Project Description

TBP 145 :: Mark Campbell on Using the TRX for Climbing Training

Date: March 12th, 2020

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About Mark Campbell

Mark Campbell is the owner and founder of CoreStrong Fitness in Kansas City, Missouri. He’s also a climber and he teaches TRX classes at his local climbing gym. Mark began climbing not too long ago and quickly worked his way up the grades to climb V8 in a matter of four months. When he told me that, I knew I needed to have him on the show.

I met Mark at a Performance Climbing Coach event in Murfreesboro, TN and quickly started talking about how the TRX could be so instrumental for climbers. I’ve definitely seen my own climbing improve due to the TRX over the past few years, but it was intimidating for me to get into it. I’d always seen the TRX hanging in the gym and I was like, “What are those straps for? How do I even get my feet into those things?”

In this interview, Mark makes the TRX much more approachable by providing a detailed workout and specific exercises you can do on it. He also explains WHY you’d do those things and why it’s so important for us as climbers (or any athlete) to have a strong core. He made some videos for us all to make all the info easier to understand.

Beginner TRX Workout for Climbers

 

Advanced TRX Workout for Climbers

Mark Campbell Interview Details

  • How he went from V0 to V8 in a matter of months
  • How TRX has helped his climbing
  • TRX 101
  • Why the TRX helps train core and why that’s important to climbers
  • Why TRX is more efficient than floor exercises
  • Why TRX helpw with injury prevention
  • Detailed strength session on TRX for climbers
  • Strength training for heel hooking on TRX

Mark Campbell Interview Links

Training Programs for You

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Photo Credit

Photo of Andrew Conroy @andrewsconroy

Transcript

Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta podcast where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and I want to remind you that the podcast is actually an offshoot of a website I created all about training for climbing. That’s trainingbeta.com.

Over there we have blog posts, we have online personal training with Matt Pincus, we have sports psychology with Doctor Chris Heilman, we have nutrition with me – because I’m also a nutritionist – and you can find all of that at trainingbeta.com. Hopefully one or more of those resources will help you reach your goals as a climber.

Welcome to episode 145 of the podcast. I’m back from my trip in Las Vegas. I’m back in Colorado, getting back into the swing of things of being home. I’ve been busy decorating my house and ignoring all things climbing for a little bit [laughs] so it’s been really fun but I’m ready to get back into climbing and training. 

Speaking of that, today on the podcast I have Mark Campbell. Mark Campbell is the owner of CORE Strong Fitness which is a gym in Kansas City, Missouri that is all about TRX training. 

If you don’t know what a TRX is we’re going to explain it to you but it’s those straps that you see that are hanging from the ceiling in a lot of gyms. They have handles at the bottom of them or sort of ring kind of things that are fabric that your feet can go into. Those are used for a lot of different exercises. 

I started using them a couple years ago and saw really good improvements in my strength and my core strength. When I was at the last Performance Climbing Coach seminar in Murfreesboro, Mark Campbell was there. He was taking the course and I was doing my core routine on the TRX and he came over to me and he was like, ‘Uh, do you want to make that harder? What you’re doing right now is not very hard.’ He didn’t say it like that but that’s kind of how I took it [laughs] and I was like ‘No, I do not want to make this harder. It’s already very hard for me.’ A TRX is pretty difficult.

Anyway, we got to talking and it turns out that he has this whole gym all about the TRX and he’s a climber. He got really good at climbing very quickly because he was already so strong in his core and everywhere because of his TRX training. He trains climbers with the TRX, like he does classes at the climbing gym for climbers to teach them how to use the TRX properly and how to make themselves stronger. That’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about in this episode.

I’m going to let him take it from here and hopefully you’ll get something out of this. Maybe you can even start incorporating the TRX in your own program or using it differently. 

Here’s Mark Campbell and I’ll talk to you on the other side.

Neely Quinn: Welcome to the show, Mark. Thanks very much for talking to me today.

Mark Campbell: Thanks, Neely, for having me. I’m excited to be here. 

Neely Quinn: For anybody who doesn’t know who you are, can you tell me a little about yourself?

Mark Campbell: My name is Mark Campbell. I’m the owner of a small little gym/studio here in Kansas City called CORE Strong Fitness. I’m an NSCA certified personal trainer, a black-ranked TRX coach, and a Precision Nutrition coach as well as many other mundane, boring things. On top of that, a Performance Climbing Coach attendee so that’s a little bit about me. 

Neely Quinn: And that’s where we met. We met at the Murfreesboro Performance Climbing Coach seminar which was super fun. We got to talking because I think you saw me doing a TRX workout [laughs] on one of the days we were working out and you were like, ‘You know, you can make that harder if you want to.’ I was like, ‘Uh, no thank you. It’s hard enough.’ [laughs] Then you proceeded to show me some things. You’re like a whiz on the TRX. I thought it was really cool that you have a whole gym basically that is devoted to TRX, right?

Mark Campbell: Right. It’s the only one here in the midwest, not to toot my horn, but being the only TRX gym in Kansas City or pretty much the midwest has been a feat of challenge and strength because a lot of people frankly don’t know a lot about what TRX is. If someone has a familiarity with TRX they love it, or if they know a little bit about it there might be some hesitancy in what it can do because they’ve heard it can be really hard, but that’s why I wanted to do what I do to kind of break down some of those norms and help people train a little differently than they’re used to.

Neely Quinn: I definitely want to get into the details about TRX with you, for sure, and how it can benefit climbers but one thing I wanted to highlight is that you and I started talking and you let me know that your climbing has progressed pretty quickly. We talked about how that might have been because your core was already so strong. Do you want to talk a little bit about that? 

Mark Campbell: Yeah, so that’s one of these huge – I don’t want to say revelations, but I’m in awe at how quickly I progressed in climbing.

Back in April was when I really started climbing pretty seriously. My wife and I would do the occasional top roping for Valentine’s Day or a date night throughout the last four years, so that’s maybe once a year. Finally we were like, ‘Let’s do something that is outside of what we normally do,’ besides already working out at the gym or walking our dogs or something like that. We decided to invest in climbing gear. We bought our harnesses, we bought our shoes, we bought chalk bags and everything and we did the free two-week membership after we did a top roping course at a local gym. 

Someone told me about this local gym called Sequence Climb here in Kansas City that happened to be a half mile from our gym. I was like, ‘Well sure. Let’s go check it out one day.’ Went over to check the place out and I happened to show up too early and the place was closed. As I started to walk away the owner came out and was like, ‘Hey! What are you wanting to do?’ He wanted to know if I was wanting to climb or just check out the place. They let me in to check it out and we happened to start talking about how I was getting into climbing and everything and they were a really awesome, welcoming group of people. I told them I was a strength coach and they were actually interested in looking for a strength coach for their gym. 

