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I need to get higher! [Rock Climbing]

KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
edited February 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
I started doing indoor rock climbing about a month and a half ago and have gotten incredibly hooked to it. As someone that's working on losing weight and going to the gym 6-7 days a week I found it added a nice break from the gym while also just being fun. Being able to see improvements week to week is a fantastic feeling.

So far I just been going once a week with a friend on their 2 for 1 nights. Right now though I'm seriously considering getting my own equipment and a year membership, which in the long run ends up cheaper (as long as I continued to go at least once a week). The gym has a package that includes a year membership and

Mad Rock Flash climbing shoes
Mad Rock Mars Harness
ABC Black Hole chalk bag

for 495 which seems fair. Have no idea bout the quality of the shoes and harness though. Anyone familiar with that brand? Or can throw any recommendations?

Also, I want to keep hitting the gym and running, so are there any specific excercises that I could add to my gym days that would benefit me on rock climbing?

Finally any general tips and advice. Thanks!

Kyougu on
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Posts

  • ReaperSMSReaperSMS Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Don't have any info on the gear, but for gym stuff I'd say squats, leg presses, and overhand pull-ups (the hard ones)

  • Munkus BeaverMunkus Beaver Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2011
    Spend some time just hanging from a wall grip to build grip strength and toughen your hands. The two big things you need for rockwall climbing are 1. leg strength and 2. grip strength.

    As for the shoes, be very careful here. Shoes make such a huge difference in climbing it's absurd. To start out, you definitely want shoes that are tight and firm. As you get better, you're going to want shoes that feel almost small on your feet. The tighter the shoes are, the better they will respond to you on the wall.

    And remember: climb with your legs.

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  • HeirHeir Registered User regular
    edited February 2011

    And remember: climb with your legs.

    This. You're not pulling yourself up with your arms...you're pushing yourself up with your feet.

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Yeah, hang on your skeleton, don't pull yourself into the wall unless you have to. As far as shoes, I'd try to get some that fit YOUR feet. They should be very tight to put on, then be comfortable enough to climb in for a few hours, but with no real gaps between your foot and the shoe.
    Can't say I like mad rocks, as I blew up a pair in a week (while still a newb). Do they have a discounted membership without the equipment? It's also important to get a comfy harness, as you won't mind being in it for extended lengths of time.

    As far as workouts go - Planks, pullups+lockoffs, ab work and just lots of climbing is good. Try using the hangboard they have there (assuming they have one) every time you go for at least 10-15 minutes. It will help immensely in the long run.

    Also: It takes A WHILE sometimes to develop the muscles and tendon strength for climbing. Don't push yourself too hard, as if you blow a tendon in your hand you can't climb for months.

  • Rotting MeatRotting Meat Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    How much does a gym membership cost? I ask because 495 seems a bit steep for that package. If you check out the outdoor activity stores in your area (MEC or REI) you should be able to piece together a package for around the same price but with your choices and potentially better quality.

    Shoes are very personal, and it's best to try on as many as you can with a knowledgable person helping you out. Madrock are cheaper than most other shoes, but are not very durable. The rubber they use tends to wear out. As a new person with imprecise footwork, you can wear out rubber very quickly. If you know that you're interested in rock climbing and want to pursue it, I'd recommend getting shoes that you're happy with. If you're already going to the wall you should talk to the people there and ask about shoes. Most people will go through a pair a year, and can give you opinions on what they like and don't.

    My opinion is to look at non-aggressive (meaning flat-soled and non-pointed toes) lace-ups for a first pair. I had La Sportiva Mythos that I really liked, and lasted me a year and a half when I started.

  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Thanks guys, I'll definately check out REI, since it's near my place.

    Normal gym membership runs 385 for a year. Their starter package (the mad rock shoes, harness and chalk bag) is 109 by itself. I guess they knock off 5 bucks if you get them at the same time.

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  • MafMaf Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    It's funny that you posted this, because I was thinking about posting a similar question about rock climbing. I know nothing about it, and my motivations lie in doing something to stay in shape that isn't completely boring (I hate running, cycling, and weightlifting... I'll do it, I just won't enjoy it) while meeting new people (possibly some sexy climbing ladies?) all at the same time.

  • SebbieSebbie Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Are you planning on bouldering or climbing walls with a harness? I find bouldering a lot more fun (at the gym that I'm going to) so you can save yourself quite a bit of change if you just have to buy the shoes.

