Alpine Training Gym Part 2: Crack Attack

We promised to show you the alpine training gym in action, so here it is. When Mike built this gym, we both cancelled our gym memberships and began training here regularly.Mike hand crack in boot
Mike just had surgery to repair his ankle, so he can’t jam with one of his feet. This makes crack climbing much more difficult, but that doesn’t stop Mike. Here is the man himself climbing a the roof handcrack with only one foot.Michal Resting HandcrackClimbing the handcrack is much easier with two working feet. The crack is 10 feet long and my personal best so far is 24 consecutive lengths.Michal Handrack Side ProfileHandcracks are PumpyHandcrack RowThe handcrack is also fun for shenanigans like horizontal rows (think pull-ups but horizontal) and L-sits. Try hanging a handcrack while holding an L-sit for a whole minute. It is a real ab burner!Monkey Man MikeMike is no slouch on the finger crack either, even wearing a boot. Last session, we tilted back the crack about 25 degrees.Michal Finger CrackThis is a good angle to train for one of my dream pitches, Broken Brain. The headwall is about 30 degrees overhung on 1 – .5 Camalots.Michal RatchetsFingers are a good size, but the point of training is to work on our weaknesses. Bring on the ringlocks and ratchets!Painful RatchetsRattly finger jams must be kept high above the head to lock well. The crack sizes from left to right are .4, baggy .5/red Metolius, tight .75, good .75, baggy .75/black Metolius. For me, this equates to fingers, ratchets, tight thumbstacks, thumbstacks, and thin hands.ThumbstacksMichal P Bar Push Ups copyCrack training is not the only training we do. We like to do sets of 15-25 parallel bar push-ups with feet elevated in between sets of crack training. Parallel bars allow for a very deep push-up through the entire range of motion, and elevating the feet provides for extra resistance and more shoulder impact. Opposition training is essential for strengthening pushing muscles to balance out pulling muscles and preventing injuries.Michal Hangboard SideMichal Hangboard Back copy  Mike also built a hangboard setup with an integrated pulley system for reducing resistance. The soapbar pinches are some of the most difficult holds to hang. We even rigged up an iPhone holder so we can use the Hang Timer app for training.Michal Crack WorkoutMichal Hangboard Workout-1Finally, I have included an example of my last workout to show how we use the setup.

A few things to note:

Wood is slippery. We recommend tape for roof cracks. However, skin is grippier than tape on wood. That is why we don’t tape our fingers for finger cracks.

Wood is stickier with a little humidity. We breathe on our hands before hanging wooden holds like the soapbar pinches to increase friction.

Did you miss our last post? Check out how we built the alpine training gym!

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