often the ones women most avoid. The second set of exercises complements the pulling motions of climbing. Perfect for core strenght !

Exercises for muscle balance and core

To begin: Warm up by doing 10 minutes of light aerobic work or easy climbing. Then a few light or easy repetitions of the exercises you will be using. Once you warm up, complete no more than 12 to 25 reps of each exercise, in the following set and rep structures. Repetitions should be difficult, pushing you to failure on the last rep.

5 x 5 Push-ups Too many women avoid push-ups because they feel hard. Do them! Chest to the ground, no cheating. They will become easier. Do five sets of five reps for a total 25 reps of push-ups, the key being difficulty. Make the push-up hard, as possible. Standard toe (rather than knee) pushups may be the ticket. Or try push-ups with your hands on dumbbells. Harder still, do them with your hands on gymnastic rings elevated slightly off the floor.

5 x 3 Overhead presses As you pull harder, you have to balance the pulling movement by pushing more weight. Use dumbbells, kettle bells or a barbell. A standing movement pushing a weight overhead, an overhead press is a fantastic counter movement for a climber. To increase difficulty, increase the weight. Keep in mind : you want more core strenght !

Other exercices for core and upper-body strenght

6 x 2 Turkish get-ups Another favorite for climbers. Classically done with a kettle bell, this exercise trains single-arm overhead strength, single-leg strength and core strength. Many good videos show the movement. But the basic concept is to control an external object and get up off the floor. Stability and mobility are key. Lie on your back with one leg bent and one straight. Hold a kettle bell in your hand on the same side as the bent leg, with the arm extending straight up.

Sit up, pressing the kettle ball toward the ceiling, keeping your arm positioned over the shoulder. Create a bridge between the bent leg and the opposite arm. Then pull the extended leg underneath you and place the knee on the ground under your hip. Raise your hand off the floor and come to a lunge position with the kettle bell still pressed toward the ceiling. Stand. Now reverse all movements to the start.

5 x 5 Dips Do five sets of five reps for 25 reps. You can do the dips assisted (feet on an object). Or make them harder by using gymnastics rings. Dips are hard, but difficult movements are exactly what we want to improve our core strenght !

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