Crimp Climbing Technique – Explained Thoroughly

One of the primordial steps in attaining expertise as a climber is the knowledge to identify the various holds on rocky patterns and climb them accordingly. The gym has embedded handholds of various shapes, sizes, and colors for you to get used to. But the natural rock does not come with those labels. You’ve got to train your abstract mind and become opportunistic when it comes to different rocky expressions on the slope.

Rock climbing is about using the right force at the right time. When you grab a hold, be careful to exert only the required amount of pressure in capturing it. You don’t want to exhaust your fingers and forearms in the middle of the climb when the rest spot is still far away. Your direction of pulling at the rock is also important. Many times, climbers pull at a rock in an unbalanced position and find themselves hung up without any foot support.  

What is Crimp Climbing?

A crimp refers to a small rocky margin that has just enough surface area for the pads of your fingers to rest. That means, this handhold only lets the pads of your fingers support your body weight. While crimping is usually encountered on more advanced mountaineering slopes and terrains, it is also the most common technique that causes injury. 

A crimp handhold may have space for all fingertips or for hardly one or two fingertips. It is advised to always employ the middle finger when less finger space is available because it is the strongest one of your hand.

The amount of tension that builds up in the tendons of your fingers during crimping is three times the amount built in other techniques on larger slopes. So if your wrist and hand feel sore, stop for rest and allow your tendons to calm down. Continued activity with worked up tendons builds a higher probability for injury and accidents. 

Most beginners will find it impossible to grab such handholds with their full hand and will not attempt using only their fingers to hang on to a hold. This technique comes handy on hard climbs and requires advanced experience and trained bodies for gliding execution.

Types of Crimps 

There are different methods of holding a crimp. All of them employ a different approach of fingers towards the hold while one fact remains common to all.  

A better angle to hold on to a crimp is achieved by bringing your whole body as close to the wall as possible. This ensures that you don’t tear away from the wall as your weight comes in alignment with the hold.

Full Crimp

In full crimp, the length of your fingers on the hold forms a full bend in relation to the tips of your fingers resting on the edge of the hold.

Your thumb applies pressure on the top of the hold.

The entire hand’s muscle machinery is employed to grab on to a hold. This commonly leads to strain and damage.

Inexperienced climbers often rely more on this grip as it does provide extra support with the thumbs. But this method often leads to an exaggerated reliance on the handhold and the grip in order to support the whole body’s weight. A good rock climber knows how to distribute the force amongst his lower and upper limbs and core. 

One should always rely on the foot supports to support the majority of the bodyweight and only use handholds to climb upward and maintain balance.

Not concentrating on the required distribution of force and effort could lead to short or long term tendon damage.

Half Crimp 

In a half crimp, the length of your fingers on the hold form a full bend in relation with the tips of your fingers resting on the edge of the hold but the thumb is placed to the side of the grip and isn’t used to apply pressure on the top.

This position is most commonly used and does not interfere with support from the handhold even as you move upward in reach of the next handhold. This also allows you to push down on the hold with your finger pads and keep your fingers in a stable position of lesser damage.

Compared to the full crimp, half crimp seldom causes serious tendon injuries and strain. It is important to remain careful and pay attention as your muscles and tendons get tense and strain develops in your hands and wrists. 

Take rests after adequate intervals and never overwork your precious body parts.

Drag Crimp

The least damaging and straining method of holding a crimp is by open or drag grip.

This holding technique is entirely different from full and half crimps as the length of your fingers on the hold do not form a bend in relation to the tips of your fingers resting on the edge of the hold, instead, your fingertips are the only thing on the top of the crimp.

The open crimp puts a very minimal strain on your hand tendons as compared to the other methods and is thus considered the safest and most conservative method to rely on in advanced climbs.

Workouts to improve Crimping

Crimping is considered one of the most difficult climbing techniques because it often leads to injury and excessive strain, leave alone the fact that it is altogether practiced on tough terrains and hard climbs.

One important aspect of this technique is the small surface area of the hold available to stabilize the climber. Misuse or lack of attention could lead to grave outcomes.

To master any technique or niche in the world, all it takes is practice, dedication to practice, and commitment to achieving perfection.

We have researched the best exercises for you to polish your crimping skills and be undefeatable at the rocky edge.

Grip Training

One fundamental requirement in building adequate and reliable hand strength is grip training. This method will show quick and visible results on the powers of those climber’s hands. There are different types of grip strength. 

The Crush Grip: the grip required for shaking hands.

The Support Grip: the grip required to hang on to a handhold. 

