Advanced Workout for Ski Training

Winter is officially here December 21st!  The pacific northwest and the Alps have been hogging all the snow and honestly, I’m a little jealous here in Colorado where it’s dry and sunny…although that hasn’t hurt my extended rock climbing season. But enough of that – the snow will fly, it always does, and when it does, the stoke will be high for making turns, powder shots, and back-country fun.  So let’s talk more ski training.

Chicks is running fabulous must do programs for all beginner to advanced backcountry skiers. Avalanche safety and rescue, AIARE avalanche courses, backcountry skills and travel, plus rad ski trip to La Grave France.

Now let’s get you ready from your next ski adventure!

Last year, I touched on some basics of ski training for the “first time” training in the gym for ski season athlete, a few months ago I discussed an eight week “uphill” program to get your legs ready for your first backcountry days, plus more strength programs.

So, what more can we do? Let’s turn up the volume just a bit for those serious go getters! Remember, just like the last training tip where I touched on more advanced training for ice climbers, this ski training work must be laid on a solid foundation. Hopefully you’ve been able to follow the programs from previous training tips. Now on to the good stuff.

Try adding a few more threshold workout to increase your cardio vascular output as well as some slightly tougher leg workouts, and there’s always core and upper body thrown in ladies. All mountain sports use the entire body.


IWT – Interval Weight Training
Power endurance


Advanced Ski Training WO #1


2 × 8 shoulder openers
2 x 5 cuban press
work on mobility
3×5 wall squats
2 x 5 goblet squat
3 x 5 squat jumps


10x KB Swing
2:00 minute row/ski or Airdyne. Go hard – set a goal from pace maintain pace for all three rounds.
2:00 minute rest – you should have gone hard enough that you want this entire rest.
Three Rounds


10x Front Squat or Front Rack Squat (with two Kbs which ever is most appropriate for athlete and level of upper body mobility)
2:00 minute row/ski or Airdyne + go hard – set a goal from pace maintain pace for all three rounds.
2:00 minute rest
Three rounds


30 sec ring support + 30 sec OH Hold (plate, double Kbs or Barbell)+ 30 sec mtn climber + 30 sec rest
x Four rounds
Cool Down


Advanced Ski Training WO #2
Power Endurance


2 × 8 shoulder openers
2 x 5 cuban press
work on mobility
3×5 wall squats


5x RMM (Renegade Man-Maker) +
2:00 min row/ski or airdyne go hard – keep track of pace, maintain pace for all three rounds
2:00 rest between rounds

3 rounds


10x Back Squat +
2:00 min row/ski or airdyne go hard – keep track of pace, maintain pace for all three rounds
2:00 rest


5x Push up + 10sec rest x 10 rounds
Cool Down


Advanced Ski Training WO#3
More advanced Power work:


2×8 shoulder openers
2 x 5 cuban press
work on mobility
3×5 wall squats
3 x 6 goblet squats


Box Jump Series
Jump on a 20/24” box, off forward, on a 20/24” box, off forward, over an 12 – 16” box or another object then on to a Bosu, and off to one side back on the Bosu off to the other side, back on. Step off Bosu forward, turn around repeat progression back to where you started. This is one round.

5  – 7 rounds


8x Accelerating back squat 45# bar + one set of chains, three secs hold and the bottom + 6x Burpee
x 5 rounds minimal rest


5 x 5 Chest Press with KB or DBs on the Bosu or Bench
Cool Down, mobility work and foam roller for legs.

Have so much fun with these workouts and all your ski adventures, stay safe out there my friends and stay tuned for more training tips!

If you need information for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me via email or 970-773-3317

Lock Off – Strength Training for Climbing

a climber performs a lock off while climbing

What is a Lock Off?

A lock off is a static climbing move.  A static move means there is no jumping or dynamic movement involved. You start off by grabbing a handhold with one hand. Then pull that hold down as far as necessary to reach the next hold with your free hand. Generally the hand you are holding on becomes level with your shoulder as you reach for the next handhold. A lock off is most commonly called for when you have to reach an arms-length (or slightly longer) to the next hand hold. Lock offs are most common on steep sport climbs, boulder problems and even crack climbs. Lock-offs are also very important for ice and mixed climbing.
Lock offs require a certain amount of strength. Since most lock-off strength is generated from your shoulder and latisimus dorsi, training these muscles is a good idea. You need to build strength both to perform a lock off and to prevent injury while performing a lock off.
A common issue women often face is lack of lock-off strength.
Typically, women rely on technique and foot work to climb well. But so often I hear, “Carolyn, I need to be stronger. Steep climbing is so hard for me.”
Just going climbing will make us better and stronger but at some point we have to train weaknesses.  That’s where specific training can really help you.

