So you've hit a plateau in your rock climbing training and are now in search of ways to improve grip strength and climbing technique, here I am going to give you 15 ways of improving your climbing and how to implement them into your rock climbing training program.
1. Climb more:
My number one tip for improving your climbing is simple, climb more. Climbing is a sport and like most sports it requires technique, the best way to improve technique is to drill it in much like a boxer who stands in front of a punch bag and throws a 1-2 combination repeatedly. try to climb a minimum of three times a week and when you do, climb for volume. Try to climb 30-50 routes at 2 grades below flash per session and focus on your body positioning and footwork..
2. Work Techniques:
Image from @controlclimbing
Now you are climbing regularly and climbing for volume you should be trying to improve your techniques, like the boxer constantly practicing the basics mentioned previously you must be implementing all basic techniques and drilling them regularly. Practice adding heel hooks, toe hooks, body positioning and flagging into climbs even if you can pull yourself up the wall without.
3. Climb with quiet feet:
Try to climb slowly and controlled, always keeping 3 points of contact with the wall and the feet as quiet as possible, if you hear your foot touch the hold you are being too loud. This is a great footwork drill as it will make you think about the placement of each foot.
Like the old saying variety is the spice of life, it is also the key to improving your climbing. Climb on as many different rock faces as possible, climb on slabs, overhanging and vertical walls and try to climb as many different styles as possible.
5. Climb with a friend or coach:
Try to climb with a coach or a friend who climbs a few grades above you, watch what they are doing and try to learn from them you may be able to pick up a few tips that will see you improve.
6. Play climbing games:
I like to play a game called horse, climb with a friend who has different strengths and weaknesses to you and set one move each using any holds you want.
Improve Grip Strength
7. Use a hang board (minimum 2 years climbing):
image from @controlclimbing
The key to improving grip strength for climbing is to improve finger strength and a hang board is a great way to do this. There are many types of hang boards available but I personally like the beastmakers which comes with an app and workouts to improve grip strength, depending on what your climbing goal is you can adjust your hang board workout to suit, for example if you have a strong crimpy boulder project a great way to train for this would be to do sets of max hangs. To perform max hangs you find a suitable edge for you to hang, attach weight either with a harness or weighted belt and hang for 8-12 seconds in a half crimp position. If you have a long boulder project which requires power endurance you can do repeaters, to perform this it is best you use just your body weight on a suitable edge and hang for 7 seconds and rest for 3, 6 sets make 1 rep. Some boards such as the beastmaker will also allow you to train slopers.
8. Use a board:
image from @controlclimbing
Boards are a great way to to improve climbing strength and technique at the same time and a great way to spice up your climbing if you have hit a plateau, beware prepare to feel like a beginner all over again. There are lots of boards out there such as the moon board, tension board and various forms of woodies, some come with preset problems and you can also create your own. These boards are often between 30 and 40 degree angles and can make life a lot more difficult for you, but you will get stronger.
9. Weighted Climbing (minimum of 2 years climbing):
Weighted Climbing is something that can be hard to find information on but is pretty simple to work it out, the name gives it a way. Find a safe way to attach weight, usually a weighted vest or belt and climb routes at around 2-3 grades below your flash grade avoid any potentially sketch moves as falling with a weighted vest will heavily increase the possibility of an injury. Climb one route of around 8-10 big moved and rest for around 2 mins before jumping back on the wall, if you can climb with 10kg on your back it will be much easier when you do it without.
10. Campus Training (minimum of 2 years climbing):
Campus training is a form of strength training created by the late Wolfgang Gullich who was renowned for his incredible power. This is a form of footless climbing that can be performed in a myriad of ways, either climbing routes without feet or using campus rungs and balls.
11. Weighted Pull Ups:
image from @controlclimbing
Weighted pull ups are a great functional exercise to incorporate into a climbing strength routine shoot for around 3-5 reps as heavy as possible, you should be really struggling on the last rep, if not go heavier. These work you overall pull strength which translates well into climbing as well as working grip strength.
12. Climb For Endurance:
Try to work your endurance, there are many ways to do this which I will go into more in depth in future posts. Having more endurance will always help with climbing, for bouldering I like to focus on power endurance, this helps maintain power throughout a specific climb and throughout a session. My favorite exercise for this is 4X4's which involves selecting 4 routes within your flash grade, climb 1 of your chosen routes 4 times in under 5 mins then move to your next problem resting 3 mins, do this for each route totaling 4 sets of 4 and your climbing endurance will sky rocket.
Now you have these 12 tips you should be able to improve your grip strength and climbing technique pretty quickly, the best place to start is number 1 and work your way through depending on experience.
No amount strength training can substitute climbing technique so be sure to focus on that first and you will see improvements pretty quickly.