Focused Balancing Workout —For Climbers

Cranking hard and feeling good! Carolyn Parker sewing up Rawhide (5.10+), Sandia Mountain Wilderness, NM. ©Kennan Harvey

Cranking hard and feeling good! Carolyn Parker sewing up Rawhide (5.10+), Sandia Mountain Wilderness, NM. ©Kennan Harvey

The monsoon is past. The temperature has dropped. Rosehips are a deep pink.

Rock Season is in its height.

Fall is the time to climb hard, a ton.

But as much as climbing feels good, it can imbalance you. Climbing a ton can create “negative movement patterns,” or what I call, Too-Much-of-a-Good-Thing syndrome. Negative movement patterns create muscle imbalances that can eventually lead to injuries.

My Focused Balancing Workoutcan help you stay injury-free during peak climbing season and year round!

Focused Balancing Workout


Light warm up


2 x 8 Shoulder openers

2 x 5 Cuban press

3 x 5 Wall squat

Focused hip flexor and quad stretch


3 TGU per side (light to moderate weight)

5 x 8 Push up


Dips (can be assisted)

5 Overhead press (with appropriate weight)

5 X 60 sec FLR (plank; hands on rings)


Cool down with more chest and hip mobility.

Hip Flexor/Hamstring Stretch

Hip Flexor and Hamstring Stretch

Shoulder Stretch

Shoulder Stretch 1. Can be done on a foam roller or bench for more stretch.

Shoulder Stretch. Can be done on a foam roller or bench for more stretch.

Chest Opener

Chest Opener. Can be done on a foam roller or bench for more mobility.


If you are interested in online training, need guidance for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:

Carolyn Parker

Founder, Instructor, Athlete, Mountain Guide
970-773-3317 cell
Founder Ripple Effect Training

Coach for Uphill Athlete

AMGA Certified Rock Guide
Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor


Training Corner: Expectations

We’re in the height of climbing season and hopefully you’re all getting out and having fun!

Whether you’ve set goals for alpine climbing trips, multi-pitch routes, just generally climbing harder, or learning this awesome sport of climbing for the first time, what I find consistent with all the athletes I coach is not having realistic expectations of progression, which ultimately leads to frustration.

It happens to all of us: I can remember a time in my early twenties (that was a long time ago mind you) that I got so frustrated with my “lack” of performance on a climb I swore I was going to sell my rack. Ok, so I didn’t, but I wanted to.

Sometimes frustration can be a motivator for sure, but sometimes it can undermine our confidence and even take the joy out of the sport.

Over the last few years, I’ve endeavored to give you all training program outlines for climbing and skiing fitness, outlined strength training programs, created progressions and tools for improving, but now I’d like to fill my role as a coach to talk about the “process” of climbing as far as getting better.

So often we are our own worst enemy, putting too much pressure on ourselves or having unrealistic expectations about progress, where we should be, and what it takes to break through a plateau in our climbing.

Repeat these words to yourself whenever you’re in doubt.

First: all climbers have been afraid.

Second: everyone worked hard to be where they are.

Third: everyone has had a bad day. (or ten)

Fourth: everyone has cried about it at some point, or had a tantrum, or sulked, or gone into some crazed depression…I know, just over the sport of climbing.

Embrace this and know it. If you see people climbing hard, understand they worked to get there. If they can’t admit their struggles to you, they are a douche bag. Ignore them.

All climbers begin by steadily improving and working through the grades, sport or trad. Just by going climbing and trying you will get better. At some point, however, you will hit your first plateau. 5.9, 5.10, 5.12 wherever it is; believe me there are many plateaus to be hit, you will hit yours. At this point the process requires a different approach.

Suddenly you need to “train” in a more structured manner, and you need to fail, and then try and try and try again to succeed if you want to gain the skill, strength, and ability to climb beyond your plateau. Many people are afraid of “failure” but failure is part of the process. Everyone that is good at anything has had to overcome failures. If you’re not trying hard enough to fail you won’t beget success.

