Rock climbing is a sport that will not only develop your physical strength, but also your mental strength, and will improve your flexibility, balance, and coordination. Like some other sports there is a meditative quality about it. This can be felt while climbing indoor, but it is even more present while climbing outdoor, close to nature. Quite a lot of the climbers I know have very stressful jobs, and find that climbing help them to relax from their highly stressful profession.
The NHS has also published an article on their own website regarding the health benefits of rock climbing. More info HERE.
When you climb you set yourself new challenges all the time. I guess that for someone who has never climbed, going up a wall looks like a crazy challenge. The fact is that climbing is easier than we think, and if you set yourself the right challenges, it is also very rewarding.
I think Nathalie Duran explains it very well in her video attached below :
Rock Climbing is one of the best total body workouts available. It’s a unique sport in that boys and girls are equally capable. A common misconception is that climbing requires an already strong upper body. This idea often discourages girls from participating. An effective rock climber is one who understands that much of climbing is related to technique, balance and leg strength.
No matter how strong your upper body currently is, there is a grade you can start at and work from. The motion of climbing works every part of you. From your fingers and forearms as you grip the rock or climbing hold, your abs and core as you lift your legs into position then your whole body as you propel yourself up with your legs and pull up with on your arms.
Climbing develops lean, endurance muscles (the same muscles used by marathon runners). It strengthens core muscles better than exercise routines designed to focus on that particular region. The core stabilizes the body, and leads to a stronger, less injury prone body. Climbing strengthens your hands and forearms, biceps, shoulders, neck, traps, upper back, lats, lower back, abs, glutes, thighs and calves. Your entire body, including cardiovascular systems, benefits from rock climbing.
Rock Climbing complements and boosts performance in other sports too. Climbing assists by further developing the primary muscles needed for the sport, as well as the secondary muscles which benefit it, but which are not adequately developed in the practice of it. Just a few examples of sports rock climbing will help with:
- Rugby – Hand strength for grip on the ball. Flexibility leads to less strain injuries.
- Racquet or bat sports like Tennis, Squash or Cricket – Hand strength for holding onto the bat. Arms for a mean smash. Agility.
- Soccer – Builds upper body and core. Agility.
- Running and Cycling – Build upper body, flexibility
Some teachers have commented that they have noticed many more instances of low muscle tone in kids nowadays than there used to be. This is because our lifestyle simply is not what it used to be. Whether you blame technology, property developers or fear of crime, the fact remains that our kids are not as active as they should be.
Humans learn to climb before we even walk, pulling ourselves up to get a higher view (or Mom’s special ornament on the table). Our natural human instinct is to climb anything we can hold onto. That is, until it’s scolded out of us. This instinct ought to be heartily encouraged, instead of discouraged. The outlet of a climbing wall will benefit the kids in so many ways. Kids don’t think about boring things like learning & exercising. They want to have FUN and release energy. In a controlled environment they’ll learn how to productively channel their youthful energy.
Each climbing route is like a puzzle, which takes patience and planning, forcing the climber to make decisions as one gets to a spot and strategizes where to go from there. Climbing requires for you to make spot decisions as you go, commit and follow through. Your ability to assess a problem, look for a solution, and then execute a plan is required. Beginners typically decide their route hold by hold, not looking ahead to see the larger picture in front of them. Soon one begins to visualize a route before grabbing the first hold. With practice, the climber is able to see the entire route in his mind, building his problem solving and planning abilities.
Goal setting is a natural development in rock climbing. If you are familiar with a climbing wall you would be aware that it contains several hand and foot holds (also called Grips) creating a route for your climb. Each route has a difficulty rating usually attributed to the size of the holds and the complexity of the path. Once you’ve accomplished a route that’s your highest grade level, the bar is automatically raised. You’ll set your sights on the next grade up, or that epic route you previously peeled on. Sometimes you’ll need to work that route for some time before finally sticking it. The practice of keeping track of those projects and fitness goals helps goal setting become a habit.
Having a plan is only the first step though. Once a strategy has been determined, it must be implemented to be successful. This is another benefit of rock climbing. You develop the concentration and determination to follow through with your plan.
As you can see, the skills developed in Rock Climbing lend themselves to all areas of life. Nearly everything worth achieving in life requires drive, planning and execution.
For many, one of the most beneficial aspects of climbing is stress relief. The climbing wall takes your all and in return, takes it all off your shoulders. When you’re climbing, you are concentrating on your body movements, and the goal of the summit. The real world drifts away, leaving you and gravity to duke it out. After a rigorous climbing session your endorphins are peaked and you can get back to life with a clear head. A climbing training wall at home or work is perfect for those go getters with busy, stressful lifestyles that want to live a healthy life.
The sense of achievement gained by reaching the summit is second to none. Whether it’s a route you have just on-sighted, or one you have been working, outdoor or indoor, you’ll find yourself somewhat changed every time. By achieving something which once seemed impossible, it forces the climber to realize their true abilities versus their perceived abilities, increasing confidence. When put into perspective of what has already been accomplished, anything seems possible.
Although the practice of Rock Climbing is essentially you vs. yourself, it can still be regarded as a team sport, because you’re never alone (or should not be). You’ll either be climbing with a group of friends, school mates, colleagues or family. Learning to put your trust in the person holding your rope fosters relationships pretty quickly. Bouldering is shorter climbing without a rope, but still requires a spotter to guide the climber to the landing mat safely.
The different roles one plays when climbing, build character and leadership skills. Every climber will get the chance to be the student and learn from others, then the teacher sharing that knowledge. One minute they’ll be the climber being supported by others encouragement or advice, then they’ll turn around and be the belayer or part of the encouraging group. The climbing community is one where every achievement is celebrated.
Communication between the climber and belayer is paramount to climbing safely. The safety system consists of a series of commands or statements and recognition statements, used to inform each other of one’s status in relation to the rope and climb.(Eg. Climber to Belayer: “Slack” for more rope when climbing up, “Take” to pull rope tight and hold.) . Speaking clearly and listening attentively come naturally when your life depends on it.
Friendship has got to be one of the best, yet unexpected advantages of becoming part of the rock climbing community. I personally count some of the people I have climbed with, from the school clubs, mountains, backyard climbing walls and indoor climbing gyms, as truly great friends.