    I love climbing and will be picking it up again in two weeks after a 6 months hiatus but I've been looking forward to it for a long time :)

    "It's funny that pirates were always going around searching for treasure, and they never realized that the real treasure was the fond memories they were creating."
  • Dance CommanderDance Commander Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Stay the hell off the hangboard for anything other than open grip (on slopers or jugs) pull ups. For at least your first year, the vast vast majority of your gains are going to be coming from improving your technique and mental toughness. Muscles grow and adapt much faster than tendons and doing targeted finger exercises as an inexperienced climber is just begging for injury.

    Unfortunately, aside from just that sort of exercise, very little of what you can do in a traditional gym is going to benefit you much. Straight arm hangs are good, pullups are better, lockoffs are good, general core work and a good general fitness level is key. Just focus on keeping yourself generally fit in the gym and be sure to hit the antagonist muscle groups that climbing doesn't work--chest and shoulders mostly, although reverse wrist curls and pronators would be good as well and they're quick.

    If you're really serious about improving quickly find a copy of Eric Horst's Training for Climbing, but you may not get all that much out of it at this stage. He'll tell you exactly what I'm telling you: at this stage your best bet is to just climb as many different sorts of things as you can to get broad exposure to different movements and improve your efficiency on the rock. Focus on climbing a lot of routes at the gym, even if they seem easy, rather than projecting single hard routes (unless you've already done all the easy ones!).

  • The CowThe Cow Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Appropriately enough, I just went with a friend yesterday to REI to rig him out with some climbing gear, as he went once and expressed enough enthusiasm for it to buy all his own gear and a month pass.

    That said, if you're getting the package for 109, that sounds pretty good - even though it was the President's Day sale, my buddy's total still came out to about $150, although this was including an ATC and a $10 caribiner. Then again, he did get some pretty nice La Sportiva's.

    From my friends who work in climbing gyms, Mad Rock Flash generally get a pretty good response for beginner/intermediate climbing; I'm sure there are pros who rock them too.

  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I'm not trying to be mean but rock climbing isn't that productive to losing weight. It's far closer to a cardio workout using odd muscles than it is to the big heavy lifts used to burn off weight.

    Saying that what will help you along are high volume bodyweight (or just over bodyweight) exercises being able single leg squat your body weight a bunch of times is far more useful than being able to traditionally squat twice your body weight on the bar.

    As Munkus correctly stated climbing is rarely about pure arm strength. It looks cool to bust out a one arm chinup but it takes a lot of energy. It's far more efficient to lock up your body with your abs, hips and stabilizers in your shoulders and push with your legs. You can walk up a ladder easier than you can campus up one.

    WORK ON YOUR FORM.

    WORK ON YOUR FORM.

    Moving efficiently always trumps big gut busting moves. I see friends pump out after three climbs because grab, scramble then pull. Thinking about how best to move will increase your technique. There are two key ways of doing this.

    When you climb indoors try to only put one hand on one hold, try not to swap hands or feet. This helps both planning and efficiency of movement.

    The second is watch other good climbers and mimic them. It sounds a bit asinine but make your moves look as cool as possible 90% of the cool moves are really efficient.

    If you concentrate on your technique and continue to lose weight you will improve a ridiculous amount.

    In regards to the deal you need to ask yourself, do I really want to save five dollars? If you do sure, go for it. If not then spend your money somewhere else and buy some gear that you honestly like. Different shoes are good for different things so I would recommend to try a few different styles.

  • GrennGrenn Registered User
    edited February 2011
    I would recommend this book: http://www.amazon.com/Self-Coached-Climber-Movement-Training-Performance/dp/0811733394/ which has some great methods for improving technique and also helps you set up a training programme.

    That set of equipment looks fine - there is really not much difference with harnesses and often your "beginner" kit will actually last you a few years. Shoes are good too (my wife has those, and finds them comfy). Sizing wise, I would recommend going for as tight a fit as you can without drastically affecting your comfort - in my opinion, the small advantage gained from super tight shoes is not worth compromising your comfort levels for, at least initially. You want to enjoy your climbing!

    As others have mentioned, initially the greatest gains are going to be in improving basic technique. When you've reached a certain level you can worry about specific grip strength training, etc. For other activities, running is good, as is anything which builds core strength.

    If your climbing wall has a bouldering section, then I'd recommend warming up and down by climbing the easy/fun bouldering problems. The first time you try bouldering, you will think "Holy shit, I am weak and terribad at this." but then once you understand the moves required for each problem then it will 'click' and your technique will really start improving, which will also help your route climbing.

