Wondering what gear you need to train for rock climbing at home? Just because you cant get to the gym or the crag, doesn’t mean you need to lose all climbing fitness you’ve fought so hard to gain. In fact, you can use time at home to really buckle down and get strong.
All you need is a little creativity, a few training tools, and motivation. Check out some of the many resources here to help on your journey toward climbing progression. P.S.: Our very own Coach Chris has lots to say on the matter!
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Home Climbing Training Tools on a Budget
If you don’t already own a set of resistance bands, use this as a pleasant opportunity to catch up. Self-quarantine aside, these babies are a climber’s best friend. Use them to ramp up the intensity of calisthenics, to stretch, and, most importantly, for all kinds of shoulder exercises. Use social distancing as an opportunity to really keep those shoulders in tip top shape so as to avoid injury next time you really start using them.
Once we’re all okay to go outside and enjoy our crags again, you can still bring these to give your shoulders a good warm up before climbing.
Door Frame Pull Up Bar
If you can only afford to invest in one home training tool, a pull up bar should be it, as they give you the biggest bang for your buck. For keeping your lats, shoulders, and core in shape (all important aspects for climbing), a pull up bar is absolutely integral. Pull up bars allow you to do pull-ups, front levers, toe to bars, scapular pull-ups, and archer pull-ups to name just a few exercises that will target climbing-specific skills and muscles.
Best of all, there is no end to the variety of pull-up bars available to suit your particular training needs and living space. Some can be mounted directly into walls while others hang harmlessly and non-permanently on a door frame (especially great for you renters out there who might not want to create any lasting damage in the walls). For the especially motivated trainee, opt for an version with attachable lower extensions for tricep dips and other push exercises.
Metolius Rock Rings
With a single-point suspension hanging system that allows them to be hung off just about anything (like a pull-up bar, for instance), the Metolius Rock Rings set of two is an ultra portable and convenient method to train those tendons. Hang in your kitchen one day and your living room the next; there are no limits to where you can use Rock Rings.
They feature larger depth edges including a 4-finger pocket, 4-finger edge, 3-finger pocket, and a jug at the top which can be used for pull-ups and other ring exercises.
Metolius Prime Rib Training Board
If you prefer to do your training on skin-friendly wood grips, the Metolius Prime Rib hangboard will get your fingers feeling fit. Featuring 38mm, 23mm, and 15mm edges, this board is perfect for beginner to intermediate climbers, or advanced climbers who add weight to their hangs.
At only $50, the Metolius Prime Rib Board is one of the most affordable mounted hangboards on the market.
Weight Plates / Kettlebells
We’re not saying you should invest in a whole rack of weights, because a few weights are all that’s needed to seriously amp up your training. Weight plates or kettlebells are better than dumbbells because they have holes for hanging from your harness for weighted hangs and pull-ups. The training doesn’t stop there, though. You can also use a few weights to intensify ab workouts, shoulder workouts, and squats.
Gyro Grip Forearm Trainer
This powerful tool uses a gyroscopic motion pattern to stimulate a forearm pump. Just give the inner ball a whirl to start it up, then try to hold on for as long as you can. Imagining that it’s the last tiny hold right before a glory bucket and a twenty foot whip is said to be the key for success. These are especially great for sport climbers who want to maintain some aerobic capacity in their forearms.
If you opt for hangboard training during this time (and we highly recommend you do!), there are various inexpensive and even free apps to help make your hang sessions easier. While some companies make apps to go with their specific boards, like Trango, Beastmaker, and Mammut, these timers and pre-programmed fingerboard guides can just as easily be applied to any hangboard. Boulder Trainer is a more generic one that provides bare-bones and easily customizable hangboard training. Really, the app doesn’t even need to be climbing specific; a standard interval timer is all you need.
