What most people think…
Are you just starting out on your journey as a rock climber? Or have been doing it for some time now? The first thing that comes to mind for most when we think about improvement as a climber, is gaining more strength. “If I was stronger, I’d be able to do that move!” I bet we all hear that line so often at the gym. While we agree with that proclamation to a certain degree, here’s 4 tips on how we think you can climb better as a rock climber.
1. Improving your range of mobility
Equally important to building strength as a climber, is your joint’s ability to move through its full range of motion. Often known as mobility, it requires correct muscle action on one side of the joint, and flexibility on the opposite side, to be considered full mobility. Particularly for rock climbers, the lack of hip mobility is one of the biggest factors which impedes a climber’s progress.
2. Focusing on your lower body movements
With most climbing training, we focus almost all our time and effort on the upper body. While it is definitely valuable as it is climbing specific, your lower body plays a big role in climbing and deserves attention! Working on lower body strength and mobility can enable you to use your large lower body muscles much more effectively when climbing. It will also help you tip-toe for long reaches without having your feet cut from the wall and be dead weight.
For example, good lower body mobility will enable you to high step both inside (in front of the body) and outside (to the side of the body), opening up new methods to climb!
According to Ned Feehally of Beastmaker.co.uk, a flexible lower body is very important as it allows you to put your feet exactly where they are needed (especially when you have a core like Bruce Lee) and apply maximum force on them. More weight on your feet means less weight on the arms, saving precious upper body strength for when you truly need it!
3. Training strength for the fingers and body
There is no sugar coating it, strength is a key component for hard rock climbing. If you aren’t strong enough for a climb, no amount of endurance is going to get you to the top. When it comes to climbing, we all know that finger strength is important! However, strength training for climbing should involve more than just the fingers as you are trying to move, not just hang on. Training total body strength will not only help you climb better, but it is also a great form of injury prevention. In other words, stronger more well-rounded climbers are just more durable.
4. Including non-climbing specific functional strength training
When we think of training for climbing, normally what comes to mind are exercises that are climbing specific like finger boarding and 4x4s. However, if we look at athletes from any other sports, they often incorporate functional strength training that is not sport-specific into their regime.
How do I get started to climb better as a rock climber?
Just climbing to improve at climbing can only take you so far. Without training your mobility and strength with specific and targeted exercises, it will be a much longer route to your climbing goals. Consider joining our Mobility for Bouldering (Fundamentals / Intermediate) and Strength for Bouldering (Fundamentals / Intermediate) classes to learn and apply the 4 tips to becoming a better rock climber.
Also, hopefully after this, you will be more aware of what it is that you are struggling on. Pause for a second, think about it, is it really just the lack of strength? Or is it something else? Ask our Boulder Movement Guides in the gym if you are stuck, we’re here to help!