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Most climbers don’t leave it at that to climb up a climbing wall in the gym every now and then well secured. Almost everyone who has been infected by the climbing virus wants to go higher. In order to become a really good climber, you should constantly look for new challenges and train daily. It’s not enough if you can master the more difficult routes in the climbing gym around the corner. It is not enough for a good climber to know every stone in the climbing area where he is every Saturday.
The fact is that the more often you choose the same ascent or the same climbing wall, the more boredom or routine will spread. Your movement repertoire always remains the same. You know all the processes and every move in your sleep. You also feel too secure and may become careless. In order to make technical and physical progress, you have to choose a new route after reaching a set goal. You have to constantly broaden your horizon as a climber to learn new difficulties with appropriate techniques. Without targeted climbing training and the challenge of new routes, you will not become a variable, experienced and complete climber.
The Most Important Climbing Rule: The Right Warm-Up
Anyone who immediately goes on the climbing wall has already done it wrong. Without sufficiently long stretched and warmed muscles no sport should be practiced. Regardless of whether you are climbing indoors or outdoors: Warming up is a sacred duty. Slightly flexible and stretched muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as lubricated joints not only help you to climb. They also prevent you from sustaining avoidable injuries. Above all, finger and foot training should be expanded and taken seriously.
You can train your fingers and hands with stress balls* or a special hand trainer*. In addition to a more general warming up and stretching of the musculature – for example through yoga exercises or a round of Chi Gong – you should also always follow exercises that are specially designed for climbing.
In addition to the hands, the feet play a special role in climbing. In reality, however, the feet of climbers are usually given little attention. That’s absurd, because they will carry you up a wall – and by the way through your whole life. You still squeeze them into too tight climbing shoes and maltreat them in every conceivable way – for example by placing them incorrectly on the rock ridge and thereby slipping off more easily. Your hands and arms are less strained and need less strength if you have trained your feet and toes regularly. They will thank you by doing what you ask them to do.
The correct foot technique is a decisive factor in mastering a difficult climb well. Sufficiently trained and stretchy leg muscles also make it easier for you to take positions in which you have to spread one leg far to take the next step. This should be done consciously.
Advanced Training After Warm-Up
Special finger training for climbing fans is possible with the fingerboard* and similar training aids. But finger training on a device is only a conditional help. The best training for the fingers is to simply climb. On the other hand, finger exercises and hand training are indispensable. In normal everyday life, your hands and fingers are not confronted with the challenges of climbing.
Advanced climbing fans can use a fingerboard for training. It is also known as a training board. By the way, many experts consider this to be one of the most efficient training devices for climbers. To use it, you should already have done some finger and hand training. In this case, you can try to do pull-ups or hanging exercises on different holds to strengthen your fingers and hands. The finger and hand training should be gradually increased – because too much one-sided training is rather harmful than useful.
Another aid for the preparatory climbing training is the so-called Campusboard. The upper arms and fingers, in particular, can be trained with this training tool. According to legend, this training classic was developed in the eighties by Wolfgang Güllich at the Campus Fitness Studio in Nuremberg – hence the name Campusboard. This plate, which offers an overhang inclined up to 20 degrees, is fastened with bars for hanging. YOu can also build your own Campusboard with Campus Rungs*. Beginners should rather avoid the campus board. It requires some pre-training and is therefore only suitable for advanced climbers.
In addition to a campus board, there is often also a plug-in board or pegboard as a training aid. This is a large perforated plate with numerous circular holes drilled at regular intervals. The holes can be filled with movable wooden plugs or pegs according to individual training preferences. You can use it to pull yourself up or train your feet and hands at the same time. If you live in an apartment in an old building with high stucco ceilings, you have a clear advantage as a trainee with your own pegboard.
The Pegboard – formerly also known as a pinboard – provides a good upper arm workout. The exercise on this training board is that you have to climb it. The trick is that there are only two wooden pegs. This automatically means that you have to position one of them laterally or higher in a new hole, while you hang on the other peg with the other arm. This puts maximum strain on the shoulder region. Without training the shoulder and arm muscles in advance, it therefore hurts a lot.