Anyhow, I started climbing and just realizing how much fun it was. I ended up going 3, 4, sometimes 5 days of the week and realizing that I was making progress pretty quickly on some of these boulder problems and not realizing that wasn’t quite the norm. As I was talking with one of the route setters and the owners there, they were like, ‘You just did a red dot? What? And you’ve only been climbing for how long?’ 

Our gym does the dot system. I don’t know if many people are familiar with that. V0-1 would be the green dot, V2-3 would be orange, 4-5 is pink, 6-7 is red, and then 8-9 would be yellow, then V10+ would be gray. In that realm, a red dot was a 6-7 when I was probably three months in. This was June, I believe, and then in July I got my first yellow dot, which was a V8 volume/comp problem. 

I was sitting here thinking: what was the big translation on how I was progressing so quickly? Kind of like what you already touched on, with my background of training being so in tuned with my core being the main focus of my central stability unit, how I was able to really apply tension and work some of these moves. 

Obviously we know that climbing is a very technical sport so I was fumbling through some of these moves as I was making them, but the more I kept going and climbing the more I kept improving my skills on the wall with how I was moving. Then presenting that idea back to the owners I started teaching strength classes at the Sequence Climbing Gym and wanted to bring this to others as well who might be struggling on progressing some moves. 

Neely Quinn: Yeah. I mean, that’s a super impressive progression, right? Nobody does that. Nobody starts climbing in April and is climbing V8 by July. That’s unheard of so the fact that you did that – when you told me that I was like, ‘Okay, well this guy needs to be heard by people because obviously he’s doing something right.’ You had already been training for years, right?

Mark Campbell: Correct. I’d been a personal trainer since 2009 so I’ve always had some sort of background in training. TRX has been my primary training tool since 2009.

Neely Quinn: And you’re also a pretty light guy. You’re pretty lean.

Mark Campbell: Yeah, I weigh 165. I’m 5’8” and I just did a body comp the other day and I was 8.5% body fat.

Neely Quinn: So you have a lot of things going for you as a climber. That’s awesome. 

Mark Campbell: Yeah, I have a little advantage there. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: I’m assuming you’ve probably discovered more about TRX training and core training in general that is specific to climbers since you’ve been a climber this year.

Mark Campbell: Yeah, and that’s been a really eye-opening part of all of this. Going through my progressions I’m like, ‘This move feels a lot like this exercise on the TRX,’ or, ‘This exercise relates to this move on the wall.’ Kind of going through and dissecting some of these things, especially programming workouts for the strength training classes that I teach at the gym there, is really opening a basic strength standpoint of squats and deadlifts and bench and things like that, but how do we create tension and then move? We always have a static arm and a dynamic arm, or we always have a static leg and a dynamic leg, or creating that static movement with mobility or that flow. TRX, as you know, has that capability of creating that ability to have stability, tension, and then create strength on top of that. 

As I was going through I was like, ‘Okay, this pull-through and reach is a lot like what a TRX power pull would be so let’s see if we can program that into helping people be able to create that cross-body reach.’ Or, pulling a leg up. Or to help someone have better hip mobility let’s put them in the TRX and do the TRX lunge, because now we’re working strength and mobility out of that as well as getting that stability and the core with that. 

What you were doing when I saw you at the PCC was working specific core stuff, going through oblique crunches where you’re pulling your knees to your left elbow, your knees to your right elbow, doing pikes, doing all various types of things that is challenging your ability to stabilize but adding peripheral mobility, or moving a limb while you’re keeping that core really stable.

It’s really opened up a whole side of this as to: okay, I know I need to get the upper body strong so we’ve got to do some pulling movements, but what’s also really great about the TRX is its instability. It has this one, central anchor point of attachment to any overhead position and you have to keep equal pressure on the handles or the foot cradles as you’re moving because if not, you’re going to slip, the TRX is going to move in one direction, the TRX is going to slide, so we’re always trying to keep that equal push/reach, push/pull, push/lean movement without letting straps move on you. Right there is an awesome way for people to be aware and in tune with their body. 

As you pull, let’s say with your right hand, with your thumb in toward your armpit, and you reach your left hand out to the side as you’re holding onto that TRX strap, you want to be able to create the symmetrical tension between your right and left arm as you pull yourself in and as you lower yourself back down. You’re not pulling one side harder than the other because now you’re creating what’s called this ‘joint irradiation’ from one side to the other and core stability. You’re talking about joints connecting with limbs connecting with core and moving, all at the same time. 

Neely Quinn: I’m actually going to stop you there because I think there are probably people listening who have never used a TRX who are like, ‘What the hell is a TRX?’ Let’s start from the beginning and let’s give people sort of a TRX 101.

Mark Campbell: TRX 101. If you’ve never seen a TRX, if you go to any local gym you’ll probably see it’s a black and yellow strap that is probably hanging over a squat rack or over some sort of Flex 360 piece of machinery. It’s using your bodyweight as resistance and what that means is you’re either holding onto handles or you’re putting your feet into foot cradles and your bodyweight is your resistance. You’re not putting on plates, you’re not changing chords, you’re just either moving closer towards the anchor point where the TRX is anchored to make an exercise harder, or moving away from the anchor point to make it a little bit easier. 

Based upon upper body and lower body exercises, there’s a vast array of exercises. Literally, there are hundreds of exercises you can do but with countless amounts or progression as well as regression on every exercise move you can think of. Even to this day there are – I’ve been doing this for 11 years now and I know I’m not even close to tapping out the potential of possibilities that you can do with the TRX as far as progression, even regression, breaking things down to its simplest format and getting more from it.

It was actually developed by a Navy SEAL who was out on deployment who was in need for keeping in physical condition without having access to a gym. Being a SEAL you have to be versed in an array of survival skills and sewing is actually one of those survival skills. He had some parachute webbing and a Jiu Jitsu belt that he accidentally packed with him so he configured the very first TRX and he put it over a door or anything he could tie it to and started doing the crude versions of what we see today as TRX movements.

Neely Quinn: Nice. I didn’t know that.

Mark Campbell: Yeah, there’s a great history with that and Randy Hetrick went on to found TRX and got some great people to jump on board with him and build an amazing company and brand.

Neely Quinn: Why is this more effective than just doing floor exercises like crunches or planks?

Mark Campbell: So the instability actually creates a higher activation in your core. They did a bunch of research back in the day with Doctor Stuart McGill, up in his lab in Canada, on EMG and hooking it to different parts on the body. By simply touching the TRX, by you placing your hands into it and slightly leaning into it, you are already getting a higher activation in your core than you would be if you were doing a bench press laying on your back or a dumbbell bench press or anything that would be similar to that. When you have a stable surface or your base of support is actually stable, the need for your core to engage or turn on at a higher rate is actually less. 

When you get into an unstable environment your biggest joint motor stabilizer is your core so being able to stabilize your core means you’re getting a little active force engagement. If you’re getting unstable your body has this little protective mechanism already built in that says, “Hey! Tense up to protect me from going into hyper tension or flexion to protect the spine.” Therefore the core – boom! – fires up to create a little bit more protective mechanism as well as stability.

