Chicks Training Tip: Correct Your Imbalances

Winter has been humming along for a number of months now, we are well past the shortest day of the year, the tease of some sunny longer days is happening, we are beginning to dream of sunny pitches, days in the desert, trips, projects, and scratching that climbing itch!  Now it’s time to talk about correcting our imbalances.

Before I blast forward take a moment to look back at the subject matter of the last 10 training installments. There is an enormous amount of great information in these “Training Tips”, every installment builds toward the next. Enjoy!

Chicks Newsletter #9 –Intermediate Rock Climbing. Training Program

Chicks Newsletter #10 – Basic Rock Climbing Training Program

Chicks Newsletter #11 – The “Process” projecting and climbing harder routes

Chicks Newsletter #12 – “Let’s get serious”, Strength training for women

Chicks Newsletter #13 – “Alpine Days” – how to train for long alpine routes for mortals

Chicks Newsletter #14 – “Alpine Legs” – leg specific training for alpine climbing

Chicks Newsletter #15 – “Ski Legs” – additional training specific for skiing

Chicks Newsletter #16 – Solid Shoulders – injury prevention

Chicks Newsletter #17 – Finger Board Training – maintain finger strength in the winter months.

Now on to the meat of the matter of correcting imbalances…

It’s time to start seriously thinking about climbing season. Depending on where you live, your job, trips you’ve planned, your outdoor season will begin in the next month or two. Hopefully you’ve implemented the tips for shoulder injury prevention, Chicks Newsletter #16 Solid Shoulders – injury prevention, through the winter and possibly added some finger board training where appropriate, Chicks Newsletter #17 Finger Board Training – maintain finger strength, in the winter months.


This training tip will cover fixes for climbing imbalances. Remember, climbing is fun, training for climbing is fun, however we are only as strong as our weakest link, that weak link is also our greatest potential injury site. So let’s get rid of those imbalances, you’ll be stronger and more proficient at the sport for the work.


If you’ve been climbing and training for a long time you will have complex muscular imbalances, you fall in the category of “Too Much Of A Good Thing”. Basically what climbing does for our mind and soul is not always 100% beneficial for our bodies long term. If you are new to climbing, let’s ingrain some good practices into your training program to keep you balanced and injury free through your climbing career.


I train dozens of climbers female and male, who climb anywhere from 5.9 to 5.14. The top imbalances that I see in all climbers are:


  • Postural – rounded shoulders, dropped sternum, kyphotic head position
  • Mobility Issues – loss of overhead mobility, tight hamstrings, tight chest
  • Muscular imbalances – weak rhomboids, mid and low traps, over developed upper traps, weak pushing muscles


I could list more, however these are the ones I see “most” often. Beyond these, people should seek one on one professional evaluation, especially if you are dealing with a current injury.


To begin to fix your imbalances:

Before you climb and ideally everyday:


  • Laying on your back on a foam roller, head to sacrum, keep your core tight. Begin with your arms straight fingers toward the ceiling, then let your hands fall toward the floor, overhead. Upper arm by your ears, stretch your shoulders but do not let your back arch at all. Try and get the back of your hands to the floor.

Overhead climbing stretch

  • Then: the same start potion, bend your arms at 90 degrees, and let them fall to the side. Stretch your chest again do not let your back arch. Try and get the back of the forearm to the floor.

Correcting imbalances - climbing

  • Next: Laying on your back with your legs up the wall, extend your legs up as straight as you can with out smashing your low back into the floor, try and maintain a natural lumbar curve. You’ll look like an “L” from the side.

correcting imbalances - Climber L stretch

  • In that same position, open the hips by letting the legs fall into a “V” position.

correcting imbalances - v stretch

  • Lastly make a “4’ with your legs by placing the ankle of one foot just above the knee of the opposite leg and stretch the hip of the bent leg, repeat on the other leg.

correcting imbalances - climber 4 stretch 

Hold each stretch or 30 – 60 secs, repeat a few times, if time repeat after climbing and on rest days!
2 x 10 shoulder openers
3 x 5 cuban press
3 x 5 wall squats


These three movements were covered in our First Chicks Training Tip. Pay particular attention to your shoulders blades. In both of these movements you want to squeeze your shoulder blades together like you are pinching a pencil (mid trap), and keep them drawn down your spine (low trap) and try to NOT shrug them up (upper trap taking over), through the entire movement. Shoulder Openers – that means the entire circle the PVC is making shoulder blades are stable, together and down. Cuban press – that means they are stable start to finish until the arms are directly overhead and back down by your side, this is difficult for most. Wall Squat – pay particular attention to stable shoulder blades and lumbar spine through the entire movement.


