Climbing Training | Basic Rock Climbing Training Program

Chicks Climbing Training #10
It’s incredibly beneficial for Chicks to be introduced to the movements and concepts of climbing training.
Implementing these movements and concepts into regular workouts, in almost any fashion, will create positive change.

If you are new to Chicks Training, please take a few minutes to click on the links below to review the movement videos:

Shoulder Openers
Cuban Press
Wall Squat
Goblet Squats
Push ups
Leg Lower and Raise
L seats
Knee Raise
Static holds: FLR, ring support
Walking Push Ups
Ring Push Ups
DB Push Press
Plate OH Hold
Handstand Hold
Bench dip / ring dip
Pull Up
Body Row
Bent Over Row
High Pull
Pull Over
Walking Lunge, OH Walking Lunge
Front Raise
Lateral Raise Standing
Reverse Fly
Y’s with Bands
Low Trap Flys with bands
Front Squat

Climbing Training

Are you just getting started climbing? Do you look around at climbers who seem to do the impossible?

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

“I’m not strong enough” is the most common “fear” or concern I hear.

The truth is no climber was strong when they started.

Climbing makes you strong. And, it’s often an advantage not to be a thug because this forces you to learn technique.

Technique gets you further than strength any day. So practice and get some technique coaching first, then add some climbing training to that and you’ll be off to a fantastic start.

Basic Rock Climbing Training Program


Monday – Yoga or active recovery 30-60min
Tuesday – Climbing 90min
Wednesday – Strength Training 60min and 30min Cardio
Thursday – Climbing 90min
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Climbing outside if possible and yoga
Sunday – Strength training 60 min and cardio 60 min

Climb 2 – 3 days a week at first. Most of my gals also need work with flexibility. If you don’t, great! If you do, try to squeeze in a yoga class once a week and do a little on your own. Initially I don’t have new climbers climb on back-to-back days. Eventually this may be productive and if you need to due to schedule then by all means. While, the above schedule is “ideal,” move days around as you need for the “reality” of life.

Try to keep to this schedule for 8 weeks. Along the way make notes of how many routes you climb, what difficulty, etc. You won’t be able to remember where you started and as we often tend to do when starting a training program we loose track of our progress because there are always others better than us.


Monday: Yoga or an easy walk, jog, bike ride 30 – 60 min, let your muscles recover from the busy weekend.

Tuesday: Climbing – begin with a warm up route at whatever grade you warm up. This is a route that is easy for you and you don’t get terribly pumped doing. Let’s say that’s 5.7. Then try this grouping:

1x  5.7
2x  5.8
2x 5.9
1x 5.10 (more than one try if you fall and have the energy to get back on the route)
1x 5.9

1x 5.7

So that is eight routes peaking at a difficulty that you have to hang to figure it out.

When you are doing this climbing training, pick routes that are your style at first and always go back to the harder route(s) until you can complete it/them. Do not just move on because you couldn’t do the route first try. Instead use the route as a teacher. Try to remember the moves, work all the moves out, then complete the route. This may take more than one gym session but you are building the strength to climb at this grade.

Once you complete your “project” pick a new route or group of routes to accomplish. Start with whatever route difficulties are appropriate for you. Your goal over the next 8 weeks is to complete as many routes that are hard for you as possible and then begin building the number of attempts you make on routes off that difficulty. By the end of this 8-week climbing training program, your gym session might look like this:

1x 5.8
1x 5.9
2x 5.10
1x 5.10+
1x 5.10-
1x 5.9

1x 5.8


Strength Training

In the previous chicks newsletters I’ve gone into detail about how to get strong without getting big.  Once the athlete understands the lift, the movement, the skill to be performed and the athlete is properly warmed up. We want to focus on a total rep count for that movement of (12 – 25 reps) this can be done in sets and reps as such: 5 x 5, 5 x 3, 8 x 3, 6 x 2. The goal is to find a body weight movement, and external object movement or lift that requires a high muscle output from the athlete where finishing this low number of reps causes near failure (but not failure) on the last rep or two. Failure is that of strength or form, do not let your form go!!


