Have you busted out your tools yet?
Grip Strength is very important to ice climbing. Often the forearm pump & lack of grip strength will cause an ice climber to get exhausted, just not being able to hold on any longer. In your training sessions, be sure to incorporate exercises that develop grip strength to get ahead of the pump come ice climbing season. Remember to work opposing muscles to balance your body and avoid injury.
I caught up with two of our lead guides Andrés & Gary in the gym and asked them which specific exercises they recommend to enhance grip strength. They gave me great ideas to share with you. Here are some grip strength exercises to add to your training repertoire.
Dead Hang – Simply hang on a pull-up bar. Or use ice tools. Hook tools high on a secure surface. Hold each tool and hang with shoulders engaged, think of squeezing shoulder blades together and maintaining good posture through-out shoulders, chest, & neck. Suggested Set: Hang for 10 seconds and then rest 10 seconds; do 10 rounds for one set. Do three sets total with a few minutes of rest between each. Add five to 10 seconds to each hang every week. For varied grips try using a finger board for dead hangs. You can change the grip based on the holds you use.
Pull Ups with an Open Grip – On a pull up bar do open handed grip pull ups. You can also do this on a finger board to change the grip. Doing regular pull-ups on a pull-up bar or on ice tools would be great too. Use good technique while doing any kind of pull-up. Obviously pull-ups not only enhance grip strength, but the entire upper body will benefit from properly executed pull-ups.
Farmer’s Carry – Chose appropriate weight dumb bells or kettle-balls to hold in each hand with a straight arm. The weight should be somewhat challenging. Walk with good posture holding these weights for as long as you can, or incorporate it as a station in a circuit training session.
Hand/Finger Curls – Hold a weight bar with straight arms either in front or behind you. Slowly & smoothly uncurl and curl your hands & fingers. Do controlled repetitions of this grip strength exercise. Another great station in a circuit training session.
Simple Wrist Weight Bar Raise – This is a good one that mimics the swing of an ice tool by engaging the forearm muscles while working on grip strength. With a small weight bar hold it straight down by your side, slowly & smoothly raise the bar with your wrist, and then lower it.
Disclaimer from SJMG: This pre-season stoke training series is intended to give you ideas to enhance your training sessions. Please consult a professional trainer for a specific training schedule appropriate for your fitness and climbing goals.