Behind one of the biggest fitness trends in recent times is climbing, with indoor climbing leading the way. These days cities have not just one dedicated climbing gym but several, with fitness gyms and community centres getting in on the action and installing bouldering walls that are small in size but big in exercise potential. The beauty of indoor climbing is that any age and skill level can give it a go. You don’t need a huge amount of upper body strength to climb, the muscle and stamina will come if you stick with it.
Is indoor climbing better than going to a gym?
Quite often exercise machines isolate muscles too much and you end up neglecting smaller and related muscles and tendons. With indoor climbing you can’t escape the full body workout. The upper body, core and legs are all pushed to their limits. After your first climbing session you realise you have worked out a lot more muscles than you knew you had to begin with . Climbing gives a solid cardio workout with a heap of muscle building thrown in too. Factoring in the problem-solving component, improved balance and co-ordination and social benefits, going for a climb does way more for your body and mind than going to the gym.
“With indoor climbing you can’t escape the full body workout!”
Should you climb every day? How often is enough?
As with any heavy, strenuous activity, doing it every day will burn you out eventually. Even professional indoor climbers need a day or 2 rest each week. Going once a week will see your climbing improve slowly over time whereas we feel going 3 times a week will see you climbing to the top in no time. Climbing multiple times a week will also help rapidly increase grip strength and kick-start weight loss. It makes sense that hard core climbers are usually skinny!
Is climbing bad for fingers?
First time climbers often complain about finger joint pain and wonder if they are doing their digits any damage. It’s just your body letting you know you have never used those joints that way before. Its ok, there is no damage done, it’s all completely normal!
There are no muscles in the fingers only tendons and pulleys. Muscles in the forearms narrow into tendons in the fingers and attach by pulleys to the bone. Pulleys keep the tendons moving freely alongside the bone. Dynamic moves, crimps and finger holds are the most likely culprits to cause damage to the pulleys in the fingers of not only beginners but also experienced climbers. Climb within your limits and you have no problems.
Climbing and injury prevention
Climbing, like any other type of strenuous activity, needs a proper warm-up and stretching to prevent injuries. Similarly, when advanced climbers are seeking harder and longer climbs, training needs to done frequently and properly to increase performance and lower injury scenarios.
To stay injury free top climbers simply suggest listening to your body. Take the time to rest and let the body tell you if it is a painful injury or healthy fatigue. We recommend taking two days off after feeling pain/soreness to see how your body responds. Don’t use pain killers as they can mask an injury that will likely worsen as you push through the pain barrier – which is your body and brain telling you to slow down. Also, use a wide variety of grips, not only to reduce injury but increase climbing efficiency.
Don’t forget the mental benefits of climbing
Yes climbing is a full body workout but brainpower is needed to work out how to get to the top. Sometimes the quickest route needs trial and error to solve (or a mate watching you fail). Bouldering is all about pushing yourself and seeing where your limits are, so you can then exceed them. Falling is encouraged as you push yourself further than you thought possible.
People who have climbed for a while have less fear of failure and it’s well documented that climbing decrease depression as you train your brain and body to work together. Indoor climbing is best done with friends, helping problem solve, competing against and encouraging each other together. The social side of indoor climbing is great for forming tightly knitted friendships. This is the perfect solution for reducing stress and boredom at a time when mental illness is becoming more of an issue in society.