All manner of men have lifted, ran, and jumped their way into physical fitness. Has it worked? If you do it long enough, it does pay off. Is it hard? Everything is always hard at the beginning. Is it boring? Yes, it really is dull.
These truths are why there are fitness trends every month and every year. We always want something that will take us out of the monotony of lifting weights, jumping to catch balls, and just running. CrossFit is probably the biggest one, which has stuck to this day. Yoga is sort of losing its steam, but it’s steady. It’s more useful than toning your body without lifting weights, as it can be an intensive workout that doesn’t punish your joints.
As for something that’s for the entire body, not many stuck around. CrossFit is good, but it burns you out. The real challenge is to like what you’re doing, and considering that you’re basically just moving very vigorously. Dancing workouts were good, like Zumba and Rock and Go, but they weren’t the most attractive option, especially for men. We even gave gaming exercises a go, but they weren’t as effective as they were fun.
Always Worked, Always in the Background
The thing is that one of the best full-body workouts, if not the best, has always been around. But like hills and mountains, it’s always in the background. Wall climbing is seen mostly as a form of extreme sport, reserved only for the fittest. Some of it is true, as wall climbing is pretty intense. You have to be fit to go out in nature and scale up a wall. But much like every fitness trend, there’s a more palatable version of wall climbing available in climbing gyms.
There, anyone of any fitness level can try climbing. Most gyms offer a day pass, so you don’t have to financially commit to it before feeling it out. Either way, recreational climbing isn’t something you should do every day as a beginner, experts say. But even if you wanted to, climbing is an exhausting activity. Your legs will be sore, your fingers will be sore, and your back will be sore.
But there’s a reason why your entire body will feel absolutely stretched after a day of wall climbing: it works out your entire body all the time, and some more.
If there’s something new and experienced climbers all do, it’s that they’re all engaged while climbing. You have to be because one small mistake and your progress is gone. The stakes are even higher to professional climbers. Some of them, especially free soloists and those creating new routes in new walls, could actually die. If not, they become rock stars in their own right, like Alex Honnold.
You may want to get familiar with Alex’s story, as it’s about perseverance and not a tall tale of a kid wonder. He’s a 33-year-old professional climber from California, a not-so-talented one according to him. What sets him apart is that he loves climbing so much that he’s been doing it since he was in his teens, and he sacrificed a comfortable life at home just so he can climb every time he wants. He doesn’t do the most technically hardest climbs on earth, although what he does is a singular event in the climbing world. He perseveres just as much as any climber in the world, and in that, you can find the will to toil on the way up like Alex does.
If the best still find it hard, you finding it hard is the most normal thing to do.
The Good Burn: The Effect of a Climb
In one of the most famous climbing videos, one thing stands out more than the challenge of the ascent: the shouting. To understand why there’s so much grunting, you have to know that these climbers are straining their bodies so much that they have to shout to find that extra step they need to finish the climb. That’s also because the burn is so intense that they have to shout, plain and simple.
Here’s why the burn is so intense and so good:
Improving Flexibility – In climbing, extending your body is part and parcel of the activity. That’s why continuous climbing will do wonders for your flexibility. Whether you have to reach a crag on a wall or a hold in an indoor climbing wall, you’re going to have to extend your extremities in ways they’ve never been stretched before. There are several benefits to flexibility exercises, including your improvement in physical activities, prevention of injuries, and circulation. You don’t even have to climb to achieve all these, you just need to make sure that your body is limber before any physical activity.
Combination of Strength and Cardio Training – Carrying yourself up a wall is hard, but every step, you’re improving your cardio and strength. You are carrying yourself to finish a course, it’s bound to improve your physicality. A 1997 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine compared the cardio and strength training of wall climbing to running at a pace of 8 minutes per mile. Try doing that on a treadmill.
Mental Fortitude Step Up – Many indoor climbing gyms have walls up to 50 feet. You may have been up higher than that, whether in a building or an apartment up on the 20th floor, but it’s a different situation when you’re hanging 50 feet up. It takes practice getting used to that, and in controlling your response to being in a situation, you’ll learn how to manage your fear. There are all sorts of mental tricks you’ll learn as you climb more and more, and as you become more skilled in climbing, you’re becoming mentally stronger too.
Conquering Challenges – It has always been a problem for most professionals, city dwellers, and accomplished people to find something that will excite them. A wall isn’t much when you look at it from a distance, but when you start to climb it, reaching the top is going to be like an obsession. It’s the reason why climbers like Chris Sharma migrated to Spain to finish La Dura Wall, the hardest technical wall climb in the world. So, that wall in your gym may not look like much, but try looking at it from the top. It’s going to feel pretty special conquering challenges like that.
All climbing gyms have all you need, from gear to guidance to training programs. You could do some more readings about wall climbing, or its sister activity bouldering. There are no shortages of inspiring tales of men and women conquering the unconquered. It’s human nature to find out what beyond the wall, or what’s the view like up there. Fortunately, for all of us, there’s a way to get started on climbing. And if it doesn’t become your goal to do real-life mountain climbing, at least you’ll know that you’re physically fit.