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The Top 2 Exercises Climbers MUST Avoid!

Aug 16, 2021

With so many exercises out there, it can be hard to decipher what is the best and worst! Let’s get your climbing to new heights with these great exercises, and help you know what to avoid! 

We know climbers are more susceptible to back injuries due to the amount of pulling motions in climbing. Although, this CAN be prevented with proper warm-up and techniques! 

Developing injuries is NOT NORMAL. Just because lots of climbers develop injuries does not mean it is normal or that you have to always struggle with injury. 

What is Climber’s Back Posture?

  • Climbers typically develop a forward head posture with their shoulders rolled forward as well. This also puts the neck and shoulders in a disadvantaged position, which can lead to belayer’s neck, or even other symptoms that run down your arms. 
  • It is also preceded by a back that is stuck in an extended state. In this position, your shoulders are typically rolled forward, along with your head. This kind of posture can actually take away from your climbing performance. 

Worst Exercises for Climbers:

There is a false mindset rooted in traditional strength training: that if you regularly do pulling motions often, you just need to do the opposite and perform more pushing motions. These exercises “bury” you in this posture and do more harm than good for you. 

  1. Bench Press: Activates Pec muscles, which connect from your sternum to around your upper arm area. During a bench press, your shoulder becomes internally rotated. This almost “locks” you into the forward roll posture, inhibiting your climbing performance. 
  2. Deadlifts: The thought process with these exercises and climbers is the need to strengthen your back. During climbing, you are already in an extended state, and a deadlift will just create a tighter back, again, hindering your climbing. Lots of climbers who deadlift have reported low back pain since they started deadlifting because their back has become even tighter. Working smarter and not harder will be more beneficial to your climbing.

Best Exercises for Climbers:

These are going to be exercises that counteract the climber's back posture. Remember, you can only push your limits with a healthy body.

  1. Use your Lower Traps: This part of your muscle connects from the lower part of the shoulder blade, down to about your T12 vertebrae. This also pulls your shoulder more back and downwards, creating a more advantaged posture and allows your neck to move more freely. This will also put your shoulders in a better position and enhance your climbing performance. 
  2. Good Exhale:  Climbers with Climber’s back typically take more shallow breaths and lots of chest breathing. Posterior Mediastinal expansion can help the chest and back move in both directions. This helps the back extend more, causing a deeper inhale and exhale. A good exhale also uses your internal obliques and transversus abdominis muscles. 

Overall, climbers tend to have almost “flared” ribs, as they often focus more on sit-ups and other ab exercises, and can’t always have the most efficient exhales. 

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