T Nation

Climber Looking to Incorporate Lifting


Hi everybody,

I have been rock climbing and training for rock climbing for two and a half years. Most of my training is climbing, and each cycle I’ll add a few exercises to bring up weak areas. I know how to do proper basic barbell lifts as I’ve done them once in a while but I want to make them a staple. I also do push-ups every day so I’m at least doing some degree of pushing, but it’s really not structured at all. I’m realizing more and more over time that climbing requires a high level of strength throughout the whole body, but it only significantly strengthens the mid back, biceps, forearms, and fingers. My plan now is to continue to climb at a slightly reduced frequency to allow two days a week to lift. I know this isn’t a ton of frequency with the lifting but it’s what I can allow. My main focus is always to improve with climbing. Here’s my proposed weekly schedule:

Monday: Climb
Tuesday: Lift
Wednesday: Climb
Thursday: Lift
Friday: Climb
Saturday: off
Sunday: off
(Note: the schedule needs to be this way because I work 12+ hours a day on weekends)

So I’d like to hear thoughts about exercise selection and especially set/rep schemes. For exercise selection I’m thinking deadlifts and a vertical pressing movement on Tuesday, squats and a horizontal pressing movement on Thursday. Any thoughts or critiques on that are appreciated. As far as sets and reps I really have no idea but my goal is strength not size.

EDIT: You probably noticed I didn’t mention any upper body pulling movements. I figure the climbing is enough and my pulling muscles are already grossly out of proportion with the rest of my body, as my tendons like to remind me once in a while.


You probably got a freak grip , strenght with out size , explosive lifting. You dont want to much lower bodyweight but strength. I would try some low rep jerks, front squats, basically olympic lifting. Ive seen guys who can clean and jerk 330 at 185 who dont even look like they lift. They got muscle but very compact. And two olympic lifting workouts a week on top of climbing plenty you are a bartender or waiter i guess.


I agree with Strongmanjoe, if you know the olympic lifts or have the ability to learn them. I used to climb a fair amount, but never lifted weights when I did it. If I were to climb again and incorporate lifting, I would just hit full body twice a week consisting of cleans, squats, and some pressing. Rinse and repeat using some type of strength progression (5x5, 5/3/1, 3x3, pick your flavor, etcetera). Then I would just be focused on getting outside and getting on routes as often as I could.

So, I would do something like:

Lift Day 1
Front Squat
Push Press

Lift Day 2
Overhead Press


I don’t currently know the Olympic lifts, just basics like squats and deadlifts. Are they something I could learn through study and practice or do you need a coach?


Depends on the person, having a coach really helps. If you’re pretty athletic, you could learn a lot from just watching YouTube. They just take awhile to get really good at them. I learned how to snatch this way, and got fairly good at them.

Doing power cleans are not hard to learn at all, and you could do thsse and over time learn to do more olympic style cleans as you get better at them.

Even still, doing the basic lifts would serve you well just on their own.


Thanks for the tips everyone. I’m six days into my current training cycle which is 3 days climbing 3 days lifting. Already feeling stronger. Rippetoe was right. I can make more updates, if anyone cares that is.