What is it?
The core comprises of all the muscules in the front sides and back of your midsection and is responsible for stabilising, resisting, and creating movement. Movement will occour in the sagital plane (flexion and extension up and down), the frontal plane (side to side), and the transverse plane (rotational movements).
How should I program it?
Your core is used to working pretty much all the time so training can be done frequently. An intense 10 minute session every day can be a great way to train. Try to work in as many planes as possible as well as both top down and bottom up movements. A format of 45-60 seconds on and 15 seconds off before changing exercises can work well.
How should this type of training feel?
Feel the burn!
Planes of Motion: Transverse plane, Sagital plane (isometric)
Range & Direction of Motion: Bottom up isometric hold, good rotational movement range.
This exercise helps you create and control rotation through your core which is expecially when performing twisting movements.
Form Notes: Make sure your legs are at a right angle to your body.
Progression: Move onto a bar. You can also add small ankle weights.
Regression: Bend your legs.
Ball & Band
Ball Crunch / Inverted Crunch
Planes of Motion: Sagital plane
Range & Direction of Motion: Full range through abdominals. Top down movement.
These exercises both allow you to cover the greatest range of motion through your abdominals. As well as being a great overall exercise, they are especially useful for taking weight off your hands while in knee bars or foot comperssion on steep climbs.
Form Notes: Getting the greatest range of motion is really important as is controlling the eccentric (lower down), especially in the inverted crunch, so make sure you are lowering slowly rather than dropping.
Progression: You can hold weights to increase the intensity on the inverted crunch.
Regression: You can do standard ab crunches however you lose the benefits of greater range of motion.
TRX and Rings
Hollow Body Hold (Arm Movements)
The Hollow Body Hold is an isometric exercise that focuses on a relatively extended range of your abdominals . It is great for holding tension through long moves.
Keep your lower back pressed against the floor and your shoulders and upper back up. Stretch out with your toes, imagine you are trying to stay on a foothold. Keep your arm movements slow and controlled.
Lower your legs until they are just off the floor so that you are in a more extended position.
Hold weights in your hands. This will force you to stabilise more through your core just as you need to do when you are climbing.
Side Plank Hip Lifts
As climbing is a three dimensional sport we also need to be able to stabilise and keep out body extended laterally as well. Complete this exercise on both sides (treat it as 2 exercises).
You need to remain perfectly vertical through your hips and shoulders without any twisting (imagine you are completing the exercise between two panes of glass). Extend tor top arm above you to help you keep the correct orientation.
Lift (abduct) your top leg at the same time you lift your hips.
If you can’t manage the hip lifts then just hold the side plank. Make sure your hips are not dropping or twisting.
This exercise activates your posterior chain to help you extend through those long moves. It also encourages an open posture and a less rounded thoracic spine (common in climbers) which will enable your core to work better as your lower back is not going into extension to compensate.
Keep your thighs and shoulders off the ground. Keep your hands high with your arms straight, move in a slow and controlled manner.
Increase the weights in you hands to make this exercise harder.
Knees to elbows / Toes to the bar (Twisting)
This is another great exercise for getting your feet overhead, the fact that you are engaging your shoulders and in a hanging position makes it very applicable to climbing.
Keep your shoulders engaged. Only rotate through the shoulders when you have a complete contraction of your abdominals. Do not let your feet drop behind your body at the bottom, rather extend into a hollow body hang. Alternate direction e.g. forward, twist right, forward, twist left.
Toes to the bar is harder, you can also add ankle weights.