Getting serious about training for rock climbing? Then you have two options: hire a climbing coach, or do some research and coach yourself. If you choose to research on your own, this list of the best rock climbing training books is just for you! Recommendations are unbiased and the buying links are affiliate links—purchases made from them support our free content.
Last update: May 1, 2020. Get our climbing newsletter for a weekly dose of awesome content and check out our deals page for today’s best sales.
New Book Highlight: Spring 2020
Youth climbing legend Ashima Shiraishi just released a new children’s book! Drawing on her own experience as a world-class climber, Ashima created a story that challenges readers to tackle problems in their own lives.
How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion
Excerpt: To a rock climber, a boulder is called a “problem,” and you solve it by climbing to the top. There are twists and turns, falls and scrapes, and obstacles that seem insurmountable until you learn to see the possibilities within them. And then there is the moment of triumph, when there’s nothing above you but sky and nothing below but a goal achieved.
Best All-Inclusive (long) Rock Climbing Training Books
Many books focus just on strength training, or solely on technique, or equipment, or the fundamentals of rock climbing. The following books, however, holistically capture the complete training philosophy of their authors. If you are interested in going deep and have time to dedicate to learning about the intricacies of rock climbing training, then these are the books for you!
The Rock Climber’s Training Manual
(304 pages) by Michael L. Anderson Ph.D. and Mark L. Anderson
Credited with popularizing many common training practices like hangboarding repeaters, The Rock Climber’s Training Manual is arguably the most famous training book on rock climbing. The climbing principles and training techniques described in this book are so well known in rock climbing training circles that new ideas and training concepts are often compared to how similar or different they are to the concepts in this book. The Rock Climber’s Training Manual is best known for its “Rock Prodigy Method” which uses periodization to avoid performance and improvement plateaus.
The Self Coached Climber: The Guide to Movement, Training, Performance
(240 pages) by Dan M. Hague and Douglas Hunter
Many define climbing performance as limited by either strength or technique. The Self Coached Climber uses a model which states that climbing success is dependent upon a climber’s abilities and understanding of balance, force, time, and space. This book walks the hopeful climber through 52 different exercises and activities designed to improve their abilities in all four of these areas.
Dave MacLeod is quoted as saying that The Self Coached Climber is “still the best book on improving at climbing…worth every penny and more.” A strong endorsement from a man that is often described as the world’s best trad climber, and a featured writer with his own book for sale on Moja Gear (see below for more).
Training for Climbing: The Definitive Guide to Improving Your Performance
(352 pages) by Eric Hörst
Eric Hörst’s The Definitive Guide to Improving Your Performance is one of the most popular rock climbing training books ever written. Originally published in 2002, Coach Hörst’s guide provides specific exercises, climbing techniques, training plans, visualization exercises, and energy system training recommendations for implementing his complete rock climbing training philosophy. This book is a great addition for those already listening to Coach Hörst’s Training for Climbing Podcast.
Best Starter Book for Brand New Rock Climbers
(81 pages by Sander DiAngelis)
Moja Gear’s co-founder, Sander DiAngelis, wrote Rock Climbing Fundamentals! It is a critical must-read for any new climber as they discover an exciting rock climbing culture filled with technical jargon and unfamiliar gear, all while embracing and respecting the rules of this new lifestyle. Moja Gear’s Rock Climbing Fundamentals e-book educates new climbers on the history of rock climbing, provides solid rock climbing gear recommendations, and useful tips for establishing a rock climbing training regimen.
Best Topic-Focused Rock Climbing Training Books
These three books are excellent additions for those looking to improve specific aspects of their climbing.
9 out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes
(166 pages) by Dave MacLeod (pronounced “Ma Cloud”)
With no pictures and lots of dense advice, this book can be a bit intimidating at first. Reading 9 out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes, it feels like Dave MacLeod took the stage, and in one enormous sentence breathed out all the wisdom you need to know as a climber. The aspiring and motivated climber will quickly discover that Dave MacLeod has left gold to be discovered on each page. We recommend having a highlighter handy as you read through this book so you can return to these nuggets of advice during your training.
Even though MacLeod touches on several topics, we place him in the focused category because rather than create a comprehensive 300-page rock climbing training book, he focuses on misconceptions, mistakes, and problems he sees repeatedly in the climbers he coaches. We encourage you to start by browsing through the table of contents, so you can immediately focus on areas of improvement.
Rock Climbing Technique: The Practical Guide to Movement Mastery
(126 pages) by John Kettle
John Kettle’s motivation for writing Rock Climbing Technique was based on discovering that many climbers of various skill sets (who had read great books like The Self Coached Climber and 9 out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes) were failing to successfully deploy the ideas and concepts described in those books. Rock Climbing Technique is simple and straightforward in its layout of exercises and drills to perform. Warm-up and cool-down exercises are introduced, which begin turning knowledge of proper technique into skills you can deploy on various angles and styles of rock. One of the best features of this book is that each drill has an accompanying QR code which takes you directly to a YouTube video of the drills. Click here to view the YouTube videos from Rock Climbing Technique, but note that they are of limited value without the book.
Unstoppable Force: Strength Training for Climbers
(288 pages) by Steve Bechtel and Charlie Manganiello
Originally published in June 2014, Steve Bechtel’s Strength: Foundational Training for Rock Climbing is recognized as one of the leading rock climbing strength training books available. Steve Bechtel and Charlie Manganiello, a certified personal trainer at Elemental Fitness, have published this new sequel called Unstoppable Force: Strength Training For Climbers. Acknowledging that climbing is a skill sport, Bechtel and Manganiello are quick to assert that strength is a major limiting factor in climbing. Developing higher strength allows climbers to perform moves that were previously inaccessible, while also helping climbers to better utilize the endurance they’ve built up over time.
If you are focused on improving your climbing strength this season, then this is the book for you!
Looking for more rock climbing books? Don’t miss the 25 Books Every Climber Should Read.
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