How To Keep Your Crack Climbing Strong In Quarantine

Climber Using JamWalls Home Gym Crax Volumes

How To Keep Your Crack Climbing Strong In Quarantine

Tips, Exercise & Equipment

Crack climbing is what we consider the epitome of a good time. Quarantine, however, is quite literally what we consider the opposite of fun! It was maybe a little too easy at first to put things off and hope it would be over soon. That idea has long since passed, and it’s time to make sure your climbing muscles and overall skills aren’t atrophying. We know first hand that the quarantine frustration is getting pretty real and feeling like you’re losing your grip on well-earned jamming skills is particularly frustrating. I mean, you’ve been climbing for years and strengthening your climbing skills to the point that you’re finally ticking all your top crack climbs. If you’ve trained to climb cracks, you understand that the dedication to growing your jamming skills is very real. Then, the gyms closed, National Parks closed, and your secret spots got taken over by what to do next? Stay strong at home! Below, we’ll outline some of the best ways we’ve found to keep our bodies and minds strong and agile to jam cracks in nature’s beauty as soon as the weather, and covid restrictions, allow. Don’t forget, these are just some of the things we do to stay in the game, it might not work for everyone - but you can adapt any of these suggestions to match your own goals!

At Home Mental And Physical Exercises For Climbers

The Quarantine Crack Climbing Strongholds

There are many different styles of climbing, so all training designed for climbers is certainly not going to be the same. Subsequently, not all training for crack climbing is the same. In fact, depending on the crack climbing adventure you’re going on, you may need to do some very specific muscle strengthening. For this particular blog, we’ll cover the best exercises to keep yourself mentally and physically strong for tackling difficult cracks, just like the ones we love climbing, and building. The following are our tips for solid exercises to practice when training at home, and equipment we recommend you get for your home gym if it’s within your budget.

The first thing to always keep at the top of your mind is that technique over pure muscle will always be your savior. Technique is built through practice and muscle memory. The key to many climbs is figuring out a sequence. This is especially true with cracks. In the time it takes to figure out a jamming sequence, your muscles can easily flame out and down you go!

While it’s super important to stay physically and mentally strong and keep your endurance up - maintaining your skills will be your best bet to confidently hit the cracks again! The second thing to keep in mind is that it will be important to ease yourself back into training if you have taken some months off. The last thing you want to do is end up injured, so be sure to listen to your body, stretch, stay well hydrated, and stay on top of your vitamins and minerals. This leads to the third thing to remember - it’s a lot easier to train a healthy body. Ensuring that not only are your muscles healthy, but that your whole system is well supported is essential for solid training as a climber. Below is a list of some of the regular vitamins and minerals we take, and what we recommend for you to make sure becomes a part of your health routine, too. 

    • Vitamin D
    • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin A
    • Vitamin B12
    • Fish Oil/Omega 3
    • Calcium
    • Magnesium
    • Potassium 

Crack Climbing Specific Training & Gear For Home

Home Gym Crack Walls: Of course, the best way to keep your crack climbing training strong is to have a crack climbing wall at home. We’ve seen some of the wooden crack machines you’re making at home and we understand sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. But! If you’ve got the space to build wooden systems like that, you’ve definitely got the room to install a proper crack wall. Our last blog goes into great detail about how versatile and realistic our Home Gym Crax Volumes, you should check it out! One thing is for sure, our Crax Volumes are the closest feel you can get to the real thing when climbing at home or in the gym, and they’ll never give you a splinter! Watch the video below of world-class Gym Designer and Professional Route Setter Steven Jeffery . Steven heads up design at Jam Walls, and helps Gyms and Home Gym owners with their builds.. The Jam Walls team will help you with your Dream Wall projects! ake your home training to the next level which means turning your next climbing outing into an even greater adventure!

If you need to save up a little to buy one of our home gym Crax Volumes set-ups, we thought it’d be good to lay out some solid training ideas to stay in the game in the meantime. But don’t forget, we’re offering our product on Home Gym Holiday Special!

Crack Climber's Hands In the JamWalls Sandstone Crax Volume


We asked around to some of our friends and fellow climbers who have been training at home long before Covid came around. Below we’ve put together a look at what some of us have been up to. This is what works for us, make sure you do what works for you!

