Advanced Climbing: Perfecting Your Technique on Overhangs

Navigating the overhang can be a real challenge for climbers. We’ve been there too, desperately clinging onto rocks with our heart pounding. That’s why we spent time perfecting techniques and strategies to conquer these daunting inclines.

In this article, we’ll share our seven favorite maneuvers that will help enhance your skills and make climbing overhangs a breeze. Ready to scale new heights?.

Techniques for Climbing Overhangs

One key technique for climbing overhangs is keeping your arms straight to conserve energy and engage different muscle groups.

Straight arms

Let’s dive into one of the most effective techniques in climbing overhangs – keeping your arms straight. This method is not only energy-efficient but also facilitates easier movement on steep walls.

As we climb, our instinct might be to hold onto the rocks with bent arms and a tight grip, however, this could quickly drain our power. Instead, maintaining straight arms in between cranking conserves strength due to less muscle engagement in the upper body compared to when our arms are bent.

It’s vital for us as climbers to remember that every bit of energy saved counts toward reaching the top! This technique takes practice but can significantly optimize the way we conquer challenging climbs by helping us move smoothly up an overhanging wall without straining muscles excessively or tiring too swiftly.

Knee drop

One technique that can greatly improve your climbing on overhangs is the knee drop. This move involves bringing one knee up towards your chest and then dropping it down onto a hold, effectively allowing you to use your knee as an extra point of contact.

By using the knee drop, you can redistribute some of the weight from your arms onto your leg, giving them a much-needed break while also providing additional stability and balance.

The knee drop is particularly useful when faced with challenging moves or when trying to reach for holds that seem just out of reach. So next time you find yourself struggling on an overhang, try incorporating the knee drop into your climbing repertoire and see how it can help improve your technique and performance.


One important technique for climbing overhangs is the toe-hook. This maneuver involves using the toes to grip onto a hold and provide extra stability while making your way up steep walls.

By hooking your toe around the edge of a hold or even wrapping it underneath, you can create additional points of contact and distribute your weight more evenly. This helps to relieve strain on your arms and upper body, allowing you to maintain better balance and control.

The toe-hook is particularly useful when faced with challenging sections that require precise footwork and when trying to reach for higher holds without losing stability. Practice this technique during training exercises to improve your skills on overhangs and enhance your overall climbing abilities.

Training Exercises for Overhang Climbing

To improve your overhang climbing skills, it is important to focus on training exercises that target core strength, finger strength, and footwork technique.

Core strength

Building core strength is essential for climbing overhangs. A strong core provides stability and control, allowing you to maintain a steady position on the wall. Here are some exercises that can help improve your core strength:

  1. Planks: Start by getting into a push-up position, with your forearms resting on the ground. Keep your body straight and engage your core muscles. Hold this position for as long as you can, gradually increasing the duration over time.
  2. Leg Raises: Lie flat on your back with your arms stretched out beside you. Lift your legs off the ground, keeping them straight, until they are perpendicular to the floor. Slowly lower them back down without touching the ground and repeat.
  3. Russian Twists: Sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lean back slightly while keeping your back straight and lift both feet off the ground. Twist your torso from side to side, touching the ground on each side with your hands.
  4. Hanging Leg Raises: Find a pull-up bar or hangboard and hang from it with an overhand grip. Engage your core muscles and lift your legs up towards your chest, keeping them straight throughout the movement. Lower them back down slowly and repeat.
  5. Plank Variations: Mix up traditional planks by adding movements like hip dips or shoulder taps to challenge different parts of your core.

Finger strength

Developing strong finger strength is crucial for climbing overhangs. Here are some tips to improve your finger strength:

  1. Hangboard workouts: Incorporate hangboard training into your routine to specifically target finger strength. Hang from different grips and positions, gradually increasing the duration and difficulty as you progress.
  2. Fingerboarding exercises: Utilize fingerboarding to strengthen individual fingers and develop better grip strength. Perform exercises such as dead hangs, pull-ups, and one-arm hangs.
  3. Campus board training: Work on explosive power and finger strength with campus board training. This involves dynamic moves using only your upper body, focusing on quick hand movements and powerful pulls.
  4. Weighted finger rolls: Use a barbell or dumbbell with added weight to perform finger rolls. Simply roll the weighted implement up and down using only your fingers, targeting forearm muscles and improving grip strength.
  5. Climbing-specific exercises: Incorporate climbing-specific exercises such as pinch grips, crimp holds, and sloper training to simulate the demands of climbing overhangs.

Footwork and technique

When climbing overhangs, having proper footwork and technique is essential for success. Here are some tips to improve your footwork and technique on overhangs:

  1. Engage and bend: Keep your arms straight but engage your core and bend at the hips. This will help maintain balance and stability on steep walls.
  2. Feet force: Focus on pushing with your feet rather than pulling with your hands. Use your toes to apply force on footholds and push yourself upwards.
  3. Direction change: Avoid moving straight up the wall. Instead, look for opportunities to change directions by finding side pulls or underclings that can help you navigate through the overhang.
  4. Outside edging: Instead of keeping your hips parallel to the wall, try using a technique called outside edging. This involves turning your body slightly outward so that the outside edges of your shoes make contact with the holds.
  5. Hips twist: When reaching for holds, use a twisting motion with your hips to generate power and reach further. This can help you overcome difficult moves on overhangs.
  6. Incline climbing: Practice climbing on inclined surfaces to improve your balance and footwork skills. This can be done using an incline board or by seeking out routes with varying degrees of inclination at the gym or crag.


In conclusion, perfecting your technique on overhangs is a crucial skill for advanced climbers. By mastering techniques such as straight arms, knee drops, and toe-hooks, you can navigate these challenging climbs with efficiency and confidence.

Remember to focus on building core and finger strength, as well as improving footwork and technique. With dedication and practice, you’ll be able to conquer even the steepest of overhangs like a pro.

Keep pushing your limits and enjoy the thrill of advanced climbing!


1. What is an overhang in climbing?

An overhang in climbing refers to a section of the wall or rock face that slopes outward, creating a steep angle. It requires climbers to use specific techniques and strength to navigate upwards.

2. How can I improve my technique on overhangs?

Improving your technique on overhangs involves developing core strength, practicing proper body positioning, utilizing efficient footwork, and learning different handholds and grips specifically designed for this type of terrain.

3. What are some common mistakes climbers make when tackling overhangs?

Common mistakes include relying too much on upper body strength instead of engaging the legs and core, using improper body positioning that causes excessive strain on certain muscle groups, gripping holds too tightly which leads to fatigue more quickly, and not properly pacing oneself during a climb.

4. Are there any specific training exercises I can do to prepare for climbing on overhangs?

Yes! Some training exercises you can incorporate into your routine include hangboarding (grip strengthening), core workouts (planks, leg raises), campus board training (strengthening finger tendons), pull-ups/chin-ups (upper body strength), and traversing (sideways movement across the wall or bouldering route).

Calvin Rivers

Hey, I’m Calvin Rivers, a climbing veteran with 10+ years on crags and walls around the world. I can’t wait for you to explore our site and fall in love with the outdoors just like I have.

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