Exercises for Rock Climbing – Building Rock Climbing Strength Video Training – Lesson 3

Exercises for Rock Climbing - Building Rock Climbing Strength Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of the series on exercises that you can do at home, to make you better climber.

If you’ve gone through our PEAK Climbing Video Training Program then you’ll know that when climbing, you want to use your legs to do as much of the lifting as possible, as opposed to trying to lift by mostly using your upper body strength.

The reason for this is that your legs are already used to holding your body weight up, as well as lifting up your body weight. Because of this they are a lot stronger at lifting your body than the muscles in your arms, back, and chest.

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Since your legs are already perfectly suited to help you climb, it makes sense to make them stronger by training them so that you have the strength to consistently use them especially in situations where you can only use one of your legs to lift yourself up.

Bouldering using leg strength example.

Here is an example of the legs being fully utilized to lift the climber up this boulder problem. You can see that he has fully pushed off with his right leg giving him the maximum amount of lift possible. Meanwhile his left leg and his arms are being used to just help him balance.

Below is another great example of a common situation that you will find yourself in, where having the leg strength to lift yourself up with one leg can be very helpful. Notice how Konrad’s left leg starts off being bent, while his right arm and left leg are being used to help him balance. On the more difficult routes you will encounter hand holds that you can’t use to lift yourself up even if you wanted too, and all you can do is lift yourself higher by extending the bent leg, while just using your arms and other leg to balance. This is where it can really benefit you to have each of your legs be strong enough so that you can lift your entire body weight with either leg individually.

Bouldering example 2


The Exercise to Strengthen your Rock Climbing Balance & Strength

To make your legs stronger so that you have the ability to lift your entire body weight with just one leg, a good exercise to do is called the one-legged squat.

This is one of the best exercises in terms of improving your physical fitness and rock climbing strength and skill. This is because when doing one-legged squats, you are not only building strength in your legs, but you are also practicing and improving your ability to balance. Balance as we all know is extremely useful in climbing especially when trying to conquer the routes that require a lot of finesse and delicate movements to stay on, and progress up the climbing wall.

When you first start doing one-legged squats you’re probably going to want to do them on some sort of elevated surface like a set of stairs. This will make it much easier to balance as you won’t have to worry as much about the leg that you’re lifting up constantly hitting the ground. This will also help you get that full range of motion which is also very useful for climbing.

Squat Example 1

Another great idea is to have something to hold onto nearby like a handrail. This way you have something to grab onto if you lose your balance, and having something like this will make you more comfortable allowing you to focus instead on executing the proper technique when doing these squats, and going down low enough to best simulate the large lifting that you’ll have to do when climbing up a route.

When first starting out you may find yourself having to keep your hands right on the handrail the entire time to help lift you up, and help maintain that balance. Eventually however you will improve in your balance and leg strength, and be able to lift yourself easily without using anything to balance as shown below.

Squat example 2

Remember of course to switch legs when doing this exercise to ensure that both legs get an even work out and are both capable of lifting your entire body weight by themselves from a low position.

Advanced Level Variation

Once you start finding the method above easy, you may want to consider moving to a more advanced method which is transitioning to a flat ground for that extra level of challenge.

Doing the exercise on the flat ground will really test your balance as you will have to now ensure that your off-leg is lifted high enough to not touch the ground. Ultimately this will help take your balancing skills to that next level.

Another way of making the exercise even more of a challenge is to start adding weight. For example you can hold onto a gym weight, or a large heavy book, or jug of water while doing the exercise. This will put that extra pressure on your leg helping you strengthen those muscles even further.

Critical: Proper Technique

One really critical point to keep in mind while doing this exercise is the depth that you should go when lowering yourself. As shown in the picture below, you need to ensure that your knee doesn’t go past your toe as this will put a lot of stress on your joints and can result in injury.

Proper squat form

Reps, Sets, and Rest:

When doing this exercise you want to do:

  • 10 Reps
  • For 3 sets
  • Taking about one minute break in between.

You can modify these numbers if you wish, but generally these numbers are a good guide to follow to improve your stability and balance as well as your strength.

In Conclusion…

I hope you enjoyed this lesson! You can view more at the blog here, or check out the full rock climbing technique training program here.

All the best,






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  1. Joel
    4 years ago

    Great Post will put this into practise

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