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How to build upper body strength using rock climbing exercises

Using Rock Climbing Exercises To Build Upper Body Strength For Climbing

Upper body strength is a key element of both rock climbing and rock climbing exercises. Building body strength will improve the endurance, precision and technique of the climber which all combine to create the overall climbing package.

Improving upper body strength

Obviously, as any experienced climber will tell you, the best way for beginners to improve strength for climbing is to climb regularly and to constantly challenge yourself and build on your ability. There are also techniques and specific rock climbing exercises that advanced climbers can use to improve the effectiveness and intensity of their climbing gym workouts.

If you can’t regularly get to the climbing gym, then we are going to show you how you can do exercises at home to improve your upper body strength.

Upper body strength can be grouped into two main exercise groups.

– Pulling exercises

– Pushing exercises

Pulling exercises

Pulling exercises engage the muscles mainly in your back and it is easy to imagine why it is important to build strength in this area of the body. Pulling exercises are things like rows and pull ups. There is some discussion as to the effectiveness of standard pull ups and many people believe that pull ups are not effective for climbers or as realistic to an actual climbing situation as horizontal rows (or inverted rows).

This makes sense if you think about it, try and imagine a time whilst climbing that you realistically needed to use a vertical pull up motion.

Usually the only times you need to engage your upper body on its own without the help of your lower body is with overhanging rock or walls. Using proper technique means that you generally don’t have to pull your body directly vertical as with a standard pull up but more horizontally like that of the inverted row (see video below).

Pushing exercises

Pushing exercises engage the muscles mainly in your chest and shoulders depending on the exercise. Pushing exercises usually consist of mainly push ups in varying styles. Pushing exercises are generally not as useful as the pulling exercises for climbers due to the nature of the sport (pulling one’s self up a rock face!) but are still important to keep the balance of strength in the body of the climber.

The two main variations we recommend are:

The Standard push up

The normal push-up works your chest and also shoulder muscles. Lie down on the floor face down with your feet close together. Place your palms shoulder width apart. While sustaining a straight body, lower yourself down until your chest touches the floor. Push yourself up. That’s one rep.

The Feet Elevated push up

Elevating the feet from the ground will work your shoulders more whenever you perform a push-up. Put your toes on an elevated surface. A bed or possibly a park bench works well. Place your hands on the floor. Do a push-up.

You can learn about all the different variations in push ups by clicking this link

 Resistance training for climbers. 

Standard resistance training is also very useful for climbers and if used properly can supplement a climbers strength building routine especially if you are looking to improve in a specific area.

See the video below for an example of a climbers workout.

For more information on resistance training for climbing, click this link

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