Gymnastic Exercises Can Also Be Useful
The training of gymnasts can also provide an excellent foundation for certain skills. Rings and sling trainers are also only for climbers who already have some practice. Beginners are overwhelmed by this – unless they had already been good gymnasts and had trained their muscles accordingly. The training on rings or the sling training are for the body tension and the strength in the upper body wonderful helpers. Sore muscles are guaranteed during training on the rings. Arms and upper body are required to a maximum.
With the Sling-Trainer not only the upper body and the arms are loaded but also the legs. It is ideal if you can work with a trainer who pays attention to the correct posture and your respective training level, so you can avoid injuries and overexertion. Such training sessions can best be carried out in a gym. A much more cost-intensive alternative would be a personal trainer. If the trainer is also familiar with the special technical requirements of climbing – all the better.
Why is Body Tension so Important for Climbers?
In the previous section it was mentioned for the first time that in addition to muscle building and strength training, body tension must also be integrated into the training program. Without any body tension, you’d be like a wet bag hanging in a climbing wall. Body tension means that you are charged with tension from crown to sole. The tension in your body helps you to the next step and to the next grip.
In order to improve your body’s tension, training on the rings is as good as exercises that strengthen the trunk and shoulder muscles.
The best way to train body tension is to do intensive training with your own body. I’m talking about bodyweight training. It largely does not require any equipment. If necessary, you can use tables, stools and chairs. First you start with a simple exercise – and if you can repeat it four or six times, you can go on to the next exercise. However, the holding exercises should be repeated up to ten times. The sequence of the training exercises is not decisive. Rather, it is important that you are concentrated during training, that you pay attention to your body tension and that you have fun accepting this challenge. Overstraining is not a good training result, because you have to pause. It’s obvious that you’ll soon lose the fun of it or hurt yourself more often during training because your muscles are sore.
A simple handstand against a wall is a good introduction to body tension. The increase is to omit the support on the wall. A further increase is possible if you try to walk a few meters in the handstand.
For the next training progress, you can then slowly lower yourself with your arms and push yourself up again. With it, you can train your arm muscles excellently. It’s all called handstand push up. By the way, many yoga exercises are also a wonderful training in terms of body tension.
Bouldering is also a Good Workout
Most climbing fans do not have their own climbing wall on which they can train their technique, muscle power or certain movements. Nevertheless, boulder walls are an ideal training location. But a system wall does too. Basically, it’s a campus board, where you not only use your arms but also practice with your feet.
With a suitable climbing holds set* you can create your own Moonboard. This offers a perfect training location due to a 40 degree inclination – for example in an attic room – and individually equipped step blocks. However, this requires a room height of 3.15 metres.
The individual perforated panels, a set with handles and a thick mat can be obtained in specialist shops or online. Alternatively, a complete do-it-yourself kit is also available. The costs for the grips are between 39 and 395 Euros, depending on the number and degree of difficulty. The matching panel, however, already costs 1,699 euros. For a complete set with wall, mat and power grips you would have to invest almost 10.000 Euro. That’s quite a lot of money. Therefore the climbing walls in a boulder hall are more recommendable – unless you wanted to become one of the best climbers in Europe.
Climbing Training Should Not Lead to Overloading
Advanced climbers who handle their training sessions responsibly know the term “antagonist training”. This balancing training is regarded as indispensable in the context of any climbing training. The purpose of these somewhat annoying but nevertheless necessary training sessions is to reduce the risk of injury. The risks of injury result from incorrect posture or overload. These usually do not remain without consequences.
The hunchback, which can be seen on many climbers, is a good example. Such postures become a habit. They need to be trained specifically. This is why you have to do antagonist training.
Granted: It is not very popular among climbers. But you should not neglect this important workout. Because every muscle you use in climbing has an opponent. For example, the biceps and triceps work alternately as players and opponents.
