Resistance band workouts are an increasingly popular addition to climber’s training schedules as they target the whole body and can be an effective way of building upper body strength and increasing mobility. Resistance bands are a great tool for climbers on a tight time schedule or budget as they do away with the need for expensive equipment or gym memberships and can be used as part of a time-effective training routine.
The benefit of the humble resistance band is that as well as being portable, cheap and easy to use, it allows you to work muscles under constant and buildable tension. Creating continuous tension is an effective muscle building technique which makes resistance bands an ideal piece of kit for climbers. So, how exactly do you use resistance bands for the best results?
Types of resistance band
One of the best things about resistance band workouts for climbing is that you can target a surprising variety of muscle groups with just a few inexpensive bands.
The shape and strength of your resistance band will differ depending on the level of resistance you want - you can buy smaller, thinner bands or thicker bands and in looped or non looped versions. The resistance offered by each tier of band will likely be denoted by colour so it’s easy to build the resistance in whichever session you choose.
If you select a few different bands, you’ll be able to target many different muscle groups for a full-body climbing specific workout!
Below is a list of the best resistance band workouts to try as part of your training for climbing, plus a handy warm up circuit to get you started.
Resistance band warm up exercises
Not only are resistance bands an excellent way to strengthen muscles, they’re also a great option for warming up your muscles before you climb.
For a pre-climbing workout to get your heart pumping try working three sets of ten reps of the following. This will warm up your shoulders and upper body before you hit the wall or begin your strength workout.
Resistance band workouts to try:
For a full body resistance band circuit, choose 3 or 4 of the below exercises and complete 10-15 reps in 3 sets. You can vary the repetitions and sets to suit your level of fitness, and switch out the bands to achieve varied levels of resistance for intensity. Alternatively, you can complete just a couple of the exercises for sets of 4!
Banded one arm bicep curl
Strong biceps are key for climbing, as they help us to keep tucked in close to the wall and grip for longer! An effective way to isolate and train biceps with resistance bands is to complete banded curls.
- Stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart with both feet on a looped resistance band
- Hold the band with one hand with your palm facing upwards
- Starting from down by your side, lift your arm toward your shoulders with a bend in your elbow
- Slowly lower your arm back to the start
- Repeat for 10-15 reps on each arm.
Banded standing side taps
A great exercise to work the glutes and thighs is the banded standing side tap. The multiple repetitions add an element of aerobic training, making them a great all-over workout!
- With a resistance band looped around your ankles, tuck your core into your spine and bend your knees slightly
- Place your feet a shoulder width apart
- Tap your left foot out to the side, feeling the tension on the band and then bring it back to shoulder width. Then switch to your right foot
- Repeat this for 10-15 taps with each foot.
Banded lateral step out squat
To up the heat on the previous exercise, you can add a squat to your step out taps.
- Start standing with the band looped below your knees
- Take a big lunge to the side with bent knees and lower until thighs are parallel with the floor
- Engage glutes and press back up through heels to the starting position
- Complete 10 to 15 reps on each side.
A strong core comes in very handy when climbing as it helps to maintain balance and enables you to reach up to the next hold! Crunches build up your abdominal muscles which are critical on overhanging problems, and for certain climbing moves.
- Kneel on the floor with a resistance band attached to something at height behind you
- Hold the resistance band over your head with your palms facing outwards
- Bring your hands down to the floor
- Slowly bring yourself back to the starting position
- Repeat for 10 - 15 reps.
Deadlifts are an integral base exercise that work your whole body and develop strength in all the muscles necessary for climbing. Deadlifts are often completed with free weights, but can just as easily be achieved with resistance bands for an effective climbing training session.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a resistance band wrapped around arches of your feet.
- Hold the top of the band with both hands, arms straight, and press hips backward into a squat position.
- Drive down through heels to stand up straight, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
- Repeat for 10 - 15 reps.
Banded glute bridge
The banded glute bridge is an excellent way to work the glute muscles. Your glutes are a muscle that gets used often in climbing, as we push down with our legs and thighs and step up onto holds and generate power for dynamic climbing
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet a hips width apart.
- Bring the band around your upper thighs.
- Roll up into a bridge position, pressing outwards with your thighs
- Hold and pulse for 5 reps
- Slowly lower the back down and repeat for 10 -15 times.
Banded Russian twists
Russian twists are great for working your obliques, hip flexors and core. They are easy to do with a resistance band and garner great results for climbing training!
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out and your knees slightly bent
- Wrap a resistance band around your feet and hold the end.
- Hold your hands out straight in front of you, lean back a little and raise your legs off the floor
- Twist your torso from one side to another. A twist on each side is one rep.
- Repeat for 10 -15 reps.
The lateral raise is one of the simplest and most effective exercises for those looking to build shoulder strength and stability.
- Stand with your knees shoulder width apart and slightly bent with one flat foot facing forwards and the back foot heel raised.
- Loop a resistance band underneath the arch front foot, hands grasping it by the ends, and arms at sides.
- Raise arms outward to the sides until parallel to the floor.
- Return slowly to start.
- Repeat for 10-15 reps
Banded plank tap
The banded plank tap will be sure to get your abdominal muscles burning.
- Get into a high plank position with a resistance band around wrists
- Bring one hand a couple inches forward to tap the floor.
- Return to start and repeat on the left side.
- Repeat for 10-50 reps
These are just a few options for an effective full body circuit that can be added to your climbing training schedule to improve your overall climbing strength. For more information on training and climbing, you can check out our 7 bouldering moves blog post.
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