Rock climbing is a strenuous sport, and it can put a lot of force on your muscles. If you don’t care for your muscles correctly, you run the risk of injuring yourself while climbing. One of the best ways to minimize your risk of injury while climbing is to establish a good warm-up routine. This will help your body prepare for climbing and get the blood flowing.
Why is it Important to Warm Up Before Climbing?
It’s important to warm up before doing any physical activity, so warming up for climbing is super important. Warming up before you climb can help get your muscles warm and minimize your risk of getting injured. Cold muscles are much more likely to tear and rip, while a properly warmed up muscle will have more stretch, thus helping prevent injuries and helping you climb better overall.
How Do You Warm Up Your Fingers Before Climbing?
Climbers rely on their fingers more than most other athletes, so it’s important to dedicate some time out of your warm-up routine to your fingers. While this can be done just by getting your fingers moving, this is a great place to start to incorporate workout bands into your warm-up routine. Placing your fingertips on the edge of the band and opening and closing your fingers is a great way to get the blood flowing.
If you don’t have exercise bands, you could also use a tennis ball and just squeeze and release. Any type of motion that offers some resistance to opening and closing your fingers, but doesn’t put a strain on them is great. The perk of using a band is that you can tailor the amount of resistance based on what band you use.
Some climbers like to use a short hangboard routine to finish out their warm-up routine, just to make sure that their fingers are fully warmed up. If you want to use a hangboard as part of your warm-up, just make sure that your fingers are slightly warmed up before you start, so you don’t pull a muscle warming up. Remember that using a hangboard does put strain on your fingers though, so if this is your first time doing any real finger stretches or workouts, maybe think about saving the hangboard for training and not warming up.
How Do You Warm Up Your Forearms Before Climbing?
Doing windmills with your arms or any other dynamic arm movement that will get the blood flowing through your forearms is a great way to start warming up. Stretching out your forearms slightly will help prevent you from getting pumped out too fast and can also be used to help minimize the pump in your forearms between climbs.
How Do You Warm Up Your Wrists Before Climbing?
Doing some simple wrist exercises such as drawing circles in the air first counter-clockwise and then clockwise is the best way to begin warming your wrists up. This gets the blood flowing and lightly stretches the muscles on all sides of your wrists.
If you want to give your wrists a bigger stretch, you can place your palms on the ground in front of you with the heels of your hands facing away from you and push down through your wrists. This is a great way to finish your warm-up as it stretches your forearms and wrists. This stretch can also be used between climbs to help minimize the pumped feeling in your forearms.
Should You Warm Up Differently for Bouldering vs. Sport or Lead?
This all depends on your body and how your body responds to your warm-up routine, but, in general, it is a good idea to adjust your warm-ups based on what activity you will be doing. A warm-up for bouldering is likely to be more cardio-based to help get your blood flowing since bouldering tends to have more strength-based moves and many moves that can pull a muscle if you are not well warmed up.
Warming up for lead climbing is as much about warming up your body as it is about warming up your mind and getting in the right headspace. It is often best to do a simple and slow warm-up, especially since many lead climbing areas outdoors have an approach that will have already gotten your blood flowing well. Try to do a climb or two below your limit before you start pushing the grad when lead climbing. This can help you finish warming up your body before you push it too hard as well as start getting you in the right headspace.
There is no precise way to warm up for sport climbing since sport climbs vary greatly. Some sport climbs may need more of a bouldering style cardio warm-up, while others may need more slow and controlled stretching to help warm up. It’s important to understand your body since everyone’s body is different and will respond to different warm-ups and stretches differently.
How to Know When You’re Warmed Up?
You know that feeling you sometimes wake up with? Like one part of your body just isn’t quite moving right? That’s the feeling you want to avoid when climbing. Make sure you warm up your body until every part of your body feels loose and able to move well.
The more you establish a solid warm-up routine, the better you will be at understanding your body and how to tell when it is warmed up. The first few times you warm up, you may not quite know when your body is warmed up, but with time you will figure out when your body is telling you that it’s warmed up.
