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Developing Upper Body Strength and Control for Climbing

by Carmelo De Leon, DPT, USAW

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Rock climbing is a very unique sport in the sense that various climbers can complete the same route or solve the same problem in a variety of ways. Sure, the beta may be helpful for rock climbers of the same build. However, a lanky climber and stocky climber may address an issue very, very differently.


So, when it comes to decreasing the risk of injury, the best route (ba dum tss) may be to focus on increasing the capacity of the tissues. The following exercises can help build resiliency and control and decrease the risk of injury in the arms and hands.


Eccentric Pull Ups/Chin Ups (3 sets x 5 reps)

Perform the concentric phase (upward portion) at your own pace, but focus on a 3-4 second descent on the eccentric phase (downward portion). Because there is more time under tension, 3 sets x 5 reps is a good place to start.


Eccentric Unilateral Pull Ups/Chin Ups (3 sets x 5 reps)

Follow the same guidelines as the eccentric pull up/chin ups above, except once you get to the end of the concentric phase, shift your weight to one side for the eccentric portion.


Kettlebell Bent Over Row w/ Grip Variations (3-4 sets x 8 reps)

The bent over row is a common exercise to help build pulling strength. It can also be modified to help build strength among the hands and fingers.


Open Crimp Position


Wide Grip


Please reach out with questions or to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist.


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