Articles ยป Five Tips About The Undercling Climbing Hold

Five Tips About The Undercling Climbing Hold

An undercling is a climbing hold that can only be grabbed from below with the palm of your hand facing up.

Have you been climbing in the gym and thought that the hold you’re looking at was upside down for some reason? That may be the case, but there’s also a good chance that you’re staring at an undercling hold.

Beginner climbers are faced with tons of new types of climbing holds as they progress in the sport. But the undercling is just an upside down jug, one of the most common holds. Knowing that an undercling is just an upside down jug makes it a bit less scary.

How to Identify an Undercling

The easiest way to. identify an undercling is to look for a hold that looks like it is upside down. Since this hold can only be grabbed with your palm facing up, the hold will look like an upside down jug.

It kind of looks like a mini roof. You won’t be able to come down on top of the hold, but flip your hand over and you’ll have great pulling power on the hold.

If you ever come across a hold that looks like its upside down, it’s probably an undercling. They are actually a good grip once you get used to them. Do your best to get in the correct body position and it will be a great hold to use while climbing.

The Mandala is a famous climb that starts off an undercling. Many climbers stack pads so they can start on the undercling, but there is also a sit start and a start that starts just below the undercling.

Getting In Position For An Undercling

If the undercling is up high, you’ll need to dynamically step into it. Harder boulder problems are more likely to have a high undercling.

To get into it dynamically, find the highest and best foot hold that you can see. Raise your arm and try and get your fingers on the hold. Then in one movement, keep grabbing the hold and stand up.

Rotate your hand so your palm is facing up and maintain your grip while fighting gravity to stay on the wall.

Body Tension

Undercling climbing holds require us to not only grab the hold in a specific way, but also to get our arms, legs, and core in a tight and compact crunch.

When you undercling, you’ll push through your feet against the wall and at the same times pull on the hold with your arms and hands.

Notice in the above photo that the climber’s left hand is pulling up and against the hold while the left foot is pushing against the wall. These opposing forces create body tension and keep the climber on the wall.

Take a note at the angle created by the body. Keeping the feet high creates a near 45 degree angle where you can draw a lot of power from.

Foot Placement

Your feet are your greatest asset on a climb. And with underclings they can make a huge difference. If your standing on glass while trying to undercling, you’re going to have a very hard time. Different types of footholds are going to make or break the difficulty of an undercling.

Look for placements for your feet where you can stand confidently and you aren’t overextended.

How do I Train Undercling Strength?

The undercling puts a ton of strain on our biceps. When you grab a undercling hold, you are trying to curl an entire mountain. Doing curls (freestanding where your elbows are not supported by a bench) or pull ups can be a huge help for building endurance in your biceps.

Another helpful exercise is the deadlift. Deadlifts are helpful to train your posterior chain (calf, hamstring, glutes, and other spinal muscles) to push against the opposing force of the undercling. An undercling is pretty much you trying to deadlift the rock, so it makes sense to practice the move on the ground with less weight.

Tips for Undercling Rock Climbing Holds

  • Keep your heels down when smearing to maximize surface area contact with your shoe rubber on the rock
  • Find the best footholds to make it easier to balance
  • Take a break before reaching the undercling by reaching up high and using your thumbs to balance yourself

How Do I Prevent Pumping Out when Undercling Rock Climbing

The undercling is one of the most intensive movements in climbing. You will most likely be crunched up and engaging all of your muscles while performing the move. You probably won’t have your arms straight, your legs will be will be pushing as hard as they can against the wall, and your core will be engaged to keep your body tight.

The best way to rest is to get through the move as quickly as possible. The longer you stay fully engaged the faster you’ll get tired. Get to the next hold quickly and take a rest to recover.

If that isn’t feasible, look for alternative body positions. You could use one hand on the undercling while you chalk up and shake out with the other. Try and reshift your hips to a more comfortable position.

Adjusting your feet can make a big difference as well. Maybe there’s a larger foothold that you can edge on to give you a moment to stand and breathe.

Muscles Used in an Undercling

  • Posterior Chain (calf, hamstrings, glutes, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae)
  • Biceps
  • Core (transverse abdominis, multifidus, obliques)

Frequently Asked Questions

What does undercling mean in climbing?

In climbing, an undercling refers to a type of hold that can only be grabbed from the bottom.

How do I get better at underclings?

Climb more problems that have underclings set and get your feet as high as possible. This will help you keep your body tight and you will be using more of your leg muscles.

Photo of author
Rob developed ORB to help himself categorize and find all the outdoor gear he needed at great prices. He loves writing about the outdoors and climbing. Rob is a certified Single Pitch Instructor through the AMGA.

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