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Core Exercises
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By TheBirdman
From Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Jan 10, 2012

Hey all,

I'm doing a periodized training session. I'm currently in my hypertrophy phase and while I have my hangboard/finger workout dialed in, on rest days, I'm really trying to get some serious core work in. I'm wondering if anyone has a good, clear, regimented core workout that they stick to. I have a bunch of good core exercises that I do and could probably organize into a more cohesive workout, but I'm wondering what everyone else does. Typically I do a mix of Body-L's, knees to elbows, heel hooks on a pull up bar, full pikes (Body-L that continues until totally vertical), etc. I'm sure someone out there has a more comprehensive approach to corework though so if you wouldn't mind sharing your routine, I'd appreciate it.


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By slim
Administrator
Jan 10, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

interestingly enough, the day (or 2) after my hangboard workout, my stomach muscles are usually pretty sore. on my off days i do some minor core stuff, but it never makes me sore. probably because i have been doing these exercises for a while and my body is used to them, whereas i just started my hangboard phase and for some reason my gut is finding it somewhat intense.


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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Jan 10, 2012
You stay away from mah pig!

Just a thought, and I haven't tried it, but could you hold some body-L's or do leg lifts while doing reps of the easier hangboard grips, like big slopers or incuts?

(though, I suspect if you could do this, you are not doing hard enough hangboard workouts)


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By Alvaro Arnal
Administrator
From Aspen, CO
Jan 10, 2012
Pup Tent OS

I do 2 of these back-to-back on the days that I train my antagonists (bench press, dips, military press):


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By TheBirdman
From Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Jan 10, 2012

Even assuming I do core stuff on the same day I do my hangboarding, do you have any suggestions for a well-rounded core workout? I love the exactness of the hangboard workout, with the timing and being able to see the progress. I don't feel like I have anywhere close to the same in regards to my core workout.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Jan 10, 2012

So here's the problem I have with core work: Most exercises are aimed at anaerobic endurance, with common sets consisting of 20 reps or more.

This is all fine if you are trying to train AE, but just like I do a periodized scheme on climbing muscles, I try to do the same for core. So when hangboarding (like Slim, my abs can be really sore after some hang sessions..) I try to keep to exercises that cause me to fail at 10 reps or less, and preferably in the 4-6 rep range.

IME, this is HARD. Hard to find something that taxes you that much. The best things I've found so far are the nautilus style machine that is basically like doing a crunch against weight plate resistance. Last workout I was at about 120lb on that thing, hitting failure right at rep 10...but there are only 150lb total available on that machine. So if you're a larger person (or just stronger than me), even that might not give you enough resistance.

I also try to do reps of pulling into front levers. This is tough too because you can't evaluate your form and it's easy to sag your ass and not get the full effect...but it seems hard enough.

Gravity boot situps with a weight vest or holding a plate can work too, just be careful since this puts abnormal strain on your hip flexor connective tissue.

Roman chair style back extension with a big weight plate held across the chest can really hit the lower back. And the good old fashioned deadlift is a killer core workout. Good mornings can also work. If you're sketched about using free weights for these lower back extension movements, there are back extension machines similar to the crunch machine, but in reverse.

Finally, those rollout wheels can be pretty burly if you're on your toes instead of knees and roll it WAY out as far as possible, but at that point it feels harsh on my shoulders, YMMV.


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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Jan 10, 2012

Most common core exercises are isotonic, they stress the muscle while it's working through its range of motion. Rock climbing stresses the core in an isometric way, you are trying to hold yourself static while gravity is getting you down. The key is finding core exercises that mimic the stresses of climbing so you can get the most improvement out of your training.
Dave MacCleod has a good article on improving body tension.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Jan 10, 2012
Stabby

My gym just set out a few tires, I'll be doing this next visit.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Jan 10, 2012

Will S wrote:
So here's the problem I have with core work: Most exercises are aimed at anaerobic endurance... IME, this is HARD. Hard to find something that taxes you that much.

Really? Then try the Rocky 4 style (dragon fly, inverted (hanging upside down) sit ups) and front lever core exercises. I've got those down as great party tricks and will challenge almost any non-gymnasts, yet I can't do more than 5-8 reps (or hold a good front lever > 10 secs).


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By slim
Administrator
Jan 11, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

My gym just set out a few tires, I'll be doing this next visit.

>

i'd probably have to start with a spare tire from a '82 yugo, and slowly work my way up.

man, Will S's core workouts almost gave me (another) hernia just reading about it. sounds pretty tough. i'll have to check out that link that grayghost put up and see what mcleod is up to.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Jan 11, 2012

shuminW wrote:
Really? Then try the Rocky 4 style (dragon fly, inverted (hanging upside down) sit ups) and front lever core exercises. I've got those down as great party tricks and will challenge almost any non-gymnasts, yet I can't do more than 5-8 reps (or hold a good front lever > 10 secs).



