What's so special about the core?
Having a strong core makes all of life’s movements easier and it’s absolutely essential to successful climbing.
Contrary to popular belief, when we talk about the core it’s not all about the six pack and a ripped set of abs. We’re talking about the whole centre of our body – the muscles we use for breathing, laughing, coughing, sitting up straight, walking and many more functions.
Imagine the centre of your body was made of jelly…, and that all your limbs were attached to this ‘jelly’core. Every time you try to move your arms or legs they would not move as efficiently as they could because they have no stability from the jelly. If we make our core more solid then we can move more efficiently, more powerfully, and with less risk of injury.
If you are struggling to extend from your legs and hips when under duress or cant keep your feet on the holds when it gets steep, or can’t put them back on the holds again if they do slip off then they are signs that you probably have a weak core. If that’s the case, you will have to pull harder on holds as your arms have to do more work. If you struggle moving off a high step or rock over, then improving your core strength will make a difference too.
So how do I improve things?
There’s no escaping the importance of a warm up and cool down routine. No one can ever be forced into doing them and content varies from person to person. However, if you don’t include this practice, you are risking injury and poor performance. That may mean that you wont be able to climb while recovering, and who wants that?
Your warm up and cool down should consist of three parts;
- A pulse raiser – gently raise the heart rate. Running on the spot, skipping or something similar for a couple of minutes, gradually increasing the pace. This supplies all the energy to our muscles so it’s essential that our transport system is working well.
- Dynamic stretching- make sure you are nice and loose before you exert yourself. Dynamic simply means keep moving! Simply move into a stretch and move straight out again. If you are lunging, move into the lunge and then straight back out again with no holding.
- Easy climbing – Warm ups can be very generic and that’s fine. For the final part it’s important to do something that’s activity specific so do some easy climbing. This makes sure that we are totally ready for trying harder later in the session.
Adding in a bit of core training during this phase of your workout not only helps to build strength but wakes up everything you need for a good hard climb!
Shauna put together our Core Blimey workout when she was training for the World Cup and it's worked out pretty well for her!
The workout includes 20 activities, each taking 30 seconds. It’s a tough challenge but try and work through from beginning to end. Listen to your body, and if you’re struggling simply do fewer activities rather than cutting the time.
And the best thing? You can do this anywhere – there is no equipment required and no special Hangar support (although our teams are always happy to help!).
We can’t guarantee you’ll become world cup champion, but aspirational abs will certainly improve your climbing and lots of other life activities!