How to Train to Be a Rock Climber (Simple Tips!)

How to Train to Be a Rock Climber

Climber versus Boulderer

Rock climbing isn’t just a weekend hobby – it’s a full-fledged sport that attracts literally millions of players every year. It’s important to make a distinction between rock climbing and bouldering. Climbing often means scaling higher heights – at least 30 meters off the ground. This is why climbers always wear harnesses and other safety gear. A boulderer climbs lower heights – roughly around 12 to 15 feet. This is why harnesses aren’t always a staple during bouldering.

Beginners Training Plan

Beginners Training Plan

Rock climbing can be dangerous – which is why new climbers aren’t encouraged to get started on site. Instead, newbies to the activity should build their strength and prepare their body for actual climbing. This includes working out at home, signing up for climbing gyms or taking up training plans for climbing training – perhaps starting off as a boulderer before trying greater heights. Here are some home workouts you can do to prepare yourself for power endurance.

Planking Training

Core training is a staple in all climbing training programs because it helps with overall strength. A strong core helps with balance and gives you better control over your limbs. Keep your abs engaged as you hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds. For better power, endurance, and control – try executing a side plank or a modified plank by lifting the right leg and left arms upward. Planking is a full body home workout that actually targets the legs, shoulders, and stomach.

Yoga Training

Yoga is a good way to warm up before an intense workout. It may seem like such a tame activity – but it can really be helpful in terms of stretching, flexibility, and even recovery. Many sports actually incorporate yoga as part of their injury prevention efforts. Climbing training often adds yoga to help climbers extend their body to reach particularly tough spots. Most yoga workouts also focus on stability, control, and power – all of which are important skills in climbing.

Finger Strength Training

Boulder problems include being able to find and use even the smallest crevices for a firm grip. You can be sure that once you’re actually on the terrain, there won’t be any convenient dips and stones you can hold on to. This is why finger strength exercises is such an important part of the routine. To do this, just grab two thick books and keep them grasped in your hand. Use just the tip of your fingers to hold onto the book and walk around. Do this for a few minutes each day. Make sure the book is thick – hard bound Harry Potter books would be perfect.

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One Legged Stand Training

Many climbing workouts focus on the balance of the rock climber. For this particular workout, stand five inches facing a wall. Put your hand up at chest level without touching the walls. In this position, bend your right knee forward at a 90 degree angle and just stay in this position for 30 seconds. The goal is to maintain your position with as little wobbling as possible. This looks easy at first but the routine will force you to keep your front tight.

Pull Ups Training

Arm and leg muscles need to be toned and honed in this sport – which is why all exercises that focus on these parts are important. Basic pull up training should develop arm strength so that you can raise your own body weight with your arm. For climbers however, it’s best to change grips for added training. For example, a half crimp pull up training should better replicate what actually happens during a climb.

Wrist Winds Training

This exercise targets the power of your forearms, elbows, and even finger strength. While bouldering, it’s not enough that your forearms are capable of sustaining you until you reach the top – you also have to make sure there’s enough power there for the downward climb. For training, grab a can or a large water bottle. It has to be twice the grasp of your hand so that if you grab it, only half is covered by your palm and fingers.

Get a really long rope and wrap a few inches of it around the bottle. To start the exercise, hold the bottle sideways in front of your chest and start rolling inwards so that the rope rolls into the bottle. Make sure that your grip is on the body of the bottle itself and not the edges. You want a full grip with each turn.

Leg Toe Touches Training

One of the best ways to improve stability, this exercise can be safely done at home. Start by standing up with feet together. Now, slowly bend your right leg at a 90 degree angle while the left leg extends backwards and toes hovering on the ground. Your front body should bend forward with elbow slightly bent and hands practically touching the right foot. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch legs.

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Tricep Dips Training

To target large muscle groups, you’d want to try out tricep dips which should do much for your legs, center, and even your balancing skills. Mostly though, this workout should help when navigating through corner climbing problems. Incorporate this into your training plan by getting two chairs of similar heights. Space them apart so that your feet are resting on one edge while your hands are resting on the other end.

Note that this should be done with your back to the floor and arms stretched out straight. To perform one move, slowly bend your elbow at a 90 degree angle. Hold this position and then lift yourself up again. Repeat.

Hangboarding Training

One of the top ways of rock climber training, hang boards tests the endurance, power, and strength of the arms. This basically lets you hang from a board with your hand gripping tightly onto a special hold. You just maintain this position for as much as you can – testing just how well you can hold onto the side of a cliff when climbing. Note though that the boards are nothing like a pull up bar. Your hand do not wrap around the board. Instead,there’s a little bit of crevice on the board that your fingers will grip – possibly just as few inches in depth. This would be useful when practicing your half crimp for those smaller holds.

