Film: Warming up for climbing

Posted by Jon Garside on 20/07/2007

An effective warm up is essential for climbing: you will climb better and are less likely to sustain an injury. With no warm up, performance is compromised, fatigue comes quickly, and injuries are more likely. All together: Not Good!

A warm up doesn't take a long time and should contain three simple elements:

1. Aerobic activity.
This increases blood flow and literally warms you muscles. The easiest option may be jogging around the base of a crag or running on the spot. A quick wave of the arms does not count! Don’t stop until you feel warm and your heart and breathing rate have increased.

2. Loosening the joints. 
The important word here is gentle - were not talking extreme Yoga. You should rotate your arms, bend your elbows or wiggle your fingers before stretching them in any way. This stage is about mobilising the joints and may be combined with gentle stretching.

Stretches should be appropriate for the style of climbing. Slate climbing is slabby, often with high rock-overs requiring the hips and knees to be effectively mobilised. Steep limestone climbing uses the upper body to a great extent with the fingers, elbows and shoulders taking a lot of strain.

3. Start easy!
Not only does your body need to warm up physically, it needs to warm up mentally. Efficient climbing requires fluid movement, and this requires warming up both muscles and mind. An effective way to create fluidity in your climbing is to begin your session way below your limit. This continues stage two with continued gentle mobilisation and stretching, but also gets your mind and muscles working together.

WATCH BMC TV: Warming up for climbing

Watch this and more skills videos on BMC TV.

Consider an evening session at the climbing wall, which typically lasts between 2 to 3 hours. View the first third as your warm up, which will include the above stages with stage three being open ended: the first climbs are easy but you then start to increase the difficulty or volume. Once warmed up you can set your sights on what you hope to achieve.

Finally, whether your aim is to continually increase performance or climb at grades within your comfort zone, warming up should be seen as an integral part of your climbing.

The BMC warm up poster is available for FREE in the BMC shop.



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