Exercises That Will Make You a Better Rock Climber – Week 4 Bar Hangs

This week we are on to the Bar Hangs, easiest exercises of them all in my opinion.

Purpose: Grip and core strength

Targets: Hanging on to holds

It goes without saying that having good grip strength is vital for climbing. Being able to hang onto even the tiniest of climbing holds makes all routes easier and opens new ways to tackle old problems. Trusting your hands also gives you the time and space to figure out your next move which helps you to climb more intelligently and efficiently, making better use of your other muscles.

The simplest way to improve grip strength is, obviously, just to grip something. An easy way to do this at home is just to pick up something reasonably heavy with one hand. Try grabbing a full baked bean can by pinching along the lip of the can and holding it for 10 seconds. As your strength increases progress onto bigger or more awkwardly shaped objects, making sure not to drop any on your toes!

Another great way to build grip strength is with a bar hang. This super simple exercise will build your endurance and give you an arm and core workout at the same time.

Technique: Before you start it’s important to note that over training grip strength can cause strain and injury which can hamper your climbing. For this reason, make sure that you take things slowly when you begin training and if you’re in any doubt or discomfort just take a break for a couple of days and come back when your hands and arms feel up to it.

For a bar hang you usually use something like a pull up bar, but any horizontal bar or ledge that can take your weight will do. Ideally pick a spot that is above head height so that you can hang from it and straighten your legs without them touching the floor.

The bar hang is about as complicated as its name suggest. Simply grab the bar, extend your arms fully and lift your feet off the floor. The important thing here is to keep your body as straight and as still as possible. When you first start bar hanging, you might find that your body swings a bit as you start the exercise. Learning to reduce your swinging by tightening your stomach and legs will improve your core strength and make it easier to hang on the bar.

For your first couple of attempts hold the bar hang for at least 10 seconds, progressing to longer periods as your strength grows. You can also try changing grip to overhand or underhand for variation or search out a ledge instead if you’re finding the bar too easy.