Climb Your Way to Fitness
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The view and a sense of accomplishment from a successful climb can be well worth the sweat and tears endured during that climb. These feelings of satisfaction will surpass your typical humdrum workout. But, before you can master the crags, you will need to prepare yourself to do so with the right exercises and equipment.
The Benefits of the Rock
Rock climbing puts your muscles under constant tension. This is unlike the resistance that lifting weights offers. Climbing both builds muscle and tones muscle, it also provides major cardiovascular conditioning. In addition, climbing helps increase your flexibility and nimbleness. As the weeks progress, youíll find yourself able to reach handholds that were seemingly impossible the prior week. The perfect foot position will become a less daunting chore as you find comfort while your hip-flexors rotate and pivot with ease. Virtually every muscle will be stretched during a climb. The more you climb, the better you will become and the more confident you will feel. You will find that these healthful benefits to climbing can transition into any other sport or activity in your life.
Prepare to Climb
Make sure you have allowed your muscles to heal and repair from any previous weight training sessions. This takes about 72 hours. A great place to start is in an indoor Bouldering room. Many climbing centers have such rooms and the floor is covered in crash mats. Harnesses are not usually required in Bouldering rooms. Always call the climbing center beforehand for the centerís rules, regulations and qualifications. If it interests you, talk to a staff member about completing basic qualifications. Prices can be very reasonable and the qualification times will vary.
Here are a few quick and simple exercises to loosen the muscles and open up mobility before you climb.
Alternate Sided Chin-Up
Rarely are all climbing routes directly straight overhead. Perform this exercise to mimic climbing across to one side. Hold the chin-up bar with palms facing forward with a wide grip. Hang from the bar and then pull yourself up towards your right hand. Pause, and then lower yourself back down to the starting position. Then pull yourself up towards your left hand, and again after a pause, lower yourself back down to the starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 6 reps to begin with and work yourself up from there.
Your arms naturally play an important role in climbing, but your legs will take the brunt of the strain. Understand that your arms will tire well before your legs do, so having strong legs is vital for when energy levels are running low. With feet a shoulderís width apart and grasping a 20lb weight to your chest, bend your knees so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Make sure that your feet stay firmly planted at all times. Pause at the bottom of the movement and then push yourself up extending your legs to the starting position. Aim for 4 sets of 8 and increase the weight upward as strength increases.
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