Rock climbing

Wake up Washington | Off-season climbing training helped Wes Schweitzer’s strength and versatility

During his first two years in the NFL, Wes Schweitzer didn’t feel so good. He was a professional athlete, of course, but he had physical issues that he felt hindered his development. A Santa Cruz, Calif.-based trainer named Austin Einhorn has suggested an unusual remedy.

“I was one of the strongest people in the room, but I had a lot of injuries, hypertensive elbows,” Schweitzer said. “And he’s like, ‘hey, why don’t you try some climbing holes…and literally within five minutes I felt pain free afterwards. [being] in pain for months.”

Schweitzer was hooked. He hung out during the pandemic while still in Atlanta at a climbing gym and gained 15 pounds of muscle.

“It changed my game,” said the offensive lineman.

The benefits of his climbing workouts, suggests Schweitzer, were on full display last season when he was forced to step up for the team in a big way. Washington has been plagued by injuries, losing several players along the offensive line at various times throughout the season. Schweitzer had to replace Brandon Scherff at guard and Tyler Larsen at center.

The game Schweitzer played at center was the first he had ever started at that position, and Washington won. He took “a lot of pride” in the win where he excelled outside his comfort zone and credits that ability in part to his climbing training.

“Now I could play three places and feel strong and confident,” Schweitzer said. “So it had a huge impact on my career.”

Schweitzer found a lot of crossover in the skills required for escalation and those required in a good offensive lineman. As long as he’s an NFL player – and possibly for many years – you can find him on the wall.

“Grip strength, core strength, all around,” Schweitzer said of how rock climbing has helped him. “There’s so much going on in the offensive line game. I do that constantly [grip motion] all the time, it’s sport and climbing is that but in really hard positions. So there is a huge transfer. It’s amazing what it’s done for me.”