How do you Lock Off?

1. No matter what level of climber you are, establish good footholds and make sure you are balanced over your feet as best as possible.
2. Pick two good starting holds and identify the target hold you will reach to. Typically this target hold will be a full arms-length away.
3. Grab onto your two starting holds and stand up on your feet until your arm is in a bent position with your hand level with your shoulder.
4. Reach with your free hand and grab the target hold identified in step two, keeping eye contact with the target hold.
Now that you have an understanding of why, what and how you lock off, it’s time to do some practice drills. Here’s a fun way to break through the lock off strength barrier.

Three-Second Climbing-Strength Drill: aka The Hover

You can do this inside at the climbing gym or outside at the crag. Top rope or bouldering is usually the most effective.
Find a route or boulder problem that is comfortable for you and slightly overhanging. Instead of climbing the route as you normally would, here’s your challenge: For every hand movement on the climb, as you reach to the next hold, stop with your hand just hovering over the hold you want to grab next. Then count to three before you grab it. And I mean a real one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, three second count. Repeat this for every hand movement up the entire climb or boulder problem.

This will require you to lock off with the arm/hand holding on as well as focus on foot placement and complex core strength. The route that used to be reasonable for you just got hard. Possibly really hard.
Try this drill at least once a week when you climb after a warm up. Use it as what it is, training, its a drill designed specifically to train lock off strength for climbing. 
We can train lock offs in the gym too. But since lock off strength tends to be fairly linear, this lock off strength training tip will help you transition that strength to the complex, multi-planar sport of climbing- icing on the cake!
One to two times a week for 4 – 6 weeks, try this on multiple routes or boulder problems each session, and not always the same route. 
2 – 3 routes/4- 6 boulder problems per session. 
Until next time!
Carolyn Parker,

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

Build Lock-Off Strength

Weather is changing and it’s time to start thinking about training for two of our favorite winter sports, mixed and ice climbing!  One key strength area to focus on is our arms and shoulders specifically for locking off.  This gives you the power and ability to pull yourself in and reach for the next hold.  Chicks guide and owner, Dawn Glanc, shows us two simple moves getting started building your lock-off strength!



Training Tips for Chicks: Let’s Get Serious

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 11 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…

I’ve overhead many of my male climbing friends say to women:  “It’s always better to be a good climber than a strong climber,” usually in response to a gal wishing she had a little more upper body strength. And, they are correct, technique and skill will get you much further on a route than any amount of brawn. However, let’s get serious. It’s fun to be a good and strong climber.

Personal story:

Twenty five years ago, when I discovered the world of climbing I was a “legs and lungs” athlete. I raced both road and mountain bikes and did a ton of backcountry telemark skiing in the off season. Incredibly well developed cardio vascular systems are awesome, however… I could barely do a pull up, couldn’t hold my legs out straight in an l-seat, was okay at push ups sort of, couldn’t do a dip to save my life. I think you get the picture. I was not “strong”, except on a bike –  I’d never done gymnastics, dance, or any other sport that would predispose me to any advantage towards being a climber.

I had a lot of tenacity and I’d work hard to get better, I’m stubborn, driven, and don’t like to suck at things. Sometimes I’d get frustrated at being scared on lead, or just NOT being able to do a move even though I knew how it was supposed to be done.

After deciding my technique was not my number one limiting factor I went about getting strong.

I tell you all of this so you understand not only where I came from but that it is possible for all women to get stronger, and a little extra strength goes a long way in feeling more confident climbing! I can guarantee that.

So here we go:

How to go about getting stronger at core and upper body strength movements for gals. Just because you can’t do something now doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to learn and gain strength and skill! Never say “I can’t” learn to say “Ok! I’ll try!”

To make it easier, we’ve included videos for each movement as links in the movement list below. Be sure to watch these videos as they also include options and progressions for all movements. You can and will get stronger.



Test your ability as appropriate on all the following movements, videos have been included. Videos not only show proper technique, they include options for assistance and progression. This list is by no means even close to being exhaustive it’s a place to start.