Neely Quinn: You own a TRX gym. Who comes in there? Who do you see and who do you think could most benefit from it?

Mark Campbell: Oh my goodness, everybody. [laughs] I mean, I have clients that are 18 years old all the way up to 65 years old. That’s the beauty of what I can provide. I actually have a hard time really narrowing-in my target demographic when I do marketing because I can help an 18-year old athlete progress to a college level skill with the strength of just the TRX or I can help an 88-year old lady get out of a chair and learn how to squat better and turn on better muscle firing mechanics.

For my day-to-day skills in the gym, we do a lot of small group classes and we do personal training. We’ll have anybody who is 25-60 all in a class working different levels, which is phenomenal, right? How many other groups of workouts or gyms can you say, “Hey! We literally cater to everybody.” We’re not just catering to fit, in shape, healthy 20-somethings. We’re taking everybody who is overweight, we’re taking people who have maybe never worked out before, we’re taking people who have worked out doing the traditional way of weightlifting who have maybe had enough injury in their life that says, “I need something that is a little less impactful, a little less stressful on my joints,” and then show them a way that’s capable of working out without feeling like they’re destroyed after each workout. 

Neely Quinn: Yeah. Have you noticed that it helps people who are doing specific sports?

Mark Campbell: There’s a lot of translation in sports-specific moves that you could do with a TRX. Again, from a rotational standpoint but more importantly from an anti-rotation standpoint you can manage that rotation. Through volleyball’s perspective, or baseball or soccer, lacrosse – all of those things are going to be directly improved because of a rotational skill athlete using the TRX in a way to help them prevent and generate rotation, so therefore the core becomes stronger. Anything with the core becoming stronger is going to translate to having better injury prevention, you’re going to produce and manage power better, and you’re also going to have a better athletic ability to transition in your movements to be a better athlete and be quicker. 

Neely Quinn: A couple questions there: why does it help with injury prevention?

Mark Campbell: Why does it help with injury prevention? When you train – the way I like to say you would realistically train and move everyday – you’re doing two things. One, you’re creating a better neurological pattern for your joints to help them move in a resisted fashion but not in a compressed or completely loaded sense. Basically, if you’re going to pull your car door open there is a push and a pull mechanism that goes on, no matter how big or how small it might be, how heavy the door is or how light it is. Your body has to rotate with that. 

Again, it comes back to a TRX movement. If you’re pulling your body up with one side and trying to stabilize with the other that is a very functional movement. ‘Functional training’ is a big term that people have used for years but what does it really mean? It’s training in the gym to do things that you do in the real world. You have a lot of different gyms saying that they do functional training where they’re just picking up a bunch of weight, putting it down. I’ve never seen anybody in real life need to pull 250 pounds over their head functionally, every day, to do something like that. 

The other side of it is you’re building smart joint integrity for strength in those joints at the same time. When you can provide strength in a joint as well as strength in your core, you’re providing a more durable joint without exposing that joint to unnecessary loaded repetitions and wearing out that joint faster. When you can do something with your core as the intentional focus of stability first and then you move, you’re teaching your body that when you pick something up that’s heavy, when you push something or when you pull something, there should be this autonomic sort of firing of the core. Like, ‘I have to brace my abs before I bend down and pick up my dog. I have to brace my abs before I pull open the door, before I push the shopping cart.’ All of a sudden you’re doing these things subconsciously because that’s the way you’re training in the gym. 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that definitely all makes sense and it all makes sense to me that a lacrosse player or a baseball player or all those other sports that you mentioned, it would help them because you can generate more force if your core is strong enough to rotate you, right?

Mark Campbell: Correct.

Neely Quinn: You said that you were asked to become a strength coach at the climbing gym. Is that something you still do?

Mark Campbell: It is. It’s currently something that actually, at the beginning of the year, I was doing bi-weekly and now we’re doing it weekly.

Neely Quinn: What kinds of things are you having your – is it a youth team? An adult team? Who are you training?

Mark Campbell: This is actually just the members of the gym. It’s a part of their membership that they get to take these strength classes as members for free. 

Neely Quinn: That’s awesome.

Mark Campbell: We’ll have 10-12 people in a class and through that class we have six stations, so we usually buddy up. We’ll do 4-5 predominant TRX exercises and then we’ll put a kettlebell exercise in there or a core specific exercise in there that’s off the TRX. I think sometimes that’s more relatable for when you might not be able to get to a TRX in the climbing world, like toes-to-bar or knees-to-chest or dips or something like that. 

We’ll set it up for a strength class where we’ll hit each one of those stations for two minutes and we’ll try to get people to focus on getting 8-12 reps, depending on what the exercise is, and if they can get 1-2 sets in within that we’ll do that for one round and then do a second round after that. Some of the warm-up mobility drills – actually that we pull from the PCC. Everybody loves the lacrosse ball or ball reach warm-up drill that Mercedes had us do. I’ve integrated that into a lot of our classes as a warm-up because people find that fun and challenging at the same time.

All those exercises will vary week to week on things that I’ll find that might be weaknesses maybe in a lot of climbers as I’m going around talking in the gym. Like, what are they trying to work on? Heel hooking, for instance. We’ll do either a hamstring curl in the TRX – that’s where you place both heels into the foot cradle so you’re laying on your back and you’re pulling in both heels at the same time – or I could be really mean and do one leg at a time, which makes people feel like their hamstrings are ripping. [laughs] It’s really effective in that directly translational way of doing things, as you don’t typically heel hook with both heels at the same time. You’re doing one so we isolate that sometimes. Then again, core specific things with our toes in, whether we’re doing oblique crunches or pikes or chest presses. A lot of things that are maybe the eccentric motion things or complementary movements that we might not be getting on the wall.

Neely Quinn: Chest presses with the TRX? So you’re doing basically a push-up?

Mark Campbell: There’s two versions. You can either hold onto the handles where you’re standing on your feet, facing away from the anchor point, and like a push-up you lower yourself down to where your thumbs come towards your armpits and you press away. Or, you put your feet in and now your feet are in the foot cradles and you do a push-up, press yourself away, and you can add layers on top of that. 

You start basic, doing a push-up, and then you do a push-up and as you come back with your arms straight, bring your knees underneath your hips and extend your legs out like you do in a crunch. You can do a push-up and bring yourself into a pike. We call those ‘atomic push-ups’ or ‘atomic pikes.’ You can layer that with an oblique crunch. You take that as far as you want to. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: What kinds of things have you seen your climbers improve at? Or have you seen much consistency with the people who come to your classes?

Mark Campbell: I would love to be able to see more consistency with the climbers that I’m seeing in the class setting. Unfortunately, because we’ve been doing it every other week and it’s limited to 10-12 people we’ve been having about four consistent people come in and other people being new and coming through there. 

