Climbing or moving suspended from the ground with gradual continued process is usually one of the first primitive movement patterns that we start to lose. This movement is generally seen in play as we are young. We would think nothing of climbing up a tree, or on a jungle gym set as we were kids. But as we got older we did less and less of this type of play. We traded out climbing up and down objects for playing sports (of which climbing would never be a part of) or becoming sedentary (definitely not a part of this). In fact, unless someone took up rock climbing or mountain climbing as a recreational sport the only time we climb in our adult lives is going up a ladder. Even in the gym we lose out on our climbing capability choosing exercises that do not emphasize the muscles or patterns designed for climbing, or loads not enough to stimulate the strength for climbing.
Climbing requires a great bit of grip strength, upper back strength, core strength and coordination (I would also be remised if I didn’t mention body weight matters greatly in this movement pattern and may be a barrier to certain types of climbing). Once it is lost we must work to gain it back. Have you ever gone to the playground and try to do the monkey bars lately. It feels like you are going to rip your arms out of your sockets. It is very difficult to bare all of your body weight suspended off the ground. Then to add movement to it drastically increases the intensity. The body needs to be prepared for this. As with all of these movements, there are many ways to climb. For the sake of this blog I will go over the progressions of a lateral bar climb.
Static hang– Just grab onto a pull-up bar and hang there. This will help strengthen grip and get the upper body used to supporting the entire body weight. If this is too intense start with one foot on a box to take away some of the bodyweight.
Static Hand with contraction– In the hanging position, pull your shoulders down, contracting you lats. You can hold in this position or do reps (mini pull-ups if you will)
Bent arm Hang– Hold onto the bar with fully flexed arms. To progress this, hold onto the bar with arms flexed to 90 degrees.
Eccentric Pull up– Jump up to the fully flexed bent arm hang and lower yourself as slow as possible to the ground.
Assisted Pull up– Do a pull-up by using a band, a partner, an assist pull up machine or you can even self-assist by putting one foot on a box.
Non Assisted Pull up– Do a regular pull up.
Assisted Y Pull-up– Do an assisted pull-up by pulling your chin to one hand and lowering back to the middle, then pull your chin to the other had and lower yourself back to the middle
Y pull-up– Do a pull-up by pulling your chin to one hand and lowering back to the middle, then pull your chin to the other had and lower yourself back to the middle.
Bar lateral climb– Start at one end of a pull-up bar. In a 90 degree flexed arm hang position, walk your hands from one end of the bar to the other and then return back. Start with large “steps” with your hands. As this gets easier, decrease the distance that your hands move as you travel across the bar.