This article on advanced Pump Rocks training exercises is the second in a series of features that focus on the use of various NICROS training tools. Check back for upcoming articles on our hangboards, the H.I.T.™ Workout System, Campus Training, and effective use of home walls. Feel free to contact me with follow-up questions, and we invite you to suggest an exercise or topic you’d like covered in the Training Center.
PUMP ROCKS™ Advance Training Exercises
NICROS’ Pump Rocks™ provide a unique alternative to training on a fingerboard or pull-up bar. Since the Pump Rocks™ are free-floating, they allow your body to move more naturally through the range of motion when performing pull-ups or lock-offs. For this reason the Pump Rocks™ reduce stress on forearm tendons–and lower the risk of elbow irritation or tendinitis common to climbers who train a lot–since your hands can naturally supinate during concentric contractions. For this reason, individuals performing fingerboard training may want to split pull-muscle training time between the Pump Rocks™ and their hangboard.
Pump Rocks™ also provide an ideal platform for training a wide variety of exercises for the upper-body and core muscles. Last month I introduced you to six excellent entry-level exercises. Following are four more advanced strength training exercises appropriate for intermediate to elite climbers.
1. Uneven Grip Pull-up
This is an excellent exercise for developing one-arm strength and lock-off ability. Train with Uneven Grip Pull-ups long enough and you’ll eventually develop a solid one-arm pull-up. Use a webbing sling to offset the Pump Rocks™ by anywhere between 6 to 24 inches (harder). In executing pull-ups, you’ll find that the upper hand is emphasized in proportion to the distance of offset between the Pump Rocks. Rest for two minutes after the first set, then switch hands to train the opposite side. Perform three sets on each side with the goal of 4 to 8 reps per set. Increase the vertical distance between hands if you can do more than 8 reps; decrease the distance if you cannot do at least 4 repetitions. Do this exercise twice per week in place of other pull-up exercises.
2. One-Arm Lock-off
This is exercise transfers quiet well to hard bouldering and sport climbing. As a general rule, however, you should not train one-arm lock-offs unless your are capable of doing 20 pull-ups. Begin with both hands grasping the top of a single Pump Rock™. For instance, if you plan to lock-off on the left arm, you’d want to place your right hand on top of your left hand but with your right hand grabbing from the opposite side of the Pump Rock. Pull-up to the lock-off position, then immediately let go with the top hand (in this case the right). Hold the static lock-off position–it helps to think about pulling the Pump Rock toward your armpit–with the goal of holding it for 20 seconds (hard). When you begin to lose the lock, either grab back on with the other hand or lower slowly (tougher, but worthwhile). Take caution not to drop yourself rapidly into the straight-arm position! Dismount and gather yourself briefly, then do the other arm. Perform three to five sets for each side with about two minutes of rest in between.
3. Front Lever
Hanging from the top hold of the Pump Rocks™, pull-up halfway and then push your hands forward, drop your head backwards, and lift your legs. Do all this in a single quick motion and attempt to position your entire body–head to toe–parallel to the ground. Squeeze tightly throughout your torso, buttocks, and legs, and attempt to hold this position for three seconds. It helps to think about pushing your hands towards your hips, even though you’ll be in a stationary position. As you will see, this is an extremely difficult gymnastics move; however, you can make it somewhat easier by bending one leg (see photo) and drawing it in toward the center of your body. If you still can’t hold the lever for three seconds, have a spotter help out by lifting at your heals. Perform a total of five levers with a one-minute between each.
Dips are an excellent exercise for strengthening the many muscles of the upper arm, shoulders, chest and back. The motion is quite similar to that of pressing out a mantle on the rock (dips will make you a super mantler!), but it’s the injury prevention benefits that are most important. Thus, adding Dips to your workout could very well prevent you from ever having a serious shoulder injury. Perform two or three sets of about 10 to 20 repetitions, twice per week. This amount may seem improbable if you haven’t done this exercise before. However, if you religiously train dips twice per week, you will experience rapid improvement. In the meantime, employ a spotter to help lift around your waist (reduce bodyweight) so you can achieve at least 10 dips per set.