Sunday, 23 August 2009

Warm Up Tips for Young Climbers

Hi guys, Recently I have been very impressed to see that many of the BRYCS kids have been making the effort to come in and put some additional training in away from the club. This is awsome, as climbing more than 1 day a week is only gonna help your over all development as climbers. Just thought I would use this forum to offer some basic tips on training that might help you on your way to rock stardom.


This is the single most important thing to get right with your training, as failure to do it correctly may result in poor performance, longer recovery time between sessions or even worse injury! Remember kiddies if you can touch your toes, how are you gonna tie your rock boots up? Just ask Billy boy, he has been forced to climb in slippers for years coz he didn't stretch as kiddie!

Warming up is not something you should rush, it takes me between 25 and 30 minutes to warm up properly before I train. I ease my self in gently and concentrate on slowly getting my body and brain prepared for what it is going to be doing when I climb. Coming in and jumping straight on to a steep boulder is a bad plan of action and may result in your head exploding (OK that's a bit of an fib, but it could result in strained fingers or other climbing related injuries).

Three important stages of warming up;
1. Cardio Vascular- Before you do anything, you have to raise your heart rate. It is important that you get the blood pumping round you muscles and also warm up your body. You don't have to run a half marathon, but running round the arena a few times or running up and down the stairs a few times would be a good idea.

2. Climbing Specific- This stage should involve super easy climbing and it serves the purpose of warming up all of the exact climbing muscles you are gonna be using. It also gets your brain working and ready to climb. The key is to ensure that the climbing you do here is super EASY. Traversing the bottom of the lead or top rope wall is a perfect way to do this. Another good tip is to concentrate on your technique and footwork during this stage. Thinking hard about transferring your weight over footholds and being very precise with your feet. If you start a session concentrating on climbing well, then you are more likely to continue this throughout the rest of your session.

3. Flexibility - Basic mobility exercises are the third and final part of the 3 main warm up stages. You all know lots of good climbing related warm up exercises. Think about every different part of your body you use to climb and do an exercise for it. Include exercises like arm swings, leg kicks, jumping and hopping on the spot etc. These will help warm up your joints and muscles through a full range of movements.

These stages are written in this order for a reason. You should try and avoid stretching or working flexibility before you have raised your heart rate or carried out some easy climbing. Stretching when your muscles/joints are still cold increases chance of hurting yourself when you are doing it. Finally, you have to note that the warm up doesn't stop there! you have to then gradually ease yourself into routes or bouldering. Don't just jump straight on a 7a or a grade 6 boulder problem. Start on a 4+ then work up to your 7a attempt.

WARMING DOWN is just as important as warming up, but it doesn't take quite as long. I spend 5 minutes doing easy boulder problems, traversing or very easy routes. I then finish off carrying out a full stretching routine. Making the effort to warm down will help your body wind down after a session and will speed up the time it takes your muscles to recover after a session. Remember guys flexibility is a huge part of being a top climber, so stretching is an important part of your training! The warm down is the perfect time to focus on this!

Hope this helps and keep up the hard work guys!

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