As you start rock climbing as a beginner, you’ll find you probably use different muscles than you usually do. Whether top-roping, lead climbing, or bouldering, you’ll need plenty of power for dynamic movements, delicate balances, and endurance to push you through long climbs. 

The absolute best way to train as a climber is to simply climb—and that can be at the local wall or out on the rocks, but a strength and endurance training plan can certainly help too. Since climbing is a multifaceted sport, you’ll need to think about a few separate categories while training.


As you start rock climbing as a beginner, you’ll find you probably use different muscles than you usually do. Whether top-roping, lead climbing, or bouldering, you’ll need plenty of power for dynamic movements, delicate balances, and endurance to push you through long climbs. 

The absolute best way to train as a climber is to simply climb—and that can be at the local wall or out on the rocks, but a strength and endurance training plan can certainly help too. Since climbing is a multifaceted sport, you’ll need to think about a few separate categories while training.

Warming Up

It’s imperative to warm up before each and every workout. As climbing can put huge forces on tendons that aren’t built for those loads, you’ll need to take time before each climb to loosen up and stretch out. How? One method is to lift your arms above your head and open your fingers quickly, ten times. Try again with arms out to the side and then again at your sides. Next up, get the blood pumping with a walk or short jog. Finally, climb a few easy routes.

Building Endurance

Training your muscles to hold on to the wall for extended periods of time is a great way to improve your performance and your technique. The best way to work through this is to climb for 30 minute periods. Choose a route or two that you’ve previously finished, routes with moderate moves and that you feel comfortable with, and then simply keep climbing for half an hour. No rests. This continuous movement is a perfect way to practice your technique, as you won’t be able to muscle through a 30-minute workout.

Explosive Power Training

Dynamic, powerful movements require short bursts of motion. Power training allows you to develop your upper levels of strength, which allows you to push yourself on harder moves. For this type of training, focus on routes that have no more than five to ten moves and that offer varied types of moves, from big holds to long reaches. Just remember, these workouts take a lot of energy, and will require a bit more rest afterwards. Keep power building to two sessions a week.


Power Plus Endurance

Now it’s time to put it all together. Rock climbing routes aren’t usually all power or all endurance. That’s why it’s necessary to train with both sides of the coin. It’s a great idea to link a few harder bouldering problems or top-roping routes, to keep those powerful movements going for a longer amount of time. You should note that it’s typical to plateau when training your power-endurance, so take a rest, from four to ten days, in between sessions so you don’t get injured or frustrated.


Fingerboard Training

Hangboards are a type of equipment specifically designed to help with finger and forearm strength for climbers. You can split your workouts into strength and endurance, but endurance sessions are best for beginners as they’re less stressful on the body. 

A fantastic first exercise is to place one or both feet on a chair three feet behind the board and do one-arm, partially-supported hangs for 15 to 20 seconds at a time. Repeat, alternating arms, for up to 20 times and then rest for the same amount of time before beginning again. Switch grips from hang to hang, but be sure to never hang on holds smaller than your first finger joint.


Mental Training

If you’re looking to push yourself further in your climbing, you shouldn’t forget about mental training. Before you begin any climb, do a pre-workout mental routine. Pros use a few different techniques: visualisation, where you rehearse the sequence and imagine coping well with the difficulty; worry box, where you think of all of your fears and worries and place them in a mental box; and find the positive, where you pair fun music that raises the mood with upbeat mantras or words.



Planning Your Workouts

Setting a schedule is a great way to ensure you’re improving the way you want to. First, figure out what your goals are. How much will you prioritise climbing? How much time can you devote to training? What type of climbing are you interested in—long, multi-pitch climbs, overhanging routes, or dynamic bouldering problems? These answers will help you narrow down your training and set a realistic, actionable plan. 

For most climbers, training two or three days a week is more than enough. But choosing what to do when will be important to maximise that time. Pay attention to the order in which you’re doing each type of climbing. Start with a warm-up, work power while you’re fresh, and then try out power plus endurance training. Lastly, go for the endurance, which you can take on until you drain the rest of your energy.

Figure out a training schedule that works for you and stick to it. Remember to have fun and try different combinations to see what works best for you and your body!