Climbing Through Pregnancy: Finger Strength Exercises

This letter originally appeared on Beth Rodden's blog. To follow along, check out her athlete page.

Hi Beth -

First off, let me say thank you for getting this subject out there and talked about. I have run into women at the crag and in the gym who talk about your blog all the time. Some have children and some never want kids, but it has started a dialogue, so thank you!

I know that you have mentioned that you have tapered back on climbing because of your extremely loose joints. I am three months pregnant and have noticed that my joints are also getting very loose. But I'm wondering if you found any finger exercises that worked during your pregnancy? Even if it's only for another few months?

Thanks so much again and I look forward to following the rest of your pregnancy and then hopefully you will blog about climbing with your little guy!


Hi Jessica!

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Very exciting, and I hope you are starting to feel good in your second trimester, I know that was my best few months.

Yes, I absolutely did some static finger exercises during my first and second trimester. Now into my third trimester, I've gained a bit over 25 pounds and my joints are so loose that I'm taking time away from training until our little guy arrives and my joints feel tighter. I've outlined what I did below, but again, please listen to your body, and if anything feels weird or tweaky, best to lay off of it.

I should also note that as I gained weight, I would slowly do less and less time on each exercise. Remember, your weight will be changing, so it's good to change the exercises with your changing body as well. One way to do this is cut down on the time with each exercise, or another is to cut down on the sets. Also, make sure that when you are doing the exercises on the system holds that you position your feet so your body is in a comfortable position. The last thing you want is to force yourself into a tweaky position and strain or pull something. I thought of these exercises as "maintenance," to keep my muscle memory up. I never felt as if I was pushing hard or really going for it. For me, all throughout pregnancy, trying hard never sounded appealing, so I took it as a sign to just ease off.

On the campus rungs (hand shoulder width apart):

  • 2 hand hangs open hand 10 seconds x 3 sets with 1 minute rest in between
  • 2 hand crimp hangs 5 seconds x 3 sets with 2 minutes rest in between

On system holds or uniform holds:


  • 1 hand static hold open hand on large edges - 10 seconds x 3 sets
  • 1 hand static hold on underclings - 10 seconds x 3 sets
  • 1 hand static hold on pinches - 10 seconds x 3 sets
  • 1 hand static hold on small edges - 5 seconds x 3 sets
  • 2 hand lock off on large edges - 10 seconds x 3 sets
  • 2 hand lock off on underclings - 10 seconds x 3 sets
  • 2 hand lock off on pinches 10 seconds x 3 sets
  • 2 hand lock off on small edges - 5 seconds x 3 sets