Challenge yourself to try routes or boulder problems that you think you can’t touch. So you can only link a few moves at a time… Perfect. Two things happen when you try. First you become stronger, finger and contact strength, then your body begins to “learn” new movement. Feel confident and comfortable enough to rehearse movements. Then begin linking moves. If you try a new route or boulder problem and in one week you manage to get one move further you’ve made progress. Try and fail try and fail try and fail…then try and succeed! Once your body understands what it feels like, what it takes to climb the next grade harder the next route will be easier. Mentally and physically.

Try backcountry routes or longer trad climbs that make you nervous. Go with a competent partner. have the skill and knowledge to complete the climb but back off if you need to. Every time you are out you learn, over time that volume of experience will give you the confidence to try bigger, harder, more advanced climbs.

Many athletes reach out to a coach to give them guidance on a wide range of topics, including how to use their limited time best to train, video movement analysis to climb more efficiently, programming for specific training, or accountability to get the work done. Whatever the need, there are people to help support progressing climbers.

Seek the guidance of mentors as the support of others with more experience can be a game changer in giving you the confidence to try. A mentor can even save your life; in the big mountains where the game has greater consequences their advice may make all the difference.

Be patient with the process, remember climbing is a luxury, make sure you are having fun! Even if it’s type II fun ( :

Final Note:

It’s ok to be hard on yourself but not too hard…set reasonable expectations.

As always: for more detailed information regarding coaching or training you can contact me at

Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones Certified

AMGA Rock Guide

Uphill Athlete Coach


Training Corner: Alpine Strength

Author Carolyn Parker demonstrates a Split Squat. Photo credit Sabre Rafelson

Training Corner: Alpine Strength

by Carolyn Parker

If you are new to the Chicks Training Tips take a few minutes to read the previous newsletters, there’s a lot of great information in there!

We are in the thick of alpine climbing season in the US, Europe, and parts of South America. If you have a trip coming up, or you are plotting for next year’s ambitions, we’ve got some training tips for you.

The last training tip discussed how to get the stamina built for long back to back days in the mountains, while still having a job, life, family, all the demands of a busy schedule. Now to complement the stamina we need STRENGTH.

Fortunately if we do quality focused work one to two days a week in the gym for an hour, that’s plenty of time to build a quality strength base for your alpine endeavors.

We need to have strength in our legs to tolerate not only the nature of the uneven terrain and the weight of the pack but also to protect our joints, especially our knees, so we can climb for years to come.

To get legs and core strong for the mountains, two of my favorite two leg or “close” chain movements are the deadlift and front squat.

Just as important are these: single leg movements for glute strength, balance, and hip stability; Single Leg Straight Leg Deadlift (SLSLDL), split squats, and weighted step ups.

Here are a few sample workouts (WO) to give you guidance in working these movements into your routine as training for alpine climbing. These can be done just once a week in addition to your other training or two times if you are recovering well.



warm up 10:00

2 x 8 shoulder openers

2 x 5 cuban press

3 x 5 wall squat

3 x 6 goblet squat

30m walking lunge forward and backward (or ten steps per leg in place)


Work up to something that’s heavy for 3 reps (3RM) for your Front Squat.


8 x 3 Front Squats@ ______# rest 1 – 2 minutes between sets.


10x weighted split squats (5 per leg)

10x ball slam

10x split jump

x 5

Cool down



warm up 10:00

2 x 8 shoulder openers

2 x 5 cuban press

3 x 5 wall squat

3 x 3 SLSLDL with a light kb or DB


Work up to a heavy-ish Deadlift


5 x 5 Deadlift

Rest 2:00 between sets:

During rest complete 5x Push up + 5x Pull Up


1-10 Squat Ladder with a partner.

Partners begin holding in a quads parallel position at the bottom of the squat movement. Person 1: does 1 rep while P2 holds. P2 does 1 rep while P1 holds.

