A short guide for ambitious beginners
If you believe indoor climbing is just another paid attraction you can go to unprepared, jump on and have fun – think again! This is a challenging sport so better get ready before rushing headfirst into it.
- The warm up
My advice to everybody who wants to be safe on the climbing wall is to spend at least fifteen minutes on “dynamic stretching”; this is a complex of natural and simple exercises. Start with circular moves of your head so you can gently stretch the neck and then move down through the shoulders, elbows, wrists etc., all the way to the toes. After this, you will be ready for the specific climbing warm up. Do thirty or forty relaxed moves, using the easiest possible climbs or a traverse wall. This will gradually add pressure to your fingers, joints, muscles… increasing your performance while decreasing the possibility of an injury.
- Use climbing shoes
It sounds like a wacky advice… Duh! – it is a rule at most of the walls. However, you will be surprised to find out how many people are doing it in scrambling shoes or regular trainers. One of my favorite instructor’s phrases is “legs are the motor of your climbing.” Pulling the moves with your arms because of the poor feet support or slipping off the steps repeatedly will deplete your energy tanks and you will end up struggling. To stay away from disappointment just save up some money and buy yourselves a pair of beginner`s climbing shoes. Remember this is a crucial part of your starter kit.
- Keep it gradual
Now that you are ready, the shoes are on and the hands chalked up – it`s time for action! Be careful with your enthusiasm though. Selecting a few different easy routes with a variety of different moves and holds (full crimps, open crimps, pinches, slopers etc.) is a very good idea if not a must. By doing that patiently your body will be fully tuned and your chances of sending an intricate problem will grow significantly. Your tendons will get warm and ready, the brain will work faster together with the whole CNS (Central Nervous System) and you’ll experience better power endurance, strength, and mobility. This is exactly what you aim for.
Just be patient, okay?
- Try to climb technically
In case this advice does not appeal to you at all, just ask the instructors!
If you have at least a few climbing gym visits behind your back, you might know that you are supposed to climb with straight arms and transfer as much of the body weight to your feet. It is true! Don’t be a bulldozer, the big biceps won’t make you a good climber. I mean they help a bit but other things are more important in the beginning. Reaching the top of a certain problem brings a lot of satisfaction but if you invest time and effort in good technic, the joy of sending might become a common thing in your climbing life.
- The recovery
Resting makes champions! Aside from the good post training recovery, you’ll need a proper resting between the climbs. Please don’t act like a wild animal that jumps from problem to problem. The pause between the attempts is often the most important requirement for your success. Remember that and rest!
- Hydrate yourself
The human body consists of approximately 70% water. With an intensive stress for the tissues, the water content of your cells decreases significantly and that leads to a rapid drop in your physical performance. Mr. Bear Grylls for example is notorious with surviving long days in the wilderness drinking his own wee only but REMEMBER! – we don’t need to go that far. I’m sure you don’t visit the gym looking for disappointment – just drink some water… small sips during the whole session! The electrolytes intake isn’t a bad idea as well… a quality sport’s drink will do the job.
- Finish with some easy climbs
After a period of gradual increase, your systems work at levels that are close to their maximum. The abrupt stop will be a shock to your organism and won’t help your recovery and improvement for sure. Don’t be irrational – you aren’t lost out in the wild and do not need to test your bodies durability. Stick to the pyramid structure of your training session and relax gradually.
I am not going to lose your time on complicated theories. Flexibility will open doors to hard climbing. If you feel like your body will explode every time you step high, it might be time for stretching. Do it at the end of the session though you don’t want to stretch your cold muscles. Imagine a frozen rubber band, it isn’t very stretchy.
- Post-training recovery
It’s time to go home, but often after climbing, “home” will be the pub. Grab your beer at least forty minutes after the training. Meanwhile, having a portion of good food and rehydrating yourself seems like a reasonable thing to do. Consume some proteins and carbohydrates (more carbs than proteins). And water, water, water! Only this way your organism will recover back to its full potential.
After all the gym is a social hub and climbing is an endless topic. Don’t be self-sufficient, the lone ranger will improve much slower than the sociable one and he will be the last to learn about all the new features and achievements at the wall. Communication will help you overcome the difficulties and find many new friends.