Estimated reading time: 4mins
What is sport climbing?
This is quite a broad term. Sport Climbing in the Olympics embodies the three disciplines of climbing: Speed Climbing, Lead Climbing and Bouldering.
If you’re a beginner, you have 2 options: Top Rope or Bouldering. Top Rope climbing (generally most popular version in commercial gyms) is where you and your belayer will each have a harness and will take turns climbing and belaying with the aid of a fixed rope hanging from the top of the wall in a pulley device to an anchor and belay device in the ground.
When you get really good you may wish to graduate to lead rope climbing, where you will have your own rope to tie to yourself and your belayer will use a belay device to feed out rope to you as you climb. This way the rope is below you instead of above you which means the rope isn’t taking any of your weight, but it will be up to you to clip yourself into quickdraws every metre or so up the wall as you go for safety.
Bouldering is climbing without ropes, no higher than 4-5m and if you fall you will be saved by some soft mats! This version is a bit more powerful than roped climbing but much more time efficient and seriously fun.
Speed climbing is pretty much how it sounds. There is a standard set route around the world and it’s a race against another competitor to the top! The world record is a crazy 5.48 seconds. There are only 2 states in Australia who can try the standard speed wall for now: Melbourne and Sydney.
Lastly, don’t forget outdoor rock climbing, where you can boulder, top rope or lead climb but if you’re a beginner you will need to do this in a guided group.
So… Why should you give climbing a go? Keep reading!
1. A full body workout
Climbing works pretty much every single muscle in your body which means you will burn more calories per hour, then basically any other sport. This will result in toned and strong muscles across your body.
Depending on how hard you are working during your session, you can expect to burn anywhere from 400-900 calories per hour! You will wake up feeling a bit sore and achy after your first few sessions. This is why sipping on some BCAAs during your climb and maybe finishing some protein after is useful. Elite climbers generally have low body mass indexes, low body fat percentages, a six-pack and extremely strong grip strength.
2. The mental challenge
Climbing is just as mentally demanding as it is physically. You need to problem solve to find solutions to get up the wall. You may also need to overcome any fear of heights and a fear of falling. You will fall, but don’t worry, whether you’re on a rope or bouldering over mats, it’s completely safe!
3. Stress reliever
Rock climbing reduces stress by increasing levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter in the body that aids in releasing stress. Climbers often become immersed in the flow of the activity they’re able to become consumed in the activity of reaching, climbing and leaping. This creates a sense of ecstasy that’s hard to beat.
4. Increases flexibility and mobility
Climbing demands flexibility and adaptivity to reach, leap and climb to handholds or footholds which may be further away than a comfortable distance. This means you will need to increase your flexibility and range of motion to become a stronger climber. So, get stretching!
5. It’s fun!
It can be hard for some people to find motivation go to the gym and do cardio and weights in the same venue day in day out. If you go climbing, you’ll be so consumed in the activity, you won’t even feel like you are exercising! You can go alone and boulder or go with a group of friends to top rope or boulder as a group.
Convinced yet? I’d highly recommend giving climbing a try. If you would like to know which supplements to take for climbing, check out my blog here.