Summer fitness is a specific type of fitness. With the season’s long days and warm, stable weather, we can get after it all day on alpine rock routes, sport climbs, high-country bouldering, and travel to new cliffs. And, with tons of outdoor options to choose from, the gym and training quickly become an afterthought. After all, you spent all winter on the hangboard, pull-up bar, and bouldering in the gym to be fit for this most blessed season—so why head back indoors while the weather is still nice?
Well, one reality of summer fitness is also a drop in power. You might have legendary endurance and barely get winded on steep approaches or 40-meter monster pitches, but as fall comes you begin to notice your fingers aren’t closing on the smallest grips and you can’t pull quite as hard. “But wait,” you think. “I’m fit. So why am I getting weaker?” Like any facet of climbing performance, power needs the occasional tune-up, even if you’re already in shape.
We’ve compiled 6 must-have training tools to help you take that summer sass and add back in a touch of Grr, so you can get your try-hard on as autumn’s sending temperatures descend. Whether you’re getting after it at your local gym or home training dojo, these products will help you train efficiently and smartly to refine your sending game. (For more training tools, visit Backcountry.com.)
Metolius Mini Tech Footholds – 5-Pack
Metolius has been in the hold-making game for decades, and their experience and expertise show in the clever, technical nature of their shapes. For a home wall or spray wall, there are no better footholds than the thin, metal Mini Techs. With subtle, rippled indentations, these screw-on jibs force you to push hard and be precise with your feet, triggering the core activation you need to effectively train body tension, from your piggies up through your fingertips. These metal footholds are also long lasting; they screw into existing T-nut holes via the tapered bolt hole and do not come with mounting hardware.
Trango Rock Prodigy Forge
Fingers feeling weak on the micro-crimps and shallow pockets of your “Send-tember” proj? Then it’s time to get beastly on the hangboard. Trango’s Rock Prodigy Forge is a gold standard for hangboards, and for good reason. It has killer texture—sticky without being abrasive—and a panoply of holds in a small, easy-to-mount, mirrored package. There are 6 pockets, 4 crimps (two “slimpers” and two that use a crafty thumb-catch/support to keep you from overtraining in the closed-crimp position), 4 challenging slopers (two 30-degree and two 40-degree), and various pinches.
Metolius Gripsaver Plus
You don’t always have access to the gym, or you might just want a simple, effective way to warm up, finalize the pump at the cliffs, or even train antagonist forearm muscles to prevent tendonitis. The Gripsaver Plus has your back: With three levels of tension/difficulty (Soft, Medium, and Hard), this foam ball coupled with rubber tabs for each of your five digits gets your fingers, wrists, and forearm flexors moving. Squeeze the ball over and over, rapidly, to fire your fast-twitch muscles; use the pull tabs to work your antagonists; or combine squeezing and pulling action for the full package. It’s also portable (stash it in a pocket) and makes for a great fidget toy—just not on rest days! Comes in three versions: Soft, Medium, and Hard.
Petzl Power Ball Chalk
Any training session worth its salt will involve near-constant motion—from problem to problem or activity to activity—and the ensuing sweaty palms. Crushed chalk is nice, but it’s also pricey and a shame to waste while hucking sloppy, frenzied laps on 4-by-4s. A chalk ball, kept in your chalk bag or chalk bucket, is the way to go for training—you get the coverage you need with zero spillage. In this stylish 1.4-ounce sphere, Petzl offers a refined chalk blend enclosed in extra-fine mesh, to keep the chalk on your hands and not airborne or yard-saled all over the mats.
Working power-endurance usually involves concentrated blasts of time on the wall, as with bouldering circuits or 4-by-4s. Or you may be working pure power on an app-driven wall like the Moon, Kilter, or Tension board. In either case, it’s good to minimize on-off fuss with your rock shoes, so you can focus instead on the climbing. Scarpa’s first indoor-specific shoe, the Veloce, has long gym sessions in mind, with a canny blend of comfort and performance that makes them ideal for training. The shoes have a thin (1mm) Flexan midsole that provides good bite for edging, a roomy, semi-rounded toe and only mild downturn to prevent foot cramping, a DTS tension rand that helps the shoes hold their shape, and Scarpa’s proprietary, hard-wearing S-72 outsole. The quick-release hook-and-loop closure makes for solid tightening and easy removal as well.
La Sportiva Theory
Perhaps you’re feeling gormy on crux moves because you’ve been avoiding gym bouldering, with its focus on powerful, dynamic motion on volumes and crafty, out-of-the-box footwork. Time to reclaim your mojo with a shoe built for modern gym climbing: the Theory. These aggressively downturned shoes were built for the modern, parkour-like “comp style”: They have a variable-thickness XS-Grip 2 outsole that gives them mad flex for smearing, a rounded sole/rand merger (the No Edge technology) on the back of the forefoot that lets the shoes deform on volumes, a massive toe-scumming patch of creased, grippy rubber, and a stiff heel with a “mohawk” of yellow rubber that locks in hooks like a hand. The Theory is also soft and highly sensitive—size small, with a sock-like fit, for max precision.