How to Warm Up for Limit Bouldering

One great way to feel weak and damage your confidence or your tendons? Fail to warm up properly.

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You’re just off work and bee-lining straight to your project, the purple crimp-fest up the middle of the bouldering cave. You go to grab the holds, but your fingers feel too cold to move and your arms are sluggish. Even though your stoke meter is at roughly 11.4 out of 10, your body is still in desk-sitting mode. Don’t worry, a solid warmup is all you need to feel ready to crank down on those minuscule crimpers.

Begin your warmup by increasing blood flow throughout your body. Take five minutes to climb a few easy problems slowly, hanging with straight-arms from jugs. Breathe deeply.

Next, choose a few more easy problems where you can pause between holds and hold each body position for a few seconds. Notice which muscles are engaged and how that position affects your center of gravity. Downclimb these problems as well to get in extra mileage.

Continue to cycle through easier climbs for 10 to 15 more minutes, focusing on your technique and different climbing styles. Incorporate drop-knees, heel and toe hooks, smears, back-steps, and other climbing movements into each climb. Climb three problems statically and then repeat the problems dynamically. Slowly increase the grade difficulty to your onsight level, and end with a few harder problems you have dialed from previous sessions.

When your body feels relaxed and strong, you’re ready to transition to project-specific warmups. Since this example project is crimpy, you’ll need to spend extra time warming up your fingers. Hang on a few jugs with your shoulders engaged. Next, deadhang from a two-pad edge, hold a campus rung in a half crimp position for five seconds, 10 seconds, then 15 seconds, resting for at least 10 seconds between hangs. Find progressively smaller edges to repeat the five, 10 and then 15 second hangs three to four more times each. End by testing your fingers with a few pull-ups on a large edge. They shouldn’t feel tweaky or tired, just ready to pull.

Now all you have to do is pull onto the holds and execute.

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