With the consistent people that we have been seeing it’s really cool. Getting to listen to their feedback and hearing them simply say, “Oh my gosh. I didn’t realize how much my body was using different muscles while doing that type of workout compared to what I was doing before.” In a way of progression, I don’t know if we can say, “Oh my gosh. Someone has gone from a V5 to a V7,” but what I am hearing is that they’re becoming more bodily aware of muscles that they weren’t using that then all of a sudden they can then hopefully fire and create a little bit better stability as they are climbing.

Neely Quinn: Yeah. Would you recommend this to a beginner climber?

Mark Campbell: Oh for sure. I would recommend it without a doubt because one of the best things you can do as a beginning climber, as I can attest to myself, is spend more time on the wall, get more acquainted with the moves of climbing, and when you’re working out in the gym 2-3 days a week you want to get the biggest bang for your buck and not try to overcomplicate things and do too many things at one time. That’s why I love training with the TRX. I can get a full body workout, if I wanted to, in 15 minutes because we can transition from one exercise to the next just by simply lengthening or shortening the straps or moving towards the anchor point and pulling ourselves away. There’s a variety of different things that can be done with just this one simple thing and it doesn’t have to be overcomplicated.

I try to do a lot of ‘How To’ videos from a social media perspective because it can be complicated. That’s one of the things I really like to do, try to make things simple for people, because when they get overwhelmed with something new they tend to not do it, correct? If someone listens to this podcast and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh. I’ve got to try TRX training,’ and the next thing you know they go out and buy one and they start to do something with it and they’re like, ‘I have no clue what to do,’ therein lies the big, sticking challenge. Actually seeing results with something is finding out what’s the most effective way to do something and staying with it to see the benefits and results. Keeping it simple would be the biggest key there for somebody new. 

Neely Quinn: You said that you do ‘How To’ videos. Is it on your Instagram?

Mark Campbell: Yeah, on Instagram.

Neely Quinn: What’s that at?

Mark Campbell: That is @trx_core. I have a lot of those videos as well on Youtube and that is CORE Strong Fitness.

Neely Quinn: That’s great because I was going to ask if you have a bunch of videos. This is the kind of thing where I think it’s hard for people to just picture in their minds as we talk about it. If they go to CORE Strong on Youtube they’ll find some of these things we’re talking about.

Mark Campbell: Yeah, the Instagram has a lot of the same stuff but I think it’s a lot better filtered in that you can actually see it right there and easily progress or navigate through. I’ll throw up things on Friday like, ‘Here is a great climbing workout for a 15-minute mobility drill or strength drill,’ and people can look that up real quick, or, ‘Here’s a how to video for the TRX triceps press,’ or anything like that I’ll usually throw up there on a Monday. 

Neely Quinn: Cool. I have a quiz for you.

Mark Campbell: Uh-oh. On the spot. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: I’m kidding. It’s not a quiz yet but I want to tell you what I do on the TRX and I want you to critique it and ask me whatever questions you would ask a climber if they came to you with something like that. Does that sound okay to you?

Mark Campbell: Yeah, let’s do it.

Neely Quinn: So you saw me doing my things and you obviously thought they were way too easy. [laughs] 

Mark Campbell: Well you were making them look way too easy so I wanted you to get more from it. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: Really great recovery there. I’ll just explain what I do. You said that you can get a workout in 15 minutes but I, personally, can feel exhausted in nine minutes on the TRX. What I do is three sets of each of these exercises and I do them for approximately 30 seconds each. They are: a plank, mountain climbers, and body saws. Actually, the other one that I’ll sometimes do is – what’s the one where your knees come into your waist?

Mark Campbell: A crunch.

Neely Quinn: Oh, that’s a crunch, so a TRX crunch. Sometimes instead of the plank I’ll do a TRX crunch. I’ll do 30 seconds of one exercise, 30 seconds of rest, 30 seconds of the next exercise, 30 seconds of rest, and go through that nine times total. 

Mark Campbell: The first question I’m going to ask you is when you’re doing your static plank, by the end of your 30 seconds what would you say your max effort is on a scale of 1-10?

Neely Quinn: It’s not very high. That’s why I’ll do the crunches on most days, unless I’m feeling really tired.

Mark Campbell: So I love the plank from an isometric standpoint. Why? I think we do too much moving sometimes in the way of crunching or even just core-specific work, but nothing really gets to the time under tension and creates that better muscle retention like a static plank hold but the problem with a static plank hold is we like to go Guinness Book of World Record-style ‘How long can we hold a plank for?’ sacrificing a couple of things, one being form. If we start to hold a plank do you ever feel it into your lower back?

Neely Quinn: Well, I try not to but yes, I definitely feel it in the saws in my lower back.

Mark Campbell: I will definitely address that one because that’s a super advanced one. 

Even from the perspective of holding in a plank, if people don’t have a very strong core they’re going to hold into a plank thinking 30 seconds is the general ideal time to hold. Try this next time you do this, and anybody who’s listening I want them to try this, too. You don’t even have to use a TRX to do this but when you hold an isometric plank, I want you to fire up every muscle from your toes all the way to your fingertips and only hold for 10 seconds. If you can create more tension in your body for 10 seconds, it should feel like you’re doing 30 seconds of work or longer, depending on how many seconds of tension you can generate.

Neely Quinn: And it’s more similar to climbing.

Mark Campbell: Exactly. You’re never really going to hold tension for longer than 10 seconds on any move unless you’re really hung out and you’re trying to hold on for dear life. [laughs] Then you’re going to fully hold on with tension for as long as you’ve got but in a training state, you always want to maximally give as much effort to an isometric hold. You can ask Doctor Tyler Nelson about that. We talked at the PPC about doing the bar lock-offs. I thought that was interesting because when we say you’re doing the bar lock-offs to just hold for your 10-seconds, again, it comes back to how much force can you generate and how much tension can you generate within that 10 seconds? If you try to hold a plank for longer than 10 seconds then you might not be actually generating enough tension during that plank to actually get as much benefit out of it. 

Now, if you want to increase your endurance on that that’s fine, just make sure you can hold your tension longer than 10 seconds as long as it is that full, maximum amount of tension for whatever duration you want to hold to as long as you’re not compromising form. Does that make sense?

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it makes sense and it also makes me wonder about my mom. I was just in Florida and she doesn’t work out. She hasn’t worked out her whole life and she’s 64 or 65. We taught her how to TRX.

Mark Campbell: I love it!

Neely Quinn: We were like, ‘Maybe you should just start with a plank but once this is okay for you, like you’re feeling more comfortable in the plank, put your feet in the TRX.’ I wonder for her because I’m trying to progress it for her. I wonder: should we do that with her or is that too intense for somebody who never works out?

