(This is related to "What hand and finger exercises help with climbing?" but asking for what can be done when not climbing/training.)

Like most climbers, I don't get to do as much as I'd like, and I rarely climb as well as I'd like, so I'm wondering if there are ways to squeeze training exercises in when I'm doing other things.

For example, if I'm carrying bags, I've started reducing the number of fingers I use, with a view to increasing the weight my fingers can support, and thus improve my ability when on small holds and pockets. (No idea how well that might work, but it demonstrates the type of things I mean).

Any types of improvement are welcome, though I am specifically looking at bouldering (free climbing), as opposed to roped/other climbing.

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    The difference is in the question title - I'm asking about small changes to existing actions whilst the other question is asking for the best dedicated exercises. -//- Excluding finger exercisers, nothing in that other question can be done whilst out and about. (Well, I guess you could walk around with a pair of dumbells, but I'm not about to see how people react to that). -//- However, I have edited the question to expand/differentiate further - although I am most interested in hands, there's no reason to be exclusive. Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 0:39
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    I do the same with the bags. Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 23:14
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    I'm not a climber but I have medical weakness in my extremities. I do some basic things, which probably sound silly to an actual athlete, but they help me. For instance, when emptying the dishwasher, instead of putting coffee/tea cups away separately, I pick up five and hang them by the handles on each finger and thumb. Then I open and close my fingers without dropping the cups and put them away without using my other hand. This gives me strength and flexibility. Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 22:01

4 Answers 4


Whilst walking about, clench your fist, then stretch your hand open again. repeat this 30 times (or whatever you want) and relax. Bit by bit, maybe one or two a day, increase the reps. Vary for speed and power.

You can do this whilst walking around.


As I noted in my answer to that question, plasticene or stress balls work.

Also, you can use guitarist's finger exercisers

I do like your idea of using less fingers for carrying bags etc.

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    I (too) actively use less fingers for carrying bags etc. Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 12:57

The main idea to muscle up your arms and strengthen your wrists and fingers is to make things harder when you carry things:

  • Carry more, with one hand instead of two. Use less fingers (as you pointed out). This also works with heavy doors.
  • Move things away from your body. It’s harder to carry a luggage if you try to push it away from you instead of having it close.
  • Put as much as you can in one hand if what you’re carrying is not too fragile.
  • Switch hands: if your strong arm/hand is the right one, carry things with the left one, and vice-versa.

I’ve had great success carrying my laptop with 3-4 fingers plus the thumb instead of with two hands or on my arm close to my body. It was quite hard due to the weight at the beginning but after a couple of months it’s now easy.

Other things to try out:

  • Take stairs, not elevators (and don’t rush). This applies to all sports of course; it’s great for your legs and your breath.
  • Practice your balance by staying on one foot when you’re waiting, e.g. in a queue. Try putting each of your socks/shoes while standing on the other foot. You can also try not holding the bar in the bus or subway (be careful though).
  • Look at buildings with a climber mind: how would you climb it? Try to find holds and cracks that would help you. This can help exercise your route reading.

As others have pointed out there are a lot of fingers exercises you can do almost everywhere. The channel Tykato Fitness on YouTube has a lot of good exercises for climbers that you can do almost everywhere.


When I started bouldering hard I would crimp and pinch everything: open doors by pinching the knobs with you finger tips; pick up things by crimping them on the edges (even if you can get a full open hand hold on it); hang of the trim of door frames; lean off what ever you're standing next to by your finger tips, etc. There's also finger tip pushups. Basically, never use the palms of your hands when pushing or holding anything and always engage your finger tips. I don't boulder as much anymore, but I still have the habit of pinching almost everything I touch. I've actually had to consciously relax my grip a little in recent years, but that's mostly because my kids were complaining about me "poking" them when I picked them up.

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