Yeah, the inverted situps I can rip off about 20 reps in a set on the first set. I bought a pair of the gravity boots a couple of years ago and trained them while I was focused on OW roof cracks. Still bust them out semi regularly and do a couple sets. Best is if you can find a playground with one bar just above another (~4-6 inches is perfect) so you can hook the boot hooks on the lower one and lever your feet off the upper one...makes you swing less and simulates bathanging for roof cracks better than a single bar. It's also easy to cheat by using the swing/momentum if you're on a single bar and don't consciously stop yourself and/or pause at the bottom of the movement. I've tried to clutch weight plates across the chest to make the individual reps harder but it's weird. Weight vest might work, haven't tried. I'd warn people that it feels pretty stressful on your hip flexors and could be easy to overdo it and tweak something in that connective tissue.

But the levers...totally different story. Like I said above, doing reps of pulling into them is wicked hard for me. A few reps and my form is gone.


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By JJNS
Jan 11, 2012

Try bouldering on steep terrain. With every hand movement let your feet cut and really concentrate on controlling the swing with your core. After you are stable put your feet back on the wall and make another hand movement. Again let your feet cut, control the swing, and place your feet back on the wall. Continue this pattern to the top of the problem. If you need to make it more difficult increase the number of times you cut your feet per hand movement.

I also like doing a kind of explosive pull up that includes the core. Start standing beneath a pull up bar with both hands above your head on the pull up bar, palms facing you. Do a powerful pull up and at the top also bring your knees up high so that you can let go with one hand and grab/touch the opposite foot for a second. After touching that foot return you hand to the pull up bar and lower. So both of my hands are on the pull up bar. I will then do an explosive pull up and release my left hand at the very top of the pull up for a split second and grab my right foot for a second. I then return my left hand to the bar to assist with the lowering of the pull up. I switch the hand that I let go with for each rep.


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Jan 11, 2012
tanuki

A few of my favorites are the wheel and the renegade row.

In case you don't know, this is the renegade row.



I have also been working on the front lever. Although I cannot do this yet, I have found that the progression exercises (tucked front lever, pull through to inverted hang and lower) leave my core absolutely shot.


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By Emily McCleary
Jan 15, 2012

like a couple others have mentioned, low volume high intensity workouts are better suited to training your core for climbing. levers, dragon flags, modified planks, wood choppers/trunk rotation/side bends with weight for obliques.

here is the lever progression-s949.photobucket.com/albums/ad331/kAb1307/?action=view&curre>>>

first of all, you need a good base of core and dead hang strength to even attempt this. start with the tuck lever, bring your knees to your chest and try and keep your back flat, have someone watch you. do not cheat, if you start to sag, finish the rep as you arent doing yourself any good at that point. work up to a 20 second tuck lever before you start trying 1 leg out. then repeat the process for the 1 leg. the full front lever is very difficult at first and you probably wont be able to hold it for long, but even a couple seconds will hit your core in a great way. focus on trying to breathe as that was a hurdle for me when i first achieved the final progression.

dragon flag- s949.photobucket.com/albums/ad331/kAb1307/?action=view&curre>>>

its hard to find a suitable place to do these, but if you can find the right setup they are a great strength exercise for your abs. rest your weight on your shoulders and engage your biceps, lower your leg down straight, the slower you go the harder it will be. once you get as far down as you can go explode back up to starting position and repeat.

if you want to make your planks harder, do them on your elbows and extend your elbows out in front of you (shoulder length apart)as far as you can. make sure you are stretched out and on your toes, then hold for as long as possible. 1 leg variations with 1 leg moved out to the side make these even harder.

i use a 45 lb plate for oblique side bends and trunk rotations. as was mentioned previously making long dynamic movements on good holds with an intent to cut feet and control the swing are also great for obliques. works out great if you have acess to a moonboard.

as a final note, i prefer pilates style exercises over "get cut" style crunches and other p90x ab exercises. if you think about it, doing a crunch is counter intuitive to what your body needs to do while climbing. most of the time you need your core to reach further and stretch out. pilates perfectly facilitates this with a focus on elongating movements. my gf started doing them and i followed suit about a month later after seeing her results and how they helped her climbing. i can definitely say they have helped my overall core strength in relation to climbing strength.

sorry for the long winded post, core strength is one of my strong suits and i like to help people out with it when i can!


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