Training Tips for Chicks #3: Core Movements (part 2)

Written 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.
Now on to the next training installment.

This installment is the second 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.

Climbing is an incredible mountain sport, however like so many of our outdoor passions it has its own host of strength imbalances it creates. The number one cause of injury, aside from a direct trauma, is muscle imbalance and loss of ROM (range of motion). It’s no secret that climbing requires well developed pulling strength and good flexibility. I always recommend, good warm ups before climbing and workouts, as well as regular yoga or some stretching regime. In addition, climbers love to train and love to train pulling muscle groups. However, we need to train oppositional muscle groups as much or possibly more often and stabilizing muscles, targeted by training in an unstable environment and external object control. This newsletter will be focusing on pushing training to balance the athlete, injury proof and increase performance.

Pushing movements can be broken down into three basic ranges of motion: push up, press over head and a dip type movement.

*** 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 #2 for more information.

Let’s look at Push Up options:
Standard Push Ups: most everyone can do, on knees or toes. Progress to doing these on your toes. (see Tip #2) Work on FLR and Ring Support (Tip #3). Once we can do push ups we need to create more stability in wider variety of ranges of motion due to the nature of the complexity of movements done in climbing with our arms extended from our body.

Walking Push Ups: Do a single standard push up, then place one hand slightly forward of the shoulder and push, then place it slightly lower closer to the mid-line of the body and push then repeat with the opposite hand.

Ring Push Ups: Hands on the rings feet on the floor or on a box. Establish a strong plank position, lower the body elbows at your side shoulders and shoulder blades strong and stable, until your thumbs hit your arm pits. Press up with out breaking your plank position and keep those hands/arms stable. You can progress to this movement by trying them on your knees first then toes.

Archers: Even more complex and fantastic for climbers just be careful! This can be done on knees or toes, progress cautiously. Begin in a solid plank position (knees or toes). One arm moves in a standard pushing movement, the other flys or hinges out to the side at 10 or 2 o’clock.

Over Head (OH) stability is key, remember balancing oppositional muscle groups increases overall strength and helps prevent injury from imbalances. You can only pull as much as you can push!

DB/KB Push Press: This movement can be done with Dumb Bells (DB) or Kettle Bells (KB). This is not a static movement but actually a leg assisted press. Learning to manipulate weight through transfer of energy or momentum from a stronger area of the body (legs and core) to a less strong area (arms) is key in most sports.

Begin with KB or DB at your shoulders, then bend the legs slightly, keep your weight on your heals then push with the legs as you press with the arms. Once the arms are straight and weight is overhead, pause for a moment, stabilize the weight and briefly retract the shoulder blades before lowering the weight and repeating the push press.

Plate Hold: Another way to train OH stability is with static holds (for other static holds see newsletter #3) You can begin with a standard plate hold for time. Activate your legs, glutes, core when standing, press the plate overhead (if you have adequate ROM) then retract the shoulder blades to stabilize the weight, breathe and hold. Work up to 60Secs with a 45# plate (eventually) start with whatever weight you can. You can use DB or KB as well for a more unstable mass to add greater weight and challenge.

Plate Hold

Plate Hold

Handstand Hold:  Then if you are able to do a handstand, against the wall, progress to a handstand hold for time.

Handstand Hold

Handstand Hold

Dips: Dips are historically difficult for women. However, women can and should train them. Especially because they are difficult. Never avoid things that are hard for you!!

Bench Dip: You can begin trying them on a bench, best done with heals on one bench, hands on a separate bench. Make sure to bend the arms past 90 degrees, don’t cheat on the ROM on any exercise.

Then progress to a stable dip bar with assistance from the toes to no assistance, then on to the rings with assistance from toes, then with no assistance. You need to build up to being able to hold a Ring Support (See Newsletter #3) for at least 30 secs before trying these on the rings.

Now go get stronger!

Try adding these movements to your new strength training goals for overall fitness and mountain athlete performance. The third installment in the series will target pulling 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 and for more detailed information regarding programming of this nature you can contact me at or via e-mail.

Signing off for now,
Carolyn Parker
Athlete, Trainer, Guide
Founder Ripple Effect Training
Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor
AMGA Certified Rock Guide
Athlete Representative For:
Stonewear Designs, Julbo

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