Critique my routine. How would you train power/fingers with a lower body injury?


Original Post
khammer · · Kinda All Over · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 10

I'll try to keep this quick (I failed) but feel free to skip sections or ask questions, thanks in advance. I'm mostly looking for suggestions of my (non-climbing) gym "pulling" routine, feel free to skip to that section in the box below.

Goals: Come back from my injury with stronger fingers and more powerful pulling muscles.

My injury:

I have a chronic hip condition (FAI + Labral tears) that I've been ignoring for years, that led to a stress fracture in my femoral head, crutches, no climbing etc.I have now healed from the fracture (walking around but no climbing, running, jumping) but in a 11 days I will be getting relatively minor surgery to resolve the underlying issue in my hip and will be recovering (no climbing) for another 3 months.

My climbing history: 

Obsessed with climbing for the past 6 years or so. Essentially only climb outdoors, never trained (before my injury), never really bouldered (power is a definite weakness), but have ton's of mileage on a variety of terrain. Onsights up to 12a sport and 11c trad (not really a project-er) mostly on techy/balancy/endurance type of routes (NOT POWER).

My routine so far (past couple months): 

Day 1: Hangoard Routine (Anderson Bro's beginner routine)

Day 2: Push or Pull day at the gym (alternating)

Day 3: Rest.

Repeat.

In more detail:

Hangboarding: I'm honestly pretty happy with my routine here, I'm seeing steady gains so I don't feel the need to make changes. Skip if you want.

Warmup: Shoulder shrugs/circles 10-15 each way around, some band stuff opening up shoulders, "dislocates" with a broom handle, some simple finger movements. I then "hang" for 7 minutes on mostly the jug subtracting 32lbs with a pulley and putting toes down often, shaking out etc. This is my pretend traversing warmup.

Workout: It's 10s on 5s off for 6 reps on 8 holds, 3 min rest between. Again, pretty happy with this as I've been improving. I am taking a slow approach to increasing the resistance since I'm new to training, have plenty of time, and don't want to add a finger injury to the mix. I won't increase resistance until l could have kept hanging on that hold for 2 workouts in a row (if that makes sense).

Recover: Stretch, massage, icing forearm/elbow.

Gym Routine: Would love some suggestions here for getting more climbing specific and improving power (I don't have access to a campus board and can't "fall"). I would also like to consolidate the Push/Pull into one day so that I can train the muscle groups more often.

Warmup: 10 minutes of cycling for heart rate then a shoulder warmup (copied from above) shoulder shrugs/circles 10-15 each way around, some band stuff opening up shoulders, "dislocates" with a broom handle.

PULL DAY:

One Arm Lat Pull Downs 3x8: This is with each arm with a 2 second lock off at full contraction. While I feel like these are climbing specific, splitting my arms up takes more time and requires me to "try hard" twice as often. Considering a two armed Lat Pull Down with a Frenchie style lockoff cycle. By the way, I can get 3x8-10 full pull ups on a good day or 2ish frenchie cycles. I feel like using the lat pull down machine will allow me to to stress the muscles more by lowering the resistance but increasing the number of cycles, thoughts?

One Arm Row 3x8: This is with each arm with a 2 second lock off at full contraction.Would love to switch to a 2 arm exercise. Thoughts for specificity? Lock off cycle?

Bicep curls 3x8: 2nd Amendment. 

Forearm supported leg raises 3x15ish: This is pretty much my only core work (probably not enough). I'm not sure what I'll be able to do after my surgery, I'm open to suggestions of core exercises that are easy on the hips (if that's possible...)

PUSH DAY: perhaps too much pushing for a climber?

Dips 3x10-12

Dumbbell Bench Press 3x8

Overhead Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3x8

Tricep extension/pull down thing 3x8

Forearm supported leg raises 3x15ish

Well that got long. I have a lot of time on my hands... Thanks for any advice and enjoy climbing for me!

-Kevin

Rich Brereton · · Pownal, ME · Joined May 2009 · Points: 130

Hope you heal up quickly! You're gonna have steel rock-crushing talons by the time you're ready to get on rock again! I'm no expert on training but I'll offer some advice based on what's worked for me over the past year and a half of taking training seriously (after dismissing it for the first 17 years of my climbing career).

On hangboarding, I started with the Anderson bros beginner routine and when I moved to the intermediate, I found that going from 10 on 5 off to 7 on 3 I felt stronger and improved quickly. With 10 and 5 I'd struggle to get through single sets on each hold, but with 7 and 3 I could do multiple sets per hold and steadily increase resistance. For whatever reason the 10 second duration just sapped my strength so quickly and made for a lot of shortened workouts, which was no longer the case when I switched to 7. Not sure the shorter duration is objectively better, but it's probably a better simulation of real climbing.

On your pull routine... It seems like a lot. Hangboarding is hugely stressful and your body needs to invest a lot of energy to recover, even though the pull routine stresses different muscle groups. Consider scaling back to a single pull exercise, a single push exercise, and a single core exercise immediately after hangboarding (same day), then start the recovery process. I'd recommend resting at least 48 hours after each hangboard workout, 72 is even better. Then you can really focus on the quality of those hangboard workouts - the push/pull core exercises are supplemental. The bicep curls are not very climbing specific - consider dropping those.

