Ice Climbing Training 101

By October 9, 2008 6 Comments

Butterfly excercise

I often get asked how do you train for ice climbing, and for many years I just climbed and that was by far the best training and still is. When I started pushing my limits on how far I could hike and climb in a day I realized I needed to train harder. Im pretty lucky given I own a climbing gym and I have figured out how to use the gym as great training for the mountains.

Frenchies with feet

For the first phase of this program I figured most of you will not have been training and I wanted to make the first phase a warmup phase to progress you into the next. For the most part you can do this entire training in your local climbing gym, if you dont have a local climbing gym let me know and I can give you some alternative options.

Phase one – two weeks 2-3 times a week

1. Traverse for 5 minutes warming up grabbing jugs only

2 minute rest

2. Traverse non stop on wall for 15 minutes

3. Start Circuit

A. Pull Ups-wide

B. Butterflies- hold yourself to the wall for 10 seconds then lower back to full extension of the arms and come back holding
ur face close to the wall for another 10 seconds and repeat until failure.

C. Frenchies- like a pull up but holding yourself all the way up and holding for 3 seconds, then lower to half way and hold
again for 3 seconds and then lower almost all the way down and hold again for 3 seconds and then all the way back up
and repeat until failure. To get started feel free to use your feet for the sets. Make sure you never straighten your arms.

D. Push Ups

You will do the circuit 4 times all reps until failure and no rest

4. Ice tool dead hangs
Wear gloves if you can, it makes it easier on the hands, also if you can put your feet on something like an edge for the end
burn. You will do 4 sets and resting between sets will be push ups until failure.

Your goal is to workout 2-3 times a week and do at least 30 minutes cardio training on your off days.

Have fun!



  • gravelgrl says:

    I don’t think I would close that long list of hard shit with “have fun”….it should read “this is gonna suck but it will all be worth it later on” but perhaps I’m just bitter as it is my second week and I still cannot take a deep breath without grimacing…

  • John says:

    Great info Aaron! What kind of rep schemes are you doing for the butterflies and frenchies? 5×5? X sets till failure? Do you consistently do them every week?

    And are your DH pullups on the tools you climb on or do you use dowels?


  • Aaron Mulkey says:

    Hey John,

    I do 4 sets of butterflies, push ups, frenchies and pull ups and in that order. I do them as a circuit going from one to the other without stopping. Im currently on a little different training right now but i was doing these same exercises 2-3 times a week but for only two weeks then changed up a bit. I use my tools and wear a thin fleece glove otherwise it tears up my hands.

  • Aaron Mulkey says:

    John I see your really into training, if you want I will send you what im doing now. Since I see you are already training hard.

    Let me know!


  • John says:

    Awesome! Please do! And while you’re at it directions/beta to the Ishawooa Creek drainage… saw the alpinist (RIP) article and that area looks awesome!

    john DOT p DOT frieh AT gmail DOT com

  • Anonymous says:

    Good work out arron but I might not get around to that one till the end of Ice season when I am in a little beter shape.
    Kenny Schneider