Some Basic Training Tips for Crack Climbing 

  • Lats are where it’s at - Pulling exercises for back and arms will deliver the best gains in muscle development. Do lots of pull-ups and all their variations, and add free weights to enhance difficulty. Think lat pull downs and overhead pulls with long slow arcs.
  • Grip strength equates to jam strength - Many climbers think grip strength training is just for face climbing, but grip pays off big time with crack climbing too. Go with traditional gripping exercises with lots of rest between.
  • Core strengthening exercises pay off big time when making sequential jam reaches and subsequent toe and foot placements.
  • Speaking of lower extremities, don’t ignore basic routines such as calf raises and the types of foot exercises that promote strong footwork.
  • Protect your digits by taping up when performing finger strength exercises. Use caution as a tendon pull has long lasting consequences.

Hangboards and Campusboards: These workouts are clutch! They’re great for total body strength, finger strength, technique, and endurance. Just remember, if you’ve put your training down for a while or you’re new to climbing make sure you’re fingers are strong enough to do these exercises. You might need to do some of the finger exercises first to build up to this. We’ll cover that next.

    • In this video, you’ll get to see the progress climber Andrew MacFarlane makes over the course of a month while training on a hangboard. He goes pretty hard, and the progress is incredible. Some good training tips in here if you’re ready to take it up a notch!
      Click here to watch! 

    • Oswaldo Zuniga has many awesome videos on his YouTube page, but we felt this one was a good idea to toss in here. Like we said, it’s important to remember that you can hurt yourself on a hangboard if you’re not doing things correctly. Here’s some tips on things to avoid!
      Click here to watch!

Adjustable Hand and Finger exercisers: It’s not news to anyone that finger strength is very important for crack climbing, especially when you need to finger jam a shallow crack. There are many different tools you can buy for this, and below in the strength training section we listed a great video for band training your fingers.

  • The folks over at put out a great article on “protective training” for your fingers, which also includes a solid little video with a 6 minute daily finger strength training routine.
    Click here to watch! 

Bachar Ladder kit: Developed with some PVC piping and ropes by the late and great climber John Bachar, this is a challenging and effective way to strengthen your one arm pull ups. Bachar perfected the one-arm lock-off, and a grip strength sufficient to pinch an overhead 2” x 6” board and crank multiple one-arm pull-ups - 45 years ago! 

    • Check out this beast doing one arm pull ups on a Bachawr ladder, get after it! 
      Click here to watch!

General Strength Training At Home

Weights: Keep a regular weight training routine as if you are preparing to head out on a big rock climbing adventure. Can’t hurt to stay ripped, and hey - being strong is good for your immune system, too. Win-win! We found a few different videos on YouTube that are great for weight training to focus on for climbers. 

    • This video has some great basics for weight training maintenance
      Click here to watch!
    • This video shows how to train HARD for climbing without access to a climbing gym. This video was made in 2019, bet they didn’t know how helpful this would end up being!
      Click here to watch!
    • Here's some overall strength training with some of our favorite current pros!
      Click here to watch!

Bands: Bands are an excellent way to strength train for climbers as it can mimic a lot of the natural movement necessary for great technique. It’s a solid way to build your strength in a small space if building a home gym is tough for you, too.

    • This is a solid and straight forward video we found on YouTube with some climber specific (including finger holds) band training if you need a few suggestions!
      Click here to watch!
    • This is a low-fi but great video that is specific to band training for your hands
      Click here to watch!

Yoga: This is a great exercise for your mind, body, and spirit and as a result has become a common practice for many climbers. As not only strength, but also balance are absolutely essential to being a great and safe climber, yoga is an inherently great practice.

    • This is a shorter video with a great flow specifically meant for climbers that takes less than 20 minutes to do. So, if yoga isn’t your main focus, but something you do to support your training, this is a great one to grab.
      Click here to watch!
    • Made specifically for climbers stuck in quarantine, this is a longer yoga practice that lasts 42 minutes long. Challenging and centering, this would be a solid flow for any level of climber to utilize regularly.
      Click here to watch!

