Arnold vs. Spider Monkey

All climbers fear getting “too big”.  We don’t want excessive muscle bulk because it will hinder our performance on the rock.  Arnold would not be a good climber.  On the other end of the spectrum there is the skinny spider monkey boy.  Lots of climbers look like this and I think it’s a mistake.

Now, first off, I’m no gun show.  I’m still quite thin, but I used to be much skinnier.  I’ve had multiple dislocations in both shoulders and have had surgery in both to correct it.  I think that it could have been prevented if I had more shoulder bulk and muscle at the time.  This is one motivation for me:  injury prevention.  I want to pack as much muscle as I can in my shoulders.  When you go for a big dyno or shoulder ripping gastone, I would rather have the load on the muscles.  It’s undesirable to load the joint because there isn’t enough muscle to support it.  Why load a joint?  It’s just bad all around.  Joints don’t stretch too well, but they tear beautifully.

Chris Sharma - © Corey Rich

Look at the “big” climbers like Chris Sharma or Dani Andrada (he’s a beast when he climbs Ali-Hulk in Dosage V).  You don’t hear about their injuries.  Their bodies are balanced and they actually have some pecs to support the front side of their trunk.  Alex Puccio is the female equivalent.

Skinny Ondra strong Andrada

Adam Ondra vs. Dani Andrada - © Pete O'Donovan

Look at the thin climbers like Dave Graham, Paul Robinson, Adam Ondra, etc.  Paxti Usobiaga injured his shoulder requiring surgery and so did Ethan Pringle and Beth Rodden.  They all have quite wide shoulders but no muscle to back it up.  And certainly no arm and pec muscle!  I would rather be a “big” climber…but that’s just me.  Note: I highly respect all of the professional climbers I listed above.  They are supremely talented and have done so much for the sport.  I am simply listing them as an example to support my opinion.

Skinny dave graham

Dave Graham - Courtesy of Dave Graham /

Everyone has a natural weight to them.  If you’re the skinny type, so be it.  I’m skinny too but I’ve worked to put some muscle on and still have some more to go.  I’ll reduce some more body fat and add some more muscle….ideally of course!

Lifting heavy weight will not make you into Arnold!  Last, sometimes it’s just nice to be able to lift heavy stuff.  I don’t want to have to throw my back out to lift a couch or keg.

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