Saturday, April 13, 2013

Misplaced Muscle - "Cross Training"

Misplaced Muscle - Dreams Vs. Goals
By Jess Jenkins

Climb, climb, climb - that's what we do, but let me tell you those finger tendons, upper body and other frequently used muscles are screaming for a break. Rest and recovery is a huge part of training. For those of you who may be work out junkies, with a little obsessive character towards climbing, a great way to utilize active rest is to cross train.

A few areas you may want to emphasize would be legs and cardiovascular endurance, because climbers (mainly boulderers) tend to focus more on the upper body. I am not saying you need killer, muscular thunder thighs, but some lean, tone and power doesn't hurt.

Here are a few exercises to build strength, but less bulk:

1) Squats & Lunges - are easy at home exercises that will provide burn, and in high reps with light or no weight will certainly do the trick. (When performing them, make sure your knees stay over your toes to prevent unnecessary strain)

For the females these will help tone the gluteus maximus, for the gentlemen too!

2) Pulses - these are small up and down pulse motions in a squat or lunge position. You will feel some tingling.

3) Wall Sits - make sure your legs stay at a 90 degree angle, like sitting in a chair with your back straight on the wall. Keeping your hands on your head will help with the temptation to use your arms for leverage. Oh how you will learn to love the burn.

4) Calve Raises - for best results do these on some form of step or curb so your heels can go past your feet. Then raise back up to your toes, up down up down, you may also do one leg at a time if you so choose.

These are only a couple and there are many more possibilities, but this will get you started. Below you will find an example of how to incorporate them in a series and feel free to modify if needed (you can also come up with your own). Ultimately, you must find what works for you.

10 regular squats
10 jump squats
20 alternating lunges/ walking lunges
10 lunge pulses each leg
*30 sec rest/breath*
12 jump lunges (make sure to keep balance as best you can) either alternate or do six and six on each leg.
20 squat pulses
60 calve raises ( both legs )
*30 sec rest/breath*
1 min wall sit
**repeat 3x

When doing leg workouts you can do weightless or light weight, it's up to you, but I prefer no weights. Be conscious of your body positioning and make sure it's quality over quantity.

Onto cardiovascular endurance. Most cardio exercises are a great way to get yourself sweating and loose. Also, they help improve the quick loss of breath you may feel on a long endurance climb. Some exercises for this are the following:

1) Running - of course everyone knows about this. It is a good way to burn calories, work the legs and get yourself sweating. Whether you run or jog, how you approach it is up to you. I enjoy jogging around lakes personally or some place with a view. Get some music going and your are on your way. For beginners, here is a guide on how to build up the distance.

2) Jump Rope - this has a lower impact than running, in my opinion, but that all depends on your form or which your prefer. I recommend minute intervals for this one.

Sometimes it can be hard to get used to you just have to practice the mini calve jumps, but once you get the flow it will feel natural.

3) Swimming - is good for cross training as well as it has no impact on joints, but provides resistance training to form lean strong muscles. Laps are perfect in the pool, plus it will be refreshing on a hot Florida day.

These are only a few examples of cardiovascular exercises. If you get really interested try and do some of your own research as well. Try it all out and see what routine works best for you and that you enjoy as well, because having fun helps maintain the routine.

Hopefully this article got you thinking about what else you could be doing besides climbing and when your body aches for a break. Cross training will help you with overall fitness and provide opportunities for active rest, so get on it and give those tendons a rest every once in a while.

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