Rock On


By Amy Gunty |

You don’t have to scale Mount Everest to enjoy climbing. These days, the proliferation of indoor-climbing walls allows you to summit without traveling to the ends of the earth.

Climbing requires cardiovascular fitness and full-body strength — from the tips of your fingers to your toes.

It also demands coordination, balance, and a honed-in mindset, including the willingness to face and work through physically and mentally tough situations. It’s all about problem-solving. Climbers who excel find ways to harness their energy to generate focus, power, and, ultimately, enjoyment.

“Mentally and spiritually, you change because you learn that you really can face your fears,” says lifelong climber Chris Noble, author of Why We Climb: The World’s Most Inspiring Climbers and Women Who Dare: North America’s Most Inspiring Women Climbers. “You overcome obstacles. You will learn to set goals — and then accomplish them. You learn that you can control your thoughts and emotions.

“Perhaps most importantly, you heal the split between your body and mind that is one of the primary afflictions of modern life.”

Sound like lofty goals? That’s why Noble’s training tips include both physical drills and mindset techniques to elevate your indoor climbing to the next level.

Indoor-Climbing Training and Techniques

  1. Focusing on the difficulty of the route you are climbing or comparing yourself with others will ultimately diminish your motivation and joy. “Everyone climbs at their own level,” Noble says. “When you talk to the world’s best climbers, you realize they are dealing with the same fears, anxieties, and concerns that all the rest of us have.”

Drill: Protect Your Shoulders

Climbing involves a lot of overhead arm work, so it’s important to take care of your rotator cuffs. Before you climb, use the following four-move circuit to warm up these small but important muscles.

An easy way to remember this circuit is to think of the letters I, T, Y, and L, which represent the shapes you will create with each movement.

Lie face-down on a stability ball, with your chest and abdomen on the ball and arms hanging down to the floor. Perform two sets of 20 reps of each movement.

Place your arms flush to your body so your hands are by your hips.

Move your arms out to the sides.

Move your arms forward into a Y shape.

Bend your elbows so your arms form an L shape with a 90-degree bend at the elbow, hands at ear level.

Because your rotator-cuff muscles are small, you don’t need any added weight for these movements to be effective. If you choose to add a load, keep it light — 5-pound dumbbells are plenty.

This originally appeared as “Rock On” in the March 2018 issue of Experience Life.

Climbing shoes are designed to be snug, but they should not be painful. Keep in mind that many shoes are designed to initially stretch so they form to your feet. $145–$155;  This is one of the only harnesses that adjusts on both sides so that you can center your belay loop; it also comes in a wide range of sizes. $60;Chalk is essential for climbers, keeping hands dry while increasing friction between your skin and the hold. Check with your gym to confirm loose chalk is permitted. $10–$25;Your chalk bag keeps loose chalk contained and mess-free. Myriad design options mean you can also express your personality and safely stash your smartphone. $19–$26;

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