Antagonist Exercise


Original Post
Cameron Fisher-Gomez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Hi, I am wondering what antagonist exercises anyone does that they feel helps them in their climbing? I already do the ones in Eric Horst's books, since they are the most common, any other suggestions?

Thank you!

jmmlol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0
Cameron Fisher-Gomez wrote:Hi, I am wondering what antagonist exercises anyone does that they feel helps them in their climbing? I already do the ones in Eric Horst's books, since they are the most common, any other suggestions? Thank you!
Look up resistance band exercises for a dislocated shoulder. Everyone should do at least some of those. And get some adjustable rings: 3 sets of push ups, 3 sets of flyes, 3 sets of dips. All on rings. Modify difficulty as needed (push ups on knees for example.

Do above workout twice a week and you should be good.
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632

Other than scapula-retraction exercises (which I do sometimes),
and specific drills to recover from specific injuries,
it's hard to find clear evidence that antagonist exercises help much.

They will result in some growth of muscle tissue, which will add "dead weight" to hinder you on positive climbing.

Some elite climbers with lots of extra time available claim to do some "antagonist" stuff.

Another complication is that some moves and muscles which are called "antagonist" by many climbers are actually and necessarily used in making "normal" 5.12+ climbing moves.
. . (e.g. It's not clear to me that "scapula retraction" is truly an antagonist move for a 5.12+ climber).

So perhaps some elite climbers and coaches are using the term "antagonist" as an attention-getting keyword to mean something like:
Exercises other than pulling moves.

Ken

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632
Cameron Fisher-Gomez wrote:I already do the ones in Eric Horst's books
You do all of those? Like twice a week?

I take it you don't have anything like a full-time job?

Or you spend more time training than climbing?
Cameron Fisher-Gomez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0
kenr wrote: You do all of those? Like twice a week? I take it you don't have anything like a full-time job? Or you spend more time training than climbing?
I don't do all of them, and I do it before bed.
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632

Good for you.

The most popular recent English-language book on training for climbing has almost nothing about antagonist exercises.

I went through a phase where I did all the antagonist exercises in the 2008 Horst books -- plus more that I thought of myself.

Since then I've gone three years doing none of them.
Nothing bad has happened to me as a result.
My climbing has improved, and I have lots more free time for other things.

Ken

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 63

I do these: nicros.com/training/trainin...

Takes about 20-30 min tops. I do it after climbing when I get home while making dinner.

Abel Jones · · Boulder, CO · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 155

I use the horst workouts too. I don't use them much during low times in climbing but I do ramp up to a couple to several times a week when I am pushing my limits. Seems to really help strengthen my shoulders all around and prevent the recurring pains in elbows and shoulders that surface without them. I have added extra antagonist workouts based on previous injuries. I look at the injury and work out the opposite stabilizing muscles and do so on a preventative basis and generally I have been able to keep injuries from re-surfacing. I do a lot of 12+ and hardly get good antagonist work from it. I get more when doing rope management and multipitch due to all the opposite to climbing motions. I found that antagonist workouts also help with keeping those rope pulling and rope management muscles in good working order for when you head up on the big stuff. Sorry I didn't offer any extra workouts for you... mine have to do with my hip flexors and my legs needing some extra antagonist work. the arm stuff is basically the same as horsts... I just keep adding a little more weight to them as I can, safely. I roll with the theory that I should be trying pretty hard with the antagonist muscles to balance how hard I try with the climbing ones.

Cameron Fisher-Gomez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0
Abel Jones wrote:I use the horst workouts too. I don't use them much during low times in climbing but I do ramp up to a couple to several times a week when I am pushing my limits. Seems to really help strengthen my shoulders all around and prevent the recurring pains in elbows and shoulders that surface without them. I have added extra antagonist workouts based on previous injuries. I look at the injury and work out the opposite stabilizing muscles and do so on a preventative basis and generally I have been able to keep injuries from re-surfacing. I do a lot of 12+ and hardly get good antagonist work from it. I get more when doing rope management and multipitch due to all the opposite to climbing motions. I found that antagonist workouts also help with keeping those rope pulling and rope management muscles in good working order for when you head up on the big stuff. Sorry I didn't offer any extra workouts for you... mine have to do with my hip flexors and my legs needing some extra antagonist work. the arm stuff is basically the same as horsts... I just keep adding a little more weight to them as I can, safely. I roll with the theory that I should be trying pretty hard with the antagonist muscles to balance how hard I try with the climbing ones.
Good point in trying just as hard. Thanks anyways!
Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 551

I mostly just read MP posts

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 234
Mike Brady wrote:I mostly just read MP posts
Plenty of antagonism there!
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

For general old-age conditioning (possibly related to climbing but I ain't making any claims), I do some weighted pullups supersetted with dumbell presses. Usually five supersets all together, with a 3-minute rest between supersets. If I manage more than five sets the weights will go up the next time.

For some reason lost in the mists of time, a superset is five weighted pullups followed by 8 dumbell presses. I have a five-position adjustable bench, and rotate through its three intermediate positions for the presses (so I don't use the back either completely vertical or completely horizontal).

The training motions involved are in opposite directions; whether this makes the muscles trained antagonistic or not I leave to those more expert than I.

I do these exercises from one to three times a week, depending on how much time and energy are available. Not exactly an olympic training routine, but it seems to keep me minimally fit.