P1 does 2 reps while P2 holds, P2 does 2 reps while P1 holds.

Continue until you complete the ladder to 10. No cheating.

Finish with:

60secs mtn climbers/30 sec plank/30 ses rest

x 3 – 4 rounds

Cool down.




warm up 10:00

2 x 8 shoulder openers

2 x 5 cuban press

3 x 5 wall squat


Work up to a weight that is heavy for a step up. Ideally use a bar bell on your back or two Kbs held in front rack position.


5 x 5 Step up in 16 – 20” box depending on your height, box should be lower than your knee cap.

complete 5 step ups per leg with weight that makes the movement challenging, slow grinding movements.

In between sets compete 8x Pull up


10x KB Swing +

8x Push Press

5x Push Plank Row

x 5

Cool Down

All the movements can be found as videos in the Chicks archives.

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:

Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

AMGA Certified Rock Guide


Chicks Training: Long Alpine Days

Carolyn Parker on a long alpine day on the SW Buttress of Makalu. ©Brendan Cusick.

Carolyn Parker on a long alpine day on the SW Buttress of Makalu. ©Brendan Cusick.

Do you have your sights set on an alpine trip?

Would you like to go to Mt Baker, take a trip to the Alps or do something in South America?

Alpine climbing is a mix of rock climbing, ice climbing, and endurance—12hr days, 20hr days, multiple 12hr days AND it always means carrying a pack!

Most people don’t live with the mountains in their back yard. For many the mountains are not easily accessible.

So how do you train for alpine days? How do you build an alpine-fitness base with what you have at your disposal?

Before you go on a trip you should have a good understanding of how long the days will be. This is where your preparation begins.

Tracking progress and including rest is key to motivation

Keep a log or a journal. Track what you do and when. This way you can see your improvement in writing.

Training is never as glamorous as we would like it to be

Follow three hard weeks of training with a fourth week of fun and active recovery. This will keep your mind sharp and body ready for three more weeks of hard work.

Climb with Weight

Start with 10 – 15lbs in a pack. Try to stay on the wall for 10 – 12 min at a time. Switch off with a partner so that your rest is their climbing time. Complete 3 – 5 rounds depending on your fitness.

Down Climb

Often we have to down climb in the mountains. Practice down climbing in the gym, or at the crag. Then try down climbing with your pack. This can be incorporated into idea #1.

Climb in your approach shoes or boots

Start to get comfortable trusting your feet with more bulky, less sensitive shoes on.

Wear a pack on a stepmill, treadmill or stairs

If you don’t have good hiking trails close by and you can only get out periodically, take your pack to the gym and walk on a stepmill or a treadmill at an 8 – 15% incline with weight in your pack. Start with 8 – 10 # and increase over time. No! You don’t look weird. You look committed.

There are stairs in most buildings. Walk up and take the elevator down, repeat.

Add more weight to your pack.

If you walk back down, take into account that this is harder on the knees, as is any downhill. Prepare for downhill. Just don’t do lots of extra down.

Build Your Endurance Base

12hrs is a long day and your body will shut down if it doesn’t have some kind of preparation. However, training for 12 hrs doesn’t make sense in our busy lives.

The following assumes you already do 2 – 3 hour hikes:

Week 1

Saturday – 4 hrs hike with weight

Sunday – 2 hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 2

Saturday – 5 hrs hike with same pack

Sunday – 2 hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 3

Saturday – 6 hrs hike with pack,

Sunday – 2hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 4

Have fun. Don’t worry about training!

Week 5

Saturday – 7 hrs hike with pack

Sunday – 3 hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 6

Saturday – 8 hrs hike with pack,

Sunday – 3 hrs of recovery riding, swimming or jogging

Week 7

Decrease the time and increase the load in the pack.

Week 8

Active recovery. Fun week.

During the week

Try to get 2 – 3 60 – 90 min endurance sessions with a pack on step mill, treadmill, or stairs.

