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Rock Climbing Workout: Core Strength Edition

getting the most out of your home climbing wall

Rock climbing is an elegant yet powerful activity, requiring a wide range of differing physical demands. In order to perform vertically (or horizontally, for that matter), you need strength, power, flexibility and endurance. Each of these components, when mastered, come together to help you climb hard and send! To improve your performance on the wall, an effective rock climbing workout should be followed consistently.

Compared to many other sports, performance rock climbing is still relatively young. Originally, rock climbing was removed from the mainstream sports arena, as it was more of a counterculture pursuit. As time has progressed, indoor gyms have become more popular and enabled greater access to climbing. This has, in turn, created the demand for rock climbing coaches and the formulation of specific rock climbing exercises and training programs.

Today, we are going to focus on highlighting some exercises that target one of the most critical areas of your body—and one of the most important for rock climbing: the core. The core muscles are called upon for every climbing movement, but training this area is regularly neglected. As climbers, we tend to focus on strong fingers and upper body, but this will only get you so far. A strong core will enable you to step higher, hold on to slopers better, and create the tension and torque required for hard, powerful movements. And don’t be fooled, a washboard stomach is not always a sign of a strong core…

When it comes to incorporating core strength in to your rock climbing workout, here are some of the best exercises to integrate in your program:


  • Lie face down resting on your forearms, engage your core and glutes, and raise your body from the floor supporting your weight on your forearms and toes.

  • Maintain a straight line through your core and legs, and hold the position keeping the glutes tensed.

Hanging knee lift

  • Hang from a pull-up bar, rings, hangboand or rock rings with your palms facing away.

  • Lift your knees to chest level, pause for a moment and then lower your legs slowly.

Straight leg lift (progression from hanging knee lift)

  • Hang from a pull-up bar, rings, hangboand or rock rings with your palms facing away.

  • Lift both legs straight in front of you from the hips, pause for a moment and then lower your legs slowly

Roll out (TRX, rings or ab roller)

  • Kneel down on the floor, grasping the handles of whichever item you are using.

  • Stiffen from your knees to shoulders and push your hands forward until your arms and torso form a straight line or go as far as you can while still maintaining proper form.

  • Hold this position for several seconds and then return to the starting position.

Windshield wiper

  • Lie on the floor with your legs up at a 90-degree angle. Spread your arms out to the side for support.

  • Rotate your legs to one side stopping short of touching the floor. Rotate to the other side.

Hanging Windshield wiper (progression from windshield wiper)

  • Hang from a pull-up bar and raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor while keeping your torso parallel to the floor.

  • Rotate your legs from side to side.

Peter Pans

  • Begin climbing an overhanging route with good holds

  • Between each move release your feet from the wall and with a tight core smoothly place your feet back on the wall.

When it comes to your rock climbing workout, make sure to incorporate core strength exercises. Keep in mind that your abdominal muscles are just like any other muscle in your body. This means that you should train them 2 to 3 times a week with ample recovery time in between.

Make sure to stay tuned for future blogs, where we’ll discuss some of the best ways to train your upper body! In the meantime, make sure to stock up on standard at-home climbing training gear while it’s still in stock and on sale:

Featured Climbing Training Gear

*NEW* The Rocketeer Wall: our free-standing adjustable solution for those who can’t mount a hangboard anywhere in their home or apartment—or who are limited on space. The Rocketeer gives climbers the additional option to set specific climbing holds. Recreate the crux holds of your proj and get ready to send, bruh.


The Rocket Wall: Available in 6’ and 8’ widths, it’s been tough for us to keep up with the demand for this innovative home climbing wall solution. Slightly overhanging, the Rocket Wall is big enough to set routes on, or to build a systems board.


The Rock-Stah: Our handcrafted version of a traditional hangboard, with curving crimp rails to help alleviate unnecessary strain on your pulleys. Because ain’t no one got time for a finger injury…


Christopher Schafenacker started climbing in Western MA before moving to Granada, Spain, where he now writes, climbs, and runs education-centered training camps for competitive youth climbing teams.


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