Endurance Training At Home

Overall physical endurance training is going to be important as it is crucial to safe and successful climbing adventures. Further down the blog, we’ll go into more specific endurance training, such as finger endurance. For now, we’re focusing on total body endurance through cardiovascular intensive workouts. One of the more common practices for building up overall endurance is to do a mid-level (to you) route over and over, similarly to a distance runner doing laps on a track. If you don’t have a home climbing wall to do many laps on the same route with, we recommend you at least build your endurance up through other cardiovascular exercise. Is there an exercise bike, elliptical, or treadmill collecting dust somewhere in your house? Now is the time to use them! No matter what endurance training you’re doing, be sure to set goals to ensure you’re actually making progress. So, if you’re starting off jogging 3 miles a day on your treadmill and feeling pretty maxed out by the end of it, make a goal (that fits your physical health and limits) to hit 4 miles by a certain date, and so forth. If you are swimming routes on a home climbing gym to build endurance that way, set up similar goals. Ie, if you can do the route 5 times in a row without falling off or hurting yourself, set a goal for when you can push yourself to do 10 runs, then 15 runs, and so forth. Just make sure you’re listening to your body so as to not hurt yourself and end up dealing with painful setbacks.

Equipment Free Workouts: If you don’t have equipment like a home climbing gym or any kind of home gym equipment, there are a ton of great videos for low impact, high intensity endurance trainings on YouTube. Also, never underestimate the power of jumping jacks, burpees and general HIIT workouts! All you need is space. 

  • This video was made right around the beginning of Quarantine, so this fella made a whole home training gym and a crude climbing gym right in his garage. This video also includes some solid at-home training tips.
    Click here to watch!
  • This quick little 1 minute video is a perfect HIIT for any climber to add reps of to their training routine.
    Click here to watch! 
  • In this 30+ minute HIIT workout video, it walks you through reps, and minimal stretches. We’d like to again remind you to PLEASE STRETCH! Staying limber and keeping your tendons, muscles, ligaments, facia, and joints healthy is crucial. So follow this work out for the endurance and not for the stretches.
    Click here to watch!
  • To go a little harder on your HIIT and get some real core and balance training in, check out this video that’s just under an hour.
    Click here to watch! 

Balance Exercises: These are great for endurance, strength and for overall enhancement of your climbing abilities, especially when it comes to crack climbing! Balance is all part of your technique, too. Your muscles might be screaming and the next hand jam might feel impossible - a strong sense of balance can provide a whole lot of relief when you need it. 

    • Pablo Scorza knows a thing or two about training so we figured why not use his advice! If you’ve got a big ol’ work out ball at home, you got this!
      Click here to watch!
    • We’ve got a “triple threat” with this video! It’s a yoga routine for climbers focused on balance AND flexibility! Score. Also, it’s a great video for maintaining your balance and flexibility, as well as a great video for getting more into your practice of flexibility and balance.
      Click here to watch! 

Mental Agility Training At Home

Meditation: This isn’t for everyone but it is something that has certainly been a help to some of us! Practicing mindfulness meditations is something we have personally found will aid us in remaining calm and focused on technique. It’s all too easy to focus on what we can’t control when we find ourselves in challenging situations, so staying in tune with your skill and aptitude for proper technique and procedure is always the safest bet.

Intellectual Mental Exercise, aka Brain Teasers: When you’re deep into a pitch and suddenly find yourself in a situation you didn’t expect, quick thinking can quite literally save your, or someone else's', life. We found this fun website with all sorts of games to keep your thinking sharp.

Visualization/Mental Training: More specific to the climbers brain, studying your climbing routes is a great way to keep your head in the game and stay sharp. Look up your favorite climbing routes, or more specifically a route you’re planning on doing and practice visualizing them in your mind. 

    • We found a great article from regarding visualization theory and techniques, including practices for getting started if this is a new concept for you.
      Click here to check it out!
    • wrote this awesome article with some excellent mental training tips for climbers, too. Check it out! 
      Click here to check it out!
    • University of North Carolina published an impressive memory study that also provides a number of memory tips and tricks. These could really help a climber work on getting focused and strengthening overall memory skills. Some solid stuff in here. 
      Click here to check it out!

Stay Training, Stay Healthy, Stay Happy

We hope this blog helps keep your head and body in the crack climbing game. Don’t forget to check out our Home Gym Holiday Special and see if you can make someone’s year with the purchase of a Crax Volume!

Two climbers on a home gym Crax Volume by JamWalls


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