Aside from grip and finger strengthening exercises, climbers also need to devote enough time for climbing endurance training. This particular type of training helps to develop endurance and resistance against lactic acid among your muscles, thus allowing you to fend off muscle fatigue and climb longer. Below are some climbing power endurance training exercises climbers often do. Some exercises specifically target the forearm muscles, while others will help with overall climbing endurance.
10 Climbing Endurance Training Exercises
If you’re just getting started with rock climbing, be sure to add the following climbing power endurance training exercises to your routine.
1. Barbell Rotations
Barbell Rotations are an excellent exercise that will get your forearms pumped and sore. To do this exercise, follow the steps below.
- With your feet hip-width apart and your back straight, hold a barbell at the middle with both hands (palms facing your body) and let it hang in front of you. Leave a space of at least one or two inches between your hands.
- To start, rotate the barbell forward with alternating hands as fast as you can. Be careful not to hunch over the barbell while doing so. Do this for 30 seconds.
- After the 30-second mark, immediately reverse the movement by rotating the barbell inwards or towards your body as fast as you can.
- Take a 20-second break after the reverse rotation and repeat the whole exercise five times.
2. Static Farmer’s Carry
The farmer’s carry is a staple exercise for all athletes (not just rock climbers) who want to develop forearm strength and endurance. The steps for doing the static farmer’s carry are outlined below.
- Grab two heavy dumbbells and place them in front of you.
- Keeping your back straight, bend your knees and lower yourself to grab the dumbbells.
- Stand up by straightening your knees and let the dumbbells hang on your sides. Squeeze the dumbbells as tightly as you can. Hold this position for one minute.
- After the one-minute mark, lower the dumbbells by bending your knees and maintaining a straight back. Rest for 20 seconds and repeat the whole exercise ten times.
If your forearms don’t feel sore after the one minute mark, get a heavier pair of dumbbells.
3. Static Holds
Another great forearm exercise that will help improve the said muscles’ endurance is the static hold. The exercise itself should be pretty easy to execute, but it will leave your forearms feeling pumped.
- Jump onto the pull-up bar or hangboard.
- Let your arms carry all your body weight, keeping a slight bend on your elbows.
- Hold the position for one minute, then get down and rest for 20 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise 5 times.
4. Forearm Burner
A great climbing endurance training circuit that incorporates the previous exercises mentioned above. You’ll be doing this in circuit fashion (one exercise after another and repeating the whole routine). The routine is as follows:
- Do forward barbell rotations for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.
- After your 10-second rest, do reverse barbell rotations for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds.
- After that 10-second rest, do the static farmer’s carry for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.
- For the final exercise, do the static holds for 20 seconds.
- After the static holds, rest for 30 seconds and repeat the whole routine 4 more times for a total of 5 circuits.
5. Alternating Single-hand Holds
Although belonging to the same category, this exercise is very different from the static holds. To do this exercise, follow the steps below.
- Jump onto a pull-up bar or hangboard and grab it with both hands.
- Carefully take off your left hand let it down to your sides, leaving your right hand to carry your body weight. Hold the position for five seconds. Imagine you’re dipping your left hand into your chalk bag.
- Bring your left hand back up to the pull-up bar or hangboard. Then, slowly let go with your right hand and bring it down to your side so that you’re left hand will now be carrying your body weight. Hold the position for five seconds.
After that, bring your right hand back up and bring your left hand down to your side. Repeat the exercise three times with each hand, then go down and rest both arms for one minute before repeating the routine for another 4 rounds.
This climbing power endurance training routine will not just build endurance in your forearms but the other muscles used in rock climbing as well. This will involve some actual climbing, so get your rock climbing shoes and climbing chalk ready. The routine is as follows:
- Pick four different boulder problems ranging from easy to moderately difficult.
- Climb the first boulder problem, drop off, and immediately climb it back again for a total of four climbs. You won’t rest in between climbs.
- Rest for two minutes after dropping off the first problem, then do the second problem four times again without rest.
- After the second boulder problem rests for two minutes and does the third problem. Apply the same principles for the fourth problem.
- After the fourth problem, drop off and rest for five minutes before going back to the first problem and repeating the exercise. Do the whole routine three times.
7. Interval Climbs
This is a toned-down version of the above exercise because instead of four, you will only be climbing one boulder problem for the whole exercise.
- Choose a boulder problem about three grades below your limit. You will also need a stopwatch for this exercise.
- Turn on your stopwatch and climb up the problem, and then drop off. Note how many seconds it took you to climb up the problem because that’s how long you’ll be resting (e.g. if it took you 20 seconds to complete the climb, then you’ll be taking a 20-second break after the climb).
- After resting, reset your stopwatch and climb back up again. Repeat the whole exercise for a total of five times.
8. Climbing Circuit
Circuits are great for climbing endurance training, and this particular climbing circuit is sure to fire up those climbing muscles.
- Pick five easy or moderately difficult boulder problems.
- Climb up the first problem, then return to the ground by climbing back down.
- Immediately move the second problem (no rest), climb it up and down and then move immediately to the third problem. Continue until you finish the fifth problem then rest for five minutes before repeating the whole routine two more times.
9. Lemon / Lime
Lemon / Lime is not just another rock climbing game because it is also considered to be one of the best exercises for developing stamina and endurance in rock climbing.
- Choose a boulder problem with a difficulty level from easy to moderately difficult.
- Make the first move of the problem, then go back to the start.
- From the starting point, make the first two moves of the problem, then trace your steps backward until you’re back to the first move. Continue this two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back movement until you reach the top. At no point should you come off the wall?
- Once you reach the top, reverse the whole process. That is, from the top make the first downclimb move then go back to the top. Then, make the first two downclimb moves and climb back up to the first move and so on.
10. Calf Raises
The calves are one of the main muscles involved in climbing footwork. Without calf muscle endurance, you won’t be able to hold your toe-hooks and heel-hooks for long.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them dangle on your sides. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Inhale as you lift your heels off the floor. Once you’ve reached maximum stretch for your calves, hold the position for three seconds.
- Exhale as you lower your heels back to the floor.
Repeat the exercise for three sets of twenty-five repetitions each.
Q: How do you build forearm endurance?
To build forearm endurance, focus on doing climbing power endurance training exercises that specifically target the said muscle group. Repeated exposure to such exercises and the soreness that comes with them will help your forearm muscles cope with stress and pain. Eventually, your forearms will become much more capable of enduring pain and soreness.
Q: Does climbing make your forearms bigger?
Climbing can make your forearms bigger, but they won’t get anywhere near as big as a bodybuilder’s forearms. During exercise, muscles develop micro-tears, and repairing these damaged tissues is what adds mass or size to the muscle. As your forearms get used to climbing, micro-tears stop developing and the muscles will pretty much remain the same size.
Globo Surf Overview
Climbing endurance training is a must for any ambitious climber. The importance of consistent climbing power endurance training simply cannot be overstated, so be sure to include them in your training regimen.