It’s not hard to get a great warm-up, so there’s no excuse to skip it. You may be surprised to find out that the best rock climbing warm ups don’t necessarily include traditional static stretching (where you hold a stretch) and they don’t include jumping straight on to a wall.
First off, you need to get your blood pumping to literally warm your muscles. This will help them to stretch better since they’re already warmed and have increased blood flow. Park at the far end of your gym’s parking lot to get started before you even enter the gym. This little walk isn’t quite enough, so jog or jump rope for a few minutes in addition. Now your muscles are literally warm!
Now it’s time to stretch those warm muscles.
If you practice yoga, you’re likely familiar with dynamic stretching, which is stretching through movement rather than holding a pose. Aim for 10 repetitions of each move, done nice and slow, to get loose. Roll your shoulders forward and backward, and rolls your knees, ankles, and wrists in both directions.
Perform windmills with your arms. Stretch your neck by slowly bringing your left ear to your left shoulder, then repeating on the right side. You can also pretend that you are lifting invisible weights over your head as you raise your arms above your head. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and rotate your hips.
Don’t forget your fingers! You use your hands and fingers to grab holds, so you’ll need them to be limber. Extend your fingers, then form a fist; repeat a few times on both hands. If you do yoga, you may want to incorporate some of those moves into your rock climbing workout since yoga can be very beneficial to climbing.
Now you can shake it out! You likely already shake out your arms, legs, hands, and feet in between climbs, but this can help get blood flowing into your extremities so it’s good to do before a climb, too.
Now you can hit a bouldering wall – but not a difficult one. We’re still in the warm-up, remember? Before you get your harness on, you can try a few simple bouldering problems to get your muscles moving and your blood pumping. This is not the time to try a challenging route or something close to your hardest, this is just to let the muscles stretch out before you push yourself on a tougher wall.
Now that your blood is pumping and you’re nice and loose, you can put on your harness and head for the wall. It’s not a bad idea to start on an easy wall to keep the warm-up going, but you’re ready to have a great climb on whatever wall you choose!