Exercises for Climbers
Ball exercises for climbers can address core stability and therefore
the efficiency of transferring forces from your hands and feet to your
trunk. Your ability to climb is only as effective as your weakest link.
In climbers, we often see injuries in the hands, forearms, shoulders.
By strengthening the shoulders and the stability of your trunk you make
it easier for the muscles moving your trunk on your arms.
Unlike other sports where we have a free hand and arm operating on a
stable trunk, climbing motion occurs through a closed kinetic chain
with a grounded hand pulling your trunk through space. (usually
assisted by lower extremities of course)
Unlike a lot of other sports, climbing is different in that is has a
larger anaerobic demand. Strength, power, stamina, and endurance is
more important than speed, or other parameters requiring high cardiac
A climber needs
- Good grip strength.
Grip strength alone is not enough. A study published in the Journal of
Engineering Medicine in 1993 showed us that while pinch grip improved
with number of years experience in climbing, there was no correlation
between hand grip strength and success in competitive climbing. Like
all sports, success is dependent on many factors, one of which is the
efficient transfer of movement from a stable surface through the body.
Developing the different types of functional grips to maximize
efficiency and endurance in the finger flexors can be achieved through
the use of hang boards
- A high strength/mass ratio
to climb vertically. The only way to alter this is by increasing
strength or decreasing body mass.
- Enough flexibility to
maintain a position close to the rock face so as to reduce the moment
arm and minimize the work necessary to ascend.
- Endurance in the upper
and lower extremities. Through training of type I motor units
we can maximize our hold time before fatigue sets in. The best way to
train for this is to repeatedly expose the muscles to periods of high
intensity exercise in the presence of the metabolic bi-products that
result from anaerobic training. This is achieved through static
exercises and slow movements held for long periods.
- Integration of the core in
all movements to maintain stability in holding the centre of mass as
close to the rock face as possible to reduce the resistance moment arm
that exists between the limbs and the rock face.
The exercise ball and relevant floor exercises for climbers lend
themselves well to integrating endurance strengthening exercises with
Be sure to supplement your rock climbing training program with adequate
isotonic training for lats, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles using
rowing and pull downs at differing angles of pull, unilaterally and
This a great beginner core exercise for climbers. Scapular stabilizers
as well as pelvic stabilizers are working hard to hold this
position. You can add a level of difficulty by raising the
upper foot straight to the ceiling, bring it forward 6 inches, back to
the vertical, then back 6 inches, and back to the vertical, and then
down to the other foot. I call these "T-raises"
This exercises back and hip extensors while other muscles work to
maintain a stable core
off the ball
This is a good exercise to bias abdominals and hip flexors while
performing a closed kinetic chain exercise on the shoulders.
on the ball
Instability of the ball forces scapular stabilizers to work harder.
Your ability to move your body over a stable shoulder
means you need to know where your shoulder blade is relative to your
rib cage and your humerus.
at the Ceiling
This is an advanced move that requires scapular
stability through a larger range of motion.
Gluteal strength is important for pelvic and lower back stability.
This another exercise to strengthen lateral pelvic stabilizers.
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This exercise integrates strengthening of the latissimus dorsi with the