14. Posturing

“Posture” or the act of “posturing” is the term we use for the most basic and efficient body position you can place yourself in for climbing.

Keep in mind that you will never be at rest when climbing, so it is ideal to only use the energy necessary for that given move.

When properly posturing, the natural effect of gravity transfers weight from our arms onto the lower body. This engages our biggest, strongest, weight bearing muscle groups – the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, along with our core.

Think of posturing as having three components, with each component having a factor that ensures you are posturing properly:

1. Maintain straight arms (but try not to sag at your shoulders), and pull your chest in close without bending your elbows.

Doing this puts your humerus bone in the shoulder socket. This engages muscles around the shoulder like the upper pectoral, deltoids, and trapezius along with several back muscles (such as the latissimus dorsi, teres major, teres minor, and your rhombus muscles just to name the largest ones… but there’s more).

Sagging when maintaining arms straight doesn’t make use of any on the back muscles causing them to be increased weight that your fingers and forearms must bear. The idea is that, with the effects of gravity constantly present, we must make use of all available muscles… or else they become dead weight.   

2. Place your hips or center of mass as close to the wall as possible.

The factor that goes along with this is arching your back or pull your hips into the wall using your abdominal muscles. The more overhanging the climb the more you should exaggerate this.  

3. Maintain weight onto platforms or footholds.

The factor for this component is to keep your heel on the same plane as your toe or higher. This ensures you transfer weight onto your lower half. Placing your heel on the same plane or higher than your toe is an example of how these concepts don’t correlate to slab climbing (for low-angle slab climbing, you must lower your heels in order to increase contact on the wall).

Posturing is also a way to prevent injuries in your shoulders due to overuse or over stress. Forgetting to engage your scapula puts added stress on the connective tissue in your shoulders.

There is a time and place to sag at your shoulders and not set your scapula or have your hips close to the wall or have your heels lower than the point of contact. This is when you’re looking for feet while on the wall. In order for you bring your feet up you must first be able to see the foothold. This is when you sag at your shoulders, push your hips away from the wall, lower your heels, and survey the foot options below you.

Remember to come back to the correct posturing position before moving towards the next hand hold.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.