Climbing up vertical walls is fun. Finding a mountain with a vertical wall that promises a view few people have ever seen is amazing. Many climbers that get bitten by the rock-climbing bug quickly become almost obsessed and desperately want to climb as much as possible. After the initial learning curve has gone away, you shouldn’t be surprised when new climbers start trying to go every day.
You cannot rock climb every day, especially if you are still within a year of climbing. The body exerts itself heavily when climbing. There must be rest days between climbing, with even the fittest of people only working to cause permanent damage to themselves. People that are rock climbing at the gym or in the wild every day may be perfectly okay right now, but the stress placed on their tendons will eventually cause long-term permanent damage.
If you want to start increasing the regularity with which you are climbing, you should work with some rest days in between. As you gain more experience and your muscles learn just how to do everything, the regularity of how much you can climb will increase. Some of the world’s best climbers will tell you that they have routines, with the climbing they do each day influencing their overall resting behavior.
Getting to be climbing fit needs a few things, with many climbers needing to hear this in their early days before they create bad habits.
How often should you rock climb?
The dude bro’s at your gym will always give the same answer to any type of training, which would be as much as possible. However, there is a good reason no dudebro is older than 30, as they mess up their bodies so much in their 20s that nothing could work right after only a few years. There are strict rules to climbing intensity and frequency that you should adhere to.
Fortunately, there are levels that you can use to judge how much you should be climbing. However, as your experience increases, you will naturally know just how much you can go rock climbing.
Anyone who starts rock climbing to people who have been climbing for only a few months falls into a beginner category. These are the people who look at a cliff face and are as confused as most would be about which route would work best. Usually, if you have to wonder what level of climbing you are on, this is the one you will be in.
Beginner climbers should not be climbing more than two to three times each week, with wild climbs included in this. Your body will need a few extra days to recover properly, as your tendons and muscles will not be used to this type of exercise. The best way to train your body to be ready is by simply going and repeating climbs until you can outclimb the gym’s rock wall with your eyes closed.
Intermediates are the people that look at a wall and can see the most likely routes that will work to getting at the top. However, they might find themselves stuck in unexpected ways. Usually willing to climb a wall five times before giving up and asking for help from someone else about the best route to take. Intermediate climbers will have been doing rock climbing for a few years and are confident enough in their abilities to know how much climbing to do.
An intermediate climber can easily go rock climbing 4 to 5 times a week but will know how much they are comfortable with. Most intermediate climbers will comfortably go to a climbing gym 3 times a week then go out into the wilderness to climb a mountain over the weekend. Most people that love rock climbing are intermediate rock climbers.
Expert climbers are a whole different breed of humans and will be walking around a climbing gym looking for anyone that needs help while they either warm-up or get ready for another session.
While most Experts won’t go more than 4 times during the week, giving their bodies some rest, they will be found crawling over mountains with the practiced finesse of trained cats. The entire journey of climbing is a trip with friends that they enjoy.
Many times, you will see expert climbers enjoying the rest areas of climbs more than just climbing. This is because their bodies have become climbing machines. The stress they put on their tendons and muscles are not as bad because they have the technique and strength to do things properly. Expert climbers can look at most walls and instantly see how to climb them, with most expert climbers physically working for a climbing gym somewhere.
You get many rock climbers in the world and many types of rock-climbing sports watched by millions each year. For this article, we will be focusing on indoor rock wall climbing, which focuses all on the speed or technique of climbing. Even here, there are two types, speed climbing, which is a vertical wall that you climb straight up, and shaped walls, which are all about using strength and technique to climb something that should be impossible.
People that sports climbing will usually be at the gym every day to train some part of their body. However, they will still limit their climbing to 3 to 5 days a week. Their overall focus will be on keeping their bodies lightweight and muscle strength up, which means working on more parts of their body than simply climbing all the time. However, because they are so fit, their bodies will usually heal a lot faster than others.
How long should you be rock climbing?
Now that you know how much you should rock climb each week, you may find yourself wondering just how long each session should last. Many beginner climbers are confused by this, assuming that they cannot compete with the pros without realizing just how long a session should last. There are two things to remember: the wilderness can present new challenges, and you should not measure your beginner self with experts.
You should be rock climbing for 2 to 2.5 hours in a normal session, including warmup, rest, and stretches. This time is not a hard limit, more focused on ensuring that you train every part of your body without losing out on strengthening your muscles. This period is how long most people will comfortably rock climb without losing grip strength to a dangerous degree.
However, it should be noted that full-day sessions in the wilderness can vary greatly, with planned routes usually stating exactly how long it will take. You should research the routes you will be climbing if you plan to spend a weekend with friends exploring the world around you.
How do you know if you have rock climbed too much?
Knowing when you have climbed too much is not something most people consider when rock climbing, usually thinking they will just be able to tell. However, it can be extremely tricky, especially if you are still a beginner and you are not aware of the effects of fatigue.
You will know you have rock climbed too much when your hands feel constantly swollen, with your joints being painful for longer than just a few hours afterward. This is the clearest way of realizing that your tendons are no longer healthy and needs some extra time to recover.
As you should have noticed by now, the biggest danger to overstressing and working on your body lies in your tendons. Your muscles can easily be healed. However, once broken or damaged, tendons are almost impossible to restore fully and permanently damage you.
How long should you rest?
Now that you know how much you should climb and just how long each climbing session should last, you will need to know how long each rest session should take. Many people forget to do this, which causes them a lot of damage over a long period. Just be sure to follow the following recommendation, even when you feel extremely frustrated.
- Normal climbing days: A full day of rest from climbing after a normal day of climbing should be enough to heal your body. While you should rest from climbing, you should go to the gym to do more normal exercises, ensuring your body does get some stimulation to become healthier overall.
- Heavy climbing days: Heavy climbing days will inevitably mean that you have stressed every part of your body to breaking part. Resting for 2 to 3 days entirely is usually a good idea, allowing your body to heal all the muscles and properly check that everything is working perfectly.
- Injuries while climbing: Your hands will get scratched, your fingers will hurt; however, if you fall and bruise or break something, you cannot ignore the injury. You should always wait until fully healed, waiting for your doctor to give the go-ahead when you have a serious injury from climbing. And yes, a bruised or pulled muscle is a serious injury despite what the dudebros are saying.
Having a healthy climbing schedule will enable you to be properly healed when going into the wider world to experience new and exciting things. Many climbers have healthy schedules that allow them to climb mountains whenever they may feel like it. Becoming an expert means you know how to pace yourself at all times.
Just be sure to laugh at the dude bro’s when they inevitably start dropping like flies, usually because their body has had enough!
Feel free to check out our post: “Does Rock Climbing Make Your Fingers and Hands Bigger?“