A good way to tell if your body is fully warmed up and ready to start climbing is when every joint feels loose and easy to move. You shouldn’t feel tired yet, though, since that won’t help you climb better at all. Over time you’ll get better at telling when your body is fully warmed up and ready to start climbing.
How to Warm Up for Climbing Like a Pro?
Pro climbers use a variety of tried and true warm-up techniques, including yoga, dynamic stretching, and cardio. Different people like different styles of warming up and tend to use different methods for different styles of climbs. Often times, when climbing outdoors, you can use the approach to the climb as your cardio warm-up. The main goal of the cardio part of a good warm-up is to just get the blood flowing and the heart pumping a little more than your average resting rate. This increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your muscles.
Many climbers use yoga or aspects of yoga to both aid in training and help them warm up. A common practice is to do a few sun salutations or other simple yoga sequence as part of your warm-up and cool-down routines. Yoga can help climbers develop better flexibility and better mobility of joints. This can allow you to reach farther than you would normally, so incorporating yoga into your climbing routine in some small way can be super beneficial.
The best way to warm up your body for climbing is to use a variety of dynamic stretches. This includes head rolls and windmills, but could also include any motion that moves and stretches a limb or part of your body. This helps stretch the muscles gently but also helps get the joints moving and lubricated before you start climbing.
After a good warm-up routine, you should allow yourself about 10 minutes to rest before you start climbing. This is usually the time it takes someone to get their harness and shoes on and get their rope and gear all situated, which is super convenient. Just make sure that you don’t wait too long after your warm-up to start climbing, or your muscles will go cold, and you will feel the pump in your forearms much faster.
Another great way to help warm up your body is to start with a few climbs that are under your limit. This applies to top-rope climbing, bouldering, sport climbing, and trad climbing. It doesn’t matter what style of climbing you’re doing, and it’s a good idea to start with a few easy warm-up routes. This helps your muscles warm-up but also starts to get your mind warmed up and thinking about the moves.
You could also use some body movement games or drills to help warm up your muscles and get your blood flowing. If you know of any short dance-like moves, these are an ideal way to get the blood flowing in a more exciting way.
Most of these stretches and moves can also be applied at the end of your climbing day to help your body cool down. Cooling down can help your body relax and minimize the soreness your muscles will feel later. Make sure you do at least a few static or dynamic stretches at the end of your climb.
Helpful Videos for Climbing Warm-Up
Many professional climbers have made videos that talk about their warm-up routine. If you want to develop your own warm-up routine, we recommend watching a few of these climbers videos and creating your own routine.
Shauna Coxsey’s Warm-up
Shauna is a professional climber, and she does a great job of explaining some of the main moves that she uses in her warm-up routine. She uses a workout band to help her, so if you have one that you would like to use, this is a great video to watch.
Yoga Warm-up for Climbing
Epic TV makes great videos for all types of activities. This video is a little on the longer side but takes you through a simple set of yoga moves to help warm your body up for climbing
BD Athlete’s Warm-up
This is a warm-up routine designed by a physical therapist and BD climbing athlete. They try to make warming up for climbing less of a hassle and more approachable.
A dynamic movement to use for a warm-up
This is another video by Epic TV, but this one focuses on the use of dynamic movements in your warm-up routine. Dynamic movements and stretches are a great way to make your warm-up routine more exciting.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Warm Up Before Climbing
There are so many ways that you can warm up for climbing, but it’s important to understand your body and to create a routine that works for you. The more time you spend trying to read and interpret your body, the better you will be able to craft a warm-up and cool-down routine that your body will respond well to.
Remember that everybody is different and responds differently to moves, so what works for your climbing partner, might not be the routine for you. It’ll take time, but figure out how to understand your body. Knowing when your body is warmed up and ready to climb can help you prevent injuries and keep climbing more.
Did you find this helpful? Then also check out our other climbing tips here.