*Consider combining swimming, running and cycling in the same day. Getting used to logging long hours and learning how to fuel and hydrate are critical elements to success.

**Plan in some fun adventures that use your increasing fitness to keep yourself motivated.


Voila! You’re all set

The combination of the two days is nearly 12 hrs. Back to back days brings an athlete into their adventure with a healthy body and a motivated mind.

If you train for the gruelling nature of alpine climbing by flogging yourself with long days in an unpleasant environment you will burn out and get injured.

Prepare your body intelligently. Stay motivated and injury free.

Break up training. Make training fun and achievable.

Back-to-back days work and work well!

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature, training support, or programming for climbing you can contact me at:

Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Need Continuous Energy for Endurance?

Karen Bockel, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, refuelling with some apres ski Gu ©Kitty Calhoun

Karen Bockel, co-owner Chicks Climbing and Skiing, refuelling with some apres-ski Gu ©Kitty Calhoun

  • Have you ever felt the high, and then the crash, from a sugar rush?
  • Have you ever felt sluggish after lunch?
  • Have you ever felt nauseous because you were exerting yourself and could not digest the badly needed energy snack you had just eaten?

GU gels can help.

For 25 years, GU has been driven to answer three questions:

What to eat? When to eat? How much to eat?

  1. The gels (and their other products) are designed with the maximum amount of fructose and glucose – and in the optimal ratio – for digestion and energy.
  2. If you are exercising for 1- 2 hours, the focus should be on hydration and light energy. So you might eat a gel and drink 16 ounces of liquid after 45 minutes if the workout is over an hour and repeat every hour.

News Flash! Gu announced a new flavor on June 11—French Toast. The National Interscholastic Cycling Association, which aims to get more kids on bikes, helped create the flavor GU had a group of high schoolers come into their office to work with their R&D team to pick the flavor they liked best, and it was French Toast.

Stay tuned for information on GU hydration and BCAAs, your muscle insurance policy, in a future newsletter.

Hangboard Workouts

Hang 10 sec / Rest 5 sec, 4 times . . .

Hang 10 sec / Rest 5 sec, 4 times . . .

A KEY part of rock climbing is finger strength.

Fingerboards, also known as hangboards, are both inexpensive and a great way to develop finger strength.

Hangboards are particularly efficient if you are too busy to get to the climbing gym.

The first rule of training on a hangboard is to err on the side of caution. Build up to smaller and smaller holds, especially if you’re new to it or haven’t been rock climbing in a while.

You can place a fingerboard over most doorways, out in the garage, or some other convenient spot. This allows you to get a super productive workout, in a short period of time, all in your own home!

Get some recommendations on purchasing a fingerboard here:

Three Great Fingerboard Workouts




30 sec push ups / 30 sec rest

Rest 2 min



5 pull-ups / 60 sec rest

Rest 2 min


Choose 5 fingerboard grips that you can hang onto for 10 sec (e.g. jug, pinch, crimp, sloper, three finger pocket)

For each grip complete 4 rounds of:

10 sec hang / 5 sec rest

Between grip hang rounds, take 2 min to complete one of the following 4 core exercises:

1) 20 x sit-up

2) 60 sec v-sit

3) 60 sec plank (on feet)

4) 60 sec flutter kick

(Rotate through core exercises until each grip-hang round is done.)



30 sec push ups / 30sec rest



30 sec push ups / 30 sec plank

Rest 2 min


10 – 1 Pull-Up Ladder:

10 pull-ups / rest 30 sec, 9 pull-ups / rest 30 sec . . . continue down to 1 pull-up. (

Use assistance like a chair under your feet or a band if necessary.)

Rest 2 min


Choose 4 hangboard grips that you can hang onto for 8 seconds (e.g. jug, pinch, crimp open hold, three finger pocket).

For each grip, complete 3 rounds of:

8 sec hang / 5 sec rest.

