An Alternative Workout to Keep Your Body Guessing

By on July 28, 2013

Are you looking to add something to your workout arsenal that’s not only a full body workout, but also helps improve balance, flexibility and focus?

Rock Climbing is a sport in which the popularity has been growing immensely within the last decade. It used to be viewed as a sport with a lengthy learning process because you had to not only learn how to climb with a rope, but also how to pin the rope to the wall as a safeguard on the way up. Within recent years, bouldering, another form of rock climbing, has helped drive the popularity of the sport to new highs. Bouldering has helped push the sport forward because it focuses on short climbs, no more than 18 feet, and lasting about only 5 minutes a climb. With climbing gyms popping up all around, ease of access is allowing for this sport to now be seen as an exciting, affordable workout alternative.

Problem Solving with Bouldering

Rock Climbing WallThe goal in bouldering is to climb the rock wall using only the holdings marked by one specific colour; each colour represents a different level of difficulty. In other words, or should I say climbing lingo, this is considered “solving a problem”. Each problem on the wall is a different feat that you can attempt to solve, resulting in a great feeling of accomplishment that keeps people coming back for more. Problem solving has helped transform rock climbing into a more social sport because people can now problem solve within a group of climbers. Climbing gyms are also constantly changing the problems on their walls so being challenged is never an issue.

Benefits of Bouldering

Bouldering forces you to use your muscles in unconventional ways because the human body was not made to climb vertically. If we were, we would probably look like Orangutans. Compared to traditional weight training, where a lot of the movement is isolated, you get a total body workout with bouldering allowing you to burn up to 400 calories/hr. If you’re primary focus is weight lifting, bouldering would be a great way to cross-train and increase your ability to carry your body weight. This will not only help you when it comes to weight lifting, but can benefit you in all areas of sport. On every climb you engage your arms, back, shoulders, chest, legs, and core. How could anyone looking to get in shape turn that down?

Condition, Condition, Condition

If you’re just starting out or are already an avid climber, there are always exercises you can do to help you condition your skills and improve. Some exercises you could do to hone your climbing skills include:

  1. Plange Push-Ups
  2. Handstand Push-Ups
  3. Pull-Ups/Pull-Up Retractions
  4. Inverted Rows
  5. Plate Squeezes
  6. Plank Variations

All of these exercises will either help improve your ability to carry your own body weight by increasing muscle tone or will help strengthen your grip. Stretching prior to every climbing session will also make a tremendous difference and will help you avoid any injury. Remember, not all problems require strength. Some depend more on your flexibility, balance and focus, making this a complete sport that has something for everyone.

Gear Up!

The only gear I would consider a necessity are climbing shoes, which will help in the long run because renting shoes on every visit can add up. Not to mention, you don’t know how many bare, sweaty feet have been inside those rentals. Climbing shoes range anywhere from $79 – $160. If you plan on attempting some outdoor climbing, a chalk bag and some chalk would be items to add to the list. These are also inexpensive buys and can range from $15 – $30. All rock climbing equipment can be bought at any Mountain Equipment Co-op.


About Jermaine Montaut

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