Earlier today, my friend Kate linked to an article by a very popular, very awesome professional climber about how weight lifting has helped her climb better and it made me want to blather on about my experiences with my own weight lifting routine.
Before I started climbing I was a pretty avid weight lifter and runner and biker. Living in Kansas, there weren't too many options for outdoor fitness, so you took what you could get. Once I started climbing though, (about three years ago) I felt like weight training was getting in the way, so I quit lifting and focused solely on scaling rocks.
Then about four months ago, I had a pretty awful bike wreck and couldn't use my hand very well, so I had to stop climbing and I needed something else to do to keep in shape, so I started lifting weights again. Once my hand got better I wanted to start climbing again, but I didn't want to stop lifting (I have to admit solely for vanity reasons), so I developed a routine that would allow me to do both. And what I've discovered is that the weight lifting has actually helped the climbing. The key is to not train so hard on the weight lifting days that you can't do anything on the climbing days. Since I started doing this, I've definitely seen improvements in my bouldering grades and also a little in my climbing grades. My endurance could still stand some improvement, but I think that will be helped this summer when we take three months off of the lifting.
I've even convinced friend Doug that all of this is a good idea. Ha ha sucker.
Here's our routine:
We rotate through a two days on, one day off routine. This gives us more flexibility than say a 'lift on M W F and climb on T TH routine.' That way if one of us has something going on one day we can just move everything to the next day. So we have a 'climb, then lift, then have a day off' routine. Which we repeat. And repeat. And repeat, ad infinitum. I think it's important to have this rotation rather than a 'lift first, then climb, then a day off' routine because this gives us three days between climbing days and a full 48 hours between lifting and climbing, so your muscles have sufficient time to recover from the stresses of lifting. This gives us at least two days of each lifting and climbing in a week's period. Usually I use my 'off day' to go on a long run as long as I make sure that I take one full day off a week where I don't do any exercise at all. Then I'll also run on the lifting days and some of the climbing days.
We focus solely on upper body weight training since we feel like the running, hiking and climbing we do is enough for our legs.
We also focus less on how many sets we do and more on total number of reps, making sure we increase the total number each time we lift. Then we increase weight once we get to 45 total reps.
Ok. I think that's enough of all that. Sorry for boring you. If you weren't bored and want more specifics about the exercises we do, let me know. I can talk about this shit for days.