The best home climbing training equipment is often cheaper than you’d think. We’ll guide you through the best equipment for home use as well as free alternatives if you’re strapped for cash.
Things have changed for obvious reasons in the past few years. A lot more people are choosing to exercise and train at home, and climbing training equipment is more important than ever. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do for home climbing training right now.
Training technique, endurance, and power will be harder without access to a commercial climbing wall or a DIY home climbing wall but it can be done. It’s important to start now and don’t let perfect get in the way of good. Any plan you do is better than no plan at all.
Not much time? No problem.
Here are our top three recommended training tools on Amazon.
– Best Climbing Training Equipment Package – Trango Rock Prodigy Elite Package
– Best Budget Fingerboard – Metolius Project
– Best Wooden Fingerboard – Metolius Wood Grips Delux II
– Best For Grip Strength – Metolius Gripsaver
– Best Pulling Strength Tool – Basic Pull Up Bar
– Best Core Strength Equipment – Wooden Gymnastics Rings
Much of this will only need very minimal training equipment to start. We will link you to some great inexpensive gear that you can use year-round but also offer free alternative options. Getting together a portable training gear kit will also be really helpful in the future for better warm-ups on climbing trips.
Home Climbing Training Plan – The Key Components
Training for climbing should focus on the key components of our body that we need: –
- Strong fingers for tiny crimps
- Strong forearms for grip strength on slopers and pinches
- Access to raw pulling power from your shoulders and upper back
- A strong core to keep your body from swinging off the wall
- Most importantly – Injury prevention by developing a base before going too hard
DON’T GET INJURED
Injury will immediately stop you from climbing and could cause long-term issues. Always start light and go progressively harder with all exercises and grip training. Avoid holds you know cause pain and avoid the full crimp position unless specifically training it. Listen to your body and don’t overtrain. Rest days are just as important as training days
Finger Strength and Grip Strength
When most people think about training for climbing they think of fingerboards. Finger strength is essentially the most important physical measurement for estimating how hard you can climb. Luckily there are some great tools like fingerboards – also known as hangboards – that are geared specifically for climbing grip strength training.
Bear in mind that we will be training two things here – the muscles and the tendons of your forearm. The best climbing training gear for gaining grip strength for climbing are fingerboards / hangboards because they’re designed entirely for your forearms and fingers.
Best Home Climbing Training Equipment For Finger and Grip Strength
There are a range of really good fingerboards available for climbing training at home now, with a lot of brands showing great offerings. We really like the Trango Rock Prodigy because it’s so versatile, with a range of easier to harder grips. It has an ergonomic design and can be mounted at the right width for you.
Trango Rock Prodigy Elite Package
If you want to jump straight into climbing training at home – this package has you covered. You get an excellent fingerboard with a pulley setup to add or remove weight, plus our favorite training book.
Metolius do a great range of fingerboards in both resin and wood. The Simulator is their largest, with a huge variety of holds and some great slopers on top. The Project is a smaller, more budget-friendly version that’ll fit in most places.
For a simple setup and sheer portability, the Metolius Rock Rings are a great option. If you can only get one bit of training kit, these work indoors and out for all variations of pullups, finger training, and warmups before routes outdoors.
Got a hangboard and need an app?
– Read our guide to the Best Hangboard Apps
Wooden fingerboards have some advantages in that they are kinder to your fingertips, the grip is more similar to rock, and they’re a little more pleasing to the eye. We have a few favorites as many of them have similar hold types available. The Metolius Wood Grips Delux II has an awesome selection of pockets, slopers, edges, and jugs that give you a huge range to work with from beginner to expert.
There’s also a smaller version, the Metolius Wood Grips Compact II. It’s easier to fit above a door but features the same well-sculpted holds. The Beastmaker 1000 and 2000 are the OG wooden hangboards you’ll find in every UK climbing gym’s training area.
For something for more portable or easier to throw up temporarily without drilling – try the Metolius Wood Rock Rings. These are great to take on holiday, or to the crag to warm up with if there aren’t any decent easier routes.
Grip Strength Equipment For Climbing
Cheaper and smaller alternatives for grip strength include the Gripmaster Hand Strength Exerciser. You can get a few different strengths and build your way up. The standard medium is the best to start with. These are a great way to kill time and get finger strength training gains in Zoom meetings.
To save your joints you’ll need to exercise the opposite muscles. This is called antagonist training. For your fingers, this is really important as they’ve very sensitive to injury. The Metolius Gripsaver plus does the job brilliantly by combining work on both the flexor and extensor tendons of the hand.
Grip Strength Training With No Equipment
You can try doing “finger curls” without any equipment apart from something heavy – a couch is perfect! Just wedge your fingers under the object and try and lift it off of the floor by curling or flexing your fingers upwards. Can be done with a big heavy book too.
