Rock climbing uses all the body muscles, so before every session, you should properly warm them up to avoid injuries. In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know about climbing warm-up and bouldering warms up.
Exercise Number 1 – Blood Flow
For starters, it is important to get your blood flowing, which can be done by a 10-minute walk, jogging, or riding a bike. This way blood and oxygen will reach all the muscles and start to prepare them for your activity. Just make sure not to overdo yourself because it may lead to exhaustion and cut your energy short.
The second activity on your list is loosening up. As you stretch, your joints will lube up and your overall muscle performance level will increase, and these activities, also known as dynamic stretching, will be more than enough:
Exercise Number 2 – Head Rolls
Start with head rolls to warm up your neck, especially if you plan to climb a vertical rock which includes a lot of looking up, or if you go bouldering. Relax your head, put it forward, and roll it five times to the left, then five times to the right.
Exercise Number 3 – Windmills
Make your right arm straight, and start rotating slowly in a circular motion. After five circles forward, change direction and repeat five circles backward. Then turn to the left hand and repeat the drill. After that, put both of your arms straight and start with small but full circles, and increase the volume slowly while making sure it is still controlled.
Exercise Number 4 – Side Twist
Lie down on your back, with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Your hands should be on your stomach as you slowly rotate your upper body from right to the left. This won’t tire you off like a sit-up, but it will give your abdomen enough blood flow to warm you up. Once you repeat twisting from one side five times, take a small, one-minute break, and repeat in the opposite direction.
Exercise Number 5 – Lunges
While on your feet, keep your upper body straight as you step forward with one leg. Keep your foot on the floor and slowly lower your knee until it is only a few inches away from the ground. Move back to a standing position and repeat with your second leg. Do this drill five times with both legs.
Exercise Number 6 – Wrists
Skipping a wrist warm-up can prove to be quite a disaster, so pay special attention to your wrist mobility. This exercise is quite simple and it is performed in two steps:
- Bend your elbows, keep your wrists flexed.
- Move your elbow straight, extend it along with your wrist at the same time.
This way you’ll make your elbows and wrists mimic the climbing movements, so once you find yourself on the rock, it won’t be an issue.
Exercise Number 7 – Fingers
Many climbers ignore it, but warming your fingers is as equally important as all the other exercises listed here, especially if you plan to go crack climbing. Sometimes making a fist or holding your fingers firmly but straight is an essential movement for your climbing progress, and with these climbing warm-up drills for finger mobility, none of these should be a problem. Repeat the following sequence in this order:
- Step 1 – Keep your hand straight.
- Step 2 – Keep the knuckles in alignment with your wrist as you fold the tips of your fingers to create a so-called “hook fist”.
- Step 3 – Roll your fingers down to create a full fist.
- Step 4 – Press your fingers into the palm.
Exercise Number 8 – Climbing Pyramid
Although you have done all these drills, it doesn’t mean you should start with the heaviest climbing route available. Before your first climb, make sure to know all the climbing and bouldering rating systems and go with the easiest one for the starters. This is done to put all those muscles needed to climb to use and to prepare them for all the stress they are about to endure. If you’re a V5 boulderer, start with a V2 or V3 problems, while if you’re a 5.7 climber, your starting point should be 5.5 or 5.6, while the second warm-up climb should be just under your average grade, but again, close enough to your desired goal for the day.
Exercise Number 9 – Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks will get your blood going, that’s for sure, but don’t do more than 5 or 7. This is an optimal amount to warm you up without wasting your energy. These can be replaced with push-ups, squats, any common drill.
Exercise Number 10 – Resting
Remember, climbing success is directly connected to resting, and learning when to stop and give your body a chance to regenerate is most often a crucial point in fulfilling any imaginable climbing quest. During climbing warm-up, make sure to take a break after each exercise not shorter than 30 seconds, but not longer than one minute. This will give your body enough time to regain its energy so you can start over.
Once you start with your warm-up climbs and after you finish your first route, take 15 minutes to relax before you head back to the rock and start working on a new route. If you’re looking for bouldering warm-up suggestions, then 10 minutes should be enough.
However, be careful with resting to avoid your muscles getting cold which can eventually lead to an injury. And if you feel something’s not right, don’t play hero, call it a day and go home.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about climbing warm-up and bouldering warm-up:
Q: How should I warm up before rock climbing?
There are many different warm-up exercises you could do to get your body into an optimal position, and every single one of them is great as long as it falls under “dynamic warm-up”. The difference between static stretching and dynamic warm-up is in the fact that dynamic warm-up includes required movements, while static stretching is done by simply keeping the muscle stretched for some time.
Q: Should you stretch before climbing?
While you should avoid static stretching, a dynamic warm-up is essential. The vast majority of dynamic warm-up drills include a lot of stretching, so your muscles will be stretched while getting many additional different positive stuff that will keep your body in a good shape.
Q: How do you warm up your fingers before climbing?
By gradually moving them from their tops down, until you manage to make a solid full fist. Each of these finger position – flat hands, hook fist or a full fist have their purpose especially in finger crack climbing, and it takes no more than 10 repetitions and 5 minutes to get them in shape for any challenge.
Q: Why is it important for climbers to warm up correctly?
If you start climbing with your muscles cold you may end up causing too much stress which can possibly result in a broken muscle. Another possible negative consequence is your performance because cold muscles won’t allow you to get the maximum out of them.
Q: How do you warm up your wrists?
Stand up straight, keep your arms beside your body. Start with the right hand, easily circle it 10 times to one side and 10 to the other. Repeat with the left hand and both feet. This will give your wrists starting energy and oil them up enough to start.
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Warm-up drills are an essential part of every activity. Climbing is not an exception, so make sure you stay responsible to prevent any injury or possibly negative effects.