Project Description

Date: April 5th, 2016

New Ask Kris Mini Episodes!

We’re going to do something new on the podcast every week (or as often as we can). Kris Peters and I will be tackling a specific subject and hashing some details out for about 15 minutes. Don’t worry: I’ll still be doing the regular podcast episodes every week, too!

We’ll also take questions from you guys and answer them on these mini episodes. This week, in our second episode, we decided to talk about the three best lifts for rock climbers.

Kris Peters is a climbing trainer who’s worked with some of the strongest climbers in the world, as well as a ton of regular Joes like you and me. He’s seen his methods work on 100’s of climbers so far, and so I thought I’d give him a platform to share his knowledge with you guys. Here’s episode 2 of “Ask Kris”, and hopefully we’ll get one out every week. If you have a question for him, email me at and we’ll try to answer it.

3 Best Lifts for Climbers

  • Why climbers should weight lift
  • Why some strong climbers can get away with not weight lifting
  • What the 3 best lifts are, why, and how to do them

Kris Peters Links

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  • Link to the TrainingBeta Podcast on iTunes is HERE.
  • Please give the podcast an honest review on iTunes here to help the show reach more curious climbers around the world 😉


Neely Quinn: Welcome to the Training Beta podcast, where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and today we’re on episode two of what I’m calling the ‘Ask Kris’ episodes. In these episodes, I’ll spend about 15 to 20 minutes talking with trainer Kris Peters, who is the creator of our bouldering training program, our route training program, our six-week power endurance program, and he does online training with people all over the world. If you want to work with him or check out any of those programs, you can go to and at the top you’ll see all of those options.

He’s also my trainer, so every week I go into the gym with him for about two hours and get my ass kicked. Sometimes we lift, sometimes we do climbing, sometimes we do core work, and sometimes it’s a mixture of all of it. The thing that I wanted to talk to him today about is the lifting. It’s kind of this thing where some trainers have their climbers do it, some don’t, some really strong climbers do it, some don’t. Kris is a proponent of weightlifting for climbing and I wanted to ask him what the three most powerful or important lifts are for climbers.

It turns out, I’m doing all of them so that’s good, and I’m definitely getting stronger so it’s working for me. Here’s his opinion, and again, it’s his opinion. It’s not scientific fact that this is what all climbers should be doing but it is an interesting topic so we explored it. Here is the interview. I hope you like it!


Neely Quinn: Welcome again, Kris.


Kris Peters: Hello everybody!


Neely Quinn: Hello! Today we are talking/we are doing one of our mini episodes, once again. Today’s topic is the three best lifts for rock climbers. Are you ready for this?


Kris Peters: I am ready to give my opinions.


Neely Quinn: Okay, so that’s a good preface for this whole topic. It is fairly based on people’s opinions and different trainers’ and coaches’ experiences. This isn’t, like, scientific facts.


Kris Peters: Yeah. I’ll definitely give what I’ve seen the best results of people that I’ve worked with.


Neely Quinn: I want to start this conversation by talking about lifting, in general, for climbers. I just had an interview with Sean McColl today and he basically doesn’t do any lifting. This episode is going to come out before the Sean McColl episode comes out so don’t freak out if you can’t find it. He doesn’t lift and he’s one of the strongest climbers in the world. What do you say to that, in general, for climbers about lifting? Why should they lift and why do some of the best climbers not lift and still get really strong?


Kris Peters: It’s one of those things where everyone’s different. I think climbers like Sean and Daniel and all these other incredibly talented, gifted athletes are super blessed with the ability to do things that work for them and produce amazing results. I think, again, they are the low percentile of climbers. Not everyone is as gifted as Sean. I’ve seen Sean compete and climb, and he’s ripped. He’s wicked strong and he’s powerful. He’s a great athlete and there are plenty of other pro athletes in other sports who just do bodyweight movements and they’re amazing athletes.

I think it’s definitely – everyone’s different. Most of the clients I work with aren’t built like Daniel or Sean or those guys. They need strength training to produce better gains and to get stronger to add muscle to their body. People like that, if it mostly works for you, stick to that. Don’t change it up because you’re doing something right if you’re crushing like Sean is. I think that’s kind of the only thing I can say about that, is he is very gifted and he knows his body very well. He knows what works for him and he’s getting great results out of it.


Neely Quinn: Okay. That’s a great answer. Are most of the people that you work with lifting? Do you have them lift almost all of the time or are there exceptions?