For a rock climbing training app whose value extends beyond just hangboarding, check out Crimpd. It’s a creation of Lattice, so you know they know their stuff. Filled with all sorts of training plans and exercises for climbers of all levels, this app is really useful for its various campus board training plans, especially if you’re somewhat new to that form of training.
Top your basic home climbing training session with some nice, restorative stretching. Even if yoga isn’t really your thing (which, hey, after a couple more weeks of boring quarantine maybe you’ll change your mind), yoga mats are useful for so much more than just yoga. They can complement just about any workout routine, giving you a little extra grip on the floor and providing a little cushioning for everything from push-ups to ab work. Body weight exercises are one of the best ways to maintain overall fitness from home, and a yoga mat makes these all the more pleasant.
There are so many options out there, but our personal preference would be something safe and eco friendly like the prAna E.C.O. Yoga Mat. At under $50, it’s affordable while offering a robust 5mm of cushioning with its biodegradable thermoplastic elastomer. Best of all, it’s made without PVC, latex, or chlorine, so it’s completely non-toxic.
Next Level Up Home Climbing Training
If you’re looking to spend a little bit more to really up your training potential, these items represent the next level of home climbing training tools.
Metolius Simulator 3D Hangboard
At only $79, the polyurethane Metolius Simulator 3D is the most affordable hangboard option with the most complete set of holds. This includes 10 sets of various edges, 4 one arm center slots, 2 different slopers, and top jugs for pull-ups. While all these edges are a good several millimeters away from heinously small, this is a perfectly suitable hangboard for climbers of all levels. If you already have strong fingers you might need to add some weights to your hangs.
Trango Rock Prodigy Hangboard
Consistently ranking in the top tier among “Best Hangboard” lists over the last several years, the polyurethane Trango Rock Prodigy is the only one of its kind. Consisting of two symmetrical pieces, this hangboard lets you perfectly position the spacing in between the two halves to match your body and allow for optimal hangs on any of its many edges, including 6 pockets, 4 crimps, 4 slopers, and 8 pinches. Reviews rave about its “flawless design.”
Be sure to accompany it with Trango’s Rock Climber’s Training Manual which comes with a training log to start seriously tracking your progress.
Metolius Wood Grips II Hangboard
Who says you have to sacrifice aesthetics for sendage? If you want something with a little more style than a colorful plastic hangboard, consider a wood hangboard.
Made of smooth and durable alder wood, the Metolius Wood Grips II is an affordable yet expansive wood hangboard offering jugs, slopes, 2, 3, and 4 finger pockets at two different edge sizes, and 2 different pairs of crimp edges. Upgrade to the Deluxe version for even more hold options.
TRX Suspension Training Straps
TRX is the name of the game when it comes to bodyweight training systems. While the price might seem a little steep for some nylon webbing and handles, there’s pretty much no limit to the exercises you can do with this setup, and there are tons of online resources to help you with it. A big pro is the ergonomic foam handles that rotate as your angle changes. If you’ve tried to do shoulder T’s or Y’s with rings, you’ll appreciate how much less awkward this feature can make the majority of arm and shoulder exercises.
The TRX system comes with interchangeable anchors to better suit your home needs. Use carabiners to hang them from eye bolts, or swap out the carabiners for silicone door anchors so you can hang your TRX system non-permanently from a closed door.
Blank Slate Climbing Hangboard Door Frame Mount
If you live in a rental with no ability to fix a hangboard to your walls, you’ve probably found yourself thinking, “If only there were a way to combine a door frame mounted pull up bar with a hangboard.” Lucky for you, there is!
Surprisingly there is only one company offering such a solution. Blank Slate Climbing integrates these two concepts to give absolutely anyone a damage-free hangboard solution. The kit comes with an adjustable-angle wood backplate large enough to accommodate any hangboard, as well as a few extra climbing holds. Just make sure you have enough space between the top of the door frame and the ceiling to a accommodate this tool. Low ceilings are not compatible with this mount.
