My Spring Training Plan 2019

My Spring Training Plan 2019

Hi, my name's Garret, I'm primarily a sport climber and this article is a bit about my training plan this spring that I'm hoping will help propel me towards my climbing goals in 2019!

Training Finger Strength For Rock Climbing Portable Hangboard

As much as I love being a gym rat all winter long, living in Fort Collins, CO is a blessing with it's immediate access to good outdoor climbing. This time of year my girlfriend and I will cancel our gym memberships to get back onto real rock as much as possible. Why? Because coming out of hibernation, and crawling out of the gym and onto the sunny, warm, real rock is really what it's all about. 

Training for Climbing Finger strength Portable hangboard


I have a couple goals this year, including climbing 5.13 outside, and hopefully making a pilgrimage back to the RRG in the fall. Knowing that my weaknesses in the past have been primarily strength and power, albeit those are pretty vague for the sake of keeping this article short, I know that spending this entire spring season outside will build a lot of skill and hopefully endurance, but may leave me wishing I'd kept the membership and spent grueling hours indoors focusing on bouldering. 

BUT, I still have a lot to learn on real rock, and because I don't want to let those goals remain just that, goals, I've developed a home training protocol to work my max climbing-specific strength this spring that will complement my outdoor climbing ambitions. 

So, this is my home workout protocol that I'm following this spring, that's hopefully going to build max strength while my climbing sessions will focus on technique on real rock at the crag. I've trimmed this program down to be minimalist and climbing specific as possible, because I don't have any extra hours to spare, and the beauty of the Port-A-Edges and this program is that it can be executed just about anywhere. 

. . . 

The program is broken into 2 circuits, thus, I'll be super-setting together everything in circuit 1 and everything in circuit 2. This is a HIGHLY effective time saver because you get to "rest" the muscle groups targeted in one exercise while training others. Rest between sets is essential for keeping the quality high, and effort maximal, which is all crucial to building strength. 

We'll break down each exercise to discuss climbing specificity, and how you can make each progressible. Complete this protocol after a thorough warm up including the fingers! I like to complete this upon return from the crag, and after a small warm up circuit in my house. 


Circuit 1: x3 times through

Exercise: Reps:
Offset Pull Ups on the (Port-A-Edges), each arm 5
Pistol Squats (each leg) (Port-A-Edges for assistance if necessary) 5
Walking hands (inchworm) push ups 8
Minimum Edge Half Crimps: 7s on, 53s off (Port-A-Edges) 3
Mobility: side to side squat 10


Let's look at how to execute each exercise, and how you can progress them and how they apply to climbing.

  • Offset Pull Ups (Port-A-Edges):
    • How: hang the Port-A-Edges at different heights, complete pull ups on each side
    • Progress: increase the difference in height between the Port-A-Edges to increase difficulty 
    • Purpose: build one arm pulling strength, plus it's easy to progress and you don't need to hang extra weight from you as you would with regular pull ups!
  • Pistol Squats: 
    • How: extend the Port-A-Edges into TRX mode if you need support
    • Progress: don't use the Port-A-Edges, hold dumbells
    • Purpose: increase single leg strength, power and balance
  • Walking hand (inchworm) push ups:
    • How: stand straight up, bend at waist, walk hands to push up position, complete push up, walk hands back to feet and stand up straight
    • Progress: hold one foot in the air throughout exercise, move to one arm push ups
    • Purpose: build shoulder stabilizer muscles, compression strength, antagonist muscles, coordination and core
  • Minimum Edge Half Crimps: 7s on, 53s off (Port-A-Edges):
    • How: after warming up, determine an edge size you can hang for 10 seconds, use that edge size, hang for 7s, rest for 53s, complete 3 reps like this with proper hanging form 
    • Progress: decrease the edge size  
    • Purpose: this is a hybrid max finger strength exercise developed by Eric Horst, 3 reps of 7s on was formulated to give you enough time under tension to increase finger strength while remaining a strength exercise (not endurance)
  • Mobility - side to side squat:
    • How: stand in medium wide split stance, drop into a squat over one leg, with the other extended straight to the other side, allowing your heel to remain on the floor and toe pointed up, slide your hips and move from one leg being squatted to the other, staying as low as you can and maintaining an up right, proper form
    • Progress: wider stance, lower transitions
    • Purpose: this is a fantastic coordination and mobility exercise that will improve your high stepping, overall lower body flexibility and balance on the wall