Kris Peters: It’s not all of the time. I think with most of my climbers it’s between two to three days a week and it’s added in with their climbing-specific training, so the only climbers that lift only are the ones that have really bad fingers or that have bad injuries and they can’t climb. They’re the ones that I have lifting programs for that are designed to focus on the muscle groups that help you as a climber. For the most part, all of my clients have climber-specific lifts and they go into the weight room and they do specific movements that I have found are very beneficial for my clients.


Neely Quinn: So, all of them lift and some of them lift more than others. Are there any who do not lift at all on your programs?


Kris Peters: People who are getting ready for a big trip. Like, right now, I have a bunch of people who are getting ready to go to Spain in a few weeks so they are just climbing right now. We kind of went over their cycles of strength gains and power and now they’re just in their cycles of high volume climbing. There are points where the lifting does stop, just based off what their goals are and how close they are coming up, so now they’re in the ‘sports-specific’ phase. They’re not doing all of their weighted pullups or different exercises like that, it’s just get in the gym, climb, and get ready for your trip.


Neely Quinn: Okay. For the typical client or the typical climber, what are the three best lifts for them to do?


Kris Peters: The three best lifts that I have seen, or three best exercises for climbers so far, has been weighted pullups. I do believe that those upper body pull muscles are kind of the squat for climbers. Where football players want to have the explosives squats, climbers want to have power in their upper bodies so I’ll have them do weighted pullups. Typically it’s around three to four reps. You’re failing on that third or fourth rep, just barely pulling it out. I like to use rings, just because, adding more stability – bars are more fixed and I like the idea of turning your hands in and pulling closer towards your body. I feel like it’s more climbing specific than a pullup bar.

Then there are I’s, Y’s, and T’s. I think I’ve done a lot of videos of that before, really working on the posterior chain of a climber, really learning how to engage that back and also opening up the climber. A lot of climbers are rounded and that can result in some bad shoulder injuries so to help avoid that, I try to open up my clients and at the same time build that posterior chain. A lot of climbers are very strong in their lats and biceps but not so much their rear delts or their rhomboids or things like that.

Then, another big popular one is deadlifts. I was kind of skeptical of deadlifting a few years back. It wasn’t something that I had used with my clients, my climbers, and now that I have, I really see a huge benefit in deadlifting for climbing. I think deadlifting, all around, is probably one of the best lifts for any athlete. I think you’re just hitting so much of the body. It’s a full body exercise and it’s producing power, strength, you’re using your core, and I found that I’ve been doing that with more clients and they are starting to feel stronger and more powerful from that lift. I think a lot of climbers are starting to do it more and more, too. You get a lot of climbing gyms now with bumper plates and platforms for that Olympic lifting. It’s starting to kind of catch on now in some climbing gyms for some climbers.

Those are my three main exercises that almost all of my programs have for climbers.


Neely Quinn: That’s a great overview. I’m going to go back to the beginning now with weighted pullups. I would like to get a little bit of practical information from this, too, like how to start, how to do it, how much weight you should be pulling up and how many – I think you mentioned it, but how many reps and how many sets and all that. So, with weighted pullups, how do you have people put weight on their bodies, first of all?


Kris Peters: I’ll just use a climbing harness and we’ll take a sling and wrap it through their belay loop and attach plates to that sling with a carabiner and we’ll lock it in place like that.


Neely Quinn: And you said on the rings. How many reps and how many sets?


Kris Peters: Typically, you’re looking for three to four reps, anywhere between four to six sets. The way I establish those rep counts is I try to establish: what is the one-rep max for that client for weighted pullups? If it’s 100 pounds, client A can do 100 pounds one time then, again, sort of like what we talked about last week, some of the programs work off percentages. I’ll go week one, work at 80 percent of the one-rep max then try and bump it up to 85 so every week you’re kind of increasing the weight for those three to four reps in hopes that, after four to five weeks, your 100 rep max increases to 105 or 110 pounds. We’re just developing more power.


Neely Quinn: Okay. How many times a week should they do this?


Kris Peters: Typically, no more than twice a week. Some of my more advanced clients are at twice a week. Definitely, usually once for people who are kind of still developing their lifting and training regimens but definitely I think twice a week is a good amount. I usually try to space it out between two to three days in between those days where you focused on weighted pullups.