Mark Campbell: No, I think that’s perfect. I will always have someone start on the floor before they put their feet into the straps. There’s even a way to progress it before they get into the straps with the foot cradles. You take those and place your forearms through those while you’re standing. Pretend like you’re in a plank on the ground, elbows underneath the shoulders, palms facing towards the floor, you have a straight line from your ears, shoulders, and ankles. Slip your forearms through the foot cradles with the straps over your shoulders and you start to gently walk backwards towards that anchor point while holding that plank and you start to gradually challenge that plank by then loading just a slight bit more body weight into that core, or into that plank, without putting your feet into the straps. Once you feel comfortable there in that unstable environment and a bit more challenged, then you can go down a bit more to the floor and put your feet in.

Neely Quinn: Okay yeah, that makes sense. So people listening to this might even do that, right?

Mark Campbell: Oh yeah. Even from that perspective, let’s say that’s not even a regression. Let’s just say I program that for somebody. What is the difference there? If we look at your body saw that you do while you’re on the ground, it’s the same set-up. You’re in the plank, you can push your body or your shoulders back away from your elbows and then pull your shoulders back over your elbows. Take your feet out, staying on the ground, and have those foot cradles through your forearms. Same thing, now reach the arms overhead with those straps around your forearms and pull right back down.

Neely Quinn: Oh, and then you don’t even need to be parallel to the ground.

Mark Campbell: Then you don’t even need to be parallel to the ground. When you find that you’re having a point of, ‘Oh, I feel that in my back,’ maybe you’re having a day where you want to workout, where you want to train, but you don’t want to compromise your back because it just doesn’t feel that great but you still want to do those same movements – now you stand up and you can put those straps through your forearms, reach like you’re reaching overhead, don’t go to full extension. You want to keep those shoulders still in a good position and then just pull those elbows back down.

Neely Quinn: For anybody who doesn’t know what a body saw is, it’s when you’re on your elbows, your feet are in the straps, your forearms are on the ground, and then you rock back so you’re trying to straighten your elbows out. That’s probably a terrible description but I just want people to be able to follow us.

Mark Campbell: I find it to be an immensely advanced or challenging exercise because of the progress, or the distance at which people think they have to move. As long as you start with your shoulders over your elbows and then start to move your shoulders behind your elbows like you’re pushing your feet under the anchor point, or towards a wall, and then pull back, it doesn’t matter if it’s an inch or three inches. You’re still going to find that core is going to get heightened recruitment because you’re trying to elongate your center of gravity and challenge the length of that lever point.

Neely Quinn: Okay. Let’s go back. Is there anything you would critique that I am doing?

Mark Campbell: You’re doing the isometric hold on your plank, you’re doing mountain climbers, you’re doing body saws. The reason I like mountain climbers specifically for climbing-specific movements is you’re moving one joint independently of the other while having stability.

Neely Quinn: And mountain climbers are where you’re in the same position with your feet – I do all these exercises in the same position. Your feet are in the straps, elbows are on the ground, and the mountain climbers are where you put one knee up to an elbow, basically, and then you go back down and the other knee goes back to the other elbow and so on. 

Keep going now. Sorry I interrupted you.

Mark Campbell: No, that’s perfect. Having a clear description of what that is helps. [laughs] When we’re creating that sense of it, I think what I said to you at that point was, “You can make this harder by doing x, y, and z,” right? That’s where the TRX kind of loses some of its value – well, not value but your ability to challenge your own progression. Without having somebody there, you could be doing these things the same way all the time and feel the benefit of it but could you potentially be doing something a little bit harder? Doing 30 seconds on/30 seconds off is great. You could even challenge some of those for a little bit more strength work by doing 40 seconds/20 seconds off so you’re creating a bit more time under tension. Time under tension is always going to break down more muscles to build back up muscles. 

I like to train around 40-45 seconds for the majority of the workouts that I do, even if it’s not doing three specific rounds in a row of an exercise. I like to give a muscle group a rest so if I’m doing a chest press then I’ll get down on the ground and put my heels in and do a hip press, flip over and put my toes in and do a pike, and then stand back up and do a bicep curl or a row and then repeat those four exercises, usually 4-6 rounds.

Neely Quinn: So you’re doing, like you said earlier, more of a full body workout on them but it’s all getting your core.

Mark Campbell: Yes. TRX stands for all core, all the time, essentially. Their whole motto is as soon as you do literally any exercise, upper body or lower body or core, your core has to engage to keep you stable so being all core all the time is where the real secret in the sauce is. Back to what we were talking about, I feel like I have such a great connection with my core that I know that as soon as I push through my big toe on my left foot and I’m pulling with my left hand and I’m making a reach with my right, I’m creating so much tension in my core because I don’t want to lose that stability going from my big toe out towards the pinky finger or ring finger of my right hand. That’s the exact same movements that you do while you’re on the TRX, especially when we’re doing compression work. 

There are a couple of exercises I like to do like a TRX chest fly, where you’re facing away. It’s like the chest press we were talking about earlier but instead of bending and lowering both thumbs towards your armpits, you have an offset stance so one foot is forward and one foot is back. You take both hands out to the side like a T position with your elbows slightly bent, and then bring your thumbs back in towards your chest.

Neely Quinn: Oh right, like on rings.

Mark Campbell: Like on rings, right. The other one I really love which I think is one of my favorite ones is the clock chest press. If you think about a clock you have the face of the clock and you’re facing that clock. Your left hand will bend and the thumb will come into your armpit. Your right hand will stay somewhat straight and will reach up to a 1:00 position and then you create a good amount of tension, press everything back to where your hands come together in front of your chest, and then your left hand goes back towards your armpit, your right hand reaches out to 3:00, press it back, then down to 5:00 and you repeat on the other side. 11:00, 9:00, and 7:00. 

Neely Quinn: Oh, okay. These are like these things I do on the rings, too, but you can just do everything on the TRX.

Mark Campbell: Exactly, and a difference between the rings and the TRX is with the rings, as you reach your right hand out and your left hand comes in, what’s the signal your body is giving you? Do you know if you’re pressing harder with your left hand or your right hand? 

Neely Quinn: I think you’re pressing more with your right hand.

Mark Campbell: With the rings they are anchored independently.

Neely Quinn: Oh, right. Explain that to people.

Mark Campbell: With the TRX it has one central point of anchoring meaning it hooks up to the bar or a door by one strap. There’s a thing called an equalizer loop which hooks around the main anchor loop so these two handles are actually one strap that meet in the middle to make a triangle. As you reach your right hand out and that left hand comes in toward your armpit you’ll immediately know if you’re pressing harder with your left hand or your right hand because that TRX will slip a little bit, telling you, ‘Oh, I’m pushing harder with my left hand because I now just pushed that left hand away from my body and my right hand is coming in towards my body. Maybe I need to put a little more pressure on that extended arm and press just as hard to get back to center.’

Neely Quinn: So it’s harder than rings.

Mark Campbell: Um, I would say yes because you have to force your body to keep that tension equal between the two sides. Again, people can do it and not keep that tension and care two hoots less and still feel like they’re doing the exercise so is it harder? No. But is it right? No. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: I hadn’t thought about that actually.

