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Minimal Equipment Training – COVID 19

| Podcast Episode 16

In this episode Amanda Watts and Tom O’Halloran sit down with Lee Cossey, one of the best climbers Australia has ever seen and one of the best coaching minds in the business. We talk about how you can get the most out of your training while climbing gyms are shut and our access to the outdoors is limited. Finger boarding, strength, mindset and technique improvement are all covered here, with practical tips on what you can do from home.

Lee Cossey is a physiotherapist and runs, along with his wife Andrea Hah, Move Clinic, a Physio and Exercise Physiology practice in Katoomba, Blue Mountains. His clinical study as a physio teamed with elite level climbing gives him a unique understanding of how to get the most out of every climber. If you want to get in contact with Lee or any of the other climbing physios at Move Clinic, you can reach out via their website here.

Amanda Watts has been an elite level Australian climber for the past two decades. She is also a sport dietitian and has worked with recreational to elite athletes all over the world. Having lived this life, she knows how to implement important and lasting changes for your health and performance. If you want to get your nutrition and health in tiptop shape, contact Amanda here.


Four finger grip on an edge

Three finger grip on an edge or pocket

A heavy hang (can be one arm on jug or big edge if you can)

Protocols Lee recommends:

If you’re new to finger boarding, even as an experienced climber, Lee suggests starting on a simple repeater workout. This usually looks like 7 seconds hanging, 3 seconds resting, repeated 6 times. This will last 1 minute. You can repeat this two or three times for each grip, keeping in mind your conditioning to this type of exercise. Rest for 2-3 minutes between sets. One set on each grip may be all your body needs to make gains. Take it slow. Training is a months and years progression, not days and weeks.

You can also try 3 reps of 10 second hangs, separated by 1 minute between reps. Three hangs is one set, take 2-3 minutes between sets and grips.

If you are new to this type of training, take a bigger edge than you think, even a pull up bar or jug is great to begin with. Get used to hanging and going through the process of the exercise. If you have trouble completing a set of hangs, either use a bigger hold or take a small amount of weight off by putting your feet on the ground.

TRX/Floor exercises

TRX row –

TRX or floor push ups –

TRX IYTs – The video shows this exercise being done in a prone position (facing down) this is an advanced variation. Begin by facing the anchor point as you would in the row exercise.

Pull up bars

Anything here is going to be good. Lee’s recommendation is progress up to doing 10 chin-ups. Once you can do this add 5% body weight to a harness or backpack. 

General overall rules

  • Don’t do the same session more than twice per week.
  • Don’t work max strength in the same body part more than twice in a week.
  • Be aware of what you are conditioned to. Reflect on what you have done in the last month or so. Think of the number of moves you did in that time. It may look something like two trips to the bouldering gym where you did 50 warm up moves, 50 warm down moves and 100 hard moves as the main set. Giving you 200 hard moves, 200 easy moves in the week. Plus you went to the cliff twice a week and climbed 10 easy pitches of 50 moves each. That’s another 1000 easy moves. Don’t suddenly start finger boarding heavy 4 days week to try and replicate this. You’ll end up injured!

Minimal equipment tips

  • Drink bottles filled with water are great weights for the fingerboard
  • Fill your backpack with the bottles and you have a weight vest. Kids or partners also make good weight vests ;).
  • The underside of a table can supplement as a chin up bar for your inverted rows

Video psyche

Mellow climbing – the new school strong folk have made a youtube channel of some of the hardest boulders in the world

Reel Rock – Classic climbing movies and clips from the last 20 years

56 Degrees Underground – perhaps one of the best looking small boards in the world made by Ned Feehally, one of the creators of Beastmaker. Spoiler, the dude is a BEAST!

The Island – All time adventures with some of the best climbers in the world through Europe

Alex Megos – One of the strongest climbers in the world climbing hard and falling off a lot

Adam Ondra climbing the hardest route in the world –

IFSC competition back catalogue –

Check out Red Bull TV as well. They have a stack of really good climbing clips in their library.

Training Books

Climb Strong, Steve Bechtel is an American climbing coach and has written a bunch of fantastic books on strength, finger boarding, creating programs and top tips.

Power Company Climbing aka Kris Hampton has written a book about the intangibles in climbing and what we can do to do better.

Eric Horst’s Training for Climbing. Eric has written some really great training books over the years. If you like getting sciencey, these are your books –  

Music: Somerville and Wilson – Red Wasps

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