For your strength workouts pick four movements to focus on, for example:
Pull Up
Pull Over
Push Up
4 supplemental movements:
Leg Lowers
Weighted Sit ups
Push Press
Mtn Climbers

The first four movements are the focus of your workout, you want to gain strength in these movements, the second set of four are supplemental movements that will help with core strength and stamina and be an oppositional movement for climbing muscles. Helping injury proof the athlete.

Now Let’s Put a Climbing Training Workout Together:

Warm up 10:00 light cardio to warm the body in temperature
2 x 8 shoulder openers
2 x 5 cuban press
3 x 5 wall squats
2 x 6 goblet squats
5x Pull Up make then difficult!, use as little assistance as necessary an break up the reps to single if you need to.
5x Deadlift warm up to a weight that is reasonable for you, do not loose form! Then use that weight for your workout.
Complete 5 rounds of this with 1:00 rest between sets. and a short rest between movements.
10x Leg Lowers (and Raise)
30 – 60 secs Mtn climbers
60 sec rest
Complete 4 rounds

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

Now you have a framework for your workouts, use the information in previous newsletters to structure your workouts beyond this example. As well, all movements aside from Mtn Climbers, and Weighted Sit Ups which are included here, have been reviewed in previous newsletters.

Mountain Climber
Mountain Climber

Weighted Sit Ups

Weighted Sit Up

Thursday: Climbing, similar structure as Tuesday.

Friday: Rest, yes…do it. Actually rest!

Saturday: If weather permits head outside!! Nothing beats a day outdoors to practice your new sport with friends. Top rope or leading, get as many pitches in as you can and have a huge smile on your face!

Sunday: Head to the gym for your second strength session of the week, formulate it like Wednesday’s session however use different movements. Then get out again, cross training day, hike, ride, run, what ever you love to do with friends, family, your pooch.

Now you’ve got a plan and a program, again keep track of your workouts, pitches climbed, difficulty, so you can track your improvement. This is a huge motivator and most athletes loose track. I keep track for them when they train in my gym and they are always shocked and amazed by the progress they’ve made in such a short period of time.

Happy Climbing!

As always: for more detailed information regarding programming of this nature you can contact me at or
Carolyn Parker

4 replies
  1. Tessa Finney-Brown
    Tessa Finney-Brown says:

    Hi, I love this, thank you!
    I’ve been climbing at a gym for about 6 months, but have recently been posted to another town for 3 months.
    There is no climbing gym and little opportunity for outdoor climbs as it rains heaps.
    My question is: can I adapt this to stay climbing fit over 3 months (and maybe even improve my climbing with better upper body strength)?
    Should I follow the strength training daily/sub it in for climbing days?
    Thanks heaps!

    • Carolyn Parker
      Carolyn Parker says:

      Hi Tessa,
      Here’s what I’d recommend:

      First, yes increasing upper body strength is important, however maintaining “contact” or finger strength is just as important. My recommendation and most affordable option would be to invest in a pair of Metolius Rock rings. You can find them for $30 a pair. They are portable, easy to hang from a tree, monkey bars, a beam in an apartment, install an eye hook and clip them to that, or take them to your local fitness center when you work out.

      Then: see schedule changes and be careful to not overdo the rock ring work. If any discomfort in fingers take extra rest.
      I posted “Hangboard” workouts in our most recent blog training tip, these can be done at home if you find a place for your rock rings there. Use these workouts. as well your rock rings will come with some fun t things to try.

      See modified schedule below:

      Monday – Yoga or active recovery 30-60min
      Tuesday – Supplement in a hang board and strength session from latest blog post.
      Wednesday – Strength Training 60min and 30min Cardio
      Thursday Endurance/Cardio work 60 – 90min
      Friday – Rest
      Saturday – Supplement in a hang board and strength session from latest blog post, or a rock ring designed workout.
      Sunday – Strength training 60 min and cardio 60 min

      Have fun and enjoy your climbing fitness benefits!

  2. Alex Acain
    Alex Acain says:

    Greetings and salutations once again, I have a follow-up question from a workout plan I inquired about a little while ago about coordinating one, should I workout in the order of cardio, strength, then stretching or should I switch it up a different way?

    • Carolyn Parker
      Carolyn Parker says:

      HI Alex,
      Best possible scenario is always strength first followed by cardio and stretching.
      Sometimes that doesn’t work well in peoples life schedules however as far as training that is the most ideal order.
      Have a wonderful day and enjoy the programming.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.