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Training tips: The best exercises for bouldering and climbing

LISTICLE | 03/16/2022
Frau klettert an einer Boulderwand
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Bouldering challenges the body more holistically than almost any other sport. In addition to the right technique, strength and fitness are also required. To ensure that your muscles don't give out prematurely on your next round of bouldering, here's an overview of five bouldering exercises

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Even if creativity and a sophisticated technique are in the foreground when bouldering: Without a good basic fitness and a good portion of strength nothing goes. Whether upper body, torso or legs - on the wall all the muscles of the body are extremely challenged.

While our leg muscles are constantly in use due to the daily standing, walking or running, so as a rule also does not flap so quickly, it looks with the upper body already different. Especially back, shoulders, arms and fingers are not accustomed to this form of stress as in bouldering.

To have an extra dose of power and fitness for the next climbing session, here's an overview of five top fitness exercises for boulderers.

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Pull-up: The king exercise for climbing and bouldering

No other exercise is as effective for bouldering and climbing as the classic pull-up. Pull-ups train our upper body strength - especially back and biceps but also shoulders and neck are challenged. Especially important: our hand and finger strength, which plays a very important role especially in bouldering, is also strengthened with pull-ups. In addition to the increase in strength, pull-ups are also ideally suited to build up body tension and develop a feeling for "hanging".

To train as realistically as possible, it's a good idea to add a lot of variety to your fitness workout and, for example, vary your grip when doing pull-ups. For example, you can train with a pronated grip, i.e. palms facing outward, a supinated grip, i.e. palms facing inward, and a neutral parallel grip.

In addition, it is recommended to change the grip width every now and then. Five sets of eight to ten repetitions each are already neat - newcomers can also try the latissimus pull at first.

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Squat: getting the power out of your legs

"Strength comes from the legs" - so goes an old climbing wisdom. The best way to build up basic strength in the legs, buttocks and trunk is the squat. Again, plenty of body tension is required to keep the body upright and stabilized.

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In bouldering, this benefits everyone, because the better the body tension is trained, the easier it is to keep your balance and position the body plumb as close to the wall as possible. For the execution applies: form a slight hollow back, tense the entire torso and press out of the heels if possible.

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Alternatively to squats, you can also do lunges, known as lunges. To additionally train coordination and balance, you can perform the exercises on unstable surfaces such as balance boards. Five sets of six to eight repetitions each are sufficient here.

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Strong fingers: The most important tool for bouldering

Tiny holds, narrow edges or brittle cracks in the natural rock - it's always your fingers that make direct contact between you and the wall. It's not uncommon to have to make the odd daring leap from one handhold to the next, or dangle in the air for a while on just one hand. Strong and durable fingers are therefore a must. 

Best workout for hand and finger strength: bouldering. If you want to do something for your grips outside the climbing wall, you should try using special hand clamps or simply a tennis ball. Hand and finger strength can also be trained with a theraband.

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Strength endurance: Strenuous hanging

A particularly strenuous but highly efficient exercise for bouldering is "hanging". Simply cling to a bar or edge and try to hold the long stretched body as long as possible. In addition to the pure strength that we already train with the pull-up, the focus here is particularly on strength endurance.

A good guideline for beginners*innen is around 30 seconds. If you can hold out for five rounds, you're doing well. To provide variety and increase the difficulty level in advanced training, you can also hang on to only one arm or use only two or three fingers.

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Static holding in forearm support: balance, body tension, coordination

In addition to fitness, strength and strength endurance, body tension and balance are important in bouldering. An excellent exercise here is the forearm support. Simply shift the weight to the forearms and toes, making sure that the center of the body does not sink and remains under tension. To increase the difficulty and add some dynamics, you can switch between push-up position and forearm support while holding.

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Again, do five 30-second rounds - increasing the time by a few seconds with each workout. If you manage five times a minute, you can also lift one leg at a time and stretch it upward. Be careful not to fall into a hollow back during the changeover. 

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