arm work

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Working the upper body, upper limb, chest and arms, “big muscles” as we sometimes hear…sounds obvious: it is essential for every climber and every climber awaits progress. Three of our specialists, Guillaume Levernier, Lino Bourgeais and Aurélie Dutertre give us their opinion on the matter.

First, what are we talking about? Here we will discuss prevention, reinforcement and development of the physical qualities that argue about the strength qualities at the level of the arms as well as the joint that connects them to the trunk, that is, the complex joint: the shoulder. It is the cause of many diseases of climbers. It is necessary to address this point because, as Guillaume Levernier and Lino Burgess explain: Upper body development is an integral part of climbing and advancing the activity, among others because if holding the hold is key, you still have to do it. Being able to start a movement until you have the opportunity to hold the next control!

However, running to your pull-up bar to pull yourself off the ground in the heaviest heavy jacket possible isn’t the point of this class, nor in the eyes of the three tweeters, the priority when considering arm work. At the risk of repeating ourselves, the priorities for physical readiness are and must remain postural alignment, postural rebalancing and, ultimately, reducing the risk of long-term injury. In addition, loading the muscles that work the most in our activity will be a mistake. Passive structures that allow the transmission of forces (like pulleys or strings for example) can be subjected to very high tensions compared to those they are meant to support.

So it is work with light loads, even if it is empty or lightened, and it will be necessary to start with it. Even at high levels, many climbers find it difficult to have “fair” contractions when loads are high. In addition, one of the big problems that we note on all levels is the lack of relaxation, and intense work on the upper body can contribute to strengthening the latter.

work_arms © jannovskphotography

So here we advise you to start working on the arms, shoulders and chest with preventative exercises like the ones Aurélie Dutertre will suggest to you below, and continue with light work on the TRX, Swiss ball, pull-up bars and rubber bands, always making sure to maintain proper posture.

Also, in the second part of this chapter devoted to the arms, Lino Bourgeais will introduce you to some strengthening exercises that are more intense than prevention exercises. This will then allow you to move on to a more specific action, such as no-footing geared arm, or even a golish pan. All this with the aim of getting fast and strong contractions, sometimes with high loads. In any case, it will always be your goals and material resources that should guide the development of your qualities: for example, a difficulty climber will have to focus more on isometric work than a climber.

point on climbing bursa

Bursitis is characterized by inflammation of the shoulder bursa (the bursa that contains fluid that facilitates movement in the joint).

So we are dealing with an overuse syndrome which is often associated with the climber’s twisted forward posture. This type of inflammation is very common in the climbing world and can, if poorly managed, be the cause of more serious tendinopathy such as the long biceps or supraspinatus for example.

That is why postural work will be essential, both in the prevention of this type of disease and in recovery. In fact, the work of physical therapists will have an analgesic goal first before focusing on a more postural and functional goal. This second axle will be organized around stiffening the external shoulder rotors, scapula stabilizers, and shoulder stabilizers, as well as tensioning the front chains often on the climber. Orthopedic intervention can also pay off, in particular by working to release the areas of tension, which in turn will allow the release of the shoulder complex.

Set up a preventive routine

Before attacking the bodybuilding phase, it is necessary to go through a period of conditioning through light work. So here Aurélie Dutertre offers us some exercises aimed at this preventive action of prevention, based on stretching and strengthening exercises. To put all of this in place, a good strategy can be to bundle all of these exercises together and take an hour twice a week to do your preventative routine.

Shoulder muscle stretch

directione:
Respect the postures, don’t just focus on the stretched muscles but also try to model the muscle chains as a whole.
Between 10 and 30 seconds per stretch, with about 10 seconds of rest between each exercise. To do outside a climbing session. 1 day out of 2.

Reinforcement with rubber bands

Exercise 1: Running the outer rotors (infraspinatus and teres minor)

work_arm3

NB: Dose the resistance well (light load), standing lateral to the support around which the elastic is suspended, arm and forearm form a 90-degree angle, elbow against chest. It is also possible to do this with the arm and elbow extended from the body.
Weekly Frequency: 2 to 3 sessions per week
Groups and actors: 3 sets of 10 repetitions of the gesture
Rest time between each set: 1 minute
Exercises performed outside of climbing sessions

Exercise 2: Shoulder Stabilizers

Action_arm 2

directione: Standing, arms outstretched forward at shoulder height, elastic band held in front of us as well. Keep your arms straight and try to tighten your shoulders, making sure to keep your shoulders low. Try locking your shoulder blades (the ones that move in this exercise). When released, check for elasticity. The pelvis is still in rebound, and the abdominal muscles are fixed to protect the back.

Weekly Frequency: 2 to 3 sessions per week
Groups and actors: 3 sets of 10 repetitions of the gesture
Rest time between each set: 1 minute
Exercises performed outside of climbing sessions

Exercise 3: Pull-ups assisted with an elastic band (Latissimus dorsi and anterior serratus, scapula stabilizers)

work_arm1

directione: When you can do 10 pull-ups, switch to a lower-resistance elastic until you’re successful in doing them without a stretch.
Weekly Frequency: 2 to 3 sessions per week
Groups and actors: 3 sets of 10 repetitions of the gesture
Rest time between each set: 1 minute
Exercises performed outside of climbing sessions

Exercise 4: Shoulder Depressor

arm work
directione: Fight elevation of the humerus by strengthening the shoulder flexors. Hold the load with one hand, make small circles with your arms outstretched, try to free the shoulder well, keeping your back straight, and your legs slightly bent, or lie on a table to avoid hurting your back.
Weekly Frequency: 2 to 3 sessions per week
Groups and actors: 3 chains of 10 cue repetitions (one gesture = small circle)
Rest time between each set: 1 minute
Exercises performed outside of climbing sessions
The dumbbells should not be too heavy: the weight from which the first signs of fatigue appear 10 seconds after the isometric position should be.

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