A test is an all out max rep or weight for each movement after you have warmed up.

Pulling Movements:

Pushing Movements:

Core Movements:

Static holds should be included as supplemental for every workout, we need strong shoulders! See previous Chicks Newsletter Training Tips Videos for these. Hand Stands, Ring Support, & FLR are all done for time 30-60 seconds with rest between.

Write down how many of what you can do so you have a record of where your strength started, so you can track gains, this is super motivating, You can make big gains in just 6 – 8 weeks.

For example:

June 16th, 2016

-Pull Ups 2 unassisted

-Pull Over 25#

-Body Row 5 feet on ground 

Do this for all movements, that way you know where to begin in your workouts and you can test yourself again after six weeks and see how you do! You should complete a strength workout 2x a week for 6 – 8 weeks. In addition to your weekly climbing training. Do strength workouts after climbing (if training indoors) or climb in the morning/strength in the evening. These are ideals. After 6 – 8 weeks of two additional strength workouts it’s time to test your strength again and compare it to when you began. You’ll be surprised!

Then take a break and go climbing! SO FUN!



Put together your program?! It’s not as hard as it seems:

Depending on time and stamina pick 1 or 2 of the movements from each category, Pulling, Pushing, Core, Static Holds. Change these movements for each workout.

For the Push and Pull, make these movements HARD. To where you can do no more than 5 repetitions of the movement. Hard is relative to you and your strength level at the time, no one else. As soon as you can do more than 5 reps you’ve got to make it harder.

Then: Pick 1 – 2 core movements, muscles in the core are a tiny bit different and we use our core constantly climbing so 5 to 10 reps of these movements then make them harder.

Your program should look something like this:

Warm up:

  • 10:00min light cardio
  • 2 x 8 shoulder openers
  • 2 x 5 cuban press
  • 3 x 5 wall squats
  • 2 x 5 push ups
  • 2 x 5 pull up assisted


  • 6 x 3 Body Row
  • 6 – 1 HSPU Ladder
  • 6 x 3 Ring Push Up


  • 60 sec FLR
  • 10x Floor Wiper

In the above workout, sets comes first, then reps. You will not complete more than 12 – 25 reps of a strength movement once warmed up. This is how we gain strength and not size. As climbers we want to be strong and light. For more information on this see newsletter #2

Here’s another example.

Warm up

  • 10:00min light cardio
  • 2 x 8 shoulder openers
  • 2 x 5 cuban press
  • 3 x 5 wall squats
  • 2 x 5 push ups
  • 2 x 5 pull up assisted if necessary


  • 6 x 3 Pull Ups – assisted if necessary
  • 8 – 10x Anchored leg raise / lower


  • 5 x 5 Bent Over Row with lock off in three positions, in between complete 10x KTE.
  • Finish with Handstand holds, 60 secs and Ring Support 30 secs Rest 60 secs between complete two to three sets.

Here’s to a stronger you! Remember if I can do it you can too!

As always – for questions, help, or for more detailed information regarding training you can contact me at or e-mail me.

I’ll be happy to connect with you and write programming for you.

All my best and happy training!
Carolyn Parker
Founder Ripple Effect Training


Training Tips for Chicks: Pulling Strength & Ski Legs

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

Winter is on its way! For some of you snow has already fallen, puffy jackets, hats and gloves are out and skis are being dusted off with excitement for the winter! And if skiing isn’t your number one, I know ice climbing must be, so sharpen those tools and lace up those boots the ice is forming!

This installment will round off a few pulling strength movements for climbers the last of a three part series for climbing. Even though rock season is ending, ice is just around the corner. In addition, we will begin to introduce leg/ski specific training for winter fun – back or front country!

Once again gals, all the techniques and movements discussed in Chicks Training Tips are beneficial for all mountain athletes of all ages. The number one goal for fun is outdoor play, let’s enhance that fun, injury proof you and keep you stronger longer!

Let’s talk pulling!
We can pull in quite a few ranges of motion:

  • The Pull Up
  • The Row
  • The High Pull
  • The Pull Over

If you remember from previous newsletters we want to target, more sets x fewer more demanding reps. If you can easily perform 10 reps of any of these exercises it’s time to make it harder gals! 5 x 5, 5 x 3, 6 x 2. Review the Stronger Not Bigger post for more information.

