Photo Credit: Jensen Walker

Professional Climber Sasha Digiulian shows you the five best antagonist exercises to prevent climbing injury. It is important to strengthen the antagonist muscles in your body to increase strength, improve body symmetry and prevent injury.

The Importance of Posture

Climbing is a sport that develops many of the muscles that hunch your body forward into a poor posture. This is why climbers begin to develop curved spines and arms that rotate in. This hunched position can lead to weakness of the postural muscles that oppose typical climbing movement. These oppositional muscles are known as antagonist muscles. The development of antagonist muscles is necessary to protect your body from injury while climbing and belaying. Strengthening your antagonist muscles will improve your posture both on and off the wall. The photo above on the left shows poor climber posture while the photo above on the right shows improved climber posture.

How Often to Perform Antagonist Exercises?

This antagonist exercise program below can be performed up to three time each day. Perform exercises for up to 1 minute each prior to climbing. Wall angels, band reaches and letter T’s strengthen posture muscles and should be performed with an isometric hold of 1 minute. Finger expansions strengthen finger stabilizers that should be held for 10 sets of upto 10 seconds each hold. Dowel lowers can be performed for 1 minute while extending the wrists back and forth.


Wall Angel

Stand against a wall with your feet 6 inches away and with your knees slightly bent. Tighten your stomach muscles so that your back flattens against the wall. Raise your arms to the side with the elbows at shoulder height. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Press your arms strongly into the wall while keeping your back flat.

Band Reaches

Wrap a single resistance band around your wrists. Start with your palms facing either other. Press your wrists outwards on the band while keeping your arms shoulder width apart. You can advance the exercise by rotating your palms upwards toward the sky and raising your arms further overhead.

Check out the video below for an example of the band reaches

Letter T

Wrap a full length resistance band around your torso. Start with the arms straight down by your side and palms rotated forward. Engage your shoulder blade muscles and bring your arms into the air to form the letter T. Make sure that the thumbs stay pointed into the air.

Check out the video below for the bent over letter T exercise

Weighted Dowel Lowers

Hold the dowel with straight arms at shoulders height in front of you. Make sure that the weight is wound up fully and touching the dowel. B. Slowly alternate flexing your wrists forward to lower the weight until it reaches the ground. Place the dowel on the ground to make it easier to wind back up. Wind the cordelette up until the weight touches the dowel. Stand back up and return to your starting position. Repeat lowering the weight.

Finger Expansions

Place a rubber-band around the tips of your fingers while maintaining a straight wrist. Spread your fingers apart without bending your wrist.