    I hope you continue to enjoy it, it's a great sport!

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Oh, and the best technique you'll see is those who climb like tree sloths - slow, smooth and solid. Another fun thing is to take a route you know you can do, then climb it with a 5 second rest on each hold. You'll feel the burn quite quickly.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    eh you can probably find better packages out there for better quality shoes

    unless its changed mad rocks tend to be cheaply made.

    if you want cheap but good, check out evolve shoes.

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  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Do any of you guys know of ways to get started climbing outside of a gym setting? I did a bit of wall climbing years ago and I really enjoy it, but I live in a small town now with no climbing gyms. I've also gotten sadly out of shape and was never more than a novice to begin with.

    I'd like to take it up but have no idea where to start at.

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  • Munkus BeaverMunkus Beaver Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2011
    If you can't start with a gym, you'd probably have to join a club or a group of people who are doing outdoor climbing. Depending on your location, there may be a plethora of climbing areas for you to climb at. However, this is a lot different from climbing in a gym, particularly if you were using an auto-belay system. You're going to have to first learn how to belay on the ground and on the wall.

    I'd just do a google search in your area, there may be some outdoor 'facilities' set up that would be a good place to start.

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  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    There are quite a few climbing destinations around her but I haven't been able to find any clubs. I'd really prefer to do bouldering I think, and that's been even harder to find. I may check in with the Mountaineers; they run their annual training camps out of a couple different places and one of them is around here.

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  • VamosVamos Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    If you're going to stick with climbing I'd recommend buying some better shoes. They are your most important piece of gear for climbing, so get some decent ones. When I first started I used gym shoes for about 2 or 3 months then when I was ready to buy my own I dropped $100 on some decent shoes and I haven't regretted it.

    Also, hangboarding is good for building up arm/finger strength. To echo the advice given above by Dance Commander, start off slow. Hangboarding is a good way to hurt yourself if you aren't careful. Just stick with hanging for about 10-12 seconds at a time for about 30 minutes, and if you can do pull-ups then toss a couple in. Don't go crazy with the different holds, just stick with the real juggy ones. One other thing you can do is "run" laps up the wall. Pick an easy route and climb it 4 or 5 times. Or if you want an even harder lap, pick an easy route and down climb it instead of getting belayed down. Do that 2 or 3 times without stopping and that will help build up your endurance.

    If you do any outdoor climbing I suggest just going somewhere that has decent sport climbing until you build up your strength and confidence to do bouldering. My first outdoor climbing experience was bouldering at Pine Mountain in CA and on my first climb I ate shit from about 15 feet up and busted open my elbow pretty good. Sport climbing outside will let you experience what outdoor climbing is like without much risk of hurting yourself.

    Other general advice - buy some athletic tape so when you get flappers/blisters you can tape over them and keep climbing. You probably want to go multiple times a week once you get your membership, that will really help to improve your strength if you stick with it. I started out going 2 days a week, now I go about 3-4, just be sure to give yourself a rest day after you had a good session of hard climbing.

    Also, for people looking to get into climbing I found this to be a good website to locate climbing gyms near where you live.

  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Doing chinups/pullups off a fingerboard is the stupidest thing ever and I would only ever advise doing so if you hate your elbows.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    JihadJesus wrote: »
    There are quite a few climbing destinations around her but I haven't been able to find any clubs. I'd really prefer to do bouldering I think, and that's been even harder to find. I may check in with the Mountaineers; they run their annual training camps out of a couple different places and one of them is around here.
    if there are destinations just grab our gear and show up and see if you meet someone or if bouldering just ask if the group minds you working in. bouldering is a social thing and this is probably your best bet

    you don't need to join a club. are you at UW? I am sure they have an outdoor club that leads trips or at the very least a mail server.

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    JihadJesus wrote: »
    Do any of you guys know of ways to get started climbing outside of a gym setting? I did a bit of wall climbing years ago and I really enjoy it, but I live in a small town now with no climbing gyms. I've also gotten sadly out of shape and was never more than a novice to begin with.

    I'd like to take it up but have no idea where to start at.

    Depending on where you are: Mountainproject.com

  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Was at UW, that's when a climbed a bit on the wall in a gym a bit. Now I'm out in a rural part of the state. I'll have to check out that site, but yeah I'm basically a complete newbie (and out of shape at that). Just showing up to climb outdoors seems incredibly intimidating.

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