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Training for Climbers

by | Nov 27, 2018 | Training | 0 comments

In a series of three articles we are looking into training regimes tailored for three different activities, hill walking, climbing and kayaking and rafting. 

First, we looked at three exercises to help condition our muscles when out on a hike. In this article I shall cover three more exercises tailored for a climber. The exercises are resistance orientated, so look at strengthening muscles for the activity, and less so at the cardiovascular training. In the future, this is something I shall cover more thoroughly.  

Due to the ‘pull’ nature of climbing, climbers rely heavily on back muscles, and their biceps. As well as these two muscle groups I shall touch on the chest.  

The chest in this case is the antagonist, the muscle that relaxes during the activity. Many climbers suffer from an imbalance in ‘pull’ muscles, so I will include a chest workout to help keep the body better balanced for times when not actually on the wall.  


Latissimus dorsi 

To train our Lats, the large muscles down our sides and the side of our back, we will perform a pullup. This is quite a demanding exercise. It may be worth starting out using a pulldown bar on a cable machine, slowly increasing weights.  

  1. Grab the pullup bar with your palms down (shoulder-width grip) 
  2. Hang to the pullup-bar with straight arms and your legs off the floor 
  3. Pull yourself up by pulling your elbows down to the floor 
  4. Go all the way up until your chin passes the be bar 
  5. Lower yourself until your arms are straight 



As a climber pulls themselves up and the arms contract, as do the biceps. Keeping the bicep conditioned will help with climbing technique. 

  1. Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length.  
  2. Now, keeping the upper arms stationary, exhale and curl the weights while contracting your biceps.  
  3. Then, inhale and slowly begin to lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. 

 Maintaining a ‘push – pull’ balance is very important, and climbing puts a very imbalanced demand on the pull muscles


As we discussed before, the chest isnt significantly involved with climbing, however, maintaining a ‘push – pull’ balance is very important, and climbing puts a very imbalanced demand on the pull muscles, thus, I have included a chest exercise in this workout.  

  1. Lie on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet flat on the floor. 
  2. Push the dumbbells up so that your arms are directly over your shoulders and your palms are up. 
  3. Pull your abdominals in, and tilt your chin toward your chest. 
  4. Lower the dumbbells down and a little to the side until your elbows are slightly below your shoulders. 
  5. Roll your shoulder blades back and down, like you’re pinching them together and accentuating your chest. 
  6. Push the weights back up, taking care not to lock your elbows or allow your shoulder blades to rise off the bench.