We always think of training our fingers when climbing, but training your core is important, too. Core strength is essential to all of our climbing movements.

Tom, from Bouldering Bobat, walks us through the most common exercises designed to support your climbing. Starting with the infamous front lever, an exercise that may take years (or a lifetime) to be able to execute, Tom provides some nice alternatives that may work for you.

Core exercise 1: the Front Lever – an advanced move

Hold as long as possible (at least 5 seconds) and rest 45 seconds in between attempts.  This is an advanced move, and if you are like most people, you won’t be able to hold this for even one second. If that sounds like you, then work up to a front lever by starting with both knees close to your chest and work on sticking one leg out at a time.

Core exercise 2: the Negative Front Lever

Also a great introduction to the front lever, the negative front lever requires lifting your legs high above you and then making your body straight as you slowly lower.

Great training for overhung climbs. Especially when hanging on your hand and trying to get your feet onto the next hold.

Core exercise 3: Superset 1 – Leg Raises and Hyperextensions

A superset is a combination of two opposing muscle group exercises.

Leg Raises

Hang with your body straight and raise the legs by only bending at the hips for 6 reps.


Lie on your front, and with your arm off the ground lift your upper body off the ground by only bending at the hip and lower back for 6 reps.

Rest 45 seconds and repeat both the leg raises and hyperextensions 3 times.

Core exercise 4: Rows

This is like a traditional row exercise, but you perform this while hanging from the bar with your legs sticking straight up in the air. This simulates the climbing motion.

Core exercise 5: Superset 2- Ring roll out and Band rotations

Ring roll out

Excellent for core strength and shoulder stability.

Bend down and grasp the rings or suspension straps near your feet. Straighten your body and extend the arms as far forward as possible.  Adjust your feet position forward or backward to make this exercise harder or easier.

Band rotation

With your arms out straight and a band pulling sideways, rotate your core similar to swinging a bat but much less aggressive. Make sure to do rotations in both directions.

Core exercise 6: Triset 1 – Ring rows, dips, and crunches

Ring rows

Adjust the difficulty by adjusting your standing position.


Working the muscles opposite the pulling motions.
Push-ups are a great alternative for those that don’t have a dip bar available.


The quintessential core exercise. A great place to end, to work on getting that final burn.

Optional Core Exercise Equipment:

The Harry Potter Gryffindor (Workout) Notebook


We all appreciate you wearing one, but it technically isn’t required for building core strength.