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5 Ways to Improve your Climbing TODAY!

Another shot of Adam on Ten Digit Dialing

Good Morning!  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you’re going climbing.  Life is good.  You may have been training all winter in the hopes of sending, or maybe you haven’t climbed in a month.  Either way, this article will outline 5 strategies you can employ TODAY to climb your best.  (author’s note: I’m really not an expert at any of the below methods, I just want to point you in the right direction)

  1. Nutrition.  Eat a good meal 2-3 hours prior to climbing.  Try to get a balance of complex carbs, protein, and fat.  An example would be a yogurt with granola and some scrabbled eggs.  A little while before climbing (~30 minutes) consume some simpler carbs such as fruits or bread.  Some further reading on this topic can be found at this racing website.  I’m no expert in nutrition- this is mainly just from personal experience.
  2. Hydration.  Being properly hydrated in key to performing at your limit.  After only 15 minutes of heavy exercise (think “the approach”), the difference between an athlete who is hydrating, and one who is not is measurable.  I typically bring bottle of water, and a bottle of Gatorade out for a long day of climbing.  Some further information on hydration can be found at this biking website.
  3. Dynamic Stretching.  Stretching is great for injury prevention, and reducing muscle soreness, but it should be noted that static stretching can temporarily reduce muscle strength.  A better strategy is to do dynamic stretching (such as jumping, swinging arms, etc.) prior to climbing, and static stretching after climbing.
  4. Warming up.  Hop on a route 1.5-2 number grades easier prior to getting on your route.  Rest for 10 minutes, then hit up the project.  If you don’t think warming up help, test it out on a hangboard.  Do the same dead hang before and after a warmup- you’ll see the difference.
  5. Mental Preparations.  This can mean a number of things: Scope the route from the ground.  Find the rests, see where the crux is, etc.  Evaluate the danger of a route.  If the route is safe, allow yourself to climb as such.  Don’t worry about falling.

These techniques can be employed to improve your climbing today, use them wisely.  Post up your advise in the comments.-E

Jason Block - I know this is a little off topic but it could fit into your #3 and #4. I have been suffering with chronic finger injuries over the last year and wondered if you had any advice for prevention. I have read several sources saying that longer warm ups, individual finger stretches and icing after climbing can help but wanted to see if you had any advice.May 27, 2010 – 12:02 pm

Eli - Hey Jason,
I’ve been lucky enough to keep my fingers relatively healthy. The advice you read seems good. Here’s a couple other tips:
1. You can try massaging the fingers throughout the day. This increases the blood flow into the fingers and has helped a friend of mine.
2. Buddy tape. Tape the injured finger to an adjacent healthy finger. This ensures you won’t use the finger individually, and helps reduce some of the force you put on it.
3. Be careful. This may sound obvious, but seriously… Don’t put a weak finger into a finger pocket (if you can avoid it). Allow yourself to fall if your feet pop off, etc.

Hope this helps. Maybe check out Eric Horst’s Training for Climbing blog for additional info.
-EJune 1, 2010 – 12:33 pm

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