Mark Campbell: That’s the big major difference, that single anchor point of stability. You’ll have a lot of other different products on the market that will have two anchor points and they’re suspension training but when you get right down to it, if you really want to challenge your core and the stability, the TRX is in my opinion the most optimal way to engage and get that neurofeedback right away. As long as you’re doing things equally. 

Neely Quinn: Okay. As far as my workout goes, you already said that changing it to 40 seconds on/20 seconds off might be useful and then maybe not doing the plank because it’s too easy and only doing the crunches instead, or if I do the plank doing it with less time and more intensity.

Mark Campbell: Do the plank with less time and more intensity. Let’s say you did three sets of 30 seconds. That’s 90 seconds worth of work in your plank. I would break that down to 10-second holds for six or even nine sets. You’re still going to do the same amount of volume but you’re going to break that down and make that intensity way more. If you can create more intensity in that 10 seconds and still keep the same amount of volume you’re going to get a lot more bang for your buck on that end. 

It doesn’t matter who I’m starting with, I always like to start with isometric planks because that muscle recruitment, if we can get somebody to hold it into a 10-second plank, drive as much intensity throughout their entire body, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing. If we’re on the TRX or we’re using kettlebells it doesn’t matter, or if we’re using sand bags, now we have great communication and muscle recruitment in that core so all of sudden we can now build off of that muscle recruitment. 

So yes, start with your planks but just reduce the time that you’re holding, increase your intensity, and then when you go back to your crunches – let’s say that’s the second thing that you do – you always start with your feet directly underneath that anchor point. There’s two things you can do: your base of support is if you’re on your elbows that’s more stable but it might not actually make your exercise easier. You’ve had shoulder surgery. How long ago?

Neely Quinn: 2014 and 2017.

Mark Campbell: How do you feel when you’re doing those crunches on your elbows?

Neely Quinn: They’re fine.

Mark Campbell: Do you feel like you’re constricted or tight at all?

Neely Quinn: In my shoulders?

Mark Campbell: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: No, the thing that hurts me is my hips on those. My shoulders feel fine.

Mark Campbell: Okay. Some people will have a tougher time doing the floor-based movements like pikes, crunches, oblique crunches, and mountain climbers from their elbows due to poor overhead extension in their reach with their arms. I’ll have people go onto their hands but going onto their hands now makes them less stable so does it necessarily make the exercise harder? Not necessarily because they might not have to lift their hips as high as they bring their knees underneath their body. It just might make them a little more aware that they have to create more stability now that they’re less stable going from their elbows to their hands. It helps me to be able to get an athlete to create better joint stability by going into that straight arm plank as opposed to being on their elbows. 

Your last one is the body saw. Like I said, that’s an advanced move but I absolutely love it because of the muscle recruitment that you get out of that movement. It’s such a simple movement but highly challenging because you’re elongating that lever arm and where your central stability or your base of support has to be at. You’re taking and working a lot of that rectus abdominis, or the lower part of your abdominals, all the way up to the upper part of your abdominals as well as your shoulder stability so you’re getting a twofer there. It’s like an overhead press while doing a really challenging plank at the same time but from a ground position. Again, pulling yourself away from that anchor point means you might not have to move as far back as that TRX is trying to actually pull you under now as opposed to pushing you forward.

Neely Quinn: Okay. That makes sense. I mean, I don’t want to do it [laughs] but it makes sense. It’s already so hard!

Mark Campbell: That’s the greatest part about it. You’re getting the biggest bang for your buck for the way that you’re doing it. There’s nothing wrong with the way that you’re doing it as long as you’re keeping good form and keeping good intensity but do you want to get more from it? There’s plenty of options. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: The next thing I want to ask is people want to know, “What do I do?” I would love it if you could give me a sample workout for a beginner climber and maybe for somebody who has been training for a while, so two different ones. Would you be willing to do that? And also, maybe talk about how often we should be doing these things and how and when to incorporate it into our climbing and training.

Mark Campbell: Most definitely. I think those are really great points and questions. When we sat down at the PCC and Charlie and Steve both were talking about strength and how to incorporate those and how much you should be doing that and climbing, one of their points was an 80/20 rule. Spending 80% of your time on the wall and 20% of the time in the gym or translating that to two days of the week in the gym, working out, and your other days on the wall. 

I think the biggest thing is: what’s your goal? If your goal is to get to the next letter grade or the next color dot, what are some key points that you’re missing? If you’re a brand new climber – let’s just start there. Someone who comes into the gym and they’re enjoying climbing but they’re not quite able to do xyz, of course you could look at some climbing techniques to help them in that but if they’re looking at getting more strength from maybe their pulling power or keeping their hips closer towards the wall or even working antagonist muscle groups, a simple sample workout with that would be going back to a TRX chest press. 

Why is that really important? Because that antagonist muscle group is really important for a lot of compression moves. It’s really important for engagement and pulling and holding yourself close to the wall and really activating that shoulder joint. Doing a TRX chest press, just keeping it simple for 40 seconds for 3 sets. I like to peel things back to real simple when we’re starting out with basic strength building and keeping sets similar as opposed to cycling through. Sometimes it helps to create a little bit better understanding of the movement as well as the muscle breakdown.

But then, like I said, I would give that muscle group a rest and work on giving the climber a better engagement in keeping their hips closer to the wall. The TRX hip press is a phenomenal exercise for that because your anterior chain is the front of your body. The posterior chain is the backside of your body. Most things that we do in our workouts don’t involve a lot of our posterior chain besides maybe the deadlift and for more advanced people, maybe the kettlebell swing, but the hip press in general really teaches people to press their heels down into the foot cradles, squeeze your butt as well as bracing your abs, and press your hips up towards the sky. This uses your hamstrings and parts of your glutes so you’re creating this beautiful movement, or engagement, of the posterior side in a way that is teaching your feet to stick in place and pushing your hips towards the sky at the same time.

Then again, just keeping it simple, 30 seconds for that one because it is a very demanding exercise for people who might have tight or weak hamstrings. Some people might feel uncomfortable with that and there are regressions with that, too, that would be things to look at as far as making sure you’re not pressing through your low back. That’s why we keep the abs braced.

Then, looking at flipping someone over and putting their toes in. Again, building core strength and building stability into that. I would start them in the 10-second isometric holds in that plank, generate that, and maybe I would only do 3 sets of 10 seconds with a new climber or someone who is new to working out so they can learn how it feels to generate a massive amount of tension in that 10 seconds but not over-fatigue them for the next moves that we do, like a pike, so that would not fatigue them or compromise their low back.

Once we move from there I like to break that down into keeping things bilaterally at the beginning, just because once someone gets more familiar with climbing, then they might notice, ‘Oh wow. My left side is not as strong as my right,’ and then we can go into a little unilateral strength. 

Doing pikes is another one of my favorite exercises. Again, you’re setting yourself up in that plank position, your feet are through the foot cradles, your legs are straight this time, but you’re pulling your hips towards the sky like you’re coming into an upside down V.

