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3 grip strength exercises for climbers

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Woman hanging from rock face by finger tips

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It is generally said that the more regularly you climb, the more improvements you will see in your climbing strength and stamina. However that doesn’t mean that you can’t train off the wall to maintain strength or even build on it between visits if done in a controlled way ensuring proper rest periods.

Improving grip strength can improve your ability on routes with specific types of holds you may struggle with or need to use more frequently as the grades get harder.

Warmups

Before you carry out some of these exercises, please warm up your hands in advance using a number of exercises such as:

Straight fingers
Hand with fingers out straight
Hooked fist
Hand making a hooked fist
Full fist
Hand making a full fist
Flat fist
Hand making a flat fist
Elastic bands - relaxed
Hand with elastic bands round fingers
Elastic bands - tense
Hand stretching out elastic bands

Finger Lifts

This exercise will help develop the forearms as well as all of your finger muscles. To make this exercise harder, increase the holding time slowly to longer periods before increasing the weight with heavier objects.

What you need:

You will need a weighted object with a handle such as a large DVD carry case, weighted rucksack etc.

How to do it:

  • With the rucksack on the ground, and a straight back, bend your knees and lift it up to a standing position.
  • Adjust the object so that it is hanging from your fingertips by your side.
  • Slowly curl your fingers up to a right angle position.
  • Hold this for 15 seconds.
  • When 15 seconds is reached, lower back down to your fingertips.
  • Repeat this 3 times.
  • Alternate to the other hand.
Finger lift - relaxed
Hand holding bag
Finger lift - tense
Hand lifting bag by handle with finger tips

Video

Pinch Strength

This focuses on developing grip for the variety of pinch based climbing holds you may encounter at the wall. To make this exercise harder, increase the holding time slowly to longer periods before increasing the weight with heavier objects. In addition to this, you can raise the object up to shoulder height to simulate movements on the wall.

What you need:

You will need a weighted object that can be held at varying widths between your four fingers and the thumb in a pinch position, for examples Books, Bricks, Food Tins which can be of varying thicknesses.

How to do it:

  • Place the objects on the ground or a table so they are upright.
  • Squeeze the end of the books between your four fingers and your thumb and stand upright with the object straight by your side.
  • Hold this for 15 seconds.
  • When 15 seconds is reached, lower the object back down to the resting surface and rest for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise 3 times.
  • Alternate to the other hand.
Pinch comfortable
Hand holding 4 books
Pinch comfortable - raised
Hand lifting up 4 books
Pinch wide
Hand holding wide collection of books
Pinch wide - raised
Hand lifting up wide collection of books

Video

Rolling Slopers

This exercise will help develop the forearms as well as all of your finger muscles. To make this exercise harder, increase the holding time slowly to longer periods before increasing the weight with heavier objects.

What you need:

You will need an object that is cylindrical like a rolling pin or a foam roller that you can twist around in your hand. You also need a length of string, or cord which with the use of a clove hitch or other suitable knot can grip the roller without slipping. Attach the cord to a weighted object with a handle like a washing machine liquids bottle. If you have actual gym weights these could be used to make the exercise tougher.

How to do it:

  • Pick up the rolling pin or foam roller out in front of above waist height so that the weighted object is off the ground.
  • Then proceed to twist and turn the roller in either hand to coil the cord around the roller.
  • Once the weighted object reaches the roller then hold for 5 seconds.
  • Then slowly unravel the cord back so that the weight is lowered to start position.
  • Repeat 3 times.
Narrow roller - relaxed
Hands holding narrow roller with rope wound down
Narrow roller - wound
Hands holding narrow roller with rope wound up
Wide roller - relaxed
Hands holding wide roller with rope wound down
Wide roller - wound
Hands holding wide roller with rope wound up

Video


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