Grip Strengthening Workouts
Besides just climbing in order to improve your technique, you may be looking for some exercises to strengthen your grip while you're away from the wall. There are grip-strengthening devices on the market which are great for fatiguing the hand and forearm quickly, but you can also isometrically squeeze a common object like a tennis ball or racquetball. You can also use small, thick rubberbands between your thumb and each finger by stretching and releasing the band to improve dexterity and strength. Static hangs on a bar are a great workout-hold on until your muscles literally fail and cannot hold you up anymore. Three to four sets to fatigue will build your strength and allow you to climb longer and farther. Forearm exercises, including flexion and extension, can be performed with dumbbells, exercise tubes, or a medicine ball.
Rock Climbing Basics
Rock climbing is somewhat explained by the actual phrase, but things get more complicated when you start adding essential gear such as carabiners, a harness, climbing shoes, cams, dynamic ropes and more. In top-roping, an anchor is set up at the summit of a climb, then rope is run through the anchor attaching the two climbers (through the use of harnesses and belay devices) so that the belayer can prevent the climber from falling by keeping the rope taut. Lead climbing means a climber or “leader” is starting from the ground up with the rope attached and the “second” belays the leader; this allows only short distances of climbing since the rope is fixed, so the leader will attach the rope with technical equipment to the rock, then the “second” will climb the next pitch, and so on. Climbers can walk down, or rappel down with the rope. Grading systems have been created in order to compare the level of difficulty between climbs. Climbing is most often done in the daytime because climbing during the dark is more dangerous and risky.
Rock Climbing Equipment
If you have heard terms like ATC Guide Belay and grigri Rappel Device, Super 8, cams, dynamic ropes, carabiner, harness, chalk and bouldering shoes, you are probably hearing rock climbers talk about their equipment. It can get quite expensive, so climbers often pitch in together with a partner or small group to buy equipment. Climbing equipment cannot be returned because of safety issues (with few exceptions, perhaps for shoes or chalk bags), so make sure you are making an informed decision about what you are purchasing before you hand over your credit card. For ice climbing, the list of gear is perhaps even longer because you need equipment such as shovels, ice axes, gaiters and crampons in addition to the usual harness, rope, and more. It adds to the weight of your backpack which adds to the need for extreme conditioning and strength before heading to the mountain.
Injury Prevention for Climbers
There are two essential pieces of gear that you need to wear in order to help ensure your safety while you climb: a helmet and a harness. The harness will connect you to your partner via rope, and will also be connected to a belay device. These are necessary measures to ensure safe climbing. If you are bouldering by yourself, just scrambling over rocks close to the ground without a harness, rope and partner, be sure not to go too high. It only takes a short fall to cause you to hit your head or even just create a whiplash effect without hitting your head. Either way, injury can happen and put you out of physical exercise for some amount of time. If you hit your head, even slightly, you can get a concussion; or, even worse, be knocked unconscious and go into a coma. Brain damage happens very quickly, so don't even give yourself a chance to get injured. Put your helmet on, follow all safety precautions that you are taught in your climbing class, and do not attempt to lead climb until you are very comfortable on the rocks and have experienced partners there to help you.