Neely Quinn: It’s kind of like how an inch worm moves.

Mark Campbell: Right. Yeah, exactly. You could call it an inchworm, too. Just making somebody be really aware of their spinal alignment or their core stability while they’re pulling their toes towards their nose and their chest towards their toes. That’s how I like to coach people through that one.

Neely Quinn: Okay.

Mark Campbell: The final one would be adding in a pulling exercise, just to compliment or create better strength in pulling. That would just be a simple TRX low row. Again, it’s one of those exercises that has so much bang for its buck. You can start with your thumbs in towards your armpits, lean back, extend those arms, but you have to maintain that plank which means you’re keeping your legs locked, your abs engaged, and your butt squeezed, then pull yourself back in. Again, you can walk under the anchor point, making it harder, or step back to make it easier

Neely Quinn: For all of these, I just want to stress to definitely watch the videos. I saw a guy doing the thing that you just described in the gym the other day and it was all wrong. I am positive he was hurting himself. You can definitely mess yourself up doing these exercises. Please watch his videos.

Okay, keep going.

Mark Campbell: That’s a huge disclaimer. In all seriousness, I want to put that out there. I love the Internet for its reach and capabilities and people need to be able to do their own research, but I encourage you to make sure that what you’re doing is valid and not because you saw it to do on Youtube. Especially when it comes to TRX specific workouts. There’s a whole array of crap shows that are out there [laughs] putting on ‘How To’ videos or hype videos on TRX exercises so yes, you can hurt yourself on some of these things if they’re not done right. Again, that’s why I’ve set a lot of my intentions on just trying to educate people on how to do things and then they can take it from there. 

Neely Quinn: So is that the full workout that you would do for a beginner climber?

Mark Campbell: Yeah. If they’re doing 3 sets of all those, the majority of the ground-based stuff for 30 seconds, upper body just keeping it simple for 40 seconds, I would probably throw in a lower body exercise that’s going to work more of their stability and that’s just called a reach back lunge, where they’re holding on to both of the handles and they’re simply doing a step back lunge but instead of touching their back foot to the ground they’re just going to hover it there. They would reach the right foot back, stand up, they could even bring their knee towards their chest and then reach that right foot back, bring the right knee to the chest, and repeat that on the left side. That would be a really great total body workout.

Neely Quinn: Okay, and about how long is that going to take somebody?

Mark Campbell: If they’re doing that it should be about 25 minutes.

Neely Quinn: And how many times a week would they do those?

Mark Campbell: Just two times a week.

Neely Quinn: When would they do that? Before climbing? After climbing? On non-climbing days?

Mark Campbell: I think that workout is simple enough that if someone had to get in a climb and a workout, they could do that, but I would definitely want them to do that after their climb.

Neely Quinn: Because why?

Mark Campbell: Because I would rather them focus on the technique of climbing and keeping their energy for that and then working on the strength aspect afterwards, when they don’t have to work so hard at keeping attention to the skill of workout out.

Neely Quinn: Okay, great. What would you do with a more advanced person?

Mark Campbell: More advanced workouts – again, what’s the goal? Is their goal to have more endurance? Is their goal to have more strength? Is their goal to have power? Those are going to be the biggest factors when setting a program together for an advanced climber. Let’s say they can move as graceful as anyone you’ve seen on the wall but when it comes to explosive power they’re lacking in that. Where do we set that up as far as a training program?

I would like to venture to say that strength is going to be one of their bigger assets in getting the most bang for their buck out of that program. With a strength training program for a more advanced athlete, you could probably take them to three days a week and let’s just do a total body workout. I’m a huge fan of that because there’s never a time that you’re on the wall that you’re not using all of your body. I hate programming upper body workouts one day and lower body the next and then core for another day. I would just rather get it all done in one time. 

Let’s go back to starting out that advanced climber with some serious, intense plank work. Where can they generate the most power? In their core. If they can generate stability in their core and explode using that power for whatever moves they need to do, they’re going to have a better chance of generating power from their core. Starting out with isometric planks, 10 seconds on, maybe 10 seconds off, and we go through 5-6 rounds of that. We can use that as part of the strength protocol because we’re taking them past the warm up stage of 3 sets. Now we’re in the 5-6 sets so now we’re breaking down more muscle fiber, more time under tension, getting a little bit more into that strength training phase. 

As soon as we’re done with that I would stand them up and work into a chest press but this chest press isn’t going to be like we did on our beginning workout, this is going to focus more on either joint stability or adding more of the ability to push your hands away from your body quickly so we’re building more of that explosive power from the bottom end of that. 

You’ll see a lot of programs where they’ll say chest press or push-ups and people will do chest presses or push-ups the same way every single day until failure, until they can’t do any more, but varying how you do those will actually generate better muscle tissue response in your body. If you’re doing a chest press standing ¾ of the way up and you have some good resistance as you push, you can think about pulling yourself down into that chest press and then explode or push up as quickly as you can to where you’re locking your elbows out but keeping your core – the main focus there is that you’re not compromising your low back as you push yourself away and pull yourself back down into that movement. Work on more explosive chest presses. I would do one set of that.

I would then turn and go into a pulling exercise that would be more focused on the low row from an explosive manner or maybe even a harder angle. If you get underneath that anchor point you’re creating more demand and so you’re going to be able to generate more strength out of that by challenging that strength standpoint. You could move somebody underneath the anchor point where they could bend their knees and their chest is directly underneath the anchor point and pull into that.

Let’s back out of that and not do just a power pull but more of a rotational power movement, which is that power pull that we talked about at the beginning. If you’re taking somebody in a rotational movement power pull and core challenging them, they’re pulling their right hand in towards their armpit, they slightly rotate that left shoulder in reaching that hand up towards the strap, and then they lower down, rotate open so that right hand goes extended, and the pull rotates. The TRX power pull name says it all. It’s got power and pull and is another great really great upper body dominant exercise. 

Then we could take another great exercise like the TRX lunge and have them place their right leg through both foot cradles so now we’re going to challenge their stability and their leg strength but again, I like this leg strength from the aspect of not being able to push off of something but actually pull their knee up towards their chest while making a move, too. The TRX lunge is a great one for that because you’re going to build strength in that leg but you’re also going to build the stability and ability to move from a lower position to a higher position. 

Doing the left and the right, those four exercises, plus getting them onto the ground and then doing a more advanced exercise like your body saw but adding a pike to it. Does that make sense?

Neely Quinn: Right after the body saw. That’s what my husband does. He’ll do a saw and then a pike right into it.

Mark Campbell: Exactly. You could get into that and then pull up into that pike and then one of the other things I would sub out probably, now that I’m thinking about it – [laughs] sorry, my brain is like, ‘I could do this or that.’ The atomic push-up that we talked about at the beginning is a pretty big strength challenging movement as opposed to that chest press where you’re standing up. If we’ve got a strong athlete who can manage to keep a strong plank on a straight arm, lower themselves towards the ground and press up, then they can quickly pull their knees towards their chest doing either the crunch or keep their knees straight and pull their hips up towards the sky. Now we can get them to do double work, working on that chest press and working on that antagonist muscle and working on their core as well at the same time. Now I’m getting a dual bang for my buck with an athlete who is able to work a double explosive movement.

