Rock climbing is already a complex sport in itself, so why train more than just climbing time? Well, it’s because you can get additional strength and endurance gains by doing a variety of physical activities. We’ve explained before that flexibility is an integral part of climbing, but now your core strength takes center stage.
Why the core?
The core is the center of your body and needs to be fully engaged when climbing to ensure you are using your energy most efficiently. A strong core means more stability and less stress on the rest of your body. When you only use your arms when pulling up, you are not using your back muscles, which is actually the key to successful climbing. In high stepping movements, if you only use your legs and don’t tighten your core, you’re missing out on a lot of extra power. A strong core also requires better campus board performance. It’s easier to face the overhang because your weight is tightened at the center (but still harder than a non-supersuspension wall). As with most other sports, you will always hear that the core is the most important part of the body. The same is true for climbing. It is the source of all strength. Arms or legs can be strong too, but never as strong as the core. The volume and mass simply cannot be matched. That said, if you don’t know what to train, train the core. It always works.
How often should you train your core?
2-3 times a week is ideal, but it really depends on your level. Beginners may choose to familiarize themselves with climbing and technique first, while advanced and intermediate individuals can make the most progress by training for non-climbing activities. They want to get stronger so they can tackle harder bouldering problems and higher-grade routes. For beginners, improving technique and climbing efficiency is the best way to go. If you have a structure in place during training, it is usually good to do core work immediately after climbing because you are too tired to use your arms/fingers anymore, but the core still needs more time.
Train with a partner
Climbing is a very social sport and the tight-knit community encourages people to get better and stronger. When you’re feeling lazier than usual, you can make your protective partner your workout partner too – it’s actually more fun! Surviving a 2-minute plank isn’t as scary because you’re next to another person. Your partner can make sure you practice with proper technique, which we usually overlook, especially if there are no mirrors (almost never in climbing gyms, dust) . A partner may come in handy when stretching because having someone present can push you not only mentally, but physically as well – some stretches can be done farther when someone pushes your back to go lower or farther.
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