September 7, 2011 posted by

The One Workout Every ONE Should Do

My latest training article for DPM has launched. It’s titled The One Workout Every Climber Should Do but it’s a workout every single person should do. Although the strength you gain from it is very specifically applied to climbing it’s also vital for almost everything else you do with your upper body. So while it may not be the ONE workouts you should do, everyone will reap huge benefits from it. I could go on but I’ll quote the article instead.

Climbers aren’t the only demographic to ignore the importance of stability training. A few sports scientist friends, trying to answer the riddle as to why bigger, stronger and faster-than-ever-before athletes are also most injured in history found that most—in some cases as high as 90%–showed significant muscular imbalance. When we’re out of balance don’t move with biomechanical efficiency and our linear movements don’t “track” correctly. When this occurs an injury can happen anywhere along the body’s kinetic (movement) chain.

In populations where these imbalances have been correct they’ve seen non-contact injury rates plummet. The major areas of focus are the shoulders and hips. Pelvic (hip in the colloquial) stability can be important for climbers (and everyone) but in the need-to world of sports specific performance we’re only going to address the shoulders.

This region hosts the origin of almost every move that climbing begins with. And while it does not include the “money” area, the hands and forearms, biomechanical alignment problems will radiate to that area as well, meaning that imbalances in the scapular region can lead to elbow, wrist, or even finger problems. Even though you rarely fail on a climb because your back or shoulders were pumped, strengthening these areas properly will shift more of each climbing movement’s burden to this region’s larger muscles, thus saving your smaller hand and forearm muscles for when you actually need them. This energy savings also translates to less strain on connective tissues, reducing instances of tendon and ligament damage.

Html version of the article (easier to read)

This article is the second in a series. The first is titled Should You Train?, which means should you train for climbing (it is a climbing magazine after all), but has some application across the board as well and should be worth reading, especially if you participate in a sport where you get a lot of exercise by just doing the sport.

The movement videos should be live sometime today on DPM. If they aren’t you can find them by clicking the two presented here on the You Tube icon and following the series.


  • I have read the DPM article, and I definitely appreciate the detailed description of the workout. Your comment about stability preventing injuries hits home as I approach 40… currently I'm in the best shape of my life, but I'm ever more aware of how an injury could sideline me for quite awhile.Despite your statement that the workout is short, there seem to be enough exercises and reps that it would add up to 30 – 60 min. For me, this is too much to add on to my daily exercise, given the demands of real life. Would you consider this important enough to take this workout and use it 3x/week to replace more traditional resistance workouts (i.e., P90X, etc.)? Until the benchmarks are met, of course.Last question: are you writing a lower-body stability workout?

  • Good question. I thought I addressed it. You don't need to do this all the time. I generally recommend two or three times per week until you can hit benchmarks on the three key exercises, then you just need to do it enough to maintain. Once a week is usually sufficient. You don't need to rest between exercises so it only takes around 20 minutes or so.

  • Hi Steve, tried your prehab workout after a day of bouldering yesterday. Boy my aching 44y shoulders felt really good afterwards! This stuff is gold! I slept like a baby last night because of it! Looking forward to more insightful thoughts and a great winter climbing season! Thanks!!!!Mike

  • Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me back and we'll talk about it. Thanks!Hailey

  • I realize that this may not be the appropriate forum to ask you my question but I dont' know who else to turn to. During the P90X2 webinar with Tony (as well as other places), you mentioned the pullup assist. I've done a pretty thorough internet search and haven't been able to find it. It's not offered by Beachbody and I don't see it anywhere with the P90X2 stuff.I'm on my fourth round of P90X and pull ups are still my weakest spot. You spoke so highly of the pull up assist, I thought it was exactly what I need.I would appreciate any feedback/direction on where I could get one. Thank you.

  • Great stuff. I plan to incorporate these moves into my routine. I'm already doing some PT exercises for some bursitis I had a few months ago. These will fit in well. I'd also be interested in the hip and pelvis stability exercises you touched on. I have issues there with occasional clicking in my pelvis, lower back pain which I feel is hip related, and hip flexor tightness. I'm actively doing the 1on1 p90x vol 3 workouts and have found my hips/glutes are weak spots. Thanks.

  • Thanks very much for this article! I have begun to incorporate these into my routine. I am not a climber but I can see definitely see the benefit. Bub, I have the pull-up assist and you can find it in the Beachbody store under Asylum equipment or you can try this link:

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