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Climbing Drills Exercises 2023

Climbing drills offer a broad range of pulling exercises to enhance soldiers’ upper-body strength and endurance.

  • These exercises equip soldiers to pull up and navigate onto and over various obstacles effectively.

Role of Spotters:

  • Spotters ensure the safety and success of soldiers during training, testing, and combat situations.
  • They step in when soldiers cannot complete five repetitions of exercises without help.

Climbing Drills (CL) Explained:


  • These drills strengthen the upper body and trunk, enabling soldiers to climb and tackle obstacles efficiently.

Key Components:

  • Both conditioning and technique determine success in climbing.
  • The entire body plays a role in climbing.
    • Soldiers use their hands and feet as anchors and to initiate movements.
    • Core muscles, such as the abdominal and back, stabilize the body.
    • Soldiers push and pull upwards with their arms, using their legs for added support.

Program Integration

  • Combining climbing drills with CDs, the push-up sit-up drill, the GD, and the strength training circuit provide a comprehensive program for functional strength development.

Training Sessions

  • Soldiers incorporate climbing drills during the activity segment of a PRT session.

Training Setup:


  • Climbing bars, as detailed in Appendix B, are ideal. 
  • For group sessions, provide one bar for every three soldiers.


  • Soldiers wear ACUs and boots, or IPFU. 
  • When performing CD 2 in the sustaining phase, they may also need body armor (IOTV), ACH, and weapons.

Equipment Details:

  • Climbing drills work best on climbing bars.
  • Specifications include:
    • Bars with an outside diameter of 1 ½-inch or less.
    • Support posts (6-by-6 inch, pressure-treated) anchored at least 3 feet deep and cemented.
    • A gap of at least 5 feet from one inside post to the other
    • Bars placed no higher than 8 feet off the ground, with various heights to suit all soldiers.
  • Figure 9-22 illustrates the recommended climbing bar setup. For in-depth construction details, refer to Appendix B.

Spotting Techniques:


  • Soldiers use two spotters for CL 1 and 2. Spotters:
    • Maintain precision and proper cadence.
    • Assist soldiers struggling with desired repetitions.


  • Soldiers in CL 1 and 2 must have spotters. 
  • However, if they can perform 5 repetitions of an exercise independently, they can signal “no spot needed.” 
  • As they build strength, they will need spotters less frequently.

Spotting the Straight-Arm Pull, Pull-Up, and Alternating Grip Pull-Up

Front Spotter Position and Role:

  • Assumes a staggered stance.
  • Keep your palms facing the exerciser, approximately at chest level.
  • Primarily supports the exerciser in case their grip fails.

Rear Spotter Position & Role:

  • Assumes a staggered stance.
  • Supports the soldier’s feet on their thighs or abdomen.
  • Place hands above the ankles for a secure grip.
  • Provides a stable base for the exerciser to push against with his legs.
  • You should not need to lift or move up and down with the exerciser.
  • Anticipates the last repetition, releasing the Soldier after the “down” command and before the “dismount” command.

Safety Protocol

  • Soldiers must use foot pegs when mounting and dismounting the bar to avoid spine and joint compression injuries from jumping.

Spotting the heel hook and leg tuck

Spotters’ Position and Role:

  • One spotter stands on each side of the exerciser, assuming a straddle stance.
  • The rear hand supports the small of the exerciser’s back to prevent swaying.
  • The forward hand, placed beneath the thigh above the back of the knee, helps lift the legs.

Safety Protocol

  • Again, soldiers must use foot pegs during mounting and dismounting. Jumping can cause injuries by compressing the spine and other body joints.

Climbing Pod Overview

  • Refer to Figure 9-22.

Formation and Organization

  • Each bar gets assigned three soldiers: one exercise, while the other two act as spotters.

Leadership in Climbing Drills (CLs)

  • Both a PRT leader and an Assistant Instructor (AI) are crucial for instructing and leading CLs.

PRT Leader Responsibilities:

  • Understand the teaching method for exercises.
  • Know the commands, counting cadence, cumulative count, and formations.
  • Use AIs, as described in Chapter 7.
  • Ensure spotters are well-trained and always maintain control of the exercising soldier.

General Recommendations for Soldiers:

  • Memorize the exercises both by name and movement.
  • Always follow the given cadence.
  • Rotate during each exercise until everyone has completed it before moving on to the next one.
  • Precision in performing each exercise is essential and might require extensive initial training.



  • Climbing drills are most effective when executed precisely as outlined.

Role of Spotters:

  • Ensure safety.
  • Aid soldiers who struggle or can’t execute five repetitions independently.
  • Stabilize body positions and limit swinging.
  • Are always present, even as soldiers become proficient.

Execution Guidelines:

  • Prioritize precision over quantity or speed.
  • Avoid jerky movements.
  • Refrain from relaxing in the extended hang position to prevent stress on the shoulder and elbow joints.
  • Always maintain a muscle contraction in the shoulders and upper back.


Sustaining Phase Goals:

  • Progress from 5 to 10 repetitions in CL 1 with or without assistance.
  • Achieve unassisted performance across all exercises.
  • In CL 2, introduce equipment loads like LBE/LBV, ACH, body armor (IOTV), and individual weapons.
  • Aim to complete exercises without spotter assistance.


  • Focus: The main goal of the CLs is functional strength enhancement.
  • Benefits of Equipment in CL 2: Helps Soldiers Adapt to Their Body Weights Under Various Loads
  • Complementary Drills: When combined with CDs, the push-up sit-up drill, the GD, and the strength training circuit, CLs form a comprehensive program for total body functional strength growth.


  • Structure: Climbing drills 1 and 2 include five 2-count exercises each.


  • Purpose: Various hand placements help train the arms, forearms, and hands effectively.
  • Overhand Grip: Place hands shoulder-width apart with thumbs wrapped around the bar.
  • Alternating Grips: Position hands next to each other, ensuring thumbs are around the bar.
    • See Figure 9-23 for a visual reference.

Figure 9-23. Hand positions

Climbing Drills:

George N.