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What Exercises Prepare You For Rock Climbing?

There are a few things that make an individual a great climber. If you want to scale a near vertical rock you’ll need a fair understanding of climbing technique and know-how, which you can develop from an actual trainer.

However, there are exercises out there to prepare you for rock climbing and improve your climbing abilities immensely. What all great rock climbers have in common is their efficiency, strength, technique, and balance. But what we’re going for here is the strength, and just that alone is enough to make you a decent rock climber.

Here are some exercises you can do to improve your rock climbing.

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A Strong Core


On of the most vital components of rock climbing is having a strong core. It provides positioning, balance, and easier movement on the wall. However, most people tend to miss the forest for the trees and lose sight of what a strong core actually is: strong. As with every muscle group, if you want to build muscle, you need to get stronger.


The same rule applies to the core as well, so what I would recommend to you is weighted ab exercises such as the cable crunch or hanging leg raise with a weight snatched in between your feet. Add in more volume with unweighted exercises such as the hanging leg raise or bicycle kicks, but adding weight to your ab exercises should be your main priority. Get strong and you’ll get strong: makes sense right?

Pull Ups


This one’s kinda obvious. If you want to be a good climber your ability to pull your body weight around with ease is a must. Pull ups are a rock climber’s best friend, and make the climbing process a hell of a lot easier. Pull ups are preferable over chin ups in this case, because in just about every case you’re going to be climbing with an overhand grip, not an underhand one. Either way, incorporate both pull ups and chin ups into your routine.


Oh, and do them weighted if you can. Once you can add half your bodyweight to a belt and rep that weight out, you’ll be able to manipulate your body with your newfound pulling strength with ease. The Myprotein dip belt works great for this purpose, and it’s one of the only belts I’ve found that doesn’t rip off your junk when you add weight.

Bar Holds


Bar holds can be done with a pullup bar, and are exactly what they sound like. They work wonders for grip strength, and make it easier to hold yourself into even the most awkward positions. You know what I mean: those tiny, petite nubs that everyone believes are impossible to hold onto.


Well, this is where you’re going to prove them wrong. Do some bar holds and you’ll be able to tackle even the most difficult of holds.

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Push Ups


Pushing strength is often an overlooked component of rock climbing. In rock climbing, pushing yourself up onto your arms is called mantling. The ability to push yourself skyward comes in handy with rock climbing. Remember: it’s not all about pulling strength. Strong triceps, chest, and shoulder muscles are required for mantling, and can all be developed just fine by a simple push up. If you’d like, you can add weight with a weight vest, or simply add in more volume over time. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking your pushing strength.

Calve Raises


Another overlooked yet effective exercise. Most people tend to neglect the calves, especially for rock climbing training, but this is another mistake. Your lower leg strength can make a huge difference in your climbing. You have four main points of contact when climbing, two arms and two legs. Your footwork accounts for half your points of contact, and strong calves allow you to maintain a “tip-toe” position which can give you a few extra inches that could make all the difference.

The Takeaway


Try some of these exercises out, and I can guarantee your rock climbing will be taken to the next level. Also, one last tip: lose your spare tyre. It’s a heck of a lot easier to scale a vertical wall when you weigh ten pounds less and are crazy strong. Gain relative strength or strength compared to your bodyweight. Simply weighing less makes climbing a more efficient process. As always, stay strong guys.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/.

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