Academy: Strength Assessment

Part of our "Toes to Knows" Climbing Academy series--covering climbing from footwork to mental preparation.

Tags: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Coaching, Training

Climbing is a skill sport, but strength also plays a huge role in climbing success. As you progress up the grades in climbing, strength grows in importance. In this video, Lyti and I do a simple strength assessment, including pushups, pullups, crunches, a one-rep max hang and max duration hang. This measurement represents our baseline strength prior to starting a specific training regimen. We’ll test again after two months of training to see how we’re progressing.

My friend Lyti and I are joining forces to try and achieve our summer climbing goals. My goal is to climb 5.14. Lyti is working to lead her first 5.11 outside. In this post, we’re doing a strength assessment to benchmark current strength before starting a workout regimen. We’re testing pushups, pullups, crunches, a one-rep-max hang and a max duration hang.


Pushing strength isn’t as directly used for climbing as compared to pulling strength, but you definitely still want to train these antagonistic muscles to keep yourself balanced. We’re doing a simple test of how many pushups can we do. We’re doing a simple test of how many pushups can we do.


We’re measuring the max number of pushups we can do. Climbing training can benefit from max weighted pullups, but as an assessment, measuring a max quantity of pullups is really convenient.

EyeSend Belay Glasses


We’re testing using a military-style crunch. I don’t love this exercise and don’t train my core using it, but it is a simple and repeatable assessment tool. For the crunches, we’re holding down feet and testing how many crunches we can do in a minute.

1 Rep Max Hang

This is the only test we’re using a separate tool rather than body weight. In this test, we’re measuring max pull over a 10-second period using a strain gauge. The max effort really happens in the first few seconds. We’re holding onto a 20mm edge for this test.

Max Duration Hang

This is a simple test of how long can we hang onto a 20mm edge. Our test actually used a 19mm edge because that’s all we had available.

The Results

Here's how we came out in our tests.


Lyti's Results 


Matt's Results


Next Step

Our next step is going to be designing a training routine for each of us to help increase our basic strength. After spending a couple months with the routines, we'll test again and see if we've improved.

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