Exercises for Rock Climbing – Building Rock Climbing Strength Video Training – Lesson 2

Exercises for Rock Climbing - Building Rock Climbing Strength Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of the series on exercises that you can do at home, to make you better climber.

In this video and post we’re going to cover working on your core. Now you may be wondering, how are better abs or a stronger core in general going to help with my climbing? Well here I’ll tell you why and then Konrad will take you through some exercises that you can do no matter what level you are at in terms of fitness and core strength.

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The core is especially critical on overhangs because you want to ability to position your body close to the wall so that your feet can stay hooked into the holds on an overhang.

Rock climbing overhang core focus.

A good example of using your core on an overhang to pull yourself close to the wall to maintain a good grip on the foot holds.

If you let your body just hang without engaging your core, your feet are much more likely to slip off the holds since your center of gravity is pushing your body down to the ground below instead of pushing your weight to your feet to help you stay glued to the wall.

Climbing an overhang wrong.

A perfect example of how to climb an overhang wrong by not engaging your core. Here the core isn’t very engaged and the climber is just letting their body hang. This results in the climber’s center of gravity (illustrated by the red circle) pushing their weight away from the wall, making it very difficult for the feet to stick to the wall and drastically increasing the likelihood of the feet slipping off.

Beginner Level Climber Exercise: The Knee-Up

The first type of exercise that you can do to strengthen your core for climbing is called the knee-up. This is a beginner level exercise and a good starting point if you haven’t actively worked on your core in the past.

This exercise is going to be done from a dead-hang position which means you’re just going to hold onto something above which will let your body simply hang with your arms straight, and without your feet touching the ground as shown below.

Beginner level knee-up exercise for climbers.

An example of a dead-hang being done at home on stairs (remember to be careful when doing any of these exercises as it’s very easy to let go and twist an ankle or fall down the stairs). Remember to be high enough so that your feet don’t touch the ground when you are hanging.

Next, you just lift your knees up so that you form a ninety degree position with your body as shown below:

An example of a properly executed knee-up.

An example of a properly executed knee-up.


A variation of this exercise is to straighten your legs out after pulling your knees up as shown in the picture below. This will give your core that extra few seconds of tension which is an excellent way to enhance the workout even more.

Knee-up variation example.

An example of the variation, along with the recommended frequency and rest times.

Reps, Sets, and Rest:

For the knee-up as well as the variation we recommend you do:

  • 10 repetitions per set
  • With 3 sets
  • And taking 30-60 seconds of rest between sets

How it Improves Your Climbing

Overall, these two exercises are excellent for enhancing your rock climbing ability as being in the dead-hang position is an excellent way to strengthen your grip, while the lifting of the legs is an excellent way to engage and strengthen your core which is something you’ll definitely want when tackling those overhangs.

Intermediate Level Climber Exercise: The Full Extension Core Workout

For a more intermediate workout you can try to dead hang leg raise.

This exercise also starts from the dead hang position just like the previous workout, except this time you are bringing your legs up while keeping them straight the entire time. This workout is different than the previous workout variation we covered as in this one the legs are always straight and never bend during the lift. After the lift to the 90 degree angle as shown below, keep that position for a second before lowering.

full extension core workout example

An example of the proper form. Remember that in this exercise the legs never bend. They start straight from the dead hand position, and are lifted up until a 90 degree angle is formed.

Alternate angle intermediate level.

An alternate angle of the proper form for doing the full extension.

Reps, Sets, and Rest:

Just like in the beginner exercises, we want to do:

  • 10 repetitions per set
  • With 3 sets
  • And taking 30-60 seconds of rest between sets


Advanced Level Climber Exercise: Maximizing Range of Motion

The most advanced way of doing leg raises is to start from a dead hang position and then bring your feet all the way up to your hands as shown below:

Step 1: Start from a dead hang position.

Step 1: Start from a dead hang position.

Step 2: Lift all the way up to your hands while keeping your legs as straight as you can while doing the lift.

Step 2: Lift all the way up to your hands while keeping your legs as straight as you can while doing the lift.

This exercise is especially ideal for rock climbers as it forces you to do that full range of motion which can really help you be a more versatile climber and tackle a much greater variation of routes.

Konrad and I hope you found this training useful and we look forward to responding to your questions and comments down below.

Have a great climbing week and don’t forget to check out the full rock climbing technique video training program Here.

Wishing you all the best,


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  1. Alice
    3 years ago

    very useful- Alice, age 63!

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