Climbing Strength Training & Conditioning

Rock climbing is not an activity which you can truly enter into without having at least undertaken some physical conditioning training and the more serious you are about your climbing goals, the better your conditioning will need to be. The main areas of focus are strength and endurance and training will primarily need to be focused on muscular strength, cardiovascular exercise for endurance as well as a stretching program to improve your joints’ flexibility.

Strength Training

Climbing requires the use of all the primary muscle groups so strength training needs to focus on muscles in the arms, legs, torso and neck. Basic exercises to concentrate on would include hip abduction, chest cross, leg curl, biceps curl, pull over, abdominal curl, neck extension and flexion, lower back extension, lateral raise, triceps extension and forearm extension and flexion. Between 8 to 12 repetitions per set at about 75% of maximum resistance is usually considered to be a good start. Once you’re able to complete 12 repetitions per set, then you can look to start increasing the resistance by, say 5%. Each training session should perhaps last about half an hour at a time, on the basis of a minute per set and a minute’s rest in between each set. Performing these sets at a slower speed has proven to be more effective for the strength conditioning of climbers. However, each individual will have their own preferences.

Cardio Training For Endurance

Cardiovascular training to increase endurance is possibly not one of the most favoured aspects of training which climbers have to put themselves through but it is absolutely necessary and helps to both increase speed for climbing performance whilst making sure that you keep to your optimum weight and that you can survive longer periods of climbing before you become too exhausted. Useful methods for doing this include cycling, swimming and hill-walking.


Climbing often involves traversing across particular areas of mountain or rocky cliffs where you may need to be able to contort your body into various shapes and positions in order that you can get good, stable handholds and footholds. In addition to the many different stretching exercises which will help you achieve this, if you have an indoor climbing wall or bouldering facility close by, these will both certainly help you in achieving greater flexibility.

Formulating Your Own Tailored Program

Although strength and endurance training is fundamental to all climbers, we are all different and each of us are the best judges at knowing our own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it’s important that you self-analyse and try to identify those areas which you may need to give a little more attention to over others and to build additional exercises into your training regime in order to eradicate any weaknesses.

Importance Of Warming Up

As with any sporting activity that fully utilises all the major muscle groups, it’s important that you take the opportunity to fully warm-up before attempting any strength and conditioning exercises. This will help to prevent you from sustaining unnecessary injuries and will improve your performance as you go about your training regime. Simple gentle jogging is one way of achieving this and as your body warms up; this also helps the musculoskeletal system too and lessens its risks from injury.