Pull Ups
Rings or Bar, If you can’t yet do pull ups on your own grab a band (jumpstretch) for assistance and avoid machines that push on your feet or knees. Your body needs to learn and master stabilizing itself through the range of motion (ROM) of the pull up.

Try to pull from full extension, leading with the chest/sternum raised to completion of elbows back and looking over the bar. Let’s say you can do a ton of pull ups already…try adding weight to your body to make it harder, you can hang a kettle ball (KB) from your harness.

Body Row or Bent Over Row
The Body Row is done using a bar in a squat rack and a bench. The movement must be performed in the full ROM for full benefit. This means chest to the bar for each rep. Begin with the easiest movement with both feet on the ground, advance to one foot on the ground and one on the bench and then both heels on the bench. Stabilize the body, activate the glutes and core and pull your chest up rather than thrusting the hips.

The Bent Over Row is another great movement that also establishes good connection with the posterior chain: glutes, low back, hamstrings. Tools you can are DBs, KBs, or a barbell the movement is the same. Begin standing, creating a slight bend in the knees then activate hamstrings and glutes. Hinge forward, keeping the back flat and spine neutral. Stabilize and protect the low back. Once leaning forward to a point where the torso is almost parallel with the floor, pull or row the hands toward the chest. Drive the elbows back and remember to stop the movement for a second once hands reach your chest before lowering and repeating!

High Pull
I do this movement with a lighter barbell, DBs or KBs just to keep the movement and the strength balanced in the shoulders.

Pull Over
I usually use KBs for this movement, you can use a barbell as well. Laying on the floor, place the weight above your head only far enough away that you can grab the KB with bent elbows, do not try this with straight arms! The spine should be neutral and the core stabilized. Raise the KB off the floor till just above the chest then lower to the ground and repeat. As you lower the KB it is critical that you stabilize your spine and do not let the low back arch.

Ok gals! Previous posts have given a host of core and upper body strength movements for climbing and all mountain sports, let’s get strong!

And now to check in with the foundation of leg strength. The first thing I check with all incoming athletes is single leg movements.

In your warm up add the Walking Lunge and OH walking Lunge to prepare the body neuro-muscularly. The stride should be such that the legs end up at 90 degree angles, your torso should stay erect and the head, shoulder, hip, knee (posterior) should remain in alignment through out the movement. Stride should be a hip width stance, do not walk as though you are on a balance beam, take at least 10 steps forward then reverse the movement, going backward is quite hard. Then add weight (light) in one hand overhead, try forward and backward with each arm. 10 steps.

Now you are ready to begin testing both the SLSLDL – Single Leg Straight Leg Dead Lift and the BSSU – Back Squat Step Up. Try these two movements on different days. It can take a bit of time to work through both. You will likely discover that you have an imbalance between your legs. It may be minimal or profound. All sports, skiing, climbing, trail running, cycling utilize our legs in a single leg fashion. We are limited by our weaker limb so let’s train that leg to be stronger!

Single Leg Straight Leg Dead Lift
Single leg movements take a great deal of focus and attention to do properly, continue to practice and pay attention to the details.

Squat down and pick up the barbell or KB you are going to use with proper form. Begin in an upright position, take a single step forward and activate that leg. Retract the shoulder blades, engage the entire posterior chain, keep your hips and shoulders square and level through out the movement then raise the non-standing leg to initiate the movement. Keep both glutes active, hinge forward till BB or KB touches the floor stand back up, re-stabilize and repeat.

Back Squat Step Up
On a 14 – 18” box, depending on your height. Begin by placing a PVC or broom stick, or light bar on the back as if in back squat position. Place one leg on the box as if you are going to do a step up, come up on your tip toe on the foot on the floor then press with the leg on the box to step up, do not push off the floor. This is a difficult movement to master, we usually want to push off the floor but try and activate the working leg and isolate it.

Ok gals! Test out your leg strength, see which leg is stronger, start using more weight for both movements.

If you remember from previous newsletters we want to target, more sets x fewer more demanding reps. If you can easily perform 10 reps of any of these exercises it’s time to make it harder gals! 5 x 5, 5 x 3, 6 x 2. Review the Stronger Not Bigger post for more information.

Balance the body but remember do not train the stronger leg more than the weaker, catch the weak leg up.