General Cardio Training

Of course, don’t forget cardio exercises which can be done at home. The whole point of cardio would be to increase your overall endurance so that you don’t get tired easily – especially if you’re several meters off the ground. Running, jump ropes, swimming and other activities that help increase your heart rate should also help eliminate body fat that can get in the way of climbing.

If you’ll notice, most climbers are lean with well-developed muscle groups because you need to be able to carry your own weight when on a climb. No matter what level you are, climbing training always involves a good amount of cardio for endurance.

Climbing Gym Training

Strength and cardio training at home are important – but there’s nothing quite like scaling a rock in order to get a feel for the entire sport. This is why training in a climbing gym is crucial for beginners before they even attempt their first outdoor climb. An on-site experience should help with muscle group coordination and really let you assess your endurance level. Gym training also helps you and your friends spot each other and give feedback on form and style.

See also
Tips for Getting Started in Climbing: Everything You Need to Know When You want to Start Climbing

These workouts might seem simple – but you can be sure that all climbers are training with these to maintain their skill – especially during quarantine at home. These exercises also help with warm up and injury prevention prior to an actual climb.

How Much Does a Rock Climber Make? Best Rock Climbers

How Much Does a Rock Climber Make Best Rock Climbers

Rock climbing can be a source of income, either as a sport or as part of another job. There are actually four types of climbers, depending on their salary. You have the celebrities, the careers, and the combined professional. Here’s what you need to know about each one:


These are the experts when it comes to climbing. They’re the favorites who have made a name for themselves in the industry. Their celebrity status means they could be earning as much as $300,000 thanks to product deals, teaching climbing training, owning a climbing gym, or other income-generation related to the sport. Good examples are Emily Harrington and Alex Honnold. They are the Michael Jordan’s of climbing with decades of experience under their belt.


These are the rock climbers who have made a decent living out of climbing- but not enough to be labeled as celebrities. They can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 in a year and are pretty well known in the sport. Some of them are good enough to qualify in the Olympics, have their own climbing gym, or perhaps offer training programs to new climbers.

Combined Professional

Finally, there’s the combined professionals who don’t make much in the industry. They can earn $50,000 or less, depending on the specifics of their job. For example, some of them can work as guides, write for a climbing magazine, offer climbing training and workout, dabble in mountain photography, or perhaps maintain a blog about rock climbing. Many of the people who fall into this category take up rock climbing out of pure love for the sport and somehow managed to find a way to earn from the activity.


These are the ones who don’t earn anything from the sport and simply do it for the pleasure of the climb.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Good Climber?

How Long Does it Take to Become a Good Climber

It takes roughly 4 years of dedicated climbing training and practice before a person can be classified as “good” in the sport. Note though that this really depends on a number of factors as well such as the kind of terrain your practice on, your climbing technique, power endurance, body strength, and sheer power. Today, climbers are rated based on a scale of 5.00 to 5.15. Here’s how each level is classified:

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5.00 to 5.7

This is considered as the beginner level. The climbs are easy and everyone starts at this pace.

5.8 to 5.10

At this stage, people start to have a basic understanding of climbing. This is the intermediate level.

5.11 to 5.12

Climbers who are rated at this grade are considered good. many rock climbers who have been in the sport for 4 years or so are rated here.

5.12 to 5.15

This is the elite level. Celebrities, Olympic climbers, and other elite climbers fall under this category.

Note though that these ratings may vary from place to place. For example, a 5.10 rating in outdoor climbing may translate differently when it comes to indoor climbing.

Can you Teach Yourself to Rock Climb?

Can you Teach Yourself to Rock Climb

Strictly speaking – yes, of course you can teach yourself climbing in controlled environments like a climbing gym. However, if you want to get really good at the sport – it’s important to learn from an experienced climber. After all, there’s only so many workouts you can do at home.

Prior to finding a mentor however, it’s a good idea improve your overall health first. This means doing cardio exercises, hitting a healthy weight, and perhaps engaging in routine strength-exercises. Once you’re ready – you can find a mentor who can offer you a more targeted guide.

A good climber should be able to provide you with a good training routine that matches your goals and current health status. More importantly, a good climbing teacher can teach you how to navigate through boulder problems, identify sections perfect for climbing, pass on crucial information, or even introduce you to different terrains that matches your strength and experience level.

What are the Benefits of Rock Climbing?

What are the Benefits of Rock Climbing

At the end of the day, the sport doesn’t just offer you an excellent escape from day to day activities. Done well, it can help improve your overall strength, muscles, endurance, and even appreciation for nature. Most climbers have a long, lean, and compact body with an endurance that translates well to others sports. Many climbers enjoy not just the training and the strength that come with it – but also the strong network of like-minded people in the scene.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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