Practice pinch grip strength simply by picking up a large rock or other heavy object and pinching like you normally would. Hold for 10 seconds, pinching hard, then rest for 10 and repeat for a few sets. Have a look around the house for non-breakable objects with different width grips.
Strength And Pulling Power
Power means being able to pull on holds with a large amount of power through your arms and upper back. Explosive power is a faster version of this used mainly for big dynamic moves. Indoor bouldering and dynos go hand in hand.
Power also refers to the ability to make a short sequence of hard moves like moving from a crux section into a rest. Power is very important for bouldering though definitely still needed in route climbing.
The simple best way of gaining climbing strength power is by having a strong upper back. Climbers often look like they’ve grown small wings for how big the lats are. This is the latissimus dorsi of the back. Pull-ups and variations are the keys to basic climbing pulling power. Luckily – pull-up bars and cheap and easy.
Best Home Rock Climbing Training Equipment For Strength and Power
If you can’t get a fingerboard and use the top jugs on that just get the standard pull-up bar most climbers have in their house. It fits in most doorways and has padding so it doesn’t leave a mark, you don’t need anything fancy. You can get a slightly more advanced version with a couple of extra hold positions if you’d like.
Pro Tip: Leave this up and do two or three pull-ups every time you walk past. Easy way to get a load of pull-ups every day with maximal rest.
Pull-ups for climbers should be done daily. Be careful with explosive fast pull-ups on doorway bars as they aren’t meant for movement. Practice lock off strength by doing “frenchies”. Pull up and hold with chin near the bar (elbow arm angle about 45 degrees, then do the same and go down to halfway (90 degrees), then the same but down to 45 degrees. Hold each position for 3-5 seconds and take 45-second rests.
Grip Strength Training With No Climbing Gym Equipment
Use the side of a staircase or the top of an open door. Lay a towel over so your hands have something soft to hold. You could also practice grip strength at the same time by rolling up and hanging a towel on the doorway or pull-up bar like you were gripping a rope in either hand.
Hang with engaged shoulders and a slight bend in your arm. You can also pull up to have your arms at 90 degrees or do variations like the franchise above.
Core Strength For Climbing
Without a strong core, you won’t be able to keep your on the wall during hard moves. Core strength in climbing is almost criminally under-rated by newer climbers. More than just six-pack abs, core strength is about the stabilizer muscles around the trunk of the body. Having a strong core with low body fat leads to visible abs for an extra bonus. Luckily – core work can be done fairly easily without much equipment.
A simple yoga mat means all of your floor work will be much more comfortable. Throw in a mix of moving core exercises like crunches, and static holds with variations based on planks. Two excellent training tools are TRX rings and gymnastics rings. Do regular exercises like pull-ups, push up, and dips with these rings. Adding that stability element means you strengthen your core at the same time as doing the basics. Gymnastics rings or TRX training are highly recommended as part of an advanced core routine.
Best Home Climbing Training Equipment For Core Strength
Gymnastics rings are excellent for adding variations to basic exercises to include a core component.
Climbing Core Strength Training With No Equipment
You can do most core work with just a towel. Lay it on the floor for a bit of comfort and to absorb sweat. You can then also roll it up and hang it over a doorway or through a pull-up bar to grip for pull-ups, dips, or push-ups. You might have to get a bit creative but it’s doable. You could also use a spare bit of rope or cord to do the same work as the rings/TRX.
Recovery and Antagonist Training
Without recovery or antagonist training – you will get injured at some point. As climbers when training we tend to overuse specific muscle groups and don’t give them the rest they need. A great way of aiding recovery is by using tools like the Armaid Self Massager or Rolflex Massager. Pro climbers often swear by these tools for relieving muscle pain and to aid in recovering faster after training. They work in a similar way to foam rolling – but are functional for use on your arms.
Best Home Climbing Training Equipment – Recovery Tools
Best Home Rock Climbing Training Equipment – Antagonist Training
We’d also recommend all climbers pick up something like a finger extender tool that will help strengthen the antagonist muscles (i.e. the opposite of the ones you normally use) in the forearms. In addition, make sure you add pushing exercises to your antagonist training. Things like dips, push-ups, and overhead are perfect to round out weaknesses and prevent a hunched back and sore neck. Miss these exercises are your own risk.
Resistance bands are absolutely brilliant for climbers when warming up. Shoulders can be hard to warm up – bands are perfect to help out. You can also hang bands when doing pull-ups or using hang boards to get some assistance. Really worth having these about.
Best Home Climbing Training Books
There are a few climbing training bibles we’d suggest every climber should have. The three books below are all excellent training guides with a huge wealth of knowledge. Honestly, we think all three are must-haves – though they all cover a lot of the same ground. Much of the movement, types of exercises, theory, and plans are in all three but covered in different ways.
