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Pro climbers live a charmed life. It’s not because they get paid to travel the world climbing in exotic locales and eat free protein bars. It’s because they don’t have to work, so they can spend all their time training. Us 9-5ers are stuck in a catch-22. We all want to climb 5.16, but we don’t have the time to get there because of our jobs. Well, let me let you in on a little secret: You can train for climbing all day every day with these simple exercises. Do them all the time whenever you can, and before you know it, there’ll be someone knocking on your door looking to sponsor you.
Some form of public transportation in which standing is permitted.
The average American spends 25.4 minutes commuting to and from work each day, and some people spend more than an hour just going one way. Use public transportation for your trip to work: It’s better for the environment, and offers you the chance to get in a killer workout. Most trains and city buses offer standing room, and those that do always have some kind of bar or strap to hold onto. This is your gym. Reach up and grasp it with both hands and begin doing pull-ups. Repeat to failure, being conscientious to count reps audibly and grunt loudly as you become fatigued. If done properly, you’ll train the pulling muscles vital to our sport, everyone will see how strong you are, and maybe some cutie will even give you his or her number, and you’ll buy a Sprinter and get married.
As you become more adept at these exercises, you can begin incorporating more difficult maneuvers such as front levers and flags, which engage more muscle groups and push farther into the personal space of your fellow passengers. At the expert level, experiment with adding a hat or cup on the floor in which onlookers can place money. That’s tax-free income.
A plastic, paper, or cloth shopping bag filled with groceries.
This is a good one for city dwellers. Simply go to the store, buy groceries, and carry them home. The trick to making this a climber-specific workout is adjusting your grip. Normally we carry bags with the meat of our hands, but for this exercise you should allow the bag handles to slide down until you’re holding them with just the tips of your fingers. This will train the crucial open-hand grip position.
The standard version of this exercise engages your four primary, non-thumb fingers. In order to train more specifically, try using various finger combinations instead. You can eliminate your pinky. You can use two-finger grips like your middle and index finger. The truly advanced can even drop it down to just one finger. To increase the difficulty, buy more milk or move farther away from the grocery store. Only move one block farther at first, then increase the distance one more block every few months as you adjust to the training load, being careful not to move so far that you are closer to a different grocery store—as with any training program, consistency is key. Always use multiple bags as you add more jugs of milk to prevent bag failure, which ends the training session and forces you to spend money on a cab.
Office Chair Ab Blasters
A desk job.
If ’90s aerobic VHS tapes have taught us anything, it’s that you can achieve rock-hard, beach-ready abs in just eight minutes a day, so imagine how ripped your core would be if you trained it for eight hours a day. At first glance your ergonomic office chair might not look like a killer core trainer, but allow me to blow your mind: You can train your core anywhere. All you have to do is squeeze your ab muscles as hard as you can. Start by trying to keep your abs tight throughout the time it takes you to forward a funny cat photo to everyone on your team. Once you’ve mastered that, see if you can hold it while you write a passive-aggressive note to whoever has been eating your Fage yogurts out of the fridge. Your goal is to work up to squeezing your abs from when you clock in to when you clock out eight hours later. Your coworkers will think you’re boiling over with rage from the recently announced changes to the company 401k plan as you turn red and perspire from the strain—little do they know you’re just putting the “workout” in the “work day.” Warning: Performing this exercise too aggressively may cause you to poop in your slacks.
For a more challenging core workout, raise your legs straight from your chair and try to hold them this way for eight hours as you explain to your coworkers that sitting is killing all of us. To challenge other muscle groups, contract them also. For a truly intense full-body workout, curl up into a ball under your desk and contract all of your muscles as hard as you can. Tell HR you’re fine and insist you don’t need to see a counselor as you feel the burn.
Q: Can’t I use kettlebells instead of shopping bags?
A: Ha! Good luck finding a grocery store that sells kettlebells.
Q: Is bike commuting effective training?
A: For the Tour de France.
Q: Should I replace my chair with a yoga ball?
A: Those are great for training your coworkers to make fun of you behind your back.