Doing the same type of workout day-in and day-out can get dull and discouraging for even the most dedicated person. If you are looking to add a little variety to your upper body routine or train grip strength, I strongly recommend you give rock climbing a try. It is a great way to work the upper body, grip strength, build confidence, meet amazing people and see a variety of beautiful places!
Rock climbing will work your forearms, lats, triceps, biceps, abdominals, quads, shoulders, and hands. It also requires a lot of balance and concentration so you will improve your core and mind. You will leave the rocks feeling sore in muscles you didn’t even know existed and you will want that feeling again! While obstacle racing, rock climbing has given me the strength and skill to master the traverse wall, the rope climb, the 12 foot walls and the Tyrolean traverse.
Indoor VS Outdoor Options
You can rock climb outside or at an indoor climbing gym. Indoor rock climbing gyms are a great way to get started. Many gyms offer classes, family programs, and are open early in the morning to late at night; making it easy to get your workout in. Gyms often have additional fitness equipment such as weights, treadmills, or yoga classes. They’re ideal places to learn because the environment is much safer. Many outdoor sports stores such as REI, or Eastern Mountain Sports lead outdoor introductory rock climbing classes and provide all the gear and safety instruction you need.
There are many fascinating outdoor places to climb including Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park, the Australian Blue Mountains, Joshua Tree National Park, the New York Gunks, the beaches of Thailand, and Indian Creek Utah; just to name a few. It’s also important to note rock climbers are friendly and encouraging people who are usually happy to help each other out - on or off the rock.
Sport Climbing & Bouldering
There are many different types of rock climbing – all requiring different setups, support and equipment. In a gym, the ropes will already be set up. It’s easy to walk right up to the wall and start climbing. However, when climbing outdoors you will need to bring and setup your own rope and other materials in order to sport climb. Sport climbing involves a rope, harness, and belayer. This climb takes place on rocks over 20 feet high. Belaying is the act of securing the rope for the climber and hence sport climbing requires a partnership between two people. Belaying takes less than an hour to learn and is very safe when done properly.
Bouldering is a second type of rockclimbing that is done on shorter rock walls or boulders. Believe it or not, this type of rock climbing is done without ropes. The boulderer usually brings with them a “crash pad” which is a mattress like pad that they place at the bottom of the rock in case they fall. Bouldering is often shorter but more difficult than sport climbing and is a great way to get a fast workout and test your mind.
Rock climbing is wonderful for people of all ages. Children really enjoy it too; so it can be an activity for the entire family! Research what might be available in your area; local gyms equipped with rock climbing options, meetup groups or ask your friends so you can challenge yourself with a new workout!
This is a guest post by Corinne Rose Kohlen, a 31 year old (soon to be 32!) registered dietitian at DaVita Dialysis with a Masters Degree in Nutrition and certified diabetes educator. Her background is in rock climbing and she used to compete and work professionally as a rock climber for Sea World. She has been obstacle racing for 2.5 years and have done over 30 spartan races, 10 tough mudders and many Ultra races. Her favorite races are Survival runs. This year she will be returning to World's Toughest Mudder for the third time. Her specialties are rope climbs, traverse wall, and chicken carrying.