It’s no secret that climbing requires well-developed pulling strength.
It’s also no secret that climbers love to train and love to train their pulling muscles.
However, to stay in balance, climbers also need to train their pushing muscles.
In fact, climbers may need to train their pushing muscles as much, or possibly more, than their pulling muscles.
The problem with strength imbalances is that they can lead to injury.
The good news is that you can balance your strength, injury-proof your body and increase your performance by training your pushing muscles.
Pushing movements can be broken down into three basic catagories (or range-of-motions):
- Forward Pushing – like the traditional push-up.
- Upward Pushing – like an overhead press.
- Downward Pushing – like dips.
Forward Pushing Training
Forward Pushing includes the standard push-up.
You can find a push-up tutorial at the bottom of my post, How To Get Stronger Without Getting Bigger. This post also explains why if you can easily perform 10 reps of any of the following exercises, it’s time to make it harder! Try 5 x 5, 5 x 3, or 6 x 2.
When you can do a push up from your toes and you’ve mastered a Front Leaning Rest and Ring Support as explained in my post, Core Movement – Advance Your Core Strength, you can start doing push-ups in a wide variety of range-of-motions.
The following forward-pushing variations will help you build even more shoulder stability.
Walking Push Ups: Do a single, standard push up. Then place one hand slightly forward and do a push-up from this offset hands position. Next, place your hand slightly lower, closer to the midline of your body, and do a push up from this position. Repeat with the opposite hand.
Ring Push Ups: Hold your hands on the rings with your feet on the floor, or on a box. Establish a strong plank position. Lower your body, elbows at your sides, shoulders, and shoulder blades strong and stable. Lower until your thumbs hit your armpits. Then, press up without breaking your plank position. Keep your hands and arms stable. You can progress to this movement by trying it first on your knees, then on your toes.
Archers: Archers are a complex and fantastic exercise for climbers. Just be careful! From either knees or toes, hold a solid plank position with your hands on the rings. Progress cautiously as you move one arm in a standard pushing movement, while the other flys or hinges out to the side at 10, or 2 o’clock.
Upward Pushing Training
Overhead strength and stability is key for fitness. Not only does overhead strength help prevent muscle-imbalance injuries, it’s important to remember that you can only pull as much as you can push . . .
Push Press: Use dumb bells (DB) or kettle bells (KB). What’s important is that a push press is not static. It’s actually a leg-assisted press. Learning to manipulate weight by transferring energy or momentum from stronger body parts (legs and core) to less-strong parts (arms) is key in most sports.
Begin with either KBs or DBs at your shoulders.Then, bend your legs slightly. Keeping your weight on your heals, push-up with your legs and arms at the same time. Once your arms are straight and the weight is overhead, pause for a moment. Stabilize the weight by briefly retracting your shoulder blades. Then, lower the weight. Repeat.
Plate Hold: Begin by holding a standard plate. (Or, you can use DBs or KBs for a greater, unstable-mass challenge.) Activate your legs, glutes and core. Then, press the plate overhead, (providing you have adequate ROM). Then, retract your shoulderblades to stabilize the weight. Breathe and hold. Work up to 60 secs with 45lbs.
Handstand Hold: Do a handstand against the wall and progress to a handstand hold for time.
Downward Pushing Training
Dips: Dips are historically difficult for women. However, women can and should train them because precisely because they are difficult!
Bench Dip: Start by trying dips on a bench first. Put your heels on one bench and your hands on another bench. Bend your arms until they move past 90 degrees. Don’t ever cheat on the ROM on any exercise.
Dips: When you can do bench dips, progress to the dip bars. Begin, by using your toes for assistance and then by doing them without assistance.
Ring Dips: Next, you can move onto the rings. Just like on the dip bars, use your toes for assistance at first. Then, progress to ring dips with no assistance. (Note – it helps to be able to hold a Ring Support for at least 60 secs before trying a ring dip.)
Now, go and get stronger!
Stay tuned for Pulling Movements coming up next.
For more detailed programing information contact me at www.rippleffectraining.com or via e-mail.
Signing off for now,
Athlete, Trainer, Guide
Founder Ripple Effect Training
Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor
AMGA Certified Rock Guide