Make The Climb


We don’t always need a traditional gym to achieve our fitness goals.  The key to maintaining success with your fitness goals is to constantly adapt and push yourself to try new experiences.   There are many recreational activities that can be done outside the normal fitness routine that can provide a dynamic and fun challenge.  One of my personal favorite activities is indoor rock climbing and bouldering.

I was brought into the sport of indoor bouldering by one of my best friends just over 1 year ago, as it took a lot of convincing because I’m not usually a big fan of my feet being more than 3 or 4 feet off the ground.  I got into bouldering as it was usually climbing a lot lower to the ground than straight wall climbing, an idea I liked as well.  I feel less restricted while bouldering as you climb without a harness above a very thick cushioned mat that surrounds the bouldering area.  I feel slightly more “safe” even though I am still challenging myself to bend and move in many different directions and use my core in a way other exercises can’t replicate.  There is also an element of psychological stress from the fear of falling, which quickly subsides once you realize how cushioned the mat is.  Even so, I love the element of having little room for error.


AEROBIC AND ANAEROBIC BENEFITS

Bouldering and rock climbing provide an amazing workout that is truly unique and one of a kind.  There is quite the mix of aerobic and anaerobic capacity involved with the sport of climbing.  Studies have shown a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure due to the extensive use of isometric and eccentric contractions, especially the forearms and hands. [1]

Due to the constant change of position on the wall, the body is constantly adapting to provide energy to working muscles.  Studies have shown blood lactate levels post-climb of 1 minute between 3-6 mmol/l, depending on difficulty. [1]

As the climbing difficulty increases, the more the reliance on anaerobic glycolysis to provide energy to fatiguing muscles.  A good climber must have incredible endurance and strength to hold and propel his or her body through straight and sometimes inverted sections of wall, often performing multiple problems and routes.

Bouldering and rock climbing provide an incredible use of all limbs; it is an incredible task of motor control, balance, and coordination. The increased flexibility and core strength that comes from climbing has huge potential in positive transfer of skill to other types of sports and exercise.  Bouldering and rock climbing could also have therapeutic effects, and have the ability to help individuals with certain motor control disorders.

 

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Combine some climbing into your fitness routine and you will experience an increase in strength, endurance, and flexibility! [3]

GET UP AND CLIMB!


References

1. Sheel, A. W. (2004). Physiology of sport rock climbing. British Journal of Sports Medicine,38(3), 355-359. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2003.008169.  http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/38/3/355.short

2. Stephan Marianne Anke, Krattinger Sylvie, Pasquier Jérôme, et al., “Effect of Long-Term Climbing Training on Cerebellar Ataxia: A Case Series,” Rehabilitation Research and Practice, vol. 2011, Article ID 525879, 8 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/525879.  https://www.hindawi.com/journals/rerp/2011/525879/cta/

3. http://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/top-10-health-benefits-rock-climbing


Eric Zimmerman is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.