Training - Strength

When training for contact strength, you can use any of the basic grip positions found on the Basics page. Once you decide which grip positions that you would like to gain contact strength on, the general strategy is:

  1. increase the difficulty so that you come close to failure (falling off holds) in 3-5 seconds

  2. do 8-10 reps for each position you want to train

  3. rest 10-15 seconds between reps

  4. do 3 sets for each grip position

  5. rest longer (3-5 minutes) between sets or different grip positions

  6. train 3-4 different grip positions in each session

  7. rest at least 48 hours between strength sessions

Adjust difficulty by:

  1. increasing the angle of the hold or decrease the size of the hold (adjustable crimp depth on Pocket Rocks)

  2. decreasing surface friction (change the StikGrip surface or remove it all together on Gstring PROs)

  3. increasing weight: use a weight belt; a weight vest; ankle weights; a drawstring bag filled with sand or free weights girth-hitched and clipped to the belay loop on your harness. The sand-bag method is cheap and allows you to easily fine tune tune the weight in small increments. With free weights, a difference of 5 lb. can make a huge difference in the degree of difficulty.


Serious strength training should include keeping training records in order to gauge progress. The goal is not to increase the duration of the hang, but to continually increase the difficulty. The easiest way to do that, once you have the hold, angle of grip, and surface fine-tuned, is to gradually increase weight over time.

  1. Novice climbers, climbers under the age of 18, or those with a recent finger, shoulder or elbow injuries should NOT add weight or do strength exercises.

  2. Use caution and increase weight gradually in order to prevent injury.

  3. Strength train a maximum of 2-3 times a week with at least 48 hours of of rest between sessions.