It can feel like climbing fitness disappears very quickly. Even after just a few weeks away from the gym or crag, your grip strength and endurance disappears.
But there are a few exercises you can do at home to keep your forearms working and work on other muscles too to improve your climbing.
All you need is a rucksack and some bottles of water. Fill up the water bottles (1L equals 1kg) and put them in the rucksack. Hold the bag, face your hand up, with your forearm parallel to the ground then curl your fist up and down. You can alter the amount of sets and reps, or pause and hold the bag at the top of the curl, to increase the difficulty.
Isolate your forearm further still by placing it on a table, with you hand over the edge. Or, open your palm, so the weight is on your fingers.
Face your hand downwards to work other muscles in your forearm.
If you have access to a strong elastic bands, or many weak elastic bands, put them over the ends of your fingers and thumb. Then open your hand into a wide five, and slowly back again.
This will help build your finger and grip strength, and help prevent injuries like pulling a tendon.
Core is king in climbing, and with a strong and durable core your climbing will improve.
Use your time at home to complete the plank, by facing the floor with your weight on your toes and elbows, and holding your body flat and still. Or Russian twists by sitting on the floor with your torso and legs raise, then rotating your two clasped hands to touch the floor either side of your hips, over and over. Add a weight or a water bottle to make it harder.
Climbers spend their lives pulling, not pushing. As a result, many neglect any pushing exercises, like press ups. But a strong chest will help your climbing and prevent injury. If there is a huge discrepancy between the strength of your back and chest, you are more likely to end up with a shoulder injury that will put you out of action for months.
There are many variations of press-ups to keep it interesting. Put your feet on a chair, so the added angle works your shoulders. Or between each push up, bring one knee to your elbow to work your core. Or point your bottom in the air like a downward dog, so your push-ups target your deltoids and back muscles.
It’s easy to forget you need strong legs in climbing. But strength and balance in your legs will allow you to scale far harder routes than the ability to do 50 pull-ups.
Bulgarian split squats will even any discrepancy between your legs. Put one foot up on a chair behind you, like you are in a lunge position with your back leg up, and slowly squat with your front leg. Complete four sets of eight reps, or add weight to make it harder.
Calf-raises will help you next time you are balancing on a tiny foot hold. Lift your heal slowly, and lower it slowly too. Complete four sets of eight reps. You can add weight, but make sure you are moving slowly and controlled for maximum effect.