Going Big for Home Climbing Training
While these may not be the most immediate solutions for climbing during the current COVID-19 pandemic, they’re the most complete rock climbing training tools around. If done right, these systems can even eliminate your need for climbing gyms altogether. So while they may be an investment up front, they could wind up saving you tons of money in membership fees in the long run.
Mammut Diamond Fingerboard
$450 might sound like a big dime to drop on a hangboard, but when you consider this hangboard was designed collaboratively between Mammut Pro Team Athlete Jakob Schuber and Ingo Filzwieser (the former coach of the national Austrian climbing team), you might be a little more enticed.
Made of top quality walnut hardwood, this board is designed to last a lifetime. No matter how much of a crusher you become, there’s just no chance of cracking these crimps as can happen with other wooden boards. It’s compatible with the free Mammut app that comes with customizable workouts based on your climbing experience, strength, and endurance. This hangboard has a variety of edges to suit absolutely every level. It also features rope attachment points to support single-hand hangs and an angled silicone phone holder on top for convenient timer viewing.
Having your very own training board is pretty much the #goal of home rock climbing training. If you’re looking for something to develop raw strength and power, these are the best. While they may look like a fun gym wall, make no mistake, these boards are designed for one thing and one thing alone: making you work hard in just a few moves. As such, they don’t run cheap. If you’re really serious about making all your training self sufficient, these are a worthwhile investment.
There are currently three main options on the market: the OG Moon Board, the wooden hold Tension Board, and the newest Kilter Board. All three are premium climbing training tools, and are available with a variety of hold set options and in freestanding or non-freestanding setups.
Hoody Wall / Woody
A step down from a training board (in both price and intensity) is to build yourself a home training wall. If you have a suitable space and are handy with tools, the construction process could turn into a way to occupy your quarantine time in and of itself. There are so many ways to build your own climbing wall.
You can even add custom features like a home crack machine (which we have a guide on building here) to keep your crack game as sharp as those splitters.
For a simpler way to train power at home, you can build your own campus board even in somewhat limited space. All you need are a few sheets of plywood, some sturdy planks, and however many rung sets you’d like. Rungs are available, from crimps to jugs, depending on how experienced you are with campus training and how intense you want to make it.
Portable Home Climbing Training for Dirtbags
Finally, a special section for our dirtbag friends. Between travel bans, heavy crag restrictions, and a not a roll of toilet paper to be found, it’s a tough world for vanlifers and dirtbags right now. Fortunately, training doesn’t have to be one of your concerns.
Metolius Wood Rock Rings
A more skin friendly and lightweight version of the Metolius Rock Rings (minus one of the edges), the Wood Rock Rings are excellent for road warriors and nomads who might need to haul their rings a good distance to find a suitable hanging spot. They feature two edges and a top jug for pull-ups, and the same single-point suspension which allows for effortless setup and free ranging of motion when hanging.
Sure, slacklining makes for a fun post cragging activity, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s not some solid utility and training value to it. Slacklining is an excellent way to improve your core tension and build up your stabilizer muscles. Learning to be in such minute control of your body’s balance translates to body positioning on the wall. So if you’re camped out for a few weeks in a remote forested area, while away the time by wobbling around and learning some tricks.
Whether you go with Gibbon, ENO, or one of the many other brands, just be sure you get a model with tree protectors so you aren’t damaging the flora wherever you’re parked.
Finding a pull up solution when you live in a van can be rough. Short of welding a collapsible bar onto the outside of your van or building Tom Lindner’s freestanding hangboard tripod, there aren’t many options. Rings, however, provide essentially the same service but can be taken down and hung up at will on a variety of surfaces. They can even be anchored to crossbars or a roof rack for some exercises. TRX straps can accomplish essentially the same thing, but they certainly aren’t available on a dirtbag budget like run-of-the-mill rings are.
Ring workouts are especially great for the core and shoulders. For a few workouts to get you started, check out this CoachMag resource with workouts designed for small spaces.