For the newbies and climber wannabes out there, I’ve already written a post about why you should start climbing. You can read it here.
For those of you who already climb for fun now and then, you might be wondering whether it’s worth climbing more regularly.
Now, let me tell you. It’s absolutely worth climbing regularly, and I’d even go as far as to say that you should go climbing every single day.
I will warn you though; it’s not easy at first.
You’re probably going to be suffering for the first week or two. You’ll be at work during the day, afflicted with the arms of a T-Rex and the agility of a sloth.
That is, if you try doing too much too soon.
It’s a common mistake that people make when making the transition to playing any sport every day – never mind something as physically demanding as climbing!
You see, the problem comes when you match the intensity of your weekly or twice-weekly sessions, but push yourself to do it on a daily basis.
As you might imagine, doing this is going to massively overtrain your muscles and cause repetitive strain injuries. If you normally take a few days to recover from climbing, then matching that level of intensity every day will cause you to degenerate into a drooling mess once these injuries start piling up, and that won’t take long at all.
However, there’s one simple way that you can avoid falling into this trap.
It’s counterintuitive, but completely effective, and you’ll only need to do it for as long as it takes for you to get used to climbing every day.
The secret… is to drop down a couple of grades during your adjustment period.
Naturally, you might not like this idea. After all, you’re reading this post because you’re looking to take your climbing to the next level, not drop back a couple of levels.
Remember though, making the jump from climbing semi-regularly to climbing every day is a huge leap in itself. You want to really make sure that you don’t overdo it, because every rest day that you take is a step backward.
“A step backward from what?” you might say. A step backward from getting used to climbing every day, because when that happens, you’ll be able to ramp the difficulty back up to where you were.
At this point, something magical has happened. You’ve matched the intensity of what you used to be able to do in your semi-regular climbing sessions, but now you’re doing it on a daily basis.
This is the starting point for the new you. When you’ve reached the point of being able to climb every single day, you’ll experience the insane benefits that come from pushing yourself to the peak of your physical and mental fitness.
You’d really be surprised just how much of a difference it makes… and I’m not just talking about upping your climbing game… I’m talking about changing your life here.
Climbing every day is a whole new level of self-development, and I’d highly recommend it to everyone.
So, let’s take a look at what happens when you start to climb every day.
1. You’ll Improve Much Faster.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
“Sure, if you’re climbing more often then you’ll obviously improve more quickly.”
This much is obvious, but it isn’t what I’m talking about here. What I mean is that you’ll improve far more quickly, in that you’ll see more improvement from climbing every day than you would over an equivalent number of weekly sessions.
“How,” you might ask? Well, it’s to do with the way your body adapts to the new challenges that it faces.
When you train your body to adapt to something physically demanding like climbing, the frequency of training makes all the difference.
When you train once a week or once every couple of weeks, your body is hit with too much of a shock for it to handle. The physical impact of climbing hard hits you like a truck, all in one foul swoop that basically leaves you injured for the next few days.
If you train more often than that, say, two or three times a week, your body gets used to the minor injuries you sustain, but the shock isn’t quite as severe.
The real magic happens when you start climbing every day.
Paradoxically, training as often as every day has a protective effect against injury. While it’s still true that a really intense session will still leave you weak and sore with injuries for the next few days, your bar for what counts as a “really intense session” gets set much higher, because it takes significantly more strain for your body to be hit by the shock of a workload that it’s not used to.
That’s because, of course, your body is already used to a high workload. Nothing phases it; it’s on mission, and the sky’s the limit.
2. You’ll Be Immune to Fatigue.
This is something that’s really going to appeal to those of you who spend your mornings guzzling coffee and regretting last night’s decision to stay up for one more hour.
Have you noticed how people who are active all the time seem to be full of energy, while those who live a sedentary lifestyle complain about being tired all the time?
It’s the office workers who come into work looking like death, scrambling to the coffee machine in a haze of lethargy and bitterness.
It’s ironic, but the less active you are, the less energy you have. This is why you’ll often hear the excuse of “I’m too tired from work to go climbing today,” even though their job is to basically sit at a desk all day and push buttons on a keyboard.
The training comes first, and the energy comes later. That is how it works.
You can’t sit and wait until you feel like you have enough energy to bother. That path only serves to lower your baseline energy levels, leading to burnout, mediocrity and misery.
The training comes first, and the energy comes later. Once you’ve tried this, you’ll see what I mean.
Make it your mantra, and go forth into becoming the new you.
3. It’s a Full Body Workout.
One of the best things about climbing is that it’s a full body workout that automatically balances itself, so you never have to worry about overtraining or undertraining one part or the other.
Think about how climbing uses multiple muscle groups at once. When one muscle group tires, you lean on the others more to compensate, which takes the workload off of the tired muscles and redistributes it amongst others.
Anyone who has ever given the gym a serious go will understand how amazing this is. It’s like having a full-time personal trainer sort everything out for you, without all the expense, and without all the teamwork.
No, it’s more than that.
With a personal trainer you get told what to do. With climbing, you can do whatever you want.
And that’s what makes climbing so good. You have the complete personal freedom to do it in a way which suits you.
No matter how you approach your climbing session, you’re going to get the best full-body workout of your life.
Not only because climbing extensively uses every muscle in your body, but because of how climbing uses each muscle in your body.
You see, when you climb, you utilize a ridiculously large degree of movement compared to the relatively narrow range that you use in the gym.
Your muscles will stretched while being strained, or squashed while under intense pressure. There’s really no other workout quite like it.
The problem with the narrow range of movement that is trained with gym work, is that the strength it develops is only effective within that range of movement.
Clever gym people know this. This is they’ll often say that you should avoid isometric exercises whenever possible.
