The distractions of everyday life make juggling climbing sessions and training sessions a logistical nightmare.

I have been asked many times to recommend or provide a workout for the busy climber, something for the spare half hour at the end of a climb, or something that can be smashed out in the garage while the kids are doing their homework. Although I think an intense 30-minute session can be productive and beneficial, I refuse to supply a generic workout for the masses.

There are hundreds of articles published every year each claiming to be the perfect short workout or crash diet. Unfortunately, the reality is that the fitness industry moves so quickly that what is deemed the ‘answer’ one week is usually the route to all evil a week later.

Tailoring your workout for you is the only way to see results. Every climber is individual and responds to training in their own way. I am a strong believer in climbing being the best training for climbing, however, there can come a time when progression plateaus and hitting the training room is the only answer to kickstart your ascent to glory. Sacrificing climbing for training is a big ask—especially if time is an issue.

With this in mind I am offering four crucial points and a few exercises to help construct an effective training plan for the time restricted climber—hopefully encouraging you to avoid the quick fix workouts that are offered by glossy magazines and shopping channel commercials.


Related: Planning the Training Plan to Become “Rock Prodigies”


4 Points to think about when making a training plan:

1. What do you want from the session?!

Endurance, strength, power, general fitness? Do you want to perform a 1 rep maximum strength bench press if you are training for endurance?

2. Think about specific movements.

Making every minute in your session count is very important. You are training to climb harder so think about movements that let you down at the crag and exercises that can strengthen them.

3. Work your weaknesses!

If you can smash out sit-ups without breaking a sweat, why are you adding them into your very important session?

4. Trial and error!

What works for me or Joe Bloggs at your local wall may not work for you. Don’t take everything you read, including this article, as law. Find your own style, technique, training regime, and manipulate it until it gives you the gains you need.


Related: Strength or Power? Improving Your Climbing with Plyometrics Training


7 Exercises to kickstart your personalized plan:

Here are a few exercises that can be developed or adapted to suit your needs; they are a starting point for creating an effective training plan that’s right for you.


Not just for meatheads, the squat is fantastic at building core and total body strength. Deep overhead squats open up the hips, increasing mobility. A lower rep range and more resistance can be used to build strength, while plyometric squats can be used for power and endurance.


Kettlebell swing

It’s been the staple of the Russians’ workout for over a hundred years. Who are we to argue? The swing has enormous benefits to the core. It takes a lot to stabilize yourself—remember it’s all in the hips and glutes, so get thrusting. Swing for time to build endurance or reps for power.


They have always been used by climbers, and are a great place to start if your back needs beasting. The wider the grip the more demand is put on the big back muscles. Add weight, reps, and speed variations to get the most from this simple exercise.



Equally as important as the pull-up, the row is a back-defining move, which helps keep you on the wall. The variations in resistance will help with increasing strength and power.



Flyes can be performed on rings, TRX, or on a bench with dumbbells. They target the chest while demanding shoulder stability. Pre-exhaust the chest with a few sets of flyes before performing compound movements like bench press or push-ups.


Push-ups / press-ups

Box, three quarter, diamond, plyometric, spiderman, one-armed … there are so many variations of the push-up. Taking a point of contact away will put more pressure on the core.



Related: Climbing Training: Core Stability & Strength, Part 1


Shoulder press

A big compound exercise that can be performed at home, at the gym, or in the climbing wall training room. A hand stand push-up is a great core targeting exercise for those of you that don’t have any weights. Rotating the hands into a supination position will enable you to work the front deltoids.

Shoulder PressShoulder Press

Squat & shoulder press combination

Combining exercises is a good way to utilize your time in the training room. In the video below, I’ve combined squats and shoulder press, beasted in a matter of minutes.

30-minute workouts can be useful, just make sure they are useful to you. A little planning goes a long way!


Related: Climbing-Specific Strength Training Gym Workout


Got questions for Dave? Leave them in the comments below.