Circuit 2: x3 times through

Exercise: Reps:
One arm rows, each arm (Port-A-Edges) 4
Max height explosive jumps 5
Superman planks, for time 15s
Minimum Edge open hand: 7s on, 53s off (Port-A-Edges) 3
Side-star planks, for time 15s
Mobility: floor hip thrusters 10


Let's look at each exercise to discuss how you can progress them and how they apply to climbing. 

  • One arm rows, each arm (Port-A-Edges)
    • How: extend one of the Port-A-Edges so that you can complete a row while leaning, keeping your torso straight throughout the movement, each your other arm up as high as you can up the cord of the Port-A-Edges
    • Progress: decrease the height of the Port-A-Edges until your horizontal to the ground, use an edge instead of the jug, pause for time at the top of the movement
    • Purpose: build one arm pulling strength, coordination, and torso strength
  • Max Height Explosive Jumps: 
    • How: jump as high as you can!
    • Progress: aim for something you can barely reach, and see how high you can get!
    • Purpose: increase explosive leg power that will drive you through tough sequences on the wall 
  • Superman holds for time:
    • How: lay on your stomach on the floor, reach your hands straight forward, and point your toes, try to maximize the distance between your hands and feet and between each of those and the floor
    • Progress: increase distance between your hands and feet and the floor, increase time
    • Purpose: build "core" strength of the back chain, from the fingers to the toes, this will improve your ability to keep tension between holds that are far from your feet, and keep you from cutting feet on long moves!
  • Minimum Edge Open hand: 7s on, 53s off (Port-A-Edges):
    • How: after warming up, determine an edge size you can hang for 10 seconds, use that edge size, hang for 7s, rest for 53s, complete 3 reps like this
    • Progress: decrease the edge size 
    • Purpose: this is a hybrid max finger strength exercise developed by Eric Horst, 3 reps of 7s on was formulated to give you enough time under tension to increase finger strength while remaining a strength exercise (not endurance). Open hand is important to help strengthen your hands in a different way compared to the half crimp.
  • Mobility - floor hip thrusters:
    • How: lay down on your back, arms at your sides, legs bent at around 90 deg, thrust your hips high into the air, return to the ground 
    • Progress: pause at the top, one use one leg
    • Purpose: this is a fantastic mobility and strength hybrid that will improve your hip-hinge strength (a fundamental)


Note that you should successfully complete all reps of all exercises, if you don't, regress the difficulty of the exercise until you do. The hangs are spaced out from the pulling excersises, to ensure a little rest between to maintain high quality in each. Complete these circuits after a proper warm up including the fingers! All these are designed to be climbing specific and progressible, so track your progress. I will follow this regiment for a minimum of 8 weeks, hopefully at least twice a week, to track and see long term and lasting results. I'll track how the sessions felt, what edge sizes were used, and how many reps of each were successfully completed - noting if the difficulty needs to be progressed or not. 

Mix an match your own workouts into these circuits to target YOUR weaknesses. The critical training is the max effort edge hangs, you're just filling your in-between hangs rest times with other exercises that can apply directly to your climbing. Remember this rule of thumb, at least 80% of your time should be spent climbing, leaving 20% to training time. I can knock out this protocol in a little over 30min.

Stay tuned for updates on my progress, and future blogs as I transition to more of a power-focused protocol as the weather improves and I pick out specific routes to redpoint this spring.

Google any of these exercises for more details. Let me know your thoughts on this program, and what you implement! Check out this article for more ideas of how to incorporate the Port-A-Edges into your regiment The 3 Most Effective Ways to use The Port-A-Edges.



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