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Warming up is EVERYTHING!

Submitted by admin on 2002-04-22

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We all want to climb at the maximum of our ability. But every now and then, we forget that for our bodies to respond to the physical exertion of high level climbing, it needs to be primed and ready to go. Kind of like priming the motor on a mower. So how do we do this without wasting all our energy before the climb? Iíll explain.

1st PUMP:
I think we have all experienced at one time or another, when we jump on our first climb on arrival to the crag/gym, we find that by the end, the forearms are burning, and you feel, well, buggered. This is the traditional ĎFirst Pumpí.

The first part of the warm-up routine is to get this first pump out of the way. Most people believe that you should try your test piece first off, when youíre fresh. Mistake #1. Your ĎFirst Pumpí occurs when your cranking on your test piece, and more often than not, you fail to climb it. So when you arrive at the crag/gym, take about 5 minutes to traverse at the base of the cliff/wall. Do this until you feel the first pump coming on. STOP! You donít want the pump to hit fully. Now, take off your shoes and chalk bag, sit down, and rest for a minute. After a small drink, and the sweat is wiped off, you are ready to begin the stretching routine.

Stretching is the most important part of the whole warm-up/warm-down process. **Remember, for all major muscles (legs, arms, groin, shoulders, back) the stretches should be held for about 45 seconds.**

Begin by sitting down, putting the soles of your feet together, and bring them in towards you luggage (sorry, no better way to describe it). Now, hold your feet, and press your elbows against your knees towards the ground. Hold. If it hurts a lot, back it off a little, but remember, hold for about 45 seconds.

Next, lay one leg out in front; bring the other in towards you luggage (sorry again :P) Lean forward as far as you can, and hold. After 45 seconds, switch legs.

Now for the forearms and hands. Lean forward on you knees with your feet under you bum. Lay your hands palm down, wrist facing out. Keep your arms as straight as possible, and lean back slowly until you can feel the stretch. Hold. Now place the other side of your hands on the ground, wrists out, and lean back again. Hold. [page]

To stretch your back, lay with your back flat against the ground, bring your knees up together, and let the down to one side. Try to keep your shoulder blades touching the ground. You should feel the stretch. Move your knees over to the other side, and continue the stretch.

The shoulders are the final stretch. Raise your arm above your head, and grab the elbow with the other arm. Now pull across the top of your head. Swap arms and do the same. Now put one arm right across the front of your chest, keep it straight, and pull it towards you with the other arm. Swap arms and do the same.


All up, it should only take about 10-15 minutes from start to finish. Just shake out all the limbs, and you should be set to take on anything. The main purpose of the stretching is to prepare your muscles for the intense workout to come. If you climb on cold, unprepared muscles, not only is it going to affect you ability to climb harder, longer, but it is also going to increase the risk of injury. And we donít want that now do we.

Basically, the warm-down is intended to relieve your muscles of the stress thatís has been put on them for the last X amount of time. You will also find, that in the morning, you will be able to get out of bed relatively pain free.

To warm-down, just follow the routine as described for warming up. Just take it easy though. You will find that you will not be able to stretch as far as before. But thatís fine.

Another good habit to get into is stretching before bed every night. Not all the stretches, but select 3-4 that you think you need to improve on. Plus, it will help with good flexibility.

Follow this routine every time before and after climbing, and you will see yourself improving be leaps and bounds.


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3 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

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5 out of 5 stars very good tried the warm up feeling good and ready to climb thanks mate
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5 out of 5 stars good article
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For me warming up seems to correlate with fewer pulled/sore muscles. However, I've done some research into stretching for my running and the studies I've seen suggest that static stretching actually reduces your muscle activation. I assume this applies to the upper body also.

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