Here’s Why You HAVE To Warm Up For Bouldering

That is a nice boulder...


Cally Silberbauer |

Bouldering. A word that usually just makes me think of Donkey from Shrek.

But I’m getting to know this word on a whole new level with my #WHGetsFit winter fitness challenge. This year we stepped up the game. Our chosen training needs to scare us a little (or a lot). I decided that bouldering would definitely put me out of my comfort zone, so bring on the challenge.

Bloc11

Where better to train than the hub of bouldering just down the road from my work? Bloc11 is a dedicated bouldering gym that specialises in climbing and fitness. They were more than happy to help me out with some one-on-one training plus all the gear I would be needing.

I recently went for my first training session with the incredibly skilled climber, Tiffany Wells. She flies up the toughest routes making everything look easy and what’s more, graceful. I was a little intimidated after some insta stalking but after meeting this champ in person, I knew I had nothing to worry about. All of the staff at Bloc11 are super friendly and helpful. And being a clumsy, awkward human I need all the guidance I can get.

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Gravity Bowl….only 2 days away…. • Sho, so it seems like it’s that time of the year again… • When talk of Gravity Bowl 4 surfaced and all the prep work began I was initially uncertain whether I was going to participate in the competition again. Deep down, I am not that fond of competition climbing, I stress a lot, I don’t like the attention and my place is outside by myself or a few friends in the mountains and boulders. I train indoors to perform outside, and I avoid “comp style” boulders like the plague because I’m bad at them 🙊 • I then got sick for 6 weeks in a row and couldn’t climb properly and wrote off going to the Gravity Bowl in frustration about my health 😂🙈 • Then, about 2 weeks ago, when starting to feel better, I had the luck 🍀 of climbing with some of the awesome girls in our climbing community and training with them! I had so much fun projecting and working hard boulders together in the gym and generally just sharing psych and it made me want to share that same kinda psych with them again at the Gravity Bowl • So I have registered. I will be competing on Saturday and I am excited and kinda nervous. We have a really strong group of ladies and I think it’s going to get exciting and I hope I can keep up with all of them 😅 • This picture is from Gravity Bowl two years ago, where the planets aligned and i managed to win! 🙊 I still don’t actually believe that happened! • Thanks @lyczek for taking such epic shots of the Comps! @frictionlabs @vertigogear #bloc11 #gravitybowl #climbing_is_my_passion #climblikeagirl #girlswhoclimb #competitionclimbing #hopeidontdorkit #bouldering #capetown #southafrica

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Bouldering with Tiffany

First up, the warm-up. Yes, that’s right. You don’t just jump on the wall and start climbing as I had previously thought. Just like any other sport, you get your muscles warm and ready. The warm-up should always be dynamic.

READ MORE: Get Flexi With This Resistance Band Pilates Warm-Up

“Dynamic warm-ups are favourable over static warm-ups,” Tiffany begins. “Leave things like stretches for your warm down at the end of your session.” You need to warm up as opposed to cool down so do something that gets your heart rate up. “Like running on the spot, jumping jacks and burpees to start off the session,” she explains. “Bear walks and their different variations are always great ways to activate the whole body.”

“A local physiotherapist and climber, Jessie Workman, made a warm-up for climbing video and she has some great warm-ups that I include in my own repertoire,” Tiffany continues.

“Shoulders are incredibly intricate,” she adds. “and they work hard when bouldering.” Tiff likes to ensure that her shoulder are VERY warm before getting anywhere near the wall. “I use a Theraband (a very light one) and do shoulder warm-ups with that.” Warm-ups such as a band pass through, a rotator cuff warm-up and a scapula warm-up.

Fingers. These bad boys get ignored in most sports but they’re uber important in climbing. “They are not to be forgotten,” Tiffany stresses. “Using a bucket of rice to open up and move your hands works well. We have a bucket at Bloc11.” But you can also use that trusty Theraband to warm up the fingers as well. “Wrap it around the backs of your fingers and expand them.”

Risky business skipping the warm-up

That’s right, just like any other sport, skipping the warm-up can lead to injuries. And nasty ones at that. “Finger tendon injuries are common in climbing,” Tiffany begins. “They can happen if you don’t warm-up properly. Shoulder injuries [are a big one], because shoulders are so intricate and work hard they are injury prone. Rotator cuff injuries are probably the most common form of injury.”

READ MORE: How To Warm Up The Right Way

It’s not just the upper body that you need to worry about, ankles are in the firing line too.”The reality is, you fall on the mats when you can’t complete a climb and ankle rolls can happen,” Tiffany continues. “By making sure that your body is warm and that you down climb when possible, you can lower your chances of getting these kinds of injuries.”

Including antagonistic exercises in your routine can also prevent injuries, like this full body workout. 

Just another chick on the wall

Once the floor warm-up is done, you can head to the wall. “The best thing to do is start off slow and do a lot of very easy climbing within your ability to make sure your body is ready to climb harder,” Tiffany adds. “When I warm-up on the wall I like to up and down climb problems which are well within my ability.” No need to show off and hit the hard stuff.

“I then try and force some dynamic movement on easy problems with big holds,” she continues. “I slowly increase the difficulty of the problems I try. Remember, if you are going to down climb, make sure you are doing it in a very controlled way. You don’t want to be falling downwards on your muscles and tendons. You want to be progressing downwards as controlled as you did it upwards.”

Bloc11 have a free beginner class every Saturday at 10 am. Why not give it a try? 

READ MORE ON: Fitness Fitness Advice Fitness Challenge Rock Climbing