Rock climbing benefits go far beyond the obvious. When you train for rock climbing, not only will you be able to move up in climbing grades and send harder routes, but you will also, with a little bit of planning and guidance, get the ideal rock climber body. Rock climbing is a full-body sport, so many of the exercises related to training for rock climbing will tone your arms, core, and even legs. Coupled with proper nutrition, rock climbing will give you your best body in no time!
Climbing Strength Training
A lot of rock climbing ability is strongly correlated to pure strength. Being able to do pull-ups and pushups, for example, will certainly help you get to the top of a climb. Especially when a wall is overhung, your strength is the key to conquering big moves and powering to the top. Conveniently, the type of strength that you will need to gain for climbing will also help give you strong muscles and a good build.
It’s important to maintain a climbing strength training routine if you want to become a strong climber, and some of the following exercises could be useful to include in your training. Arm and back exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, bicep/ tricep curls, wide-lat pulldowns, and tricep dips will be extremely helpful for gaining climbing-specific strength. Additionally, exercises that help with explosive/dynamic strength, such as jumping rope, box jumps, and burpees, are also guaranteed to keep you in great physical form.
And don’t think that you’ll just make bicep gains in strength training for rock climbing! Leg strength is just as important, as high-steps and heel hooks require strong thighs, quads, and calves. Weighted squats, pistol squats, and calf raises can be great exercises for targeting the specific leg muscles that we climbers need, along with sculpting your lower half. Just remember to get guidance from a professional if this is your first time doing weight training, as performing the exercises incorrectly presents the risk of injury.
Rock Climbing Benefits – Toning
Spending hours in the climbing gym or out at the crag will help you to maintain low levels of body fat and keep a toned body composition. Doing laps on routes in the gym burns a ton of calories, as do the often physically demanding approach hikes to climbing areas, so your climbing habits are likely to be quite conducive to having a toned, fit body composition.
Aside from pure strength, it’s important for sport climbers to have a good level of aerobic fitness. Training endurance through cardio can be helpful when you’re trying to send a route at your limit, with little or no opportunity to rest, so it is important to include some sort of cardio routine into your rock climbing training, whether or not it be climbing specific. Cardio training will help you to keep your body fat levels low, so you’ll be able to see those toned muscles that are so important to your success as a climber.
Some examples of cardio that can help you as a sport rock climber are circuit training, interval training, running, biking, and swimming. Just note that doing too much cardio can possibly have negative benefits on your pure strength games, so it should be limited to just the right amount that you need to maintain your aerobic fitness levels and keep yourself looking fit.
Core Training for Rock Climbers
Climbing is a full-body sport, and it’s vital not just to have strong arms but also a strong core. Body tension is often required to keep yourself from falling off of a route, and this comes from having a strong, toned core. Core training for climbing will not only help you become a better climber, but also give you toned abs. There are endless exercises that can be helpful for your rock climbing, but a good rule of thumb is that the exercises should be high intensity rather than high repetition.
There is a lot of affordable exercise equipment that can be very useful for core training for climbing. Ab wheels, yoga balls, and medicine balls can give you dozens of exercises that will train you to become a better climber and perhaps give you a nice six-pack in the process.
However, if your gym doesn’t have some of this equipment, and you don’t want to invest in it yourself, there are plenty of bodyweight core exercises that will give you great abs and help with your rock climbing. Planks and plank variations can be extremely beneficial to your climbing abilities, as well as hanging leg raises and crunches.
Aside from physical training for climbing, an extremely important factor in becoming a better climber (and getting a better body in the process) is nutrition. You won’t see any progress in your climbing abilities or your physique if you are eating junk food all of the time. You also won’t be getting any stronger if you are not eating enough of the good, healthy food that gives you energy and promotes muscle growth.
A pretty good rule of thumb that will make nutrition planning effortless is just to eat real foods! Protein sources such as lean meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds will help you get stronger, and complex carbohydrates like whole grains (oats, rice, quinoa, etc.), potatoes, and fruit will keep you full and fuel your workouts and climbs.
It’s also important to be sure that you’re including sufficient amounts of fiber into your diet. Fiber helps to keep you full, which will ward off excessive snacking, and is crucial for someone who wants to see the physical results of their training. Getting fiber from plant-based food sources, such as beans, whole grains, nuts, and vegetables, is much more recommended than taking a fiber supplement.
Of course it’s fine to indulge every once in a while-you deserve an ice cream or a slice of cake after those long hours at the climbing gym! The key is balance, and maintaining a healthy diet will make all of your training pay off. Eating mainly natural, plant-based foods, along with being sure to include sufficient levels of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber into your diet, will ensure that all of your climbing training pays off, giving you your best body!
Your best body is a healthy body, so instead of focusing on results, focus on the process. The first step to getting your ideal body is loving the body that you have, so be sure to treat it with care, give it rest when needed, and be thankful that it allows you to do the thing that you love most-climb!