If you just want one for now here are our recommendations. For newer climbers get the “The Self Coached Climber” first as it explains the basic movements and improvements in a very easy-to-understand way. If you are more interested in optimizing your current plans and training then “Training For Climbing” is your best bet. If you are looking specifically for quality pre-made plans then “The Rock Climber’s Training Manual” just edges out as the best.
These all have some pre-made rock climbing training plans and can be downloaded as climbing training PDFs and ebooks from Amazon. Rock climbing training has been thoroughly researched over the years and many of these books are written with input from established and successful coaches. While you have the time – read one of these.
Best For: Movement & Theory
Best For: Exercises & Science
Best For: Programs & Schedules
We can’t talk about Climbing training books without mentioning “The Rock Warrior’s Way”. Head game in climbing is incredibly important and must be a continuous part of your climbing progression. If you are struggling with fear or trust then this will help you in a big way.
Best Home Climbing Training Apps
There are some excellent free training apps for android and iPhone that include climbing training plans. Our favorite is the Lattice Climbing app “Crimpd”. It features a massive amount of pre-planned exercises with timings, rep ranges, and video demonstrations. The Endurance and Power Endurance sections have plans for dead-hang repeaters that can be done on a fingerboard. The Strength & Power section has more fingerboard work.
The Conditioning section has the biggest wealth of workout knowledge for climbing training at home. Floor core workouts, upper body pull-up variations, and flexibility are all covered. The best part about this app is that it’s totally free
– Read our full article on the best hangboard apps for the low down
Beastmaker – Paid
The official app for the Beastmaker. Paid but has a great variety of workouts and custom/paid training plan options.
Crimpd – Free
Hands down the best climbing training app for on-the-wall training and home training. Less good for fingerboards
Boulder Trainer – Free/Paid
A fingerboard training and timing tool that works with most fingerboards and be customized to your own liking. The Android version is free but bad, the Apple version is very good but paid
Home Rock Climbing Training Equipment Extras
There are a few extra bits of climbing gym equipment that can be really helpful for training at home too. The first is simply weights like dumbbells and barbell sets that can be used for more standard rock climbing strength training. The weights themselves can then be used for adding weight to dead hangs, or for use in pulley systems. Kettlebells work well for this purpose too. Weighted vests suit the task and can be used back on the wall for circuit and resistance training.
A pulley system can be rigged up fairly cheap and allows you to reduce weight training for rock climbing practice. This means you can try pull-ups if you can’t do a full one. It also allows you to practice one-arm pulls and use smaller holds on fingerboards than you may normally be able to do. These tricks are invaluable in working up to things you might never consider achievable.
Climbing Endurance Training At Home
With only a small space and no access to a home wall, there are certain parts of climbing training we can’t cover as well as normal. Endurance and power endurance are two of those things. Normally we’d train endurance by doing easy laps up and down in a gym to train for long routes. Power endurance would train harder route laps or by repeating hard boulders.
As a substitute for endurance laps, we can use a hangboard in a different way than normal. Instead of hanging for set periods and training maximum hold strength, with your feet off the floor try moving between the easy holds and keeping your core engaged throughout. Stay on the board as long as possible while moving your body (maybe switch which way your body is facing) and hands to try and imitate the use of your full body like in route climbing. Five minutes on and five minutes rest repeated in sets make this similar to a standard endurance climbing routine.
Basic Fitness – Cardio
A healthy base level of fitness is absolutely necessary for progression in your climbing. Climbing training at home doesn’t have to be focused only on climbing movements.
Cardio can come in many forms like running, cycling, different floor exercises, or skipping. Without a base level of fitness, you won’t get enough blood to your muscles, you won’t be able to breathe efficiently, and will get tired and pumped quickly.
While a very intense focus on cardio-style exercise can decrease climbing ability, this only applies at very high levels. Running ultra marathons and climbing at a high level is possible but very challenging – it’s not recommended. Don’t use climbing as an excuse to skip cardio.
Best Home Climbing Training Equipment For Cardio
You can go big and get an upright exercise bike or something like a peloton, but there are cheaper alternatives. A skipping rope is an excellent affordable training tool you can keep in a bag as part of a gym/outdoor warmup kit. No gear alternative: Switch between 30 seconds of burpees, star jumps, high knee jogging on the spot, lunges e.t.c. A simple circuit to get your heart and lungs working is all you need.
We’ve tried to cover all aspects of Rock Climbing training that can be done at home plus our favorite climbing gym equipment you can buy. Check out the latest climbing gear sales for some bargains. Follow us on facebook, instagram or twitter for the latest rock climbing news and articles. If you are looking for the best climbing shoes for beginners or what climbing shoes pros wear, look no further.