Between grip hang rounds, take two min to complete one of the following exercises:

1) 20 x sit up

2) 60 sec v-seat

3) 60 sec flutter kick

(Rotate through core exercises until each grip hang round is done.)


Pick 5 handboard holds (e.g. jugs, pinches, crimps, open, three finger pocket).

On each hold type do 3 rounds of:

10 sec hang during which time you complete a pull-up while hanging /

30 sec rest

Rest 3 min between hold pull-up groupings


8 x 20 sec work / 10 sec rest of the following movements with 1 – 2 min rest in between:

1) Sit Ups

2) Push Ups

3) Flutter kicks


Final Tips

If you’re new to Chicks Training, I encourage you to take a few minutes. Read the previous Chicks Training Posts. Training is incredibly beneficial and there’s a lot of great information there to get you started.

If you are looking for some motivation, consider that implementing new movements and concepts into a regular workout pattern in almost any fashion will create positive change.

And, if you’d like to discuss training for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:

Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones Certified

AMGA Rock Guide

Uphill Athlete Coach

Rock Climbing Training Program-Advanced

Carolyn Parker putting her rock climbing training to good use on Wanderlust,  Kalymnos, Greece, ©Robbie Klimek

Carolyn Parker taking a hike on Wanderlust,  Kalymnos, Greece, ©Robbie Klimek

Advanced Rock Climbing Training Program

First read 8-Week Basic Rock Climbing Program Part 1 and Part 2.

Then, when you finish the 8-Week Basic Rock Climbing Program (nice work btw!), try the Advanced Rock Climbing Training Program, which builds on the Basic Training program with

1) back-to-back climbing days

2) and bouldering.


Monday – Yoga or Active Recovery

Tuesday – Bouldering and Strength

Wednesday – Gym climbing routes for climbing endurance

Thursday – Aerobic work 90 min, conversational pace

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Climb

Sunday – Climb or 90 min Aerobic work, listen to your body this is a lot of volume. Do the beneficial aerobic work if overly tired.


Climb 2-4 days a week to the best of your ability.



1 – 3   Hard weeks, push yourself!

4        Easy week – take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or, worse, you’ll break.

5 – 7  Hard weeks, push yourself again.

8        Easy week – take three rest days and just have fun, don’t train with any structure or you’ll burn out or worse break.


Monday – Yoga or Active Recovery—Self-explanatory

Tuesday – Climb

Warm up on easy routes if possible or easy boulder problems. This is a hard bouldering session for climbing power. Try problems you fall off of after a move or two. Try and do all the moves. Project the same problems for three weeks. In your session once warmed up complete:

3 x VO

2 x V1

2 x V2

1 x V3

Then, once your skin is done, head to the regular gym area and do a supplemental strength workout.

Two Strength-Training Workouts for Advanced Rock Climbing Training:

Advanced Strength-Training Workout #1

10:00 warm up light aerobic work

2 x 8 shoulder opener

2 x 5 cuban press

3 x 5 wall squat

and any mobility work you need to work on.


5 x

3 x Single arm body row

3 x KB Bosu Chest Press

10 x – Floor Wiper

Rest as necessary


2 x

HSPU Ladder (5 – 1)

Rest as necessary

Advanced Strength-Training Workout #2

10:00 warm up light aerobic work

2 x 8 shoulder opener

2 x 5 cuban press

3 x 5 wall squat

and any mobility work you need to work on.


6 x

2 x Single arm offset pull up per arm

8 – 10 x Anchored leg lower add weight if appropriate, hold med ball between feet.

Rest as necessary


5 x

5 x Bent Over Row with lock off in three positions

10 x Archers (5 per arm)

10 x Hanging Windshield Wiper (5 per side) Legs straight, keep hips high


You may have to skip this workout at first.

It depends on how sore you are from Tuesday and your capacity to recover from this amount of work. However, that’s ok. It’s important to listen to your body. If you skip it, then do active recovery, yoga, recovery endurance, etc instead.