Neely Quinn: Would you have them do it before climbing or after climbing?


Kris Peters: Sometimes it changes. I would probably have them do it after climbing. I just let them get the climbing stuff out of the way first and then do the weighted pullups. Some days, again, it’s first thing on the agenda. Again, it’s that fine line of being fresh and feeling really good before you do it so you get the best numbers but based off time and just what I’m trying to do with my clients, sometimes it comes after their climbing session.


Neely Quinn: I think that’s all my questions for weighted pullups. Let’s go on to I’s, Y’s and T’s. Can you explain what those are?


Kris Peters: I’s, Y’s, and T’s is a movement where you’re doing a reverse motion to focus on your rear delts, your upper traps, and your rhomboids. What I do with my clients is we do two different options. We use a TRX for your I’s, Y’s, and T’s. You can find those videos online and I usually have them do all their I’s for 15 reps then they do their Y’s and their T’s. Then, we’ll use a bench with dumbbells, so find a bench. You’ll put it at a 45-degree angle. You’ll lay flat on your chest and I usually have my clients bring their feet off the ground so their knees are on the padded seat and it’s the same motion. You want to look straight ahead and make sure you have a nice, aligned spine and I’ll have my clients start with I’s first, then their Y’s and T’s.

Again, the idea is, for all of these movements, you’re retracting your body and you’re squeezing at the end of each motion to really fire that posterior chain. This, to me, has been on of the main things that a lot of climbers have been enjoying. They’ve been seeing a lot of benefits and creating a lot of tension and strength when they’re more vertical, and on more overhanging things they’re kind of able to retract their bodies and pull themselves into the wall a lot tighter.


Neely Quinn: I’m assuming it’s also for shoulder rehab or prevention.


Kris Peters: It is, yeah. It definitely helps with the shoulders if you’re really rounded and you’re feeling pain in your shoulders. We’ve seen a lot of people get rid of that pain by working on this movement because it is, again, pulling the opposite direction that most climbers are being pulled on their bodies. It’s helped a lot, take off the tension off the A/C joints and also help improve labrums and rotator cuffs and keeping those from tearing and getting injured.


Neely Quinn: What kind of weights are people using?


Kris Peters: Dumbbells. Usually it starts off pretty light. Most of my female clients, around 2.5 to three pounds. Most male clients, no more than seven, maybe 10 for my stronger guys but really I have not worked with a lot of people who can do all 10 or 15 reps for each motion with more than eight pounds. That kind of just goes to show how weak a lot of people are in that motion, just because it’s something that they don’t ever train. The idea is, I’d love to see some of my clients get to 10, 12, even 15 pounds. They’re really getting strong in that upper back. Definitely, start off light because the reps are usually higher, 10 to 15, and there’s no break in between. You do all your I’s, all your Y’s, and all your T’s, and you’re pretty smoked after that.


Neely Quinn: Okay, so it’s not something that you’re trying to even get up to a super high weight.


Kris Peters: No, you’re not trying to do, like, 40 or 50 pounds. The weight, I’m gonna say, is not going to get higher than 10 to 15 pounds just because, again, you’re doing so many reps and you’re really squeezing that contraction on each rep for about a split second so the weight’s going to be, typically, a lot lighter.


Neely Quinn: All right. We have a few minutes. Let’s move on to deadlifts. Can you tell me, like, what kinds of – first of all, what’s a deadlift? Let’s just go there first.


Kris Peters: Sure. A deadlift is a lift where the weight’s starting on the ground. You have a barbell. You have a plate on each side and it’s starting from the ground and you’re pulling it up close to your body and standing straight up. It’s not a squat. A lot of people go into a squat motion on their deadlifts but it’s really, again, you’re hinging your hips backwards and you’re letting your chest fall to the ground. Your knees are bending slightly but they’re not squatting to the ground.

A deadlift is really hard to explain without a visual. I think Neely, you, even with us working on deadlifts, you’ve had/we’ve had to work on it with me showing you. I definitely recommend, if you want to do deadlifts, find a trainer in your gym or someone who’s familiar with that lift or you can find plenty of videos on youtube of how to deadlift properly. If you do it improperly you can definitely really hurt yourself. You can hurt your lower back and cause some serious injury if you’re not 100 percent sure on the form.