Climbing is practically as far as you can get from isometrics exercises.
What’s more, it requires conscious effort to try to maximize your range of movement while in the gym.
Not in climbing. Like I said earlier, it’s all automatic.
Just sit back and relax… as far as getting the most intense workout of your life could be considered “relaxing”…
4. You’ll Reap the Benefits of Significantly Improved Grip Strength.
Sure, you might have guessed that climbing makes extensive use of your arms, legs and core, but did you know about all of the other, lesser known parts of your body that it trains?
Parts that you never knew you even had, until they started hurting after you started climbing for the first time.
These parts are nothing short of vital in their contribution to your sense of overall health and physical well-being.
The greatest of these unsung heroes of bodily mechanics are the finger tendons and ligaments which make up your grip strength.
Your grip strength is something which you already use throughout your daily life. In fact, you probably use it more than you realize.
You use it every time you use your hands, which is to say, a lot.
But there’s one time in particular that you’ll really call on your grip strength… and that’s when you’re out shopping.
You know how when you’re at a mall, you always go around all the stores first and then come back to buy what you wanted, just before you go, so that you don’t have to carry it around with you?
You won’t need to do that anymore if your grip strength is on-point.
In fact, you’ll love your grip strength whenever Black Friday, the Christmas sales, or the January sales come around. You’ll be able to go from store to store, carrying everything with you leaving nothing but empty shelves in your wake.
There’s also another huge benefit to improved grip strength. Perhaps you like other sports that require skillful hand movement, or perhaps you’re an artist who wants to improve their technique.
Either way, a greatly improved grip strength does wonders for your dexterity.
This is because the act of strengthening your muscles, tendons and ligaments gives them more definition, so that they can make finer movements.
Think about how hard it would be to write with a pen that weighs several pounds. It’s a bit like that.
The stronger your grip strength, the less your muscles, tendons and ligaments will struggle to maintain tension, freeing up their capacity for precise movements.
This is why you’re meant to write and draw with your arms, not your fingers. If the capacity of your fingers is used up in making the pen move, then there’s no capacity left for detailed adjustments.
This principle is the reason why training your grip strength will dramatically increase your dexterity. You’ll be unleashing all the potential that was always there, but has been, until now, locked away due to a lack of strength.
So, how do you train your grip strength?
You climb more.
There’s nothing more to it. Climbing is going to hammer your grip strength if you do it every day.
Just be sure to not overdo it. If you’re looking to start climbing every day, then be sure to avoid routes with crimps and edges for at least the first week, and then you can gradually reintroduce them.
It’s so easy to burn out your grip strength and be rendered useless for the next few days.
I’m sure every climber has had this experience at some point. One day you’re fine, the next day you wake up with sea lion flippers disguised as human hands.
There is an art to going through daily life without the use of your fingers: an art you want to avoid having to learn.
So don’t overdo it when it comes to training your grip strength. Take it slow, and get into the swing of climbing every day.
Only then will you unlock the hidden potential of your hands. You’ll be performing crazy sleight-of-hand magic tricks before you know it.
5. It Doesn’t Feel Like a Workout.
That’s right. It’s not only a full body workout; it’s a workout in disguise.
Of course, that’s not to say it won’t feel like you’re getting exercise every day. It definitely will.
But the thing is, when you climb every day, you’ll be thinking of it as a time when you get to just go crazy and have fun.
It’s nothing like going to the gym every day, where you have to stay motivated and push yourself to go.
You’ll be eager to go climbing every day. You know why?
Because a climbing center is basically a socially acceptable playground for adults.
You get to be like a kid once again, and feel that sense of adventure that you used to feel when climbing around at the playground.
For this very reason, the stress relieving potential of climbing is incredible.
So much so, that I’d argue it’s impossible to be stressed after a climbing session. It’s simply too satisfying for that.
This isn’t just the case for hardcore climbing enthusiasts either. A large part of it is down to the gigantic endorphin release that follows exercise of such intensity.
It can’t be avoided. Climbing feels good no matter whether you’re nailing difficult routes or you’re just starting out on the easy ones.
Another reason for this is what is called “the pump.”
You’ve probably heard of it if you’ve been to the gym before. It’s where your muscles swell up after intense exercise and give you the same feeling that you get after a massage.
As you can imagine, the combination of endorphins and the massaging sensation of “the pump” make you feel amazing after climbing, and this is not even counting all the fun you’ll be having on your climbing session.
It’s safe to say, climbing is a serious stress killer.
6. It’s Better than Happy Hour
Blasphemy you say?
Not at all.
There’s one great reason why climbing every day with your friends is better than happy hour… and it relates to how beginners and experts can climb together.
You see, happy hour is so much more than just unwinding after work. It’s about bonding with your friends in an all-inclusive environment where, just for the time being, there are no judgements and no obligations.
Doesn’t that sound a lot like climbing?
Climbing has all of these qualities, except it has something else too…
…something that happy hour cannot ever hope to match.
And that is its unparalleled ability to create lifelong friendships, “bromances,” “womances,” and even actual romances.
Climbing does this due to some interesting psychology about how friendships develop.
You might have heard about how, in the military, people bond absurdly quickly over a matter of days.
People in the military go from complete strangers to friends closer than family, and for one simple reason.
It’s because of the intensity of the training.
You see, sharing painful experiences, such as the painful experience of intense training, produces something called “identity fusion.”
Identity fusion is a visceral sense of oneness that boosts friendships so quickly that they end up practically at the point of mutual self-sacrifice within a matter of days.
For this very reason, the intensity of climbing every day makes it one fastest ways on Earth to bond with your fellow humans.
Make use of it, and years from now you’ll be sitting on the mats, reminiscing with your friends about the good ol’ days when you were just starting out with climbing.