List Of Climbing Exercises

List Of Climbing Exercises

Free climbing, free soloing, bouldering, and any other type of rock climbing are some of the most exciting ways to exercise while experiencing the great outdoors. Climbing lets you explore new places and gives you a new view of the world around you. Although rock climbing can be difficult to master, there are certain exercises you can do to get the most out of your climbing experiences!

List of Climbing Exercises

  • Stretching
  • Joint Mobility
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Push-Ups
  • Pull-Ups
  • Planks
  • Lunges
  • Weight Training
  • Olympic Lifts
  • Deadlifts
  • Footwork Training
  • Grip Training
  • Climbing Practice

Warm-Up Exercises


The climbing experience, like any form of exercise, can be heavily benefitted by a proper warm up. Stretching is as important to a warm up as anything! It is very important for climbers to loosen themselves up before starting a long climbing session. This can save them from a lot of cramping, muscle soreness, and even injury later on. The best stretches to perform here are dynamic stretches. Stretching focuses on movement and using the muscles' own strength to stretch them.  

Joint Mobility

Joint mobility focuses on the movement and rotation of different joints. For climbers, the ability to control and use your fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles, and knees is extremely important. Control over these joints can be the difference between success and failure when trying to do a difficult climbing route. Taking time to really manipulate and loosen your joints will definitely pay off for anyone interested in climbing.   

Cardio Exercises


Cardio is very important for climbers. Sometimes a climb could last hours with no real breaks in between. In order to make sure you aren’t worn out before the climb is done, you need to add cardio to your exercise list. Jogging is a great way to get your cardio in. It gets the heart pumping and improves the oxygen level that your body receives. The only downside to jogging, or running in general, is that it can have a lot of impact on the knees and ankles. As stated earlier, the joints are some of the climber's greatest tools, and they should be protected at all cost.    


The first option for lower impact cardio is biking or cycling. Whether it is on a stationary bike before climbing at your local indoor rock wall or on a mountain bike traveling to the cliff you aim to climb, biking presents many benefits to climbers everywhere. Besides the cardio benefit, and the low impact on joints, biking is unique because it also improves stability. Having to stay saddled on the bike for long periods of time is similar to climbing itself, specifically when your muscles will have to keep you close to the wall for hours on end.  


Swimming is another great option for low impact cardio. Swimming is an amazing recovery exercise because the water allows you to exercise with zero impact on your joints. This makes it as good a rehabilitation for injuries as a cardio exercise. Swimming also inherently loosens up your shoulders and other joints while you’re doing it. One downside to swimming is that when you are new at it, it will drain your upper body quickly. Doing this right before climbing might make the climb far more difficult than it needs to be. Thus, the timing of your swim is very important to the benefits you could receive from it.    

Strength Training Exercises


Push-ups are thought of as just great upper body workouts. Although this is true, push-ups offer so much more to a climber looking to exercise. Push-ups help stabilize your entire body by engaging your core. Core engagement is crucial for climbing efficiently. Push-ups also offer countless variations that you can learn. One of the best variations for climbers is the spider-man pushup. This push-up variation involves your knee going up to your elbow everytime you go down to the floor. This simulates a climbing motion and makes it feel more natural when you are eventually doing it on the wall.    


Pull-ups are another great exercise for climbers. Like push-ups, they engage multiple muscle groups and force you to engage your core, back, and arms all at once. Pull-ups are also directly applicable to climbing because, while climbing, you will find yourself needing to pull your body from one hold to another many times. Pull-ups done with proper form are also a great way to practice lifting yourself from a hanging position. This could be crucial for getting yourself out of potentially dangerous situations.


Planks, like other strength training exercises, are used mostly to engage your core and stabilize your entire body. Planks are best used as a climbing exercise because they allow you to put your body in a tense, fully engaged state for long periods of time. This is a lot like the feeling climbers experience after long hours on the wall.  


Lunges are obviously important to strengthen your legs, but equally important to develop hip mobility and flexibility. When climbing, your leg will sometimes need to be in unfamiliar positions, and being able to push off and generate force from these positions is crucial. This skill can be trained by practicing different lunge variations and completing multiple sets of them.  

Weight Training

Weight training is also an important exercise that you can add to your climbing training. Weight training usually varies depending on the sport that one is training for. This applies to rock climbing as well. When exercising with weights to train for climbing, the goal is not to become a bodybuilder. Instead, the goal is to strengthen functional movements and the muscles that make these movements possible. Weight training for climbers should be focused on strengthening the arms and legs, as they are key facets a climber utilizes to scale a wall.

Olympic Lifts

Olympic lifting is very different from your standard bodybuilding lifts. These focus far more on movement, and end up developing speed, explosiveness, and most importantly for climbers: coordination. These lifts will not make your muscles grow as much, but they will make you stronger and help you move more efficiently.  


Deadlifts are used for climbers to stabilize your core and engage your entire body at once. Doing a deadlift correctly means that you are using many different muscle groups simultaneously which as we know, is great for climbers. Deadlifts also help improve grip strength which is as important as anything.  

Skill and Technique Exercises

Footwork Training

Once you start climbing, footwork is one of the most important things to focus on. Climbers use different drills to exercise their foot work on the wall. One popular drill is placing coins on the rock holds that you plan on stepping on, and then trying not to knock them off. Although this may seem silly, this is actually very beneficial when it comes to knowing how to control your movement and the weight you place in a certain area. Both of these things will make you a better climber.

Grip Training

As obvious as this may seem, training your grip is crucial. After being on the wall for a long time, you can start experiencing major fatigue in your hands. In order to condition your grip, there are many different exercises to do. Some of the best are farmer carries and dead hangs. A farmer carry consists of you taking a dumbbell, kettlebell, or weighted plate and walking a set distance with it in one hand. From here you can variate the fingers or angle that you hold the weight from, increasing grip strength from numerous positions. Dead hangs are simply going to a pull up bar or rock wall and hanging by nothing but your fingers. This will condition them to hold your weight for extended periods of time.  

Climbing Practice

Finally, one of the best exercises for rock climbing is actually getting on the wall and starting to climb! There will be some easy routes and some very hard ones. It’s important to start simple, and learn what you and your body can handle. After consistent effort with the exercises in this article, you will realize that you can quickly move on to harder and more exciting climbing paths. Climbing consistently will make sure that before long, there is nowhere you can’t explore.