Rest is a vital but undervalued aspect of climbing. I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves falling off a route due to pumped arms and tired muscles. Whenever I coach I always try to drive home one point “the rest is as important as the attempt”.
At The Crag
Resting between attempts is invaluable. Ensuring adequate time off the wall is crucial, especially when red pointing a project. This is usually fairly easy to achieve when climbing with ropes, as we get a chance to rest while belaying our partner, but I always find it hard to force a rest while bouldering. It’s just so easy to jump on the wall, over and over. I picked up a general rule for rest times from a climbing friend in the U.K. I’m not sure if this is from anywhere in particular or whether it’s just something he made up, but it works for me. I’m certain I’ve heard various versions of it from varying climbers, I guess it’s just the simplest method. 1 minute rest for every move bouldering, or every 5 moves on a rope. It might be purely anecdotal but it works for me.
Resting on the wall is a little more difficult but is every bit as important, especially with longer routes or particularly hard moves. Resting on the wall is a great thing to practice on all difficulties of climbs. It can take the form of “micro-shakes” (shaking out your hands as you move between holds) or a “proper rest” (shaking out and chalking up while stationary on a big hold) but both forms take practice, and mindful climbing. Stay conscious and aware of your movements on the wall and maintain balance and stability through careful footwork and engaging your larger muscle groups (legs/core/back).
Rest days are important for 2 reasons. The first: Your muscles need time to recover. Rest days are so important and people are so quick to overlook them. Muscle growth only happens when we give them time to repair. If you don’t give them that time, you’ll see a gradual decline in energy and overall performance. If you want to climb at your peak, give yourself a rest day.
The other reason we need rest days is for our mental state. No-one can stay psyched every day. Burnout is very real and even outstanding climbers can easily find themselves feeling run down without a rest day. I personally find having a “low energy” hobby helps me keep myself sane when I can’t climb, even for long periods of time. Board games, video games, reading, painting. There’s always something you can do to keep yourself feeling fresh so that climbing stays fun and you can keep that passion going.
I need to read this paragraph as much as anyone else. If you’re injured, don’t climb! It sounds easy, but I know it isn’t. Resting injuries is the only way to recover. Climbing on a damaged joint, muscle or tendon will only make the injury time longer and reduce the overall amount of climbing you can do. I personally need to be doing something while I’m resting so find an activity you can do to help keep the rest of your body moving. Simple stretches, gentle yoga or non-impact exercises are easily found on youtube. If you do choose to stay active remember one important rule. If it hurts, stop immediately.
Hope you’re all staying safe, having fun and if you’re on the Sunshine Coast or in South East Queensland keeping out of the storm.
Can’t wait to share our news. Only 4 days (maybe more like 3, seeing as this post is going out a bit late. oops)