Again, a deadlift is – you’re activating so much in your body and it’s just the bar starting on the ground and you’re running it close to your legs, as close as possible. You can even get bruises and cuts on your shins, that’s how much the bar is rubbing on the front of your leg. It’s going to stay close, close, close, all the way up to your hips and you’re going to bring it to your hips. Retract your back backwards and, again, on that way down, you’re hinging your hips backwards, throwing your hips and butt to the wall and letting that bar run back down your legs to the bottom.


Neely Quinn: How is this actually translating into people’s climbing? What do people notice?


Kris Peters: I think people just notice feeling stronger and more powerful. I just think the deadlift is such a full body movement where you’re hitting so many parts of your body and, again, it’s not – people have to understand, doing deadlifts you’re not going to get huge or get all this muscle. It’s just a full body movement where you’re hitting vital parts of the legs that can help us climb by producing power on your dynos. It’s a lot of core, you use shoulders, there’s grip strength, it’s just such a strong movement so I think you’re just adding so much strength to your body, when you climb you just feel stronger.

Again, it’s not adding finger strength, it’s not going to make you not get pumped on a long route, but I just believe that, for overall strength and having a full, functional movement in your routine it’s a great thing to have.


Neely Quinn: And for sets and reps, what would you say?


Kris Peters: I usually/kind of depending. If someone is just starting out, I keep the reps a little higher and the weight lower so we can learn the movement really well. For some of my stronger climbers, we’re keeping the rep count between five and six and hitting more of a strength/power routine. I’m not trying to go into a hypertrophy phase with my climbers on deadlifts. I really use it as a strength and power movement so the reps are lower. We’re looking at five to six reps, anywhere between four to six sets and usually resting two, maybe three minutes in between each set.


Neely Quinn: When you said the word ‘hypertrophy,’ can you explain that?


Kris Peters: That is more of the phase where you’re trying to build muscle, so you’re doing 10-12 reps, resting 45 seconds and the goal of a hypertrophy phase is to build muscle.


Neely Quinn: Wait, to make it bigger?


Kris Peters: Yeah, to make it bigger, and I’m not trying to do that with a lot of my clients with that type of lift. We are going to build muscle in our shoulders and in our biceps and things like that, but with these type of lifts I try to keep the rep count lower so we focus on the power/strength. We’re not trying to add size.


Neely Quinn: So what you’re doing is creating more density in the muscles and that’s how they get stronger?


Kris Peters: We’re just trying to add to more effort, so I’m trying to make sure that you’re at your max capacity so you are just producing strength and power. It’s not so much density, it’s more like the same as with weighted pullups: we’re just working on that ability to try really hard, to be a really hard limit for what your body is able to do. That way, when you’re climbing and you have a sensation of being at a limit, your body is trained in that to respond well and perform at a higher level.


Neely Quinn: We’ve gone over what I’ve promised people, which is a 15-minute podcast, so we’re at 19 minutes but I think that was really good. I don’t think that what you’re saying is, “These should be the only exercises that you should do,” but “they’re three really good ones.”


Kris Peters: Sure, exactly, yes.


Neely Quinn: Because obviously, you have people do different and more things but this is a good starter and maybe we’ll continue this conversation some other time.


Kris Peters: Sounds good! Everyone have a great day and be safe!


Neely Quinn: All right. Thanks, Kris.


Kris Peters: All right. See you guys. Bye.


Neely Quinn: All right. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Kris Peters. We’ll try to put these up every week and, again, if you have any questions that you want us to answer, email me at or If you want to check out any of our programs so that you can start training in a more structured way, where you just look at your training program and go to the gym and do it instead of thinking too much about your training, you can go to and you’ll see our training programs at the top.

If you want to do online training with Kris, like I do, partly – mostly what I do with him is in person but he also makes a plan for me so that I can go home and do my exercises when I’m not around him.

You can tell that my voice is a little bit hoarse, so I’m sorry that I sounded hoarse in the interview. I’m just getting over this sicknes that all of us seem to have, but anyway, if you want to train with him you can go to and you’ll see the online training at the top and that’s where you can find out more information about that.

Thanks for listening. I appreciate you guys being here and listening to us ramble and I hope you get something out of it. Have a great week and I’ll talk to you soon.



TrainingBeta is a site dedicated to training for rock climbing. We provide resources and information about training for routes, bouldering, finger strength, mental training, nutrition for climbers, and everything in between. We offer climbing training programs, a blog, interviews on the TrainingBeta Podcast, personal training for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.

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