For core, leg raises are my favorite/the only core exercise I do. Well, pushups, if you count those. Leg raises are just so specific to climbing. If that's working for you I see no reason to switch.

Sounds like you are hip to the importance of stretching. Stretching your forearms is huge! I highly recommend Dave Macleod's book Make or Break. In particular, the shoulder stretches in that book have made a huge difference for me in getting rid of shoulder pain that I assume was due to rotator cuff impingement. The pull muscle training you're doing is going to shorten your lats and other shoulder stabilizers, which pulls them out of alignment. I especially started noticing it after doing sets of one-arm inverted rows after each hangboard workout. These stretches really helped me get back to healthy alignment and be shoulder pain-free.

Are you going to do a power phase? Campusing? Bouldering?

Hope that helps. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

khammer · · Kinda All Over · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 10

I lost my more thorough response to bad internet connection! 

Thanks a lot I really appreciate the insights!

I've been having success with 10on/5off hangs so I'll probably stick with it even if the improvement is a bit slower. I was tempted to step up to Intermediate but if it ain't broke don't fix it I suppose.

I think I'll trim down my supplemental exercises. I have been having some trouble with my shoulder and will definitely check out Macleod's book, thanks!

I won't be able to do a traditional power phase because I am so far from a gym/rock while I am recovering and as soon as I'm healthy enough to climb I think I'll get back on the road and ditch training haha. Any suggestions for a weight-gym based power phase? Maybe cut out hangboarding and do more gym exercises with lower reps/higher weight? It's definitely my biggest weakness so it would be silly to avoid... although you cant go wrong with more finger strength.

Cheers!

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 1,308

I myself just got off of a lower extremity injury but still made climbing strength gains throughout the 6 weeks.  Hope you heal up quickly.

First, I will second Rich's comment on 7/3 over 10/5.  If you're beginning hangboarding for the first time ever, 10/5 isn't a bad place to start.  Within several seasons, I'd recommend switching to 7/3.  You'll find your max weight will be much higher.

For my injury, I was still able to use hips, just not my ankle.  Here's what a typical week looked like for me:

Sunday: Hangboard
Monday: Arm Bike, 20 minutes (can you say BORING!)  Stairmaster for 15 and Arm Bike for 10-20 as my condition improved.
Tuesday: Core (planks, pushups, crunches, various ab machines, windshield wipers, front levers, etc. but not all on the same day), Shoulder stability exercises (I's and T's, scapular pullups, external rotators), Quad/Hamstring exercises (rehab), Bench Press or Shoulder dumbbell press, Bent-over rows.  As my condition improved, I also added dumbbell snatch and recently, deadlifts.
Wednesday: Hangboard
Thursday: Repeat of Tuesday
Friday: Some form of cardio, and/or exercises I didn't get to on Tuesday/Thursday.
Saturday: Rest or housework.

Now that I've healed, generally, Friday and Sunday are rest days and Saturday is full-on climb hard mode.

I found that having one day of "push" or "pull" doesn't work super great.  For instance, if I do the shoulder press before benching, the bench workout is pretty pathetic and I'd argue not productive based on lack of strength gains.

You'll also note that apart from scapular pullups or bent-over rows, there aren't many pulling exercises.  Some people swear by weighted pullups, but I haven't experimented with it.  Bicep curls were a waste of time.  Heavy bent-over rows help develop power in my back and arm muscles, not necessarily the fingers.

So as far as your routine is concerned, it looks good, but I would add some designated core workouts.

Rich Brereton · · Pownal, ME · Joined May 2009 · Points: 130
khammer wrote:

I won't be able to do a traditional power phase because I am so far from a gym/rock while I am recovering and as soon as I'm healthy enough to climb I think I'll get back on the road and ditch training haha. Any suggestions for a weight-gym based power phase? Maybe cut out hangboarding and do more gym exercises with lower reps/higher weight?

Sounds good. I can't think of any suggestions for training climbing power without a climbing gym, home wall, or campus board. I guess you could do some explosive pulling exercises, but that won't help train contact strength. Maybe when you get back on the road, make your first stop an area with powerful boulder problems or routes to work.

khammer · · Kinda All Over · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 10

Charlie S:

Thanks for the reply. Arm bike sounds awful haha!

Two people recommending 7/3 timing on my hangs... I guess I should give it a crack!

Yeah I'm surprised by the lack of pulling. Do you already have a solid base of pulling strength? I could see not focusing on it if you already have 15+ pullups or something. I'll probably emphasize it a bit more. 

I'd like to add some core, thanks for the suggestions, we'll see what kind of mobility I have after surgery.

Rich Brereton:

Maybe I'll build a little two/three rung campus board and just go up and down. Seem's like at my strength level that would help and work contact strength a bit. Bouldering as a first stop is also a great idea.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply