A robust bouldering session should last between 60 to 90 minutes if your focus is on high-intensity training.
If you’re taking more of a moderate approach, then a 2-hour session is more appropriate for the intensity levels involved.
When you want to take things easy, then consider scheduling between 3-5 hours for your bouldering session to obtain the correct level of training from the effort.
There are a couple of ways you can approach how often you decide to train. You can choose the every-other-day approach, which will have you alternate weeks with either three or four sessions.
Another option is to take on bouldering sessions for five consecutive days, with two days of rest in-between them to help your body recover.
Try to keep your intensity at its peak level by only using resting periods when necessary. Then call it a day before you become exhausted to encourage strength-building with each session.
Create a Solid Warm-Up Routine
The key to unlocking your full potential when you approach bouldering, especially for the first time, is the structure of your warm-up routine.
As with any other exercise, the goal of warming up is to prepare the various muscle sets in your body for the work they’re about to do. That process should include cardio as your heart will have a solid workout during your bouldering session.
It is helpful to do some light cardiovascular exercises to get the first stage of the warm-up process started. Use whatever movements work best for your body’s needs. If you live close to your bouldering location, then walking or cycling there should be adequate for this portion of the process.
If you must drive there, then consider using jumping jacks, running in place, or burpees as a way to get the blood flowing.
Once your muscles begin to start feeling a little looser, then start to incorporate bouldering techniques into your movements for the second stage of your warm-up work. Dynamic stretching includes the actions you utilize when climbing while keeping your heart rate up at the same time.
During the second stage of your warm-up, you can practice the various techniques you wish to work on during your bouldering session. Aim for movements that help you to climb with smoothness, focusing on slow, rounded progressions as your body becomes more prepared for the workout ahead.
Try to keep your feet silent during this stage as you work through this stage of the process. If you aim for precision with foot placement, it will improve the efficiency of your technique.
Then you’ll reach the third stage of the warm-up process: your fingers.
Finger and hand injuries are commonplace in bouldering because of the torque placed on these specific joints. Even if you plan to follow a simple route during your session, you should spend at least five minutes preparing them for the work ahead.
Including your hands and fingers in the warm-up process will help you to avoid the injuries, which can occur to your tendons and ligaments. Try using interval hangs as a way to warm them up.
Then remember your climbing chalk. It may seem messy to beginners, but this tool is an integral component of a successful bouldering session.
How to Quickly Progress as a Bouldering Beginner
If you’re new to bouldering, then progress can feel slow and challenging during your first few sessions. It is not uncommon for people to push themselves harder, to climb faster and higher, as they start learning each technique.
You might be taking your training seriously, but progression is more critical to your success than a specific outcome. You must work from a foundation of fitness to create ongoing climbing achievements.
For up to the first five months as a beginner, you should seek to maximize the volume of each route during your sessions. This structure gives you better time efficiencies on the wall, making you stronger.
You’ll notice improvements to your stamina and technique as well.
It may be tempting to try climbing by pulling with bent arms when you first start bouldering, but you should utilize your leg strength instead. There is more fundamental strength in those muscle groups.
Think about pushing up or standing using your feet and legs instead of only pulling with your arms.
Then treat each hold as if it were made of a fragile material. If you pretend that each movement could cause something to break, it will force your focus toward placement and body positioning. This process will begin adding fluidity and grace to your upward movements.
Once you reach this stage of your climbing process, you might consider “projecting.” That means you would try a climb which is either at or above your current skill limit.
Trying a challenging route will improve your skills, but it will also help you to yield better training results when approached correctly. Incorporate up to 30 minutes of this work with each climbing session.
Another option to think about using as a bouldering beginner is to incorporate circuit training as a way to build your fitness.
On the typical training circuit, you might begin with the pyramids, then work on top rope volume, before moving to intensity endurance that includes 4×4 bouldering.
You always have the option to increase or decrease your difficulty levels with each session based on how you feel. The moment you begin to force yourself to do things is the time that you increase the chance for an injury to occur.
If it doesn’t feel right, then stop. Ask for beta. Then remember to bring a workout partner along who is willing to motivate you to keep going.
You must continue to improve your technique as your strength builds if you want to keep progressing with your bouldering. Strength training can support your positioning on the wall, but it doesn’t help with the actual movements required of you during each session.
You may see or hear fellow climbers discussing climbing movements like the twist lock, the drop knee, or flagging. Each offers specific benefits to your climbing style worth considering, especially if your preference is to climb steep terrain.