On days you climb, before you climb add these two movements in addition to the above.
  • 3 x 10 push ups – this movement was covered in Chicks Training Tip #2Pay particular attention to not shrugging your shoulders, allowing them to lift toward your ears as you push. Keep your shoulder blades stable squeezed together and down as you push. This is harder that it sounds.
  • 3 x 8 Bent Over Row or Body Row – these movements were covered in Chicks Training Tip #5


Chicks make this a two part movement for each repetition. Begin this movement by first squeezing your shoulder blades into a stable position then pulling (rowing) with the arms. Once the thumbs have hit the armpits at a full range of motion focus on keeping the shoulder blades stable as you lower the weight or your body depending on the movement your are doing then lastly releasing your shoulder blades. Begin the next rep by squeezing the shoulder blades together and stabilizing before pulling with the arms.
Add all of these tips to your already established climbing training regimen as you begin to prep of the season.

If you are advanced you likely have a plan or work directly with a coach. For Intermediate and Beginning Climbers see Chicks Newsletter with Training Tips:

Intermediate Rock Climbing Training Program
Basic Rock Climbing Training Program
As always, if you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me via email.
Carolyn Parker

Training Tips for Chicks: Alpine Legs

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!It’s incredibly beneficial for all Chicks to be introduced to new movements and concepts for training, implementing these in a regular workout in almost any fashion will create positive change. So re-read the first 13 installments to get a look at all the great movements, VIDEOS have been included.This is a huge training resource for you all!

Now on to the meat of the matter.

You’re stoked to go Alpine climbing but you’ve never done big days in the mountains nor carried a pack that long and that far. If you read the last newsletter you’ve wrapped your head around ways to condition your body for the endurance element of the alpine long days. And you’re getting after it. However we need to have strength in our legs to tolerate not only the nature of the uneven terrain, the weight of the pack but also to protect our joints especially our knees so we can climb for years to come.

Let’s get those legs and core of the body strong!

Two of my favorite two leg or “close” chain movements for the mountains are the deadlift and front squat. As well, and just as important, single leg movements for glute strength, balance and hip stability, Single Leg Straight Leg Deadlift (SLSLDL), weighted walking lunge, and weighted step ups.

Let’s add some of these movements to your training routine, here are a few sample workouts to give you guidance of how to begin working these movements in to your routine in a productive manner for your alpine training. These can be done just once a week in addition to your other training or two times if you are recovering well.

Workout #1

warm up 10:00
3 x 5 wall squat
3 x 6 goblet squat
30m walking lunge forward and backward
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
10x ball slam
10x split jump
x 5
Cool down

Workout #2

warm up 10:00
3 x 5 wall squat
3 x 6 goblet squat
5 x 3 SLSLDL
Work up to a heavy-ish deadlift
5 x 5 Deadlift
Rest 2:00 between sets:
During rest complete 5x Ring Push 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/60 secs Deck Squats/30 ses rest
x 3 – 4 rounds
Cool down

Workout #3

warm up 10:00
3 x 5 wall squat
3 x 6 goblet squat
30m walking lunge
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 height
complete 5 step ups per leg with weight that makes the movement challenging, slow grinding movements.
In between sets compete 8 x pull up
10x Deadlift +
8x Push Press
5x Push Plank Row
x 5
Cool Down

Reference videos:

Ball Slam
Mountain Climber
Split Jump
Deck Squats
There are videos of all movements in previous Chicks newsletters or on the Chicks YouTube Channel, and I’ve added videos of movements that are new in the above workouts, and as always if you are unsure how to perform any of these movements get professional instruction.
If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can e-mail me.
Carolyn Parker

Training Tips for Chicks: The Process

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!

It’s incredibly beneficial for all the Chicks to be introduced to new movements and concepts for training, implementing these in a regular workout in almost any fashion will create positive change. So re-read the first 10 installments to get a look at all the great movements, VIDEOS have been included:

This is a huge training resource for you all!

Now on to the meat of the matter.

This Newsletter’s training tip is called “The Process”

I’ve endeavored to give you all training program outlines for climbing fitness. Now I’d like to fill my roll 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.

It’s a process.
I’d like to clear up a few things before we start, you can repeat this to yourself whenever you doubt yourself.
First: all climbers have been afraid.
Second: everyone worked hard to be where they are.
Third: everyone has had a bad day.
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 to you they’ve struggled, they are a douche bag. Ignore them.

Now let’s get on with the process.

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 and 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” and you need to fail, and then try and try and try again to succeed. This is the process. If you want to gain the skill, strength, and ability to climb beyond your plateau.

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 (it’s like a heavy lift) in addition your body begins to “learn” new movement. Feel confident and comfortable 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.

