Gym Climbing

One of the challenges in rock climbing is accomplishing a move when your body isn't in a comfortable position to securely grab onto holds and maintain control. At these times, momentum-based dynamic movement is the technique needed to make further progress. You can practice this in the gym.

The Goal

To move dynamically off of a poorly gripped hold to the next hold.

The Equipment
  • Climbing shoes
  • Several handholds
  • Several footholds
The Setup

Position several footholds near the ground. The handholds should be placed so that there are both easy and difficult-to-grab handholds on both sides of your body. At your midline, place a decent handhold within reach above your head.

Good Hold/Bad Hold Exercise

  • Step onto the footholds in a comfortable stance and grab a good hold with your right hand and a poor hold with your left.
  • The idea is to move your right hand on the good hold up to the other hold above your head. Your left hand will remain on the bad hold during the movement.
  • Before you move your right hand, center your gravity over your feet.
  • Once centered, use your legs to push your hips up and toward the targeted hold.
  • As your hips start to slow from the upward momentum you have created, quickly move your right hand to the hold.
  • Be prepared to control your momentum as soon as you latch onto the desired hold.
  • Switch which hand you use for the good hold/bad hold setup and repeat the exercise.



Depending on the amount of balance you can maintain from weighting your feet, and the distance to the targeted hold, the momentum from you hips can range from a subtle shift in your hips (by pushing slightly with your legs) to more dramatic movement initiated from your legs and requiring you to pull with the good hold.

-- Adapted from Gym Climbing: Maximizing Your Indoor Experience by Matthew Burbach, The Mountaineers Books

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the chapter from Gym Climbing on "Lead Climbing"

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