A set of Pump Rocks™ may be the single best piece of home training equipment save a home climbing wall. Not only do Pump Rocks facilitate a sport-specific, pull-muscle workout anywhere you can hang them (from a rafter, beam, tree branch, and such), but they also enable you to train some of the vital antagonist push-muscles as well as the core muscles of your torso. Train three days per week on the Pump Rocks and you will certainly become a stronger climber. Here are four exercises to get you started.
1. Fingertip Pull-Ups.
The free-floating platform of the Pump Rocks provides for elbow-safe pull-up training. While some people develop elbow pain or tendonitis from doing pull-ups on a bar or hangboard, the PRs allow your hands to naturally turn inward reduces stress on the medial portion of your elbow as you pull-up. Warm-up with a set of pull-ups using the large top hold, then do one or two sets using the PRs crimp and two-finger pocket holds.
2. Uneven Grip Pull-Ups.
Whether you can do 5 or 25 regular pull-ups, the Uneven Grip Pull-up is a great exercise for developing one-arm and lock-off strength. Use a sling to lower one PR between 18 to 24 inches lower than the other. Now use the large bucket hold on the PRs and get training. Pulling up to lock off on the lower hand is easiest–use this if you can’t do at least 10 regular pull-ups. Pulling up to lock-off on the higher PR is much harder and will develop mega one-arm strength! Do two sets with each arm in the high position.
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, 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 sets of 10 to 20 repetitions, twice per week. This amount may seem improbable if you haven’t done this exercise before. However, if you consistently train dips twice per week, you will experience rapid improvement. In the meantime, employ a spotter to help lift around your waist (reduce body weight) so that you can achieve at least 10 dips per set.
4. Front Lever.
The ultimate core-muscle workout! Hanging from the top hold of the PRs, 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.