Training - Introduction

Whether you’re a trad climber hanging off a crimper, trying to fiddle in your next piece of pro; a sport climber trying to pinch your way up the overhung arête to the next clip; or a boulderer making a desperate throw from a undercling edge trying to stick a sloper, Gstrings and Pocket Rocks can benefit your contact and core strength and endurance so you can hang on to initiate and complete the next movement necessary for your send.

However, good intentions never improved anyone’s climbing. Persistence, consistency, knowledge, goal setting, and keeping training records are what helps one improve. I used to work at Rosetta Stone, and family and friends would frequently ask me if the program really worked. My response, which also applies here, was: “Yes, if you use the product correctly and are consistent in your practice.”

Gstrings and Pocket Rocks can benefit you whether you’re a serious training fiend or just a “weekend warrior” training to stay in climbing shape. But maintenance and gains in core and contact strength can only happen through disciplined and integrated use together with regular climbing and an overall training program.

Caution - Read this!

  1. If you’re fairly new to climbing, muscles tend to develop much faster than tendons. Don’t over do your training. Tendons can take 1-2 years or longer to gain full strength. New climbers often overtrain due to their new-found enthusiasm for the sport and their desire to get better, quick!  If you’re a new climber, please use one of the weight reduction methods detailed here and don’t train single/duo finger combos. That’s for advanced climbers only.

  2. Don’t train on Gstrings or Pocket Rocks more than 2-3 times a week and allow at least 1-2 rest days between workouts.

  3. Don’t hang or do pull-ups with arms extended straight and elbows locked. Always have arms slightly bent when hanging or initiating pull-ups or any other movement. This can prevent elbow and shoulder injury.

  4. By climbing and training on Gstrings/Pocket Rocks, you’re developing a very select group of muscles. This can lead to muscle imbalance and injury. It is helpful to train antagonist muscle groups (see training links).

  5. Training involves repetitive motion. When climbing outside on rock, the angles, grip types, and positions of fingers, hands, arms and shoulders are infinite and constantly changing due to the natural features of the rock. However in grip training, the same positions are used over and over. This can lead to repetitive stress injuries.  Please be vigilant and stop if you are starting to experience pain. Rest is the best cure when starting to experience problems.

  6. Gstrings and Pocket Rocks mainly train the upper body (and core to a lesser degree, depending upon how they are used). It’s up to you to integrate the gain in contact strength into efficient and technical climbing movements. Don’t ignore the importance of the whole body in climbing: movement initiation, transitions, balance, sequence, position, in short - technique is what climbing is all about. One of the most significant dangers to be aware of, is trying to overcome inefficient technique by relying on newly developed contact strength. Trusting your feet and leveraging the power of your legs play a central role in all climbing, and can only be developed through actual climbing. See The Self-Coached Climber and 9 Out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistake.

    1. Having alerted you to these challenges, Gstrings and Pocket Rocks can play a significant role in training when you’re away from the rocks or gym or as an adjunct to your normal training.