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3 static strength exercises for climbers

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Static strength exercise, also known as isometric exercise, is the ability to hold a pose without movement. These kinds of exercises can be done in various ways to benefit climbers by specifically targeting either your upper or lower body strength.

There are many benefits of increasing your static strength, it can:

  • Generate shoulder stability
  • Increase your lock off strength
  • Progress your control while climbing
  • Reduce chances of injury

Specifically, static strength improves your pull ups by:

  • Building strength to work up to your first pull up or your first 1-arm pull up
  • Developing your power endurance
  • Improving your form to maximize efficient movement

Here are 3 exercises to try out at home to help keep your climbing muscles primed and strong.

Please note: All exercises are completed at your own risk. If you have other health problems, please seek medical advice from your GP prior to participating. If you are using the information provided in this article, please read the terms & conditions.

Equipment required: The exercises below will work on the upper body and to perform them you will need a pull-up bar or a strong beam that can support your weight safely.

Exercise 1: Flexed Arm Hang

What it’s good for: This exercise focuses on training the muscles in your back that should be activated during a normal pull up rep. The isometric hold will force you to use the correct muscles, rather than relying on your arm muscles, (which will only reduce your climbing performance). Doing these isometric holds increases the strength in your rhomboids and lower traps, which can also help reduce potential shoulder issues.

How to do it:

  • Pull up so your chest is level with your hands and hold it there.
  • Focus on squeezing shoulder blades together with your elbows pulled down and back.
  • Use an overhand grip for this exercise so the biceps are deactivated and the muscles in the back will be activated the most.
  • Hold this for 15-45 seconds.
  • When you can stay there for 45 seconds you can start to add weight. Do this slowly and safely by incrementally adding weights / objects of weight onto your climbing harness.

Exercise 2: Dead hang

What it’s good for: This exercise focuses on core activation and engagement, as well as maintaining spinal alignment.

How to do it:

  • Have your elbows locked with your shoulders engaged, (this is important to reduce the chance of injury).
  • Hold this posture for 15-45 seconds.
  • When 45 seconds is reached, you can try safely adding weights.

Exercise 3: 90-degree flexed arm hang

What it’s good for: This exercise will help to improve your core stability and spinal alignment. It’ll also help to improve your upper body strength endurance.

How to do it:

  • Hang from the bar with your elbows bent at 90 degrees, i.e. like you’re in the middle of a pull-up rep.
  • Focus on keeping your elbows tight into your body with good spinal alignment and core stability.
  • Hold this for 15-45 seconds.
  • When 45 seconds is reached, you can try safely adding weights.


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