Start with routes of difficulty. Warm up on two moderate pitches then, TR or lead with no hangs or very short hangs—if you fall, immediately get back on the wall.

Do three routes at, or close to, your limit, back-to-back with no rest. For example: 5.10, 5.11, 5.9. You should blow off the last route due to physical pump and mental fatigue. Climb routes you know, so you can be super efficient and finish them. Once you fall you are done, no hang dogging. Do 3 – 4 groups of three pitches. Vary difficulty so you are always falling on last the pitch or close to it.

As the weeks progress make the pitches more difficult: 5.10, 5.11, 5.11. Find a partner psyched on this as well, they belay you, then you belay them!

Then once your skin is done head to the regular gym for a supplemental strength workout.

Thursday – Aerobic work 90 min, conversational pace

Friday – Yep, rest, or active rest. Go on a walk or easy ride. The discipline to work hard at training takes a lot of mental and physical energy.

Give your body and brain a down day.

Saturday and Sunday – Go outside and climb both days. Or, make sure you get endurance greater than 90min on one of the days.

Saturday – Climb hard. You should feel good coming off a recovery day.

Sunday – Climb easy, take a nice long ski or ride, rest.

Repeat the week.

Move things around as life demands and get a friend to train with you because it’s so much more fun.

Most importantly, remember to have fun and train hard.

Carolyn Parker
Ripple Effect Training

8-Week Basic Rock Climbing Training Program-Part 2, The Second 4 Weeks

Carolyn Parker climbing the Great Escape, Sandias, New Mexico.

Strong and confident, Carolyn Parker, Founder Ripple Effect Training, climbs above her gear. Sandia Mountains, NM ©John Kear

I’ve said before that climbing technique is more important than strength.

Still, I encourage you to get stronger.

Strength and training brings more than how much a pull-up, or 10 pull-ups for that matter, will help your climbing.

Training and getting stronger gives you CONFIDENCE.

Pushing through a hard workout will make both your body AND your mind stronger. Working out teaches you about commitment. It gives you a better understanding of how to move the temporary and subjective threshold of discomfort.

These changes create a positive feedback loop that spins off as increased calm and focus—particularly useful climbing skills!

Continue to follow the weekly schedule outlined in Part I as closely as your schedule allows. But only strength train after climbing, or on a completely different day. This way you will be fresh for climbing.

Climbing Skills to Practice on Climbing Days

Reading and remembering:

  • Before you climb a route try to “read” the hand and foot sequences from the ground. This same practice transfers to outside climbing.
  • Remembering the moves on a climb is also a skill. As you do a harder route, try and remember how you climbed it so the next time you do it, you’ll climb it more efficiently. Efficiency brings success on more difficult routes
  • Remember to have fun!

Replace the Strength Training part of the workout with the following:

Basic Strength Training Workout (2nd 4 Weeks)


5 – 10 minutes of light aerobic work, indoor rower, jump rope, bike.


2 x
8 x Shoulder openers
5 x Push-ups
8 x Supermans on floor
2 x 30 secs dumbbell push-press/30 secs overhead-hold
8 x Good mornings


5 x
3 x Single-Leg, Straight-Leg Deadlift
10 x Toes to Bar (If 10 is too many, begin with the number you can complete.)


5 x
5 x Bosu or Bench press DBs or KBs (Weight should allow you to finish the reps with good form.)
5 x Single-arm, single-leg Strict Press (This is an overhead, standing movement. Stand on right leg, strict press with left arm. Stand on left leg strict press with right arm. Use same weight for both arms even if one is weaker. Pick a weight that is challenging to finish five reps.)


3 x
60 sec Overhead Plate Hold + 30sec Mountain Climber + 60 sec rest


Cool Down
10:00 minutes easy cardio + foam roller and stretching.

Stay tuned for the next Chicks Training article and ways to make this basic program more advanced.

If you are trying this program or have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. Leave comments or questions below!