Next few installments we will visit two leg strength movements, stabilize our shoulders, talk about power production and more advanced core stability! We are just scratching the surface of strength training. There are many many elements to cover, frequency of workouts, what type of workout to do when, strength vs. power, what is power endurance.

We will continue to cover these topics in the Chicks Blog or you can have them delivered to your inbox by signing up for the Chicks Newsletter.  For more detailed information regarding programming of this nature you can contact me at or via e-mail.

Signing off for now,
Carolyn Parker

Training Tips for Chicks – #3 Core Movements

Written by: Carolyn Parker

This next installment is the first in a series specifically for climbing, although not limited to climbers! The specific strength required for climbing that can be gained in the gym environment can enhance any athlete’s performance.

Last post, we began to delve into how to gain strength without gaining mass, vital to all mountain athletes. The concept of more sets with fewer, more demanding reps was introduced. Today I’ll begin a four part series of movements that I have found particularly beneficial to climbers.

Series 1:  “Core” movements and static holds

If you are already training and in mid-climbing season you still have a few more months till rock season is over and winter training begins (or ice season!). When I train climbers and they ask about “core” work there are almost an infinite number of combinations of things that can be done. Climbing is a demanding sport requiring complex movements and stabilization. If an individual has adequate overall strength and can do basic movements, sit ups, plank, and has the grip strength to hang body weight we can begin more advanced movements. Climbing is a sport that requires stability in both the vertical and horizontal plane while griping the rock or an object.

Here are variations of two movements you can use to begin advancing your core strength for climbing. As far as sets and reps, if these movements are challenging try 5 x 5, if not make it harder then advance to doing more reps to build the strength endurance required for the sport.

Horizontal Plane

Leg Lower and Raise

In the video you can see the basic movement: begin with legs straight over hips, spine neutral. Lower legs while stabilizing torso/spine (do not allow lumbar spine to move) lower legs almost to the floor then raise back up till over the hips then press feet upward toward ceiling while pulling on the kettle ball (KB) on the floor. This movement allows you to stabilize the mass of the lower body while learning to incorporate the strength of the back, shoulders and arms while grasping the KB. To make this movement more difficult squeeze a medicine ball between your feet. Make sure your lumbar spine does not arch! a gentle natural neutral curve is all! If you feel strain in your low back the movement is too hard or being done in correctly.

Vertical Plane

Hanging Core Work: As climbers we must hold on the the surface we are climbing, then raise our legs and position our feet to generate the next movement. Hanging movements are vital to climbing core strength.

In the video, I demonstrate two repetitions of a series of possible movements from most difficult to least difficult:
KTE – knees to elbows: hold a 90-degree lock off and raise knees to elbows, if this is too hard try
L-seats – raise knees, straighten legs to an L-position, try to hold the L for a second or two before lowering and repeating.
Knee raise – raise knees all the way to armpits if possible.

Static Holds

Front Leaning Rest

Front Leaning Rest

The following movements the Front Leaning Rest and the Ring Support begin to build a foundation of deep shoulder strength and stability. As climbers (and athletes) our shoulders are a vital to performance and need to be strong. Stabilizing in an unstable environment is key to developing strength and ultimately protecting us from injury of our shoulders.

Front Leaning Rest (FLR): This is basically a plank posting with your hands on the rings. Begin by building the ability to hold this position for 60 secs. If you can do that then do multiple holds for 60secs with 60 secs rest between. If this is easy…try doing a push up every 10 secs while holding.

Ring Support

Ring Support

Ring Support:
This hold is much harder than the FLR. Grip the rings in your hands, hold hands at your sides and lift or support your weight off the the rings. If you cannot yet stabilize this hold place a toe on the ground and begin. Begin to build up time… 30 secs, then 45 secs, then 60secs. Eventually you’ll want to do sets of these hold with measured rest between. rest is a similar time to the length of hold.

Try adding these movements to your new strength training goals for overall fitness and mountain athlete performance. The second installment in the series will target pulling and pushing movements also specific to climbing though all athletes should try!

We are just scratching the surface of strength training. There are many, many elements to cover, frequency of workouts, what type of workout to do when, strength vs. power, what is power endurance. I will continue to cover these topics in the Chicks training newsletters & blog.  For more detailed information regarding programming of this nature you can contact me at or via e-mail.