The first option will have you climbing “like a frog” up the
The second works if you have two footholds to create counterpressure, which lengthens your reach.
The final option works if your holds don’t line up as they should, helping you to save energy by allowing you to stop swapping your feet during the climb.
Each technique requires multiple sessions of practice to get it right.
As a beginner, however, your first climbing technique to learn is sequencing.
This process helps you to visualize how you’ll be climbing before you attempt the next movement. Look at each hold, then evaluate the direction of the climb. It prepares you from a mental standpoint to perform each maneuver.
How to Get the Most Out of Each Climb
Let’s assume that you spent some time warming up the various muscle groups in your body. Your joints and tendons are as flexible as they can be, especially in the hands and fingers.
Now is the time to ease yourself into the climb. Tackling the most challenging route might seem logical to do when your energy levels are at their highest.
That’s usually not the case. Take up to 15 minutes to climb on some of the finger-based routes available in your gym first. This time investment will ensure that your hands are ready to help you reach the success you want.
Then start climbing smartly.
Instead of climbing to the top of the wall on various routes until failure, you must focus on the different muscle groups in your body for development.
Imagine a bodybuilder who went to the gym to increase muscle mass, but then only worked on one arm. If given enough time, this would create an imbalance of strength, not to mention a disproportional appearance.
This issue frequently affects climbers. If you fail to build your core foundation of strength with consistency, then the end result is almost always a bout of tendonitis – which will take you off the wall until the inflammation heals.
You must be proactive about this issue to prevent it. Try including these antagonist muscle workouts to help keep your strength at consistent levels.
1. Do three sets of reverse wrist curls, using 20 reps per grouping, or however much feels right for your body.
3. About 30 push-ups will help to get the blood flowing throughout your arms.
4. Then perform the same number of seated bench dips.
Why should you focus on antagonist muscle groups when you take up bouldering?
Because this work will help to give some work to the opposing muscle groups that aren’t always engaged when climbing a route.
You’ll find that it’s easier to build strength when incorporating these elements into your workout routine. Add them into your climbing time if you wish or incorporate them into your “rest” day when you’re not bouldering if you want to focus on upward movement at the gym.
Remember to Take the Time to “Warm Down” After Bouldering
Have you ever felt sore and stiff the next day after a tough
There’s a good chance that you chose to “cool down” instead of warming down after exercising.
Although it seems like an argument of semantics, there is a meaningful difference that separates these two post-climbing techniques.
Warming down involves flexing and relaxing your muscles to remove excessive lactic acids build-up during an intense bouldering session.
Cooling down involves more stretching and low-impact activities with a rapid reduction of activity. A warm down is a slower process of working the lactic acid out of each muscle group to prevent cramping, soreness, and discomfort.
Some people use the two terms interchangeably.
All athletes should take the time to warm down appropriately after working out. If you’re new to bouldering, then this process cannot be skipped if you want your body to be functional the next day.
If you fail to warm down, then the lactic acid buildup in your muscle groups will remain. Although this won’t prevent you from using them, it may create high levels of discomfort for the next 3-5 days.
For a proper warm down, you should continue your workout session for about five minutes, choosing low-intensity routes at a slower pace to begin transitioning away from the exercises you’ve been doing.
Then repeat the stretches you performed during your warm-up work to improve the range of motion in your joints. Do not forget about stretching out your fingers and hands during this time. This process will help to prepare you for the next bouldering session in the coming days.
Don’t forget about your cardiovascular system during your warm-down period. Performing light aerobic exercises will help your heart begin to recover from its peak rate work from your climbing efforts.
Consider spending 30 seconds performing torso rotations, followed by an equal period of rocking sidekicks, leaning hamstring stretches, and arm crossover swings.
Try to hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds.
It must be noted that you’ll likely feel some soreness after warming down, even if you follow every step correctly.
A Final Thought About Bouldering Session Structures
There is a particular enthusiasm, which infects new climbers that makes bouldering an exciting sport. You’re always challenging yourself to climb higher, be stronger, and do more in each session.
Bouldering is a fantastic opportunity to take you to places you’ve never been. You can meet some amazing people, try some incredible activities, and have a lot of fun.
These advantages become possible when you take care of yourself before, during, and after each climbing session.
When you warm up correctly, then your climbs will be better because you’re reducing injury risks.
If you focus on technique while visualizing your routes, then you will develop a personal style that will take you higher than you ever thought possible.
Then warm down to prepare yourself for the next session. Bouldering is one of most incredible activities on this plant. Get to know the sport today, and you’ll be hooked for life!