Hello fellow climbers! Today I wanted to talk about the importance of warming up, how to properly warm up, and what exercises I use in my own warm up to give you an idea of where to begin. There is also a video on this topic on our youtube page, just click here if you would like to watch the video! This blog post is meant to elaborate on the topic and give you a bit more information. Let's get started!
Why Warm Up?
There are many reasons as to why you should engage in some sort of warm up before physical activity including; increased mobility, injury prevention, increased muscle performance, and increased mental performance. As you engage in light physical activity, your blood flow increases and your muscle temperature starts to rise. The rise in muscle temperature increases muscle elasticity and allows the muscles to contract faster and relax quicker, reducing the risk of injury and increasing performance.
During your warm up you can also focus on finer details in your movement and technique that you might not be able to notice during higher intensity climbs. For example, while climbing easier routes you can focus more on how hard you are pushing with your feet, how much weight you are taking off your arms, if your arms are straight, if you are over gripping, if your breathing is slow and controlled, and if you are relaxed or tense? These are all things you should be paying attention to and correcting during your warm up. The warm up is designed to not only prime the muscles for the demand, but to also prime the mind. You need both to execute at your highest potential.
Using this simple technique of body awareness while warming up will make a big difference in your climbing.
Where Do I Start?
A warm up doesn't have to be complex. It can be very simple. The main points you have to remember when choosing warm up exercises are as follow;
1. Elevate your heart rate slightly by doing a light cardio exercise like jumping jacks, or burpees.
2. Engage in some form of joint mobility movements and light muscle stretching to loosen up both the muscles and joints. Tight muscles increases your chances of getting injured. Yes, even tight forearms can increase the chances of a finger injury.
3. Start on easy climbs and focus on having perfect technique and movement. Use the most energy efficient methods during the climb and be aware of your body. This will be weird at first, but with time it will feel natural and will pay off in the long run.
That's it! If you hit these three points then your warm up is complete. Of course there are many different exercises you can use to accomplish this and there are many things to focus on with technique, so I will include a basic version of my warm up next. This will give you an idea of how I lay out my warm up. Feel free to remove and add your own exercises and drills to suit your needs.
My Warm Up
I generally do an exercise until it feels warm, but I never static stretch a cold muscle and I never hold static stretches for longer than 10 seconds. We are going to dynamically stretch first and then statically stretch. We are also going to resist stretching super deep, we aren't trying to stretch as far as we possibly can, we just want the muscle to be loose and elastic. If you stretch too far you can injure yourself and that defeats the purpose.
The warm up (Click here for the video)
Jumping jacks (60 sec)
Small arm circles (30 sec forward and 30 sec backward)
Medium arm circles (30 sec forward and 30 sec backwards)
Large arm circles (30 sec forward and 30 sec backwards)
Dynamic arm swinging (side to side for 30 sec and up and down for 30 sec)
External rotations with bands (20 reps per side)
Hurdler hamstring stretch (10 seconds per side)
Glute stretch (10 sec per side)
Tuck stretch (10 sec per side)
Butterfly stretch (10 sec)
Chest against wall stretch with straight arm (10 sec per side)
Chest against wall stretch with bent arm (10 sec per side)
Overhead reach against wall (10 sec per side)
Cross body shoulder stretch (10 sec per side)
Overhead triceps stretch (10 sec per side)
Forearm stretch, wrist right side up and pulling backwards (10 sec per side)
Forearm stretch, wrist right side up and pulling down (10 sec per side)
Forearm stretch, wrist upside down and pulling down (10 sec per side)
Dynamic forearm stretch (50 or more reps, until slightly pumped)
Wall Warm Up
That's it for the off wall warm up and now we can go into warming up on the wall. We are going to start with really easy climbs, something way below your max grade level, and work our way up to progressively harder climbs.
While you are climbing your easiest routes is the time to focus on technique and movement. Here are a few things you should focus on correcting and making as perfect as possible while warming up and progressing to harder climbs. Pick two or three per session and work on making them automatic until you move on to other ones.
1. Focus on placing your foot as silent as possible (Silent foot drill.)
2. Place your foot once and don't readjust.
3. Put as much pressure on your feet as possible to remove weight from your arms. Focus on keeping consistent pressure through the movement.
4. Try not to cut feet, practice keeping tension through your whole body for every move.
5. Try not to over grip, reduce your grip until you are applying just enough pressure to stay on the wall. Stop at each hand hold and adjust pressure as necessary (you will probably slide off a few times, this is good.)
6. Breath. Take deep controlled breaths. Try not to hold your breath.
7. Focus on using the best technique for the move (drop knee, heel hook, toe hook, open hips, lock off, twist, etc.)
8. Be aware of your body and the movement. Try and analyze how things feel, am I moving fluidly or are my movements stiff and jerky? Am I shaky or calm?
This is a great place to start. If you can perfect all 8 of these you will be well on your way to becoming a much stronger climber. A little technique and awareness goes a long way!
I hope these warm up tips and exercises helped you understand the importance of a proper warm up and will give you an idea of where to start to improve your climbing! I am very excited to share this information that I have gathered over the years and if there is anything you would like to add or if you have a question please don't hesitate to leave a comment. We are always stoked to hear from our readers.
Thank you for reading and happy sending!
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