Exercises That Will Make You a Better Rock Climber


Over the next few weeks I am publishing a series of exercises from Beginner to Medium level which will help be a better climber.

Rock climbing is a demanding sport that requires great mental focus coupled with physical strength. The world’s best climbers condition themselves to tackle the toughest routes because they know they’ve got to trust their bodies when they’re hanging off a mountain, hundreds of meters above the ground, by their fingertips.

Rock climbing requires full body fitness, from upper body and core strength to suppleness, flexibility and a firm grip, so any workout session will always be varied and challenging.

The great thing about training for rock climbing is that you don’t have to have an expensive gym membership or a ton of complicated equipment.

Rock climbing is about learning to move your bodyweight as efficiently as possible so the most important piece of equipment for any rock climbing gym workout your own body, which means you can train almost anywhere.

It doesn’t matter how much you can bench press or how many miles you can run compared to your mates, because rock climbing workouts are personal to you. It’s all about how far you can push yourself, how easily you can lift your body and how effectively you can control your position on the wall. Your biggest challenge and training tool is your own limits.

The trick with these exercises is gradually increasing the duration and number of repetitions you do, building up strength and flexibility a bit at a time so don’t worry if you can’t even do one pull up yet. Every time you work out you’ll be improving your body tone and capacity, making it easier to do the same exercises next time round as your body develops to better perform the moves that’ll help you conquer any rock climbing challenge.

  1. Pull Ups

Purpose: Arms, shoulders, back and core

Targets: Climbing in general

There’s no getting away from it, arm strength is important to climbers which is why the humble pull up is a major part of nearly all rock climbing workouts.

Pull up bars are easy to do anywhere particularly in Parks, every time you go out  find a nearby tree with a suitably sized branch or one of the sports machines outdoors.

Technique: When they first start pull ups, most people use an underhand grip with their fingers facing back towards them, which is Targets developing bicep and back muscles. Try using an overhand grip too, with your fingers facing away from you because that engages more of your back and shoulders than an underhand grip and more closely resembles the common motions of climbing.

When you feel comfortable doing short pull ups, from a standing position bringing your shoulders to the bar and then back down, you should progress to long arm pull ups.

Bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor until you’re hanging below the bar with your arms fully extended. Perform your pull up and return to the same position without putting your feet on the floor, aiming for 5-10 repetitions before you stop. To get the most out of this exercise try to pull up slowly and smoothly and then descend slowly and smoothly too. This is effectively a double work out, using your muscles on both the ascent and descent while exercising your core too.

See the video below:

How to: Pull Ups by Runtastic Fitness