6 Training Games for All Levels of Climbers

Not all of us are at the stage where we’re ready to jump on the hangboard or scale our bodies up the campus board at the gym. While we all constantly want to get stronger, the last thing any of us need is to walk away from the wall with an injury, only to stare longingly at rocks we can’t climb for the next few months. Moreover, on plenty of days, we just don’t feel like climbing the same routes or problems that have been up for weeks at the gym.

To remedy these times, here are 6 training “games” for the gym that climbers at any level can enjoy. You’ll have more fun doing these with a partner or a group of a friends, so rally up some pals and get to it.

Warning: you’re in store for a surprisingly tough workout with any of these “games!”

Photo: Blockhelden
Photo: Blockhelden

 

Straight arms:

How

Climb with completely straight arms until you can climb no more. In this game, you must learn to rely heavily on your legs and torso rather than your upper body to get you anywhere. Climb until you fall!

Why

Learning how to climb efficiently can enable you to climb longer, harder, and more technical routes/problems. Climbing with straight arms allows you to save much more energy than when you have your arms bent, an important skill to have to clip bolts effectively. By forcing yourself to use your feet and legs through use of drop-knees, twists, and other body movements, you can train yourself to be less dependent on your arms to climb.

Photo: Tim Kelley
Photo: Tim Kelley

 

Climb everything:

How

This one is great for both bouldering and rope climbing. Simply choose a grade within your ability and do every single route of that grade in the entire gym. Depending on the size of your climbing gym and your level of psych, you can challenge yourself by adding other grades to your indoor “multi-pitch” adventure and setting a time limit in which to finish.

Why

This one’s great for endurance training and ensuring that you’ll get in a solid amount of climbing on your visit to the gym. Perfect for anyone training for their next big-wall adventure!

 

Twister:

How

A spin off of the traditional game, you select a wall to climb with a group of friends and designate one friend to use the standard Twister spinner and randomly select the color of the next hold you must use with a specified hand/foot. Whoever stays on the wall the longest without fall or cheating wins!

Why

Twister is great to work on your balance, endurance, and general ability to withstand awkward positions as you climb. You’ll find yourself adapting to the art of juggling between comfortable jugs and awful footholds to bear down on!

 

Four-by-fours (4x4s):

How

Choose 4 boulder problems that that are of grades within the upper limits of your ability that you can climb well consistently (e.g. if the hardest you climb is V4 or V5, choose several V3s and a V2). The objective is to climb each problem 4 times, as fast as you can, with minimal time in between each set of 4. If the 3rd climb in each set feels easy, then you should increase the problem by a grade. It should feel really difficult to finish. Hopefully, you’ll have your friends nearby to cheer you to the top!

Why

Good ole’ 4x4s are a great way to improve your climbing power endurance and exhaust any remaining energy you have with you at the gym. It’s great when you’re short on time, but want to squeeze in a descent workout.

Photo: Mark Mrwizard
Photo: Mark Mrwizard

 

Add-on:

How

This one is best for the bouldering wall. Simply start on a hold and make one move. Then, have your friend repeat that move and add another one onto the end. This cycle continues until eventually only one person remains able to remember and complete all of the moves set by the group. You can play this with one or as many friends as you like, and can also make this more difficult by playing the campusing version, where no feet are allowed.

Why

Add-On puts your memory and muscles to the test. When climbing outside, many of us often fail to think about the moves we are making; leaving us without any lasting beta for us or our friends. Add-On, however, forces you to remember where others and yourself need to move next. Be prepared; this one can get pumpy and competitive!

 

Eliminator:

How

Eliminator is basically the opposite of Add-On: you basically take away. This is best with a group of about 4 climbers who climb at roughly the same level. You start by choosing a route and having one person select a hold to remove. Each climber has 3 tries to do the climb without the hold. You then continue to remove one hold at a time until no one can climb the route or there are no holds remaining.

Why

This game tests and improves your strength and perseverance in climbing. The competitiveness of this one will encourage you to reach further and pull harder.

Photo: Blockhelden
Photo: Blockhelden

We hope these training games help improve your time at the climbing gym. Have fun and get your crush on!

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