Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Why Every Rock Climber Should Strength Train

May 5, 2023

Strength training is not utilized by rock climbers enough! While many people assume that strength training is only for building muscle, showing off the biceps, and being able to campus better, there are numerous additional benefits that directly carry over into improving your climbing performance. In this article, we will explore the various benefits of strength training and how it can improve your overall quality of life. We’ll start with the most obvious…

Improved Force Production from Muscles

One of the most obvious benefits of strength training is that it improves your ability to produce force from your muscles. This means that you can pull harder, perform more repetitions, and engage more intensely while climbing. Improved force production can be particularly beneficial for climbers who need to perform dynamic movements or for climbers that struggle climbing on overhangs.


Strength training also promotes hypertrophy, which is the increase in the size of muscle cells. This increase in muscle size can lead to improved muscle tone, increased metabolism, improved muscle flexibility and a more aesthetically pleasing appearance! Hypertrophy is particularly beneficial for individuals looking to build muscle mass and increase their overall strength.

Improved Neurotransmitter Function

Strength training has also been shown to improve neurotransmitter function. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals in the brain, and they play a crucial role in mood regulation, memory, and cognitive function and are what make muscle contractions happen. Strength training has been shown to increase the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which makes your muscle contractions more efficient. This directly leads to improvements in muscle performance while climbing. It also increases the production of other neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which can improve mood, reduce stress, and increase mental alertness.

Improved Immune Function

Strength training has also been linked to improved immune function. Regular strength training can increase the production of white blood cells, which help to fight off infection and disease. Additionally, strength training has been shown to reduce inflammation, which can improve overall immune function.

Increased Energy

Another benefit of strength training is increased energy. Regular strength training can improve your overall energy levels, allowing you to feel more alert and focused throughout the day. This means better training sessions and higher psych levels, especially after a long day of work or on the last day of a trip. The increase in energy can also improve your overall mood and reduce feelings of fatigue.

Improved Recovery

Climbers who strength train regularly have been shown to recover faster over a 24 hour period. This allows you to be ready to climb hard and have a lower risk of injury when climbing two or three days in a row. Think of how much more you can get out of your climbing trips!

Increased Bone Mineral Density

Strength training has also been shown to increase bone mineral density. As we age, our bones become more fragile, which can increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Regular strength training can help to strengthen bones, reducing the risk of fractures and improving overall bone health. Recent research has shown that strength training and plyometric training can reverse bone mineral loss in older adults.

Injury Prevention

Finally, strength training can help to prevent injuries. By improving tissue capacity, strengthening is the single most effective way to prevent injuries in climbers. Additionally, strength training can help to correct muscular imbalances, reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries.

Anecdotal Effects:

 -Improved ability to land safely when jumping off the bouldering wall.

-Improved pain tolerance.

-Enhanced mental toughness during physical challenges.

-Improved confidence with dynamic climbing movements.

-More confidence starting a new training program.

Mend Recommendation: Lift Heavy S***! Strength training is about so much more than nice looking biceps!

If you’re a rock climber experiencing pain or looking for improved climbing performance, schedule an appointment with a rock climbing specialist at Mend. We have locations in Boulder and Lafayette, Colorado. Many physicians, surgeons, and physical therapists do not understand the sport of rock climbing and may give incorrect or ill-advised advice on whether or not to return to climbing. The rock climbing specialists and Mend understand the sport and know when and how to safely return to rock climbing.