Training Shapes - Training for Speed Climbing Off the Wall Series

Hey Speed Fans!

It's been awhile since I've done a training theory post for the off the wall series. So brush off that thinking hat and come along for a discussion about shapes. More specifically, the shapes in speed climbing.

But Josh, this isn't geometry. What the hell do shapes have to do with anything? The answer? They have much more to do with speed climbing, and training, than you may realize.

Take a look at the slow motion video provided by IFSC of Kiromal Katibin's world record.

Take a look a few times and what do you see? Let's take a look at some stills as well.

Damn near 135 degrees of hip flexion
Near end ranges of ankle dorsiflexion

The two shapes I want you to focus on are the hips and the ankle & knee. Let's start with the hip. 

Unlike sprinting, where the hip will rarely exceed 90 degrees of hip flexion, in speed climbing this is routine. As you can see on the right, flexion greatly exceeds the 90 degrees seen as "optimal" for a sprinter. Another key difference is that while in sprinting you apply force with an ideal footstrike of being directly under the center of mass with your hip neutral, in speed climbing you begin applying force with the hip in extreme flexion. The glute is in a position of high stretch yet low strength.

Now look at the ankle and knee. What shape are they in when force begins to be applied? The knee is flexed, in some cases far enough that the calf is touching the hamstring. The ankle is dorsiflexed (toes up) or neutral upon contacting the hold, and falls into a dorsiflexed position as force is applied and the achilles stretches, storing energy.

This unique position of the knee/ankle means that the gastroc soleus is is going to be heavily relied upon for force development and transfer through the feet. The deep hip flexion means that your glutes will need to be able to rapidly develop force from their longest position, which is where they are weakest.

Long story short, if you aren't hitting full ranges of motion with a variety of speeds and loads (to ensure your time is spent surfing the force velocity curve), you aren't developing your on the wall speed and power to the extent you should be.

Below are some basic examples of full range of motion strength exercises that hit the curve in multiple places.


  • Isometric deep squats
  • Deep squats 
  • Light squat jumps (full depth)
  • Box jumps starting from a deep sitting position to remove counter-movement
  • Band assisted jumps


  • Seated calf raises with heavy weight
  • Box jumps with toes raised
  • Squatting hops

All of the above

  • Lunges
  • Lunge jumps with switch
  • Single leg lunge jumps
  • Wedge variations for all of the above
  • Trap bar squat jumps
  • Olympic Lifting

There are dozens of additional exercises that can be used to hit these specific shapes, but these are a good starting point.

We'll be going into more depth about building a complete session off the wall based on the shapes of the event for a future article.

Later speed fans!

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