Climb for Cardio

Hit the wall for a fitter, leaner body.


Train for the hike

If you climb outdoors or plan to, your rock probably isn’t close. You’ll need to hike some distance to get to the foot of it, and most newcomers don’t anticipate that drain on their energy. Include some old-fashioned aerobic exercise in your regimen — stair climbing, hill running or walking on a treadmill set at an incline for 20-60 minutes at least three times a week to build stamina.


Stay on the wall

Climbing-specific cardio relies mainly on the ability of your forearm muscles to process oxygen. Do multiple laps up and down or across the rock wall. The key is not to come down — the muscles must always be working — so go at a pace you can sustain. Start with 10 minutes (or whatever you can handle) and increase your duration over time. Repeat three to five times a week.


Shake it out

While doing your laps, practise clinging to a hold with only one hand. As you’re doing it, shake out the burn from the other hand. This will teach your body to recover quickly (and your mind to endure the pain of being on the wall when it’s not fun). Mastering this skill will take practice. Periodically hang out on a hold with one hand for 30 seconds and build up to two minutes over time.

In the gym

Muscle up for climbing with these moves.

Hip stretches

Tight hips won’t allow your legs to reach holds on the rock. Stretch your hip flexors, abductors and adductors to keep your lower body flexible.


Make sure you’re doing some horizontal pulling in every upper-body workout. Barbell rows, inverted rows and suspended rows using a TRX are all helpful for developing upper-back strength.

Finger rolls

Hold a barbell in front of your thighs with your palms facing away from you. Let the bar roll down to your fingertips, then curl it back up with your fingers. Don’t move your wrists. Do three to four sets of 8-12 reps.

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