Strength Training for Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is a sport that requires strength, coordination, flexibility, endurance, and balance. It is an excellent cross training activity for many other sports such as basketball, racquet sports, and baseball which require strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the feet, lower legs, and hand grip. Psychological demands also come into play; such as puzzle solving skills, team building, and the ability to plan movements in advance. Climbing is a physically challenging, vertical chess match.

Common Muscle Imbalances
Although every individual is different, there are common muscle imbalances seen in regular rock climbers. Muscles that are commonly tight and need to be stretched include: latissimus dorsi, biceps, forearm and finger flexors. Muscles that are commonly weak and need to be strengthened include: wrist and finger extensors, anterior tibialis, pectorals and anterior shoulder girdle, triceps, rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers, mid and lower trapezius, trunk stabilizers such as spinal erectors and abdominals. Imbalances may need to be addressed not only to improve climbing performance, but to prevent injury.

Training Components
Components of a properly designed climbing program include flexibility, strength training, proprioception, balance and agility, plyometrics, aerobic and anaerobic cardiovascular fitness. Perhaps the most important aspect of training for climbing involves learning movement patterns that involve body positioning, weight transfer, and learning how to move efficiently. Lower body strength is often overlooked in climbing training programs, but is an important aspect of a well planned program. The exact parameters of a properly designed training program depend not only on the individual climber, but on what type of climbing is being targeted. It is recommended that participants take courses in skill development and safety in addition to physical training regimens.

Common Climbing Injuries
Some of the most common climbing injuries are a result of repetitive stress to muscles in the forearm and fingers that result in tendonitis of the fingers, wrist or elbow. Rotator cuff injuries are also common, usually as a result of muscle imbalances or weakness. Ankle sprains also occur, usually on descent hikes or bouldering falls. It is important that all climbing harnesses, helmets, ropes and equipment be properly maintained and checked regularly!

Training Program Options

Option 1.The most effective option is to work one on one with a professional Strength and Conditioning Coach to ensure that you are doing the most efficient exercises correctly. You will first have an assessment to determine your current cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and muscle strengths and weaknesses prior to beginning a training program. We will then utilize that information to design a customized program that determines appropriate exercises and intensities so that you can maximize your climbing performance and minimize the chance for injury. Since there are no contracts, you can work with your trainer as often or as little as you please. Contact K's Body Shop to schedule your appointment or get more information.

Option 2.If you have a group of climbers in the Twin Cities area who are interested in having a professional Strength and Conditioning Coach oversee your small group strength training workouts, contact K's Body Shop. This is a great option for training partners to contain costs while still getting some professional instruction. Since each athlete is different, the workouts will not be completely customized, but you will have the opportunity to discuss appropriate exercise progressions based on your abilities. Prices vary depending on number of participants and location of sessions.

Option 3. The least expensive option is to follow a pre-designed strength and conditioning program. These programs are "as is" and do not include additional coaching. Customers simply pay for the program of their choice via PayPal and it will be delivered in PDF format via email, typically within 24 hours (usually faster) of purchase.  PDF readers can be downloaded for free from All programs include pictures and/or descriptions of each exercise; such as dynamic warm-up, cardiovascular activities and intensities, strength training exercises, stretching exercises, and cool down. See sample to get a general idea of the format.

There are currently 3 different climbing/mountaineering programs available for purchase here or in the Program Catalog:

Please review our terms of service before purchasing a pre-designed program.

A comprehensive technical rock climbing program includes 5 different periodized strength training workouts: 2 day off-season rotation, 2 day pre-season rotation, and 1 in-season workout. Each workout includes warm-up and cool down, dynamic warm-up,  myofascial release and/or stretching, strength training exercises, and cardiovascular conditioning recommendations. In addition, there are several training suggestions to be done on an indoor climbing wall during the pre season.

The supplemental program is a single workout that can be done in addition to regular rock climbing to prevent muscle imbalances and improve overall strength and endurance. There are currently supplemental programs for technical rock climbing and mountaineering.

Athletes who will benefit the most from pre-designed workouts are self motivated,  have basic weight training experience, are in good health and injury free. Workouts use free weights, stability balls, medicine balls, cables or tubing, plyometrics, and basic balance exercises. There are also a few myofascial release exercises that can be done using a biofoam roll.


Training Program

Program Information

Target Population



Comprehensive Rock Climbing

Off Season Workout A: 10 exercises
 Off Season Workout B: 11 exercises
Pre Season Workout A: 10 exercises
Pre Season Workout B: 10 exercises
In Season Workout: 10 exercises
Dynamic Warm Up: 10 exercises
Flexibility: 8 self myofascial release exercises and 17 stretches
Cardiovascular Conditioning

For technical rock climbers who are serious about improving their strength and conditioning for climbing.



Supplemental Rock Climbing Workout

3 myofascial release exercises
10 flexibility and dynamic warm up exercises
12 strength exercises

For regular rock climbers who are looking for strength training exercises to supplement their climbing.




Supplemental Mountaineering Workout

3 myofascial release exercises
10 flexibility and dynamic warm up exercises
13 strength exercises
basic cardiovascular training guidelines

For regular rock climbers who are looking for strength training exercises to prepare for mountaineering.



 If you are unsure if this program is appropriate for you, contact the trainer.

Climbing Gyms, Guides, Instruction
Vertical Endeavors in St. Paul; the best in the Midwest! Also offers guided tours and instruction.
Midwest Mountaineering; great bouldering cave, also sells climbing and outdoor gear.
P.J. Asch Otterfitters in Stillwater
REI, also sells great climbing and outdoor gear.

Where to Buy Climbing Gear
Midwest Mountaineering, Minneapolis
REI, Roseville and Bloomington
Vertical Endeavors, St Paul

Local Climbing Beta and Climbing Partners
Minnesota Climbing message boards
Minnesota DNR has beta about the crags within Minnesota State Parks
Mountain Project has photos, ratings, and route descriptions,
Minnesota Climbers Association



Call today and get started on a fitness program designed just for you!

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Personal Trainer

  • Motivation.
  • Accountability.
  • Professional guidance.
  • Learn new skills.
  • Learn proper technique.
  • Greater success rate.
  • Achieve goals faster.

Benefits of Exercise

  • Weight Loss.
  • Improved strength.
  • Improved flexibility.
  • Improved aerobic fitness.
  • Improved balance.
  • More energy.
  • Improved moods.
  • Improved bone density.
  • Improved self esteem.
  • Better health!