This post is part of a series on Training For Ice Climbing and Mixed Climbing. Click below for previous posts:

Build a Solid Foundation
Basic Core

NOTE: These workouts are intended for the fitness-minded climber.  It’s up to you to manage your time and expectations.  You may not initially be able to achieve the workout as described.  Just working towards that goal will do wonders to get you ready for ice season.

0 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Figure 4.jpg

You’ve been doing:
Foundation and Fortification - 3x / week
Basic Core - 3x / week

Right, now let’s get serious. We’re going to really work the core and turn up the heat.

Remember these workouts are in addition to your foundational exercises.  You’re starting with your foundation workout, climbing a lot, and working your core. You will replace the Basic CORE with the Hard CORE workouts below, 2x a week.

Hard Core Workout 2x / Week

Planks / Side Planks

The Plank is one of the best exercises for core conditioning because it also works your glutes and hamstrings, supports proper posture, and improves balance.

- Hold your elbows directly under your shoulders and place your wrists in line with your elbows.
- Push your body up into your upper back and hold your chin close to your neck (like you’re holding an egg between your chin and your throat).
- In this position, brace your abdominals—contract them like expecting a punch in your stomach, squeeze your glute and thigh muscles simultaneously. Continue to breathe normally.
- Hold a plank at least 20 to 30 seconds. (If you’re doing it right, you won’t need  to hold it for longer than 30 sec.)
- Rest for 1 min and repeat for 3-5x

There are many variations. Try planks with a wide stance, do side planks holding each leg off the ground, hold your arm at your side or extended, twist your hips left and right. For bonus points, use a Bosu Ball (ball side down).

Mistakes to avoid:
X - Allowing your hips, head, or shoulders to drop
X - Placing your hands too close together, which creates internal rotation and instability at your shoulder joint
X - Holding your breath
X - Trying to hold the position too long, It is better to maintain proper form for a shorter period of time than to hold improper form for longer.

Basic Plank

Basic Plank

Side Plank, Side Plank with one leg raised

Side Plank, Side Plank with one leg raised

Modified Side Plank

Modified Side Plank

Basic Plank with one leg raised

Basic Plank with one leg raised

Planks with Hip Twists

Planks with Hip Twists

Mountain Climbers / Suspended Mountain Climbers

These are an excellent challenge for the core muscle group. MC’’s and SMC’s work everything from your shoulders to your knees. These can be  a great cardio exercise.  If you have access to a TRX setup we highly recommend using it to perform a suspended variation.  If you don’t, performing this from a push-up position is also excellent.

- Begin in a pushup position.
- Bring one leg into your chest, then switch legs. 
- Keep the weight on the straight leg and hold the plank position. 
- Repeat for 10-12x.

3 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Mountain Climbers-01.jpg

Standing Leg Wood Chop w/Medicine Ball

The wood chop works the abs but targets the obliques.  Unlike static planks, the wood chop targets your middle while your middle is in motion, making this move a serious functional fitness maneuver. These can be done in a standing position, or for a better workout, while standing on one leg. Use a 5-10 lbs. medicine ball. If you don’t have a medicine ball, use bag of rice / large soup can / pack stuffed with a rope.

- Stand on right leg, (left leg bent, thigh parallel to the ground).
- Hold medicine ball up with both hands to the right side.
- Quickly and smoothly bring the ball down to the left side.
- Keep torso upright, do not bend your torso, keep standing leg slightly bent and restore to the starting position.
- Repeat 6 -12x.  Repeat with the other side.

4 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Wood Chop.jpg

Modified Front Lever

This is the first seriously challenging exercise in our program and also one that starts to put together some of the work we’re doing like grip and core strength. These are hard. Just getting into the position is a challenge, which is exactly what we want.  This move is a direct correlation to moves we may do when mixed climbing. Refer to pics.

- Hang straight.
- Bring one leg into your chest
- Bring your back and the opposite leg (keep it straight) to a parallel position with the ground. - - Hold the position for up to 20 sec.
- Repeat 6-12x.

5 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Front Lever.jpg

For an excellent series of serious core exercises and all kinds of training for climbers in general, look no further than Eric Hörst’s Training For Climbing.  In particular this, Hörst video from Epic TV demonstrates several workouts that are of particular interest to ice and mixed climbers: