Warming Up for Rock Climbing at Home
When warming up for rock climbing at home, you need to be sure you understand best practices in order to stay healthy and get the most out of your session. Warming up is a crucial part of rock climbing as it increases your body temperature, blood flow, and range of motion which then reduces your risk of injury reduces soreness, and can even boost your performance. There are endless ways in which a climber can warm up, but we can still identify some stellar and less than stellar practices when it comes to warming up for rock climbing. Let’s go over four different warm-ups and see what works and what does not in each one.
10 easy boulder problems in 10 minutes, 1 per minute. The first five, climbed statically, the second five, climbed dynamically.
15 minutes of full-body stretching/yoga
10 minutes of rest
(45 minutes total)
The dream warm-up. This warm-up checks all of the boxes you need to get you ready for a stellar climbing session. When you begin with light cardio, you get your blood pumping and your body temperature rising, but don’t stress your muscles too much in the process. You then jump into some light but structured bouldering. By limiting your bouldering warm up to 10 problems (which you have likely picked out ahead of time) at a rate of 1 per minute, you never risk overexerting yourself too early. These climbs are also climbed statically and then dynamically to get your body used to different types of climbing movements in a controlled environment. You then set aside at least 15 minutes for stretching or yoga which will open up your range of motion and keep you loose. By setting aside enough time for stretches, you can ensure to hit your lower body as well as your upper body. Finally, you rest for 10 minutes. This rest ensures that you avoid any kind of flash pump when you get on the wall and allows for maximum muscle recovery from the light activity you just performed.
10 minutes jog/bike
10 minutes of light bouldering
15 minutes of stretching/yoga
(35 minutes total)
Okay, this warm-up is a bit more realistic and may look more familiar. This is a traditional warm-up that is certainly more than enough to get you ready for an at-home climbing session. This warm-up still includes 10 minutes of biking or jogging which is an ideal way to begin a warm-up. By performing 10 minutes of light bouldering, you do run the risk of overexertion because without a plan like the one above it can be easy to get carried away. Just be sure to rest after each climb and take it slow. This warm-up is also lacking a rest at its conclusion so when you begin your session, make sure you don’t jump straight onto your project or you may end up with a day-ending flash pump!
10 minutes of light bouldering
10 minutes of stretching
(20 minutes total)
We are getting more and more realistic. If we are being honest here, 20 minutes of warm-up is probably what many of us actually do. Any less than this and you will likely not be warmed up enough to climb your best. This warm-up forgoes the light cardio and the rest and also minimizes the stretching time. By skipping the jog or bike, you start off with your body temperature much lower than you would otherwise. So be sure that as you get on the wall cold you are extra careful and take stock of every movement. It is crucial, if you choose this warm-up, to make sure you stretch out from head to toe during those 10 minutes. Limiting stretch time, for many climbers, means skipping leg stretches. While climbing is an upper-body dependent sport, you would be surprised at how common hamstring and calf injuries are due to improper warm-ups. If you're feeling tweaky on that first heel hook, hop off the wall and stretch some more!
20 minutes of progressively difficult bouldering
5 minutes of stretching
(25 minutes total)
This warm-up is probably the most common climbing warm-up seen in climbing gyms and on at home walls. While it’s a bit longer than the previous warm-up, this warm-up has severely decreased stretch time and a high potential for overexertion. Climbers often think that if they start with easy problems and simply progress slowly they will warm up in the process. While this may be true for younger, less injury-prone athletes, many climbers are putting their body through too much stress by skipping crucial aspects of a warm-up. This warm-up may not lead directly to an injury on the spot, but it will certainly contribute to ongoing injuries and may even lead to future injuries as you weaken pulleys, joints, or muscles in the process. Be honest with yourself. If this sounds like you, try switching over to one of the warm-ups above and see how you feel after a couple of sessions.
We all know not to skip our warm-ups (even if we do so occasionally), but it can be difficult to identify best practices, especially when warming up at home. Be sure to start with light cardio, do not overexert yourself during your climbing warm-up, and give yourself ample time to stretch before you start trying hard!