One last note. Once you break through the 5.10 barrier each letter grade represents a new level of difficulty. The difference between 10a and 10d is much greater than 5.8 to 5.9. Honor each grade, and progress accordingly. If you struggle to complete your first 10a and you want to climb 5.11 then you must embrace the process. Onsight or Redpoint,  complete the routes clean after working on them: Ten 5.10a’s, Seven 5.10b’s, Five 5.10c’s, Three 5.10d’s, then try 5.11a. Build a foundation of fitness, technique and strength to launch from. You can apply this process to all the grades.

Final Note:
Happy Climbing! Enjoy the Process!

As always: for more detailed information regarding training you can contact me at or e-mail me.

Carolyn Parker

Training Tips for Chicks: Have A Plan

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!

Handstand Hold

Handstand Hold

Its incredibly beneficial for all the Chicks to be introduced to new movements and concepts for training, and initially implementing these in a regular workout in almost any fashion will create positive change. So re-read the first installments to get a look at all these great movements videos have been included:

  • Shoulder Openers – Shoulder flexibility and ROM
  • Modified Cuban Press – Rotator Cuff strengthening and posture correction, with scapular area strengthening, and overhead ROM.
  • Wall Squat, Goblet Squat, Push ups, Walking Push Ups, Ring Push Ups
  • Archers, Leg Lower and Raise, KTE, L seats, Knee Raise, Static holds: FLR, ring support, 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, BSSU, SLSLDL, Front Raise, Lateral Raise Standing, Reverse Fly, Y’s with Bands, Low Trap Flys with bands, Deadlift, Front Squat.
  • As well as a few sample workouts (WOs).

In this next installment I’ll look at training vs. “exercise”: HAVE A PLAN!

By in large most people that come to me to train have specific goals in mind. For some its a race, for some to climb at a particular difficulty grade, maybe its for health reasons to combat the effects of the aging process, maybe for injury prevention or to bridge the gap between PT and Sport. Whatever the case may be, everyone has a goal and it includes measurable improvement. For most of us, “measurable” improvement is key and this requires a plan. It is also what separates training from exercise.
Exercise is good for us, most health professionals will tell you, you need 30 min a day, at a minimum, of cardiovascular work and strength training twice a week if over the age of 40. And in general, for health maintenance and overall “fit”ness this is adequate and what I call “exercise”.
However, if you have a specific goal and you want to improve at something or change your current situation then your mindset needs to change to that of actual “Training”. Otherwise, you will become frustrated with the outcome…stagnation.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” A. Einstein.
How does one begin to train,  I encourage you to find quality professional guidance. You can do your homework first though:
  1. Make a list of goals, there can be more than one. From as simple as eliminate back pain or do a pull up, to Ice Climb in Iceland with Chicks guides.
  2. Assess your weaknesses, if you know them. And your strengths. Most of us already train our strengths because it makes us feel good, what we need to do to improve is target weaknesses with a vengeance.
  3. Look at your weekly life schedule and carve out realistic amounts of time to train and stick to it. If your training time goals are unrealistically high and you fail to meet your personal expectation you will be frustrated and additionally overly tired, not getting the benefit from the training you are doing. Train smart not hard. Less is more. Quality over quantity.
  4. Find some friends to train with, make plans to meet, accountability and motivation can be key factors to success. Your friends might have the same goals in mind and this may also be an avenue to affording professional help, do it in a group setting.
Once you’ve done these things is time to execute a plan.
Angela Allan, a “Chick” extraordinaire I met at the Rifle CO Clinic this last fall contacted me with one of the above goals. “Improve her climbing for her Chicks Ice Climbing Trip in Iceland”.
She sent me the answers to the above list, we had eight weeks which is plenty of time for someone with a strong foundation and experience. I created a training program specific to her goal, to fit her time frame, and that utilized tools that she had at her disposal living in AK. And voila 8 weeks later I get a text…it read.
“Hey Hey, Woman! Just wanted to send you an update as I’m finishing up the last week of training before Iceland!! Dip ladder is hell on earth…and weirdly, I love it! I can do more pull ups than I’ve ever been able to! Overall, I think this is a gateway to a new level of climbing for me! I’m so stoked for what’s next…and very grateful for your help!
All the best! Ang”
Besides the fact that this just gives me a big warm fuzzy that she is crushing, its proof to a point that focused training pays off.
Your homework for this newsletter: Set a goal, establish answers to I – IV, set a date, make a plan, execute.
It’s going to be rock climbing season soon, look forward to basic foundation training for rock climbing in our next installment!

Carolyn Parker
Athlete, Trainer, Guide
Founder Ripple Effect Training