The Expert’s Guide: 5 Fundamental Techniques to Improve Your Rock Climbing Strength

Have you been stuck climbing the same grade for the last 6 months, losing motivation, or just want to send a hard project this season?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above then you’re in luck! There are a few simple exercises you can add to your weekly climbing routine that can give a huge boost to your Sport Climbing or Bouldering strength.

Climbing Techniques_Megaton Coffee_ High Caffeine_Every Last Rock

Before we get into the nitty gritty lets go over some ground rules:

To start seriously training for climbing you should have been climbing for at least 1 year and be able to climb V5/5.12a.

  • Training for climbing can put a huge strain of small tendons in the fingers. Be extremely careful during any climbing exercise.
  • Make sure to warm up and stretch for a minimum of 30 minutes before training.
  • While training you need to have adequate amounts of rest in between sessions. Try to avoid strenuous activities on rest days.
  • Feel free to modify any exercise to make it more comfortable for you.
  • Make sure to eat a healthy diet and get proper nutrition while training.
  • Only drink Megaton Coffee during your training (not required but highly recommended)!

Now that we are ready to start training we need to understand the 5 basic parts of rock climbing.

  1. Finger Strength
  2. Upper Body Power
  3. Core Tension
  4. Footwork/Technique
  5. Mental Fortitude

In this post we will briefly explain how to train these 5 aspects of climbing. Although these are not the only things that go into a successful rock climbing training regiment, these are the most important.


Finger Strength

Training for finger strength is the most common and popular form of training in regards to climbing. Most of the hardest moves in climbing require extremely strong fingers. Training for this will help promote a steady increase in overall finger strength.

Tools you will need for finger training

  • Hangboard
  • Timer
  • Pre Workout Megaton Coffee

 This exercise in pretty simple. You will need to hang from an edge for 8-10 seconds. This timeframe will utilize to energy systems in the body what will promote increase strength. Hanging for longer means that edge is to big for you and you need to find a smaller one.

For the exercise failure is the goal. Once you have found the right hold hang for the prescribed 8-10 seconds for 3-4 sets. Rest a full 3 minutes in between sets.

Only train on the hangboard twice and week and make sure you go light on any other training on those days.

You can get a more detailed finger strength workout here.


Upper Body Power

If long moves are an issue for you then you probably need to up your upper body power. Lock-offs and pull up strength are a critical part to climbing.

 For this exercise you will need:

  • A hangboard and/or bar
  • Weight vest or weights and climbing harness

Typically in rock climbing, especially bouldering, you will rarely need to do more than 10 pull-ups so this will be the limit for each set. You will need to play around with the sizes of the edges and the amount of weight you are adding.

This exercise will go something like this:

  • Warmup: Do 10 pullups on jug or bar
  • Set 1: Do 10 pullups small edge
  • Set 2: Do 10 pullups on jug or bar with added weight
  • Set 3: Do 5 pullups smaller edge
  • Set 4: Do 5 pullups on jug or bar with more added weight

Rest 90 seconds minimum between sets.

Want to train at home? Here is a review of the best climbing hangboards.

Core Tension

Core strength is often overlooked in climbing. Anytime you are using your feet (so almost every climb) you are using your core to transfer energy to your upper body. Having a weak core will become more evident the steeper the climb gets.

On the plus side you can expect go see some real and visible gains after just a few weeks of training (you know we all want that Chris Sharma six pack).

Training your core if far from enjoyable, but it is so crucial to your climbing. Here is a post we put together that should explain everything you need to know about core training for climbing.

Side Note: This is an exercise that some Megaton Coffee will really come in handy.


Footwork and Technique for Climbing

It’s so easy to focus on training only for strength, but you can instantly up your climbing game by just simply changing your technique.

Using advanced methods of climbing, such as drop knees, can make a move feel 10 times easier.

For this exercise you will need to go to your local climbing gym. Find climbs that are at least 3 grades below your limit.

Set a timer for 30 minutes and start climbing. During this session you will try each problem or route from the ground up using the following criteria:

  • Use static climbing technique
  • Focus on using precise footwork
  • If you mess something up, drop and start again from the bottom
  • Climb continuously for the whole 30 minutes

At first this might feel boring or easy, but once you get 15 minutes in you will notice things getting harder.

Mental Fortitude

Climbing is often as much mental as it is physical. If you aren't mentally prepared for a climb then you will more than likely fail.

For this one I will refer you to the guru Arno. His book the Rock Warrior’s Way is the best resource for getting ready for the mental aspect of climbing.

Wrapping Things Up

We hope you enjoyed this quick training guide. For more good stuff you can check out Every Last Rock for more training and gear related posts.

Before and during training always be careful not to push yourself too hard. Being injured is the worst! Try to limit your training days and take a full week off every 2 months.


This expert guide was created in partnership with the help of Bryan Woods and the team at Every Last Rock. Check them out for more training guides, gear reviews, and crag reviews.

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