Eric D · · Gnarnia · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 165

Antagonist exercises by definition do not help climbing. They are meant to avoid injury.

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 551
Eric D wrote:Antagonist exercises by definition do not help climbing. They are meant to avoid injury.
true and untrue.

being well balanced,solid and healthy will definitely help your climbing
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632
Eric D wrote:Antagonist exercises ... are meant to avoid injury.
That is indeed the old-school theory.

Recent books on training for climbing or specifically on injury-prevention, barely mention "antagonist" exercises.
(other than Horst, who seems to be repeating stuff from earlier editions of his books from a longer while back).

I own a rather expensive recent textbook on Sports Medicine and one on physiotherapy, and neither of them more than barely mentions antagonist training.

Except for specail situations, it lacks a convincing physiological theory, and lacke careful clinical evidence.

Likely it does have some placebo benefit.
And of course many spouses are glad for something else to keep their climber occupied while he's not climbing or earning money.

Ken
Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 234
kenr wrote: That is indeed the old-school theory. Recent books on training for climbing or specifically on injury-prevention, barely mention "antagonist" exercises. (other than Horst, who seems to be repeating stuff from earlier editions of his books from a longer while back). I own a rather expensive recent textbook on Sports Medicine and one on physiotherapy, and neither of them more than barely mentions antagonist training. Except for specail situations, it lacks a convincing physiological theory, and lacke careful clinical evidence. Ken
I share your skepticism regarding the value of antagonist exercises.
But the absence of discussion in textbooks really isn't proof.
Have you found any studies or reviews that actually examined the issue?
I have not.

It seems like the PT world is generally in favor of antagonist exercises, but I don't know that literature at all.

Regardless, I agree with Mike-

Mike Brady wrote: being well balanced,solid and healthy will definitely help your climbing
I think some of the so called antagonist exercises in fact increase strength in genuine agonists.
Wrist extension for example, is important in stabilizing the hand in the optimum gripping position.

Strengthening scapular retraction and depression can lead to a gain of several inches in reach and I believe also spares wear on the rotator cuff.

Triceps extension is crucial for mantels, or any move involving pushing with the trailing hand (e.g. campusing.)

rgold wrote:For general old-age conditioning (possibly related to climbing but I ain't making any claims), I do some weighted pullups supersetted with dumbell presses. ... Not exactly an olympic training routine, but it seems to keep me minimally fit.
The advantages of weight training for older folks are pretty well established.
Kris Hampton and others would suggest adding a hinge exercise and a squat exercise to the push/pull combo and calling it good.
reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 50
Mark E Dixon wrote: Wrist extension for example, is important in stabilizing the hand in the optimum gripping position.
Pretty crucial in overhang climbing: Moon boarding has actually made my forearm extensors quite sore/tight lately.
Mark E Dixon wrote:Triceps extension is crucial for mantels, or any move involving pushing with the trailing hand (e.g. campusing.)
Also gaston.

Climbing is complex enough that I think there are only infrequently used muscle groups, depending on the style.
Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 234
reboot wrote: Climbing is complex enough that I think there are only infrequently used muscle groups, depending on the style.
I can't think of much climbing use for push ups, except maybe squeeze chimneys. You?
reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 50
Mark E Dixon wrote: I can't think of much climbing use for push ups, except maybe squeeze chimneys. You?
Push up is a weird movement pattern for most climbing; even in chimneys you wouldn't use it to advance. Dips are far more specific by comparison. That doesn't speak for the muscles involved. Regardless, I've long decided not everything I do physically is intended to improve my climbing.
Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 325

So just to throw another log on the fire, let's stop with the name calling ( agonist, antagonist, etc) and look at the issues. Lots of climbers get shoulder injuries. Lots of climbers have poor posture due to overdeveloped (unbalanced?) musculature. Can we agree with these two issues?

Now let's discuss what can be done to help avoid the first and slow down/prevent the second. For the first it seems that rotator cuff strengthening is a good idea as the rotator cuff is usually the gateway to shoulder injuries. All the elasti-band exercises are not effective strengthing excercises..good if you already have an injury but not going to really strengthen the muscles much.

I like I's, Y's, and T's with the TRX, adjust your foot position until 5 of each feels like a good challenge. I like how these fire my entire posterior chain in a controlled fashion. Second, is the Turkish Get-up. The name of the game is balancing a heavy load overhead, which requires rotator cuff activation and scapular depression tends to just happen with the heavy load. This one takes a long time to get the hang of and really should be taught with some hands on training. I went to a workshop and had 5 personal training sessions focused on mostly this one exercise (maybe I am a slow learner?). Once you get it you will understand why Grey Cook and many others think this could be the single best resistance exercise for shoulder health. It's also awesome mental training.

Now onto the second issue, we can call it "climber posture" but I think it would be smart to just google Kyphosis and get it over with. This should be a serious concern, but I am sure all of you already know this and practice excellent posture. Balancing shoulder girdle musculature and stretching are advised to avoid/correct this condition. The big deal is once your big fat head is no longer balanced over your spine it's just a matter of time before you are bent in half leaning on a walker. To me, spending a bit of extra time each week to help avoid this would be time well spent, but if we want to pretend that it's not a problem I suppose that is a personal choice. Maybe someone with more experience can shed light on exercises to help prevent climber posture.

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 63

Kevin hit it on the head I think. I get really worried about Kyphosis between climbing, sitting at a desk all day, and reading.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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