Climbing Training: Pinches, Slopers, Forearms

strong forearms rock climbing

This is part 2 to my first post on climbing training while injured, focusing on pinches, slopers, and forearms. There's a good amount of info about training finger strength for crimps, but not a lot out there for pinches and slopers. And if you know Jeremy, his pinch is like a vice and he hangs on slopers like sandpaper on sandpaper. I want those forearms!


There's three major workouts I do for pinches:

  1. System board ladder pinches
  2. Pinch hangs
  3. Dumbbell pinches

System board. On a system board there's usually rows of mirrored pinches that you can do laps on. Find some decent feet and go up left-right and back down till you pump out. If you can change the angle of the system board, make it steeper for a harder workout. It sucks and it works.

system board for climbing

Pinch hangs. We've got two 4"x4" pinches set up at home, but you can also find some decent pinches in the gym or on a system board. Hang for 7s, rest for 3s, repeat ~7 times per set. I often mix this into a hangboard workout to get more interest than just the crimps.

rock climbing pinch strength training

Variation: pullup on the pinches on the 7sec cue instead of hanging.
rock climbing pinch strength training

Hanging holds are awesome and a lot harder to hang onto when free-hanging than pinches bolted to the wall! See these:

Dumbbell pinches. I got 2x4s and made pinches 1, 2, and 3 boards wide. Put grip tape or sandpaper on the sides and hooks on the bottom, and hang dumbbells or kettle bells from it. There's a great post here and another example of these pinches.

rock climbing pinch strength training rock climbing pinch strength training

Fiddle with what size wood blocks you use--the difficulty is really dependent on your hand size. These fit my hands well for a thin pinch, a medium almost-2-pads-pinch, and a wide almost-1-pad-pinch that makes my thumb skin feel like it's going to rip.
rock climbing pinch strength training

My favorite pinch ring is the Spri red light. I find the Black Diamond blue ones too stiff for a warm-up, and with smaller hands, I need a slightly lighter pinch ring:


I've found sloper / contact strength to be the hardest to train. Most campus boards have a couple 35 and 45 degree slopers, but they're really not the same as big features in the gym or sandstone slopers that require your entire palm and forearms. The best I've found is the SICGrips Gstring. I do the same 7sec on, 3sec off workout or the pullup version. Add weight if they're too easy.

rock climbing sloper strength training


I do these exercises for rehab to keep my wrists and elbows healthy and to build some forearm endurance. My joints feel more lubricated and healthy, especially when I'm doing a lot of hangboard and campus board.

The broom stick. I don't know what else to call it. Order off Amazon, or take a stick, drill a hole through, and hang a rope:

Curl your way up and down until failure and repeat. I do both ways: pull wrists up to lift the weight, working out the extensors, and roll wrists down to lift the weight, working out flexors.

rock climbing forearm strength training

If you don't have a broom stick thing, here's options for dumbbells.

Here's my favorite workout gear!