Climbing Knee Bar: How To Do Kneebar Climbing


While pumping out on an overhung sport climbing route, it is pretty common for fatigue symptoms to set in. From wooden hands and wobbly Elvis legs to the general panic, these symptoms can make the climbing experience unbearable. 

What most climbers don’t know, however, is that it is possible to rest and recover on the climbing route – all you need is the kneebar climbing technique. In this guide, you will learn all the basics of the climbing kneebar. 

What is the Kneebar Climbing Technique? 

The climbing knee bar happens when the climber cams his foot and the top of his knee or thigh between 2 rock surfaces. The technique helps achieve muscle recovery and static control while climbing. 

While the technique may seem like a flashy circus trick, especially to new rock climbers, it is one of the most useful climbing moves to know. An effective kneebar allows the climber to redirect a big percentage of the load-bearing duties to his/her legs, allowing the arms to rest and gain some extra energy. If you manage to find a solid double- or single-kneebar position, you can relax. The technique applies to both long sport routes and lengthy boulder problems

Kneebars also help increase the climber’s static efficiency. As a climber becomes more familiar with the technique’s position, he/she will start learning how to move the body within it and out of it. Some kneebars make it possible for you to contort and swivel your body to reach oddly placed climbing holds. Some can let you reach further than you normally would while others are necessary to progress through the climbing route. 

Step by Step Guide on How to Do Kneebar Climbing

The proper climbing kneebar is simple. While setting up is easy, trusting, and engaging the kneebar appears to be the most difficult part for a lot of climbers. Below, we will show you the steps you need to follow to execute the kneebar. 

1. Find a Kneebar Placement

First, you will need to find a location on your climb where setting up a kneebar makes sense. Since you will need a relatively big surface area to push against the knee, it is usually easier to find kneebars on porous or featured rock types. Therefore, once you put on your rock climbing shoes and climbing pants for outdoor climbing, look for kneebars in sandstone, various types of granite, and limestone. 

If you are climbing in the gym, look for big holds featuring properly-spaced footholds. To figure out what distance can be considered to be “properly-spaced”, simply estimate the length between the big toe and the top of your knee. 

When locking it in, avoid using your kneecap’s bone to kneebar – this can be extremely painful. Instead, connect with the rock using the fleshy part of the lower quadriceps, just above your kneecap. You can also connect above that, all the way to your thigh. 

2. Engage Your Lower Leg 

Once you locate a good kneebar placement, it is time to engage the muscles that lock the body into place. Imagine yourself doing a weighted heel raise. While digging the big toe into your selected foothold, try to lift the heel toward the hold that the knee (or thigh) is resting against. 

Flex everything – arch your glutes, quad, calf, and foot. If you are on a steep overhang, you will have to stay extremely tight in the core too. 

3. Balance 

A good climbing kneebar is like a tripod. Ideally, the climber should have 3 points of contact with the rock – your free leg, your dominant toe, and your knee. When you lock in the kneebar, use the free leg to balance your body. 

Experiment with foot placement and look for ways to push yourself into a balanced position. For example, try to find a higher foot that allows you to stay balanced while allowing you to reach further with your hand. Irrespective of where the free leg is, ensure that it is on the wall somewhere and helping you stay stable. 

4. Resting, Moving, and Exiting

Resting,_Moving_and_Exiting As noted earlier, kneebars give you 2 main opportunities – resting and moving.


To rest, you will need to flex your calf muscle and push harder into the kneebar. While this can create a leg pump and work your core, it will help refresh the swollen forearms. 

In some cases, you may need to sag your hips and slot your thigh into the kneebar, similar to how a nut slots into constrictions. The kneebar climbing technique can be a game that sacrifices the strength in one part of your body to allow another part to recover. When relaxing, your major focus should be on applying enough force from the toe to the thigh to stay in. 


To move, you will need to flag the opposite, non-kneebar leg against the wall. This will offer counterpressure to the climber’s kneebar, so the bodyweight has somewhere to go when he/she releases the kneebar, without swinging out wildly. Placing the opposite foot on a secure foothold can improve the kneebar, allowing the climber to reach higher holds. 


Whether you are resting or climbing, you will need to exit the kneebar eventually. Exiting depends on your body position, but often, when coming out of the kneebar rest, you will need to tighten your core and make sure you know where exactly your feet need to go to avoid having the body swing-out. 

Flex your abdominal muscles, toe in hard on the available footholds, and then pull down hard on the hands. To reduce the foot cut size, you will need to walk your feet to higher footholds. This often requires significant core tension and pulling up a little so that your back muscles are engaged and the arms bent should help keep the midsection tight and reduce the swing. 

What Gear Will You Need? 

If you are wearing climbing shorts, you will need to protect yourself by wearing a rubber kneepad. The rubber kneepad also helps increase friction, hence making the kneebar more powerful. 

In addition to the kneepad, you will also need your normal climbing gear. Therefore, when heading out, be sure to pack your climbing rope, climbing harness, etc. in your climbing backpack


Q: What is a Knee Bar in Climbing?


A kneebar is a rock climbing maneuver in which the climber creates a leg hold by camming his/her knee or lower thigh up under or against some roofy, cracky, or blocky feature in opposition to his or her foot. A solid kneebar allows the climber to take off both hands, de-pump, and relax.

Q: How Do You Kneebar?


To kneebar, one needs to create tension by pressing down on a foothold with the toes, which in turn pushes the top of the knee or bottom of the thigh into another surface. The foothold can be anything from a ledge to a smear. However, the thigh-side hold should have enough surface area to offer enough friction for the bigger and less dexterous knee.

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Offering much-needed rest and helping climbers through a crux without using too much upper body strength, the climbing kneebar is one of the most helpful climbing techniques. By following the steps, we have outlined in this article, it should be easy for you to do kneebar climbing. Be sure to practice the technique in a safe environment before deciding to use it outdoors.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!