However, when climbing, some muscles are strained more frequently than others. Climbers often forget to involve their muscular opponents in their training – and this weakens them. This, in turn, favors strains, compressions, overstretching or acidification. You can’t be interested in being absent for weeks because of this lack of training and having to watch others climbing while sitting there with an injury. Therefore you should take antagonist training seriously. Important are components such as:
- Work on the stability of the shoulders
- Exercises for the rotator cuff together with the surrounding muscles
- Exercises concerning adductors
- Training for the so-called trapezius muscle
- Back exercises against the hunchback
- Exercises concerning the finger and wrist extensors
- Exercises that work against tennis elbow
- stabilizing exercises for the leg joints, especially the knee
- or relieving training of the leg backs.
Those who now stand helpless before these remarks will find here is a good guide for exercises that can be used as antagonist training.
Is Training in Climbing Really Everything?
No, of course not. But it is a great deal of what you want to do with increasing enthusiasm. Later, the more often you hang on a climbing wall, the better trained you are. The climbing itself is then your training. But before you get there, you have to adjust your body to climbing.
If you skip all this and start climbing without sufficient training, you will probably regret it. Or you don’t even get it because you crash fatally for lack of training. This can even happen to an experienced climber in a climbing gym.
Sufficiently trained climbers also have situations in which they suddenly couldn’t go on due to too much waste of energy or were stuck somewhere for technical reasons. In such cases, only a cool head can help. Also, the awareness that you are trained enough to come up with something helps. Those who have deliberately not gone beyond their physical limits can often still mobilize reserves and free themselves from the predicament with an exertion based on training.
In addition to training the muscles, the technical aspect of climbing should not be underestimated. If your muscles are sufficiently stretched and well trained, and you have enough strength at your disposal, you can also take care of the aesthetic aspect and the fine-tuning of climbing. By the way, it is quite a hindrance to putting on mountains of muscle. These are sometimes useful. However, they usually prove to be obstructive ballast. Muscle mountains do enable strength acts and pull-ups. But they don’t provide the elegance of climbing that makes an experienced climber look as light-footed as a mountain goat on a steep slope.
The more difficult the route you have chosen, the more you should pay attention to your technique and possible signs of fatigue. There’s a nice rule you can remember: If you need a sense of achievement, then look for climbing routes that suit you and suit your current ability. However, if you want to gradually become a better climber, look for more difficult or unknown routes that offer new challenges. The levels of difficulty by which climbing routes are judged are, however, very relative. You can’t rely on them to 100%.
You should be able to assess your physical and technical weaknesses and strengths in order to choose a suitable climbing route. If you don’t train well enough or are daring enough, you shouldn’t take it so hard. There comes a time when you will tackle and complete this stretch. The valuable learning effect of failure is that you have now understood exactly where you need to train and what you still need for this course. Doggedness on the climbing wall is not the right way to avoid failure. Under coercion nothing usually goes at all – until the accident.
Recognizing Limits – and Training Further
A clear head is the most important thing for the climbing experience. Even without that wall, you’re someone to admire for your skills and prudence. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. The wall may put you in your place – and that’s a good thing.
Yesterday’s success is no longer relevant the day after. When climbing, only the shape of the day counts. It may be that you manage a hard route on Monday and can’t complete the same route on Wednesday. So what? Maybe you ate bad, maybe your climbing shoes were too tight. Maybe you have too many cuts on your hands, slept worse or there were other reasons for this difference in the result. Maybe your tendons and ligaments haven’t regenerated long enough. In contrast to the muscles, which need only a few days of regeneration time, ligaments, tendons or joints need much longer. Often weeks. Often months. Sometimes even years.
Just keep training and climb the wall you failed at another time with new energy. The more experience you have in climbing and the better trained you are, the more you know about your limits. You can stretch them to a tolerable level with sufficient experience without having to be afraid. You can assess your reserves of strength, your energy level and your dexterity correctly over time.
But all beginnings are difficult. In the beginning it just needs a lot of training and an ever more frequent trying out of what is already possible. One element that you will need and should therefore also train is your concentration. Whether you practice meditation daily or integrate other concentration exercises into your free time, if you concentrate on one climbing wall and think about the next step while being flexible enough to think about another step, you will become a good climber.
Attention: You have to take care of your safety when climbing! The information on climbtheearth.com only helps you to learn. Before you climb, you should make sure that you have been properly instructed by an expert and that you follow all safety precautions.
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