Scarpa North America Blog

Mercedes Pollmeier Helps Climbers Get in Shape for Spring

Mar. 8th 2013

Mercedes Pollmeier was one of four featured trainers in the February issue Climbing Magazine’s article, “New workouts to refresh your gym training and guarantee spring sends.” A strength and conditioning coach and the fitness director at Vertical World in Seattle, Pollmeier’s conditioning workouts focus on staying balanced, strong and healthy as a climber. She knows what muscles are overdeveloped and which ones might need a little attention. Pollmeier gives us a few tips, talks about using the gym to stay in shape for outdoor climbing, and discusses the ebb and flow of the seasons for year-round climbers. She has also created a training video with a few of her favorite exercises. Read more tips from Mercedes Pollmeier on here: or on her blog,

In the winter, it’s tough to get outside and climb, but it also gets boring to constantly climb in the gym. This is the case for me anyways. I have never been able to climb more than 2-3 times a week inside a gym. So, to stay strong during the winter, I like to cross train with resistance training, weight lifting, and intervals. I also use the campus board to develop my finger strength. I increase my conditioning training during the winter-spring (essentially October-April) and climb more during the summer and fall. This goes well with a standard strength and conditioning protocol that most athletes cycle through, so that they don’t get burned out or injured.

I use the same methods and programs to train my athletes as I use to train myself.  In the winter and spring, the focus is on general conditioning, climbing endurance, climbing strength endurance, and finger and hand strength. In the summer and fall, we drop the amount of conditioning (but it still continues) and focus on climbing technique and power.

I have included some of my favorite exercises in this video I made featuring some of my strongest athletes in my conditioning class. Most of the exercises are full body, incorporating the core (glutes, hamstrings, abs, quads, and spinal muscles), and opposing climbing muscles. My favorites are the TRX shoulder exercises. As a climber, the upper and mid back are usually weaker than the front of the shoulders and pectorals. These exercises focus on the opposite muscles used for climbing and include all of those weak and under utilized muscles. I also included a foam rolling stretch for the lats and the shoulder blades. Although it hurts, it’s  the best way possible to stretch those muscles.

As climbers, athletes and human beings, we all need to squat more. This is a movement that is so inherently part of life, but we hardly ever work on getting better at it. In fact, most of us just don’t work on it at all. So this is also a big part of conditioning that I like to focus on and get better at. I guarantee that you will high-step better, feel stronger overall, and have less back pain. And don’t shy away from it if you believe that your chicken legs will get beefy and start to hold you back in climbing, because they won’t. It takes high reps and years to get beefy legs (if you are genetically predisposed to muscle gain). If nothing else, you will only get stronger and be a more functional human being.

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