Best Shoulder Exercises for Climbing

Shoulder Exercises for Climbing | Best Shoulder Exercises for Climbers

A true rock climber’s body is often a thing of beauty. Rock climbing requires everything from strength to pull yourself up, the power to execute explosive movements, balance to stay upright, a stable core to boost your efficiency, and endurance to sustain yourself during longer climbs.

But, at the center of it all, a rock climber needs to have strong and stable shoulders.

A rock climber’s body is likely one of the most naturally aesthetic physiques, but that rock climber body won’t mean anything if you don’t have the shoulder health and strength to go climbing regularly.

Here are the best shoulder exercises for climbing that will keep you safe and active:

Best Shoulder Exercises for Rock Climbers

Best Shoulder Exercises for Climbers

Here are the best exercises for your shoulders that you should be doing consistently if you are a rock climber:

Prone I-Y-T-W

The first set of exercises you should do when preparing your body for rock climbing are rotator cuff (muscles that help stabilize your shoulder) exercises.

There are many shoulder exercises you can do at home that are perfect for this!

These exercises require very little equipment and very low weights because you just want to perform controlled movements that will strengthen your muscles while increasing your mobility.

My favorite are the Prone I-Y-T-W shoulder exercises. These are perfect exercises to keep your shoulders strong and healthy while preparing for rock climbing:


Pull-ups and pull-up variations are great shoulder exercises for climbing since they target all the large lateral muscles in your back that you use during a climb. You can find any appropriate surface (you don’t have to have a specialized pull-up bar) and start strengthening your muscles.

You start with regular pull-ups and slowly start to introduce other variations like chin-knuckle touches where you lift your chin to your left knuckles, return to the starting position, and repeat on the right.

You can also try a variation where you pull yourself up quickly but lower your body down as slow as you can.

See Also: Inverted Row, Pull-ups & Chin-ups Benefits and Differences


When rock climbing, you need strength to hold yourself up and support your weight, so it’s important to make sure your core can withstand all the awkward movements you are going to do.

Planks are one of the best core exercises overall and also a perfect shoulder exercise for climbers.

You should work on the traditional forearm plank along with plank variations such as the forearm side plank.

To make this a more difficult shoulder exercise, dolphin pose is a great plank variation that requires additional shoulder range of motion:

Additional Reading: Alternatives to Crunches


This shoulder exercise is excellent for building your arms and shoulder strength, while also learning to control your own bodyweight. Pushups are a very basic shoulder exercise for climbers, but there are tons of more advanced push variations you can learn as well while you are preparing for a rock climbing adventure.

Yoga pushups involve transitioning from a downward dog position to a pushup, and back. This is an excellent shoulder exercise for rock climber’s because it involves more shoulder mobility as well as shoulder strength:

Do 10 to 15 reps and make sure to keep your core tight!

Concluding Thoughts – Getting a Rock Climbers Body

Rock climbing is an incredibly effective way to improve your body. Not only is rock climbing an intense exercise itself, but you will have to prepare your body with intelligently planned shoulder exercises to improve your rock-climbing ability.

After you master these shoulder exercises, you’ll be ready to hit all the best places to climb and conquer all the challenges. From Rumney, New Hampshire to Yosemite, California, no place will be unreachable for you!

Read Next: How to Get Fit Without Going to the Gym

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