Close this search box.

Kneebar Climbing: How to Do it Properly

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links. These cost nothing to you and help support our site.

Spread the love


With so many different techniques and moves to learn when you start climbing, it can be easy to forget to take a rest, both in learning and while climbing. Learning how to properly rest while climbing is truly an underrated skill that will help take your climbing to the next level. One of the most energy-efficient rest positions is the kneebar.

In this article, we’ll be about kneebar climbing and how it works. What does kneebar climbing mean, and how can you use a kneebar to effectively rest while climbing? Don’t let this underrated skill be forgotten while learning how to climb!

Kneebar Climbing: What Is ItKneebar Climbing: What Is It?

Figuring out how to kneebar can seem like a challenge at first, especially if you’re trying to force a kneebar into a route that doesn’t have one. However, once you find a route with a natural kneebar space, you’ll begin to see the benefit of using a kneebar as a rest position.

A kneebar is a great rest position in climbing that can allow you to take some pressure off your hands and arms and instead utilize the force between your foot and your thigh just above your knee to keep you stationary. Finding a good spot on the wall or rock-to-kneebar is essential to the success of this move.

Preparing for Kneebar Climbing TechniquePreparing for Kneebar Climbing Technique

Figuring out how to rest one part of your body, your arms, while engaging another part of your body, your calves can be challenging for many climbers. Ensuring that your calves, ankles, and knees are in good condition and warmed up can be the difference between getting hurt during a kneebar and resting during a kneebar.

Another way to help set yourself up for success when getting ready to kneebar is to think about what you are wearing and what parts of your body will be creating the friction. If you are wearing shorts, keep in mind that your bare skin will create friction that opposes your climbing shoe. Although pants can be slippery, sometimes they do offer more protection for your thigh.

To prevent injuries to the thigh, many climbers choose to wear a kneebar pad to protect the skin. This isn’t necessary, especially when you’re just starting out, but depending on the rock you’re climbing on can make knee-barring a much more comfortable experience.

How to Kneebar: Step-by-Step GuideHow to Kneebar: Step-by-Step Guide

There are a lot of different ways that you can kneebar. Ultimately a kneebar is simply pressure between your foot and another part of your leg, keeping you on the wall. That being said, here is a basic step-by-step guide to kneebar climbing and how it works.

1. Find a good location for a kneebar.

Finding a good spot for the kneebar is key to a successful one. Some climbs just don’t have a good spot to practice kneebarring; however, if the climb you are on does have a spot that your body fits in well to create the opposing pressure points needed to kneebar, you are in luck.

Trying to force a location to work for a kneebar if it isn’t the right fit for your body can cause kneebar injuries or prevent you from resting effectively. A kneebar really is just a rest position and should only be used when the proper location can be found. Otherwise, other rest positions should be used.

2.  Get your foot comfortable.

The first point of contact you have with the rock when getting into a kneebar position is your foot. Making sure that your foot is comfortable and stable and has good contact with the rock is essential to your success.

If you find that your foot can’t get a good grip, perhaps a kneebar is not best for that location. Make sure that the sole of your climbing shoe is clean and has no dirt or debris on it before you start climbing to ensure the best friction between your shoe and the rock both while climbing and during rests.

3.  Wedge your leg into the kneebar to create opposing pressure points.

Now it’s time to create those opposing pressure points! Some climbers like to use a climbing kneebar pad to protect the top of their thigh directly above their knee cap, where most people put the pressure when doing a kneebar, but you don’t have to if you don’t have one or don’t want to. Simply place your leg into a position that creates opposing pressure points between your foot and your knee.

Opposing pressure, like that used in stemming, is a great way to hold yourself on the wall while using minimal effort and exerting minimal energy. This is why a kneebar is such a great resting position because the pressure points allow you to rest while exerting very little energy.

Kneebar Techniques for Various Climbing RoutesKneebar Techniques for Various Climbing Routes

In general, the technique you use to kneebar for one route will be the same as the one you use for the next route. Of course, if you are planning on climbing a specific route, you can look online or in guidebooks or talk to local experts to see if you should expect to use a kneebar on that particular climb.

For example, on Adam Ondra’s route, Silence, he utilizes a kneebar as a no-handed rest. Anybody looking to repeat Silence will likely also use a kneebar in this bouldery crux in the middle of the climb.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by REEL ROCK (@reelrock)

Ondra is known for using kneebars throughout much of his climbing. If you are looking for kneebar inspiration, look no further than Adam Ondra!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Adam Ondra (@adam.ondra)

If the rock is big enough to allow both your feet and both your knees, you can even do a kneebar using both legs. This creates even more friction and allows you to fully rest both of your arms, although getting in and out of this position can be tricky.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Climbing Porn (@climbingprn)

Kneebar vs. Dropknee

At first, it can be hard to figure out all the terms and jargon in climbing since there are so many. Two terms that sound similar but mean completely different things are kneebar and drop knee. This article is focused on kneebars, but it’s worth defining both, so you know the difference.

While a kneebar is an effective resting position using the opposing pressure between your feet and knee to hold you on the wall, a dropknee is a move used most commonly in indoor climbing. It is a movement in climbing and not a rest position. In a dropknee move, the climber turns their hip into the wall and drops the knee closer to the wall to create stability.

Unlike in a kneebar, where your knee is part of what’s keeping you on the wall, in a drop knee, your knee never takes any weight or pressure away from your feet. It is most common in indoor climbing, although climbers can use it anywhere.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ̌ ̌̌ (@urska.repusic)

This video features an incredible drop knee near the end, really showing the shifting of the hip towards the wall as the knee drops.

Wrapping Things Up: Kneebar Climbing

Ultimately, a kneebar is not complicated, but it is useful. Understanding how to create two opposing pressure points between your knee and foot will give you so many more places to rest on your longer climbs. Don’t take rests for granted, and start practicing your kneebars now!

Readers of this post also read...

How to Build a Trad Climbing Rack

How to Build a Trad Climbing Rack

Reaching the point in your climbing career where you have gotten committed to trad climbing and want to build your own rack can be super exciting but also pretty daunting. A trad rack is a...

Read More
A Guide to Climbing the Amalfi Coast

A Guide to Climbing the Amalfi Coast

Looking for a breathtaking climbing destination? Look no further than the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Known for its views, food, and drink, the Amalfi Coast is a stellar vacation location that is surrounded by stunning...

Read More
5 Best Climbing Supplements

5 Best Climbing Supplements

Like any other physical activity, rock climbing takes a toll on your body. As climbers want to improve their abilities more and more, they will likely start looking for ways to help their body support...

Read More