I know it’s common to skip the warmup when your time at the gym is limited. Especially if we are late to the gym and we are amped to just start our session with our friends. However, skipping the warmup increases our risk for injury…yikes! My hope is that this little blog convinces you that the warmup is something that actually can help enhance your overall physical and mental performance AND can reduce your risk for injury. I guarantee that taking the time to warmup appropriately will make your rushed sessions much more enjoyable.
So let’s dive right in.
The goal of a warmup is simply to prepare you mentally and physically for exercise, whether that’s to climb, lift some weights, do yoga, or go for a run. For our purposes, I will write as if we are warming up for climbing. I usually break the warmup into two phases; a general warmup and a specific warmup.
The physiological responses we want to elicit during the general warm up include:
- Increased muscle and core temperatures (which enhances our neural function)
- Quicker muscle contraction and relaxation
- Improved respiration function + increased oxygen delivery to muscles
- Decreased risk for heart related problems
- More efficient hormone profile (energy is more available to muscles)
- Increased rate of force development
- Improved muscle strength and power
- Increased joint fluid viscosity
- Increased blood flow to muscles
- Increased physiological preparedness for your upcoming performance
The general warmup activities should ideally include 5-10 minutes of some sort of exercise that gets your whole body moving (I like to row since that is good for shoulder health + increases my temperature and primes me for pulling in climbing).
From the general warm up we transition into the sport specific warmup that incorporates movements similar to those seen during the exercise you’re about to perform. For climbing, this can include specific movements that turn on our hamstrings, quads and glutes since climbing efficiently requires a lot of lower body integration. It’s also important to get the core turned on for climbing, as well as shoulders through band or weight warm ups. A few benefits of sport specific movement warmup include:
- Increased joint mobility
- Greater efficiency of movement
- Increased connective tissue elasticity
The sport specific warmup can last about 5 minutes before transitioning to jumping on the wall and progressing your warmup through climbing to avoid the notorious flash pump.
Overall, the total time frame for the general and sport specific warmups (prior to getting on the wall) should be about 15-20 minutes.