Yours in strength,
Carolyn Parker
Founder Ripple Effect Training
Gym Jones Certified
AMGA Rock Guide
Uphill Athlete Coach

Chicks Training: 8-Week Basic Rock Climbing Training Program (First 4 Weeks)

Carolyn Parker climbing in the Sandia Mountains

Carolyn Parker, founder Ripple Effect Training, gamboling on sunny rock, Sandia Mountains, NM ©

For Gals looking to fit training into a busy work/life schedule

Over the years I’ve taught hundreds of women to climb.

By far, their most common “fear,” or concern, is: “I’m not strong enough.”

The truth is no climber was strong for climbing when they started.

Climbing makes you strong. Anyway, not being a “thug” can be an advantage because it forces you to learn good technique, which will get you further than strength any day.

So, practice! Get some good coaching to learn great technique, and then add some strength and you’ll be off to a fantastic start.

Following is a weekly schedule. After that each day is broken down with more specific suggestions, including details for a basic strength-training workout.

If you’re a new climber, avoid climbing on back-to-back days unless you must for scheduling reasons. The following schedule is “ideal” but move days around, as you need, for the “reality” of life.

Most gals need to work on flexibility. Try to squeeze in a yoga class and do a little on your own.

Keep a climbing journal. Track the difficulty and style of the routes you climb: i.e. steep or technical. This way you will remember where you started. It’s easy to lose perspective because there’s always someone better.

8-Week Rock Climbing Training Program

Weekly Schedule:

Monday – Yoga or Active Recovery

Tuesday – Climb

Wednesday – Aerobic + Yoga

Thursday – Climb

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Climb (Outside, if possible)

Sunday – Strength Training + Aerobic


Let your muscles recover from the busy weekend.

Yoga or Active Recovery: 45 – 60 min easy walk, jog, bike, hike or other. Stay aerobic which means easy conversational pace, the kind of pace where you and a BFF could sort out a plan for world peace.



Warm up—pick an easy route for you—you shouldn’t get pumped, or not very pumped. Let’s say, for you, that’s 5.7.

Then try this grouping with a total of 7 – 8 routes:

1 x 5.7

2 x 5.8

2 x 5.9

1 – 2 x 5.10

1 x 5.8 (cool down)

The hardest route, or peak difficulty, in this case 5.10, is a climb or grade where you have to hang to figure it out. In other words the route SHOULD take you more than one try. At first, pick routes that are your style. Do not move on because you couldn’t do a route.

Instead, use the route as a teacher. Work the moves, memorize them, and then complete the route. This may take more than one day. That’s ok. You are building the strength to climb at this grade. Once you complete your “training project” pick a few new routes to accomplish.

Note: start at and attempt whatever grade is appropriate for you, easier or harder.

The goal over the 8 weeks is to complete as many routes that are hard for you (routes that force you to fall or hang) AND increase the number of attempts you make on routes of that difficulty.

The key is to consider both goals. If your projects are too difficult, you’ll have many attempts but no completions. If they are too easy, you’ll have lots of completions, but no attempts.

Balancing these two goals, you will learn technique and build strength/endurance at the same time. If a route is too hard, technique falls apart. If it is too easy, you won’t have the opportunity to use new movements.

By the end of the Chicks 8-Week Rock Climbing Training program your gym session may now look like this:

1 x 5.8

1 x 5.9

2 x 5.10

1 x 5.10+

1 x 5.10-

1 x 5.9

1 x 5.8


Climbing well isn’t all about climbing. You also need a well-developed aerobic capacity to manage recovery while in motion.

60 – 90 minutes hike, bike, ski, run. Stay aerobic the entire time. Again, this means conversational pace but a tad faster than world peace pace. More like how your man can’t seem to hit the toilet when he’s taking a pee pace.



Same as Tuesday.


Rest Day. This is the hardest day for some. Yes…do it. Actually, rest (:


Head outside. Nothing beats a day outdoors with friends doing the very thing that you are training for. Top rope or lead as many pitches as you can. You should have a huge smile on your face at the end of the day.

