Rock Climbing

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.

rock climbing

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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 will be immediately directed to a link to download a zip file containing your PDF files. 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. The programs are readable on smartphones, tablets, and computers. See sample to get a general idea of the format.

There are currently 3 different climbing/mountaineering programs available for purchase here:

Please review our terms of service before purchasing a pre-designed program. Note: Because of current international tax laws, these programs are currently only offered to US based customers.

The pre-designed Comprehensive Strength Training for Rock Climbing program is designed for athletes with some basic strength training experience. This program 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.

  • How to Plan Your Workouts
  • Dynamic Warm-Up: 10 exercises
  • Flexibility: 8 self-myofascial release + 17 stretches
  • Off Season A: 10 exercises
  • Off Season B: 11 exercises
  • Pre Season A: 10 exercises
  • Pre Season B: 10 exercises
  • In Season: 10 exercises

Cost: $19.97

Purchase Comprehensive Strength Training for Rock Climbing:

The supplemental programs are 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.

The Supplemental Rock Climbing Workout is for regular rock climbers who are looking for strength training exercises to supplement their climbing. It includes:

  • Self myofascial release: 3 exercises
  • Dynamic Warm-Up & Flexibility: 10 exercises
  • Strength Training: 12 exercises

Cost: $4.97

Purchase  Supplemental Rock Climbing Workout:

The Supplemental Mountaineering Workout is for regular rock climbers who are looking for strength training exercises and conditioning guidelines to prepare for mountaineering.

  • Self myofascial release: 3 exercises
  • Dynamic Warm-Up & Flexibility: 10 exercises
  • Strength Training: 13 exercises
  • Basic Cardiovascular Conditioning Guidelines

Cost $4.97

Purchase Supplemental Mountaineering Workout:

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.