If you’ve checked out my instagram at all, you might have seen that I have a little home gym. I had a request to post about how training on it has worked out for me.
First, let me paint a picture. I’ve always wanted a home wall. To me that was the pinnacle of indoor climbing. Your own facility, with your own rules, your own boulder problems, etc. I always envisioned something a little more grand, say like Steven Jeffery’s uber-dense wall, but living as a graduate student with the sky-rocketing rent of Seattle kind of limited the size of what I could afford. When I’m done being a broke student, and start house hunting, space for a real gym will definitely be a must. For now, I make do with what I have. The justification for building my current wall was to save money by cancelling my membership to Seattle Bouldering Project and to save time by being able to train whenever my schedule allowed. Now to add a few more brushstrokes, we should talk about my training. I’m currently working with Team of 2, doing a 5 week online plan. Side note: If you’re unfamiliar with To2, they are Justen Sjong and Kris Peters. They’re based in Boulder, and have trained Daniel Woods, Alex Puccio, Nina Williams, Alex Johnson, and many others. They now provide online training plans for climbers of all skill level. I’ll eventually post a review of my experience with them. Anyway, my training consists of hard climbing, hang board, TRX training, weightlifting, campus boarding, and theraband exercises. With my small woody, I can do all but the campus boarding. Let’s go through in chunks and I’ll explain how in/effective the woody is for everything.
For my hangboarding I do three exercises: assisted one arm pull ups, assisted one hand dead hangs, and weighted two hand dead hangs. All exercises are done on edges (there’s an argument for only needing to hangboard on edges which I won’t get into here). So until I no longer need assistance, I only need three different edge sizes. Instead of having a huge hangboard I opted for campus board rungs. Specifically, Atomik’s, because I got a full set of factory seconds at a huge discount! I have a 2″ for pull ups, 1″ for one arm hangs, and a 3/4″ for weighted hangs. The 2″ and 1″ are mounted at the top of the mini roof so I have plenty of space to flail my limbs for one arm pull ups as well as run a pulley system to take weight off.
The woody works very well for hangboarding, and is the workout I do most consistently at home. The added benefit of being able to properly warm up by climbing beforehand is really useful for me; I’ve never found a good way to warm up the fingers on just a hangboard.
TRX, weights, and Therabands
With the same bolt hangers used for the pulley system I can hang a TRX. Well actually a knock-off because I’m not paying $200 for some straps. The “TRX” itself works great, but since my ceiling is only 8′ the range of motion for some exercises can feel awkward. For weight-lifting, I don’t do much, and what I do is mostly for injury prevention. I’m not trying to get swole or anything. I have a set of adjustable weight dumbbells, max 20 lbs. With these I can do shoulders, back, chest, and forearms. Therabands are easy enough: step on them, strap ’em on something, or just yank on them. Really no woody required for that one.
Ok, so obviously this is the big one. The point of a woody is so you can climb. Mine fills out our second bedroom which is 9′ by 13′. It’s a main 45 degree wall that meets a 4′ by 4′ mini roof on the right and a mini 15 degree wall with a small vertical section connecting back to the mini roof.
Remember this is all under an 8′ ceiling. Due to my own poor planning, I only have about 4 holds that are useful on the roof, so that’s worthless. The 15 is too narrow to get any real movement out of it, so now it’s a pseudo hangboard station and minimal system wall. Last and in some ways least is the 45. At 8′, it’s plenty wide so movement doesn’t feel restricted, but at 8′ tall there’s not much room to actually climb: two big moves from a scrunchy sit start and you’re at the top. Not that useful. Because my hard climbing days consist of either projecting or doing a lot of problems, I don’t actually climb on the woody very often. Instead I go to the dinky climbing wall at school because it’s $45 per quarter. Oh and I still go to Seattle Bouldering Project once a week to do my campus board workout and have to buy a day pass. I would say my wall is a bit of a failure (b-but it’s still cool though, right?). I am technically saving money monthly relative to just keeping my SBP membership, but I think it would take me about 2-3 years of what I’m currently doing to break even with the total expense of building the wall.
To make the woody a little more functional, I’m already planning a remodel. I’m going to extend a 60 degree section off the middle of the 45, which will give about 11′ of direct climbing path. Add more vertical panels to vary the starting positions, and build out the side of the 15, to get some compression movement out of it. I’ll have zero room for storage, but I’ll figure that out later. I think once that’s done, other than campus boarding, which there’s no real hope for in my apartment, training on my woody will be self contained.
TL;DR: if you want to build a woody with minimal height, go steep so you can do more than two moves at a time…