If you can’t get outdoors, follow Tuesday’s suggestion for an indoor progression.



Basic workout #1, the first four weeks

2 x 8 Shoulder opener

2 x 5 Push-ups

2 x 8 Sit-ups

2 x 30 secs dumbbell push press/30 secs overhead hold

3 x 8 air squats


1 x 8 assisted pull-up

Rest 60 secs


5 x

3 – 4 x Pull-ups using the least assistance that allows for full range of motion and good form.

10 x Anchored Supine Leg Raises


5 x

5 x Bent Over Row – standing

10 x Weighted Windshield Wiper (5 per side)


3 x

30 sec dip hold

30 sec plank

30 sec rest

Cool Down for 10:00 minutes easy cardio again, foam roller, stretching.

Stay tuned for the next Chicks Training article and the second 4 weeks of the Program.

Chicks Training: More Tips for Bombproof Shoulders

Demo of Front Leaning Rest

Front Leaning Rest

Whatever your goals, shoulder stability is paramount.

I cannot stress the benefit of shoulder strength and stability enough. I’ve emphasized this in the past in Training Tip: Solid Shoulders.

For newcomers to Chicks Training Tips, it’s worth looking back through ALL my past posts to get a fuller picture of the progression of my training recommendations.

At least once a week, preferably twice, do the following important shoulder-stabilization exercises.

For those who’ve been doing their homework, I’ve included some great progressions.

Warm-up and Cool-down with Band:

(note: links to exercises at bottom of each section)


Attach band at knee height:

A) Y

B) 90/90

Attach band at shoulder height:

C) Rows

D) Flys

E) Pull Downs

For exercises A-E, squeeze shoulder blades together and down before moving arms. Maintain squeeze while reversing movements (harder than it seems). 

Training Tip: Solid Shoulders

Workout Exercises:


Use light DBs and do movements sequentially (without rest) until all three have been completed:


5x Front Raise

5x Lateral Raise

5x Reverse Fly

Again, squeeze shoulder blades together and down before moving arms for all three movements. Maintain squeeze while reversing movements (harder than it seems). 

Training Tip: Shoulder Stabilizers


Do each of the following exercises once, or do one 3X with 30 seconds rest in between:

Ring Support – goal 30 secs

Handstand or Over Head Hold (25 – 45# pound plate) – goal 60 secs

FLR – Front Leaning Rest (Plank with hands on gymnastic rings, toes on floor or slightly elevated on a 12” box) 90-120 secs

Training Tips: Core Movements

Training Tips: Core Movements (part 2)


If you can do the preceding exercises as suggested, try adding the following exercises. Choose two movements. Do 3/4 sets with 60 seconds rest in between. DO NOT try all of these at one time. It will be too much for the shoulders to tolerate.

Side Plank with Hip Raise and Lower: goal 30 secs

Superwoman: 8 – 10 reps, on knees, full range of motion

Arm Sweeps: 8 – 10 reps, on knees, full range of motion

Archers: 4-5 per side, on knees or toes, full range of motion


Example Workout:

Warm up (as suggested above)

2×8 shoulder openers

2 x 5 cuban press

3×5 wall squats

Training Tips for Chicks


Training Tips: Correct your Imbalances


5x front raise

5x lateral raise

5x reverse fly

(As described above)


2x turkish get up (TGU) per side

Training Tip: The Key to Getting Stronger


5x toes to bar

5x l-seat pull-up or pull-Up

Training Tips: Core Movements

10x archers


30 second ring support+30 second rest

Training Tips: Core Movements

Cool Down (as suggested above)

As always, I highly encourage you to seek professional help to ensure you have the best form possible on all movements. You can watch my short videos, Google, and You-Tube most of this stuff, however, having someone watch you and give you feed back is invaluable.

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:


Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Coach for Uphill Athlete