Warming up before you start climbing is a great way to ensure that your muscles don’t get pumped prematurely and decrease your risk of injury. If you are trying to figure out what to do as a warmup, you’ll find 5 great ways to warm up your entire body (climbing is a full-body workout) below.
What Makes A Good Warm-Up
Sometimes climbers are afraid that if they put to much effort into a warm-up, they won’t have the strength or energy to climb as hard. However, as long as you make your warm-up intensity low enough that you still have strength and energy, while also getting your entire body warm (your muscles should feel literally warm) then the benefits of warming up will be more than the risk you take when you don’t warm up.
The length of your warm-up is based on intensity. If you have a more intense warm-up, then it doesn’t have to be as long. If you are at-all familliar with HITT workouts, then you are already familiar with this practice.
For everyone that would rather be climbing than doing a warm-up, a more intense warm-up that is short and effective, like 5-10 minutes can be accomplished.
The following is a 5-10 minute warmup that can help you get the benefits of warming up while minimizing the time it takes to do it.
Pushups: 1-2 Minutes
Since climbing uses your upper body muscles extensively, pushups are a great way to get your blood flowing to that region (not to mention it gets your heart racing, which pumps blood throughout the entire body).
The trick with using pushups as a warm-up is to figure out the sweet spot on the amount and intensity that you need personally to make pushups a great warm-up.
Many climbers recommend that you do a certain number of pushups but since everyone has a different level of strength, they require a different amount of pushups. For example, if you can only do 5 pushups on your toes, any regimen recommending you do 15 pushups isn’t a good regimen for you.
To counter this issue, set a certain time limit and do as many pushups in that time limit as possible. The trick is that you have a timer that is visible so you can take a break if needed and then fit in as many pushups throughout that time.
As for intensity, try doing different types of pushups such as a wide stance and narrow stance or place one hand on an elevated item such as a medicine ball while the other hand is on the ground. Here are 30 push up variations that I found as helpful
Jump Rope: 1-2 Minutes
One of the main goals of a warmup is to get your blood pumping to all of your extremities. The more blood you have pumping through your limbs, the less likely you will prematurely get pumped while climbing. Jumping rope is a great way to do that.
Jumping rope has been known to be good for your legs and core. Since climbing is an anaerobic exercise, jump rope has also been known as a way for climbers to get an aerobic exercise so even if you don’t jump rope to warm-up, consider adding jump rope to your workout routine throughout the week.
Consider trying different ways of jumping rope. For example, you can hop up and down with both your feet at the same time or you can alternate what feet you use. As you can see in the video below, there is more than one way to jump rope so find some variation that you like.
Please note that jump rope isn’t as easy as it looks. It will take time for you to be able to jump rope continuously.
Arm and Leg Circles: 1-2 Minutes
Your shoulders and hips need full rotation and mobility to make moves in climbing. A great way to ensure that you don’t damage anything while you climb is warming up your joints. You can warm up your shoulder joints by making big and small circles with your arms. For your hips, since you can’t do a 360 with your hip joint so swinging your leg back and forth as well as side to side to exercise the entire range of hip motion.
In addition to warming up the joints, arm and leg “circles” can help you with dynamic stretching, which is a great way to ensure your muscles are properly extended and ready to compress.
Wrist and Finger Stretching: 1-2 Minutes
Wrist and finger stretches are probably silly looking for the non-climber but for the climbers that will be around you when you warm up, they’ll probably know exactly what you are doing. Tendon flexors injuries are among the most common injuries for climbers. In addition, tendon injuries can take you away from climbing for more than six weeks so it is especially important to warm them up and help prevent injury.
You can stretch and work your finger and wrist tendons by flexing your wrist and fingers up and down. Some familiar stretches include prayer pose or even flicking your wrist.
Climb 3 Grades Lower: 1-2 Minutes
Now that you have warmed up your entire body including your lower and uper body and tendons, it is time to warm your body up to the rigor that is required in making different movements for climbing. These movements also include technique brushup.
By brushing up on technique during your warm-up, you are more likely to have technique in mind while you are climbing. So not only does this warm-up prepare you physically for climbing but it also prepares you mentally for climbing.
Find a couple of climbs that are significantly easier than the level you are climbing so it takes minimal physical effort and allows you to focus on technique. Again, this is about intensity, not reps so do as much climbing as you can in 1-2 min.