Neely Quinn: Okay.

Mark Campbell: Time intervals for those would be anywhere between 40-45 seconds for 4-5 sets.

Neely Quinn: And how much rest?

Mark Campbell: Anywhere between 20-30. I like to keep some of the rests shorter, depending on if we’re going the core stuff. I like to take a little more rest, especially if it’s core-specific so between those atomic push-ups I would take 30 seconds but when you’re going from a chest press to a power pull you could just keep those 20-second intervals there. It’s slightly more metabolic, in a way.

Neely Quinn: Can you explain that?

Mark Campbell: Metabolic is kind of where strength and cardio meet. When you have a metabolic side you’re taxing two different energy systems. When you do specific strength training you’re having a lower energy cycle that you’re tapping into so it’s not as high intensity but when you’re in the cardiovascular side of it you’re tapping into a higher energy cycle so your body is shifting from one to the other at two different times. When you’re doing more metabolic stuff you’re challenging the ability to move quickly, move things through a strength field, as well as challenging your respiratory rate so controlling your breath through a movement like that. I love that aspect because especially for boulder problems, if you’re doing a boulder problem that is 6-10 moves and you have to pull and reach and breathe, it makes a lot of sense to train that way too, right?

Again, the easiest thing, like I said, is a lot of these movements might not make a ton of sense to people if they’ve not seen them but a lot of these movements, if not all of them, that we’ve talked about today are on my Instagram. They’re really easy to follow that way. That way you can pick and pull the exercise we talked about and we could link them in somehow so it would be easy for people to see. 

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that would be great. I’ll put some on the show notes on TrainingBeta. I’ll definitely link to the stuff and maybe we can put a few of the videos actually on the page.

Mark Campbell: Let’s do that.

Neely Quinn: All of this is super helpful and I think a lot of people at least have a starting point now for at least what to do with the TRX. I have one at my house and I hung a hangboard and we put an eye bolt at the bottom of it and we hang the TRX on that. We even put it on a doorway. You don’t really need that much room so you can do it pretty much anywhere.

Mark Campbell: You can take it anywhere. You can take it outside and throw it over a tree so if you’re at the crag and you’re like, ‘Hey, I need to do this quick little warm-up,’ you could throw it up and do a quick little pull session with it, you could put your toes in and do a couple of pikes, a couple of crunches, body saws, and then maybe get on your project. I’ve never seen anybody do that but I would love to see someone take the TRX to their crag before they send. [laughs] That would be awesome.

Neely Quinn: But eight years ago nobody had ever seen somebody bring a portable hangboard to the crag either and now that’s happening all the time.

Mark Campbell: I live in Kansas City, Missouri so I don’t have a lot of outdoor projects close by me so I can’t start that trend. Hopefully when we take our trip during the summer here, maybe to Arkansas, I’ll get a couple of pictures and do that. [laughs]

Neely Quinn: I think we covered what I wanted to cover. Is there anything else you wanted to go over?

Mark Campbell: Just kind of reiterating that it can be intimidating to do something new, especially with the TRX. I would encourage anybody who is listening to this to either give it a try or send me a message and ask how they can start with the TRX because as a new climber, I know that my success has been directly translated to that. 

Even since we talked at the PCC I’ve got two other yellow dots under my belt, so that’s three V8s in under a year. Competing at that comp and taking 28th overall in the advanced division – I’m not saying this to brag. Just putting the pieces together in my head I know that because of my background in training with the TRX, this information I think is something that will help a lot of people if they give it a chance to do it correctly. 

Neely Quinn: Yeah. I totally agree. My climbing definitely improved when I started doing TRX last year or the year before. 

Mark Campbell: That’s awesome.

Neely Quinn: For sure, which is why I have you on the show right now. I do think that what you’re talking about is really valuable so I appreciate your wisdom and thank you so much for talking to me today.

Mark Campbell: I appreciate the time and the opportunity to do this because as you can probably tell, I am beyond passionate.

Neely Quinn: Which is what we need. It’s great.

Mark Campbell: The passion that comes with rock climbing – man. If I can put these two together it’s a beautiful world I’m living in.

Neely Quinn: For sure. People are lucky to have your gym there, too. I told you when I was talking to you that you should come out to Boulder and make another one. So many high climbing areas would probably benefit from having a TRX gym, even if we could just go in there and learn more about it and about how to use it property and all that.

In the meantime, people can go to @trx_core, right? 

Mark Campbell: Yes.

Neely Quinn: I’ll link to all that. Again, Mark, thanks so much.

Mark Campbell: Neely, thank you again. I really appreciate this.

Neely Quinn: Thanks so much for listening to that episode with Mark Campbell. You can find him on Instagram @corestrongkc as in Kansas City and his website is corestrongkc.com as well. 

Hopefully you got something out of that. I definitely did and changed some of the things I was doing with my workout and made it a little bit harder, yes. It feels harder. I do definitely feel the difference when I do these exercises as opposed to when I don’t. I feel it in my climbing. I’m just more solid. I’m not as shaky, I’m not as flimsy, all of the things. I really can’t speak highly enough about it so get yourself a TRX.

On that note, we have a TRX but it’s not a TRX. We got it on Amazon for like $49 as opposed to the TRX that’s $100 or $100-something. It’s just these blue straps and I can put a link to this on the page. They’re half the price and they do exactly the same thing so it doesn’t have to be this expensive thing. It can be homemade, honestly.

Hopefully you enjoyed that and I’ll be back with another podcast in a couple weeks. I don’t really have any other announcements for you except that you can find us trainingbeta.com. You can find our training programs at trainingbeta.com and every time you subscribe to one of those or purchase one of them you’re helping support this podcast and everything we do at the website. We really appreciate you listening and visiting the website at all.

You can also find us on Instagram and Facebook @trainingbeta and you can join our Facebook group at trainingbeta.com/community. That will bring you straight over to Facebook.

Also, lastly, if you want apparel from TrainingBeta – tank tops, t-shirts, or hoodies – you can go to trainingbeta.com/shop and we have all kinds of stuff over there. That’s new this year. I got some of our shirts and I’ve been wearing them and they’re quite cozy and soft and they fit really well so I highly recommend them.

Thanks again for listening all the way to the end. I really appreciate you and I’ll talk to you soon.

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TrainingBeta is a site dedicated to training for rock climbing. We provide resources and information about training for routes, bouldering, finger strength, mental training, nutrition for climbers, and everything in between. We offer climbing training programs, climbing training classes, nutrition classes, regular blog posts, interviews on The TrainingBeta Podcast, personal coaching for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.


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