The Pinch Grip: the grip formed by your fingers and your thumb while pinching

While crimping requires a predominant use of the support grip, the pinch grip is required for pinching handholds and the crush grip is required for overall palm strength.

Grip rings and Grip handles 

There are different types of grip rings for different levels of weight training and these offer the perfect workout to get your hands pumping.

Hold the grip trainer in your hand and close it swiftly. Then open it as slow as deemed. Your grip trainer should be difficult to close. Close and open the grip trainer until you get totally exhausted and it is impossible to exert closing force on the trainer any more. Repeat this motion in each hand for a minimum seven to ten times and practice two or three times a day.

Five-second crimp climbing rule

This training method is ideal for developing great crimping stamina and expertise because it utilizes basically them. You need to find an area with enough crimp handholds to practice at. Be careful to not find a tricky or dangerous route as you are only here to practice and do not want to sustain injuries.

Spot the crimps on the rocky wall and climb upwards while using only the crimp handholds. 

Your workout aim is to hold on to a crimp handhold for five seconds each time you come across it. Before you shift to the next handhold, hold fast and hang on to the crimp for five seconds and charge your hands for tough terrains.


Climbers mainly use this method of training to build their hands. This is also one method that could cause exceeded tension build-up and damage to tendons of the hands so one should remain explicitly careful if their forearms or fingers feel hurt or sore during training.

Don’t forget to warm up your hands, wrists, and forearms before you begin this exercise. At maximum, this exercise should be limited to three workouts a week.

Spot at least three crimps you want to train on your hang board and then hang on the first grip five times, for ten seconds each time with five-second breaks in between.

After a long break of three minutes, hang on the second crimp hold five times, for ten seconds each time with five-second breaks in between.

Take a three-minute break again. Then spot the third crimp on your hang board and hang on it five times, for ten seconds each time with five-second breaks between each hang.

Be careful to not overwork with this exercise routine as this can cause serious short or long term damage to your hand tendons. 


Crimp Climbing

Lift your feet off the floor by grabbing on to a pull-up bar and keep holding on for as long as you can. Challenging yourself to your maximum limit builds your capacity to hold on.

This also helps in other workouts where you often tire out, not due to your arm muscles but because of your hand tendons.

This exercise will increase your stamina for doing pull-ups and for climbing bars in training for rock climbing.

There are different ways you can hold the bar if you get tired by a single approach. Your palms may be faced away from you while holding the bar, this is known as pull up style. If your palms face you during the hang, it is called a chin-up style. It is neutral if your palms face each other and mixed when one palm faces inward and one faces outward.

To level up for a hanging workout, you can widen the bar you hang from. The easiest way to do so is by tying a towel around to increase its width.

Farmer carries 

Farmer carries can be performed using dumbbells, kettlebells, straight bars, large water bottles, hex bars, even suitcases.

Pick up one weight in each hand and walk for as far as you can. This is a full-body workout along with a grip strengthening exercise. 

Hex dumbbell lifting

This can be practiced by using hex dumbbells or with the hex ends of normal dumbbells.

There are two ways to practice.

Two-handed: either lift the hex using both hands, one on top of another in the way of a pinch grip.

Single-handed: one hand should hold the sideways dumbbell widthwise.

Plate pinches

Stack together two weight plates with smooth backs and pick them up with both hands. Now walk for as far as you can with the plates held.

Sandbag deadlifts 

Fill a sandbag, or a canvas duffle bag lined with trash bags, with sand, and lift it up without using its handles by pinching and gripping the material of the bag. The lift should be a deadlift.

Plate Curls

Hold an appropriate weight plate in your palm. Place your thumb at the top of the plate and extend your fingers toward the bottom. In this position, practice bicep curls and build exceptional wrist and finger strength.

Extensor training

This is a very simple exercise meant to extend your hand and prepare it to extend on tough slopes. Wrap a pack of rubber bands around your hand and attempt to open it as wide as you can. Add additional rubber bands to increase the difficulty level and train for your next climb.

Advantages of knowing Crimp Climbing

  • Crimping is mastered by experienced climbers and the treaders of tough terrains. Working out in favor of this technique adds to your skill as a rock climber and makes you more confident on the slope. Your technique and expertise in other approaches are bound to improve as you learn new and difficult holds.
  • Crimps are common on rocky pathways. Knowing crimping will only make you swift as you stay afloat on the slope.
  • Your climbing grades often rely on your performance on crimps because not many are able to master it. So learning this technique will make you exceptional.

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