Signing off for now,

Training Tips for Chicks – #2 Stronger Not Bigger

Written by: Carolyn Parker

Here it is the awaited next installment, as promised I’ll add a few more basic movements and begin a discussion of the positive effects of strength conditioning and how to get stronger without getting bigger.

But first, let’s discuss the tools you will gain the most benefit from using during your strength training. Two types: #1 your own body #2 external objects that are unstable (i.e. not a machine that will stabilize and control the movement of the weight for you).

GSquatWe are all mountain athletes, climbers, skiers, runners, cyclists…. all of these sports require us to move our bodies over land, up cliffs, you name it…it’s moving the body. Therefore, to be more efficient we: a) want to increase our strength to weight ratio and b) gain fitness that applies to experiencing our sport in what can often be an unpredictable environment.

Let’s discuss a) strength to weight ratio. The first thing that pops into most peoples minds is: I need to loose weight. Well, not necessarily, but if you do then that would be the first step. However, the process of getting stronger will likely create that outcome. and b) external object control is a profound and genuine test of fitness. Control of an object while it is being swung or thrown, or pressed or pulled, creates a unique force on our body.  The heavier the mass that can be manipulated (properly), the stronger and more effective the athlete will be at managing their own weight or possibly the weight of a pack, an ice tool, climbing gear, a bicycle, in addition to their own body weight. So let’s talk strength!

First, I must stress that all strength training should be done after an athlete has a good solid foundation, is injury free, and be done under the supervision of a trusted professional if the athlete lacks the knowledge of the proper form for lifts and body weight movements.

So, Chicks: after you’ve done your wall squats, shoulder openers, cuban press (see Chicks Training Tip #1) try a few goblet squats and push ups for warm up.

The Goblet Squat: this is a squat done with a KB held at your chest. I prefer to cup the bell of the KB in my palms to take stress off my thumbs. There are a number of methods for holding the KB. The important aspect of the position of the weight is that it is above your center of gravity creating a greater challenge on the back/core/posterior chain when squatting. Your goal is to not allow the weight to round your shoulders or pull you forward, squat to quads parallel and try to mimic the alignment you learned during the wall squat. Do 3 sets of 6

Push ups: Yes the good ol’ push up. The number one exercise avoided by most women, because either they can’t do them or they feel they are not good at them. From this point forward, if that is your mind set I want you to discard those silly notions and begin to understand that you only have to make up your mind that you can do them, then start training properly and you will.  And, that applies to all strength and sport, find your weaknesses, face them and overcome them by practice and hard effort.

Lay on the floor, place your hands next to your chest, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Elbows point back, activate your core, back, glutes, legs and get ready to push. Perform your push-ups on your knees, or lower on your toes and push on your knees if knees is too easy but toes is still too hard or on your toes, with perfect form and ROM no matter what. Be patient, do them properly and you will gain strength.  Do 2 sets of  5 (warm up).

Now to the meat of the matter: how does one gain strength without mass. Gaining muscle mass is called muscle hypertrophy. Simply stated, most gym routines that people are familiar with suggest things like working muscle groups and body areas, focusing on 3-4 sets of 10 – 12 reps. This old formula is from the days of Body Building and not Athletic Training. Body building is designed to do just that build and shape the body. This is not what you want, mountain athletes want to gain strength with as little mass gain as possible and lean down. Utilizing body weight movements and external object’s.

Let’s discuss just one facet of this goal. Strength. 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 – 25reps) 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!

Next time you are training try this: I’m going to pick a movement that is often a challenge for women (if this is not a challenge for you, try adding weight to your pull up to effect the same challenge). Instead of doing your pull ups as 3 x 10 using assistance (for example) try to do 2 or 3 without assistance or reduce the assistance so you can barely do 4 or 5. Then complete 6 x 3, or 5 x 5 with at least a minute of rest between sets. If you are fit and have a good work capacity you can do sit ups, step ups, something in between sets as long as your heart rate recovers (before your next set of pull ups) and you are not overly taxing the upper body.

You can use this approach for all strength and power based movements.

We are just scratching the surface of strength training. There are many many elements to cover, frequency of workouts, what type of workout to do when, strength vs. power, what is power endurance. I will begin to cover these topics in the Chicks training newsletters and for more detailed information regarding programming of this nature you can contact me at or

Signing off for now,
Carolyn Parker
Athlete Representative For: