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.
Because of the current coronavirus quarantine we'll be focusing on what you 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 Fingerboard - Trango Rock Prodigy Fingerboard Package
- 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 and when gyms re-open.
Climbing Training - The Key Components
Training for climbing should focus on the key components of our body that we need. Strong fingers for tiny crimps, great grip strength for slopers and pinches, access to raw pulling power, and a strong core to keep your body from swinging off the wall. Firstly we need to prevent injury by developing a base before going too hard.
DON'T GET INJURED
Injury will immediately stop you 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 over train. Rest days are just as important as training days
Finger Strength and Grip Strength
When most people think about training for climbing they think fingerboards. Finger strength is essentially the most important 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 of your fore-arm and the tendons of your arm. The best home training tools for gaining finger and grip strength for climbing are fingerboards / hangboards.
Best Home Climbing Training Equipment For Finger and Grip Strength
Wooden fingerboards have an advantage in that they are kinder to your fingertips and the grip is more similar to rock that plastic. 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.
For something for more portable or easier to throw up temporarily without drilling - try the Metolius Rock Rings. Perfect combination with a pull-up bar for a dorm room style kit that packs away after use. The Explorer Hangboard is another portable option made from wood. These are great for taking to the crag to warm your fingers up if there aren't any good easier route options.
Metolius Rock Rings
Metolius Wood Grips Delux II
The Metolius Foundry is an excellent fingerboard at a slightly cheaper budget in textured resin. It also has a good variety of holds in a smaller size. The Trango Rock Prodigy Force is an innovative and well designed paired hangboard. It has some great design and hold features and means you can adjust the width of the grip yourself. You can also get a brilliant package with the original Rock Prodigy hangboard, the classic "The Rock Climber's Training Manual", plus a full pulley set as a bundle for cheap.
Got A Hangboard - Need An App?
- Read our best hangboard apps article
Cheaper and smaller alternatives for grip strength include the Gripmaster Hand Strength Exerciser. You can get a finger strength pack with a few different options bundled into one. If lock down lasts this could be a great way to kill time and get finger strength training gains without getting bored.
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 with floor by 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. Breezeblocks or other heavy objects work perfectly. Have a look around the house for different width grips.
Strength And Pulling Power
Power means being able to pull on a hold 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 move. 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 through a crux section to 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. This is the latissimus dorsi of the back - aka your lats. Pull-ups and variations are the key to basic climbing pulling power. Luckily - pull up bars and cheap and easy.
Best Home Climbing Training Equipment For Strength and Power
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 can get a slightly more advanced version with a couple of extra hold positions too. Top Tip: Leave this up and do two or three pull ups every time you walk past. Easy way to get 30-50 pull ups a 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 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 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.
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 with 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 or 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. 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 functional for use on your arms.
Best Home Climbing Training Equipment - Recovery Tools
Best Home Climbing Training Equipment - Antagonist Training
We'd also recommend all climbers pick up something like this 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.
Basic Fitness - Cardio
A healthy base level of fitness is absolutely necessary for progression in your climbing. 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 very intense focus on cardio-style exercise can decrease climbing ability, this only applies at very high levels. While 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 basic fitness work.
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.
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 PDF's and ebooks from Amazon. Rock climbing training has been thoroughly researched over the years an 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 deadhang 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
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 be customized to your own liking. Android version is free but bad, Apple version is very good but paid
Best Home Training Climbing Equipment Extras
There are a few extra bits that can be really helpful for training at home but aren't total must-haves. 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 using in pulley system. Kettle bells 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 arms 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.
TRX Straps Kit
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.
We've tried to cover all aspects of Rock Climbing training that can be done at home. Check out the latest climbing gear sales for when the world isn't on hold. 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.