Son of Grok

Primal Activity: Climb Something

February 26th, 2009
My forearms were screaming!

My forearms were screaming!

This was the reason I was in such a good mood after the weekend. 2 hours of rock climbing and I felt like I had just taken a 2 week vacation!

We were having so much fun that I only thought to take that one bad (really bad) picture.

I am now an addict.We went to our local indoor climbing gym. It was amazing. It was like being in a giant cave of fun wonders. They had beginner areas with fixed belays (safety thingies) that they just allowed you to go wild on. They also had more complex areas that I am going to have to work up to. Another fun thing they had were areas for “bouldering” or climbing without ropes. Those were fun as well and really really difficult. The people doing that were amazing!

This was a killer workout. It was so much fun that you didn’t even realize that you were working out but before you knew it, your hands and forearms were cramping and freaking out in ways that you never knew were possible. One thing I noticed is that of all the people in the climbing gym… almost every single person was in decent shape! It was a nice change. Once you do a little climbing, you will know why. You can just feel the benefits of this exercise almost immediately.

My new goal is to try to go at least once a week (for my weekend workout). I can’t emphasise this enough… GOTRYITOUT! Look up your local climbing gym. This is an amazing experience.

28 Responses to “Primal Activity: Climb Something”

  1. Yavor

    Yeah, we got a wall up in here in the dome of the university. By the way, you are kind of a big guy for a climber, SoG. Too muscular.

    The guys I see here are mostly with non-existent/chicken legs, bat wing-lats and popeye-forearms. And hardly any fat.

    Yavor

  2. Son of Grok

    Yavor,
    Yeah, I definitely would not call any of them “huge” but they were ripped. You are probably right… I am probably a bit muscular (especially in my legs) to ever be any kind of a real good climber. I am definitely going to keep the amatuer hobby though. I can definitely use the improvement in grip strength and I wont compain if I get a pair of batwing lats ;-)

  3. Marc Feel Good Eating

    COOL SOG!

    My buddy is a climber, and years ago I went up his “peg board”
    I never knew that the muscles in your fingers can just “give out”
    I made it to the top no problem and then like a sack of potatoes fell down all the way from the top ;-) (18 feet). My brain told my hands…DON’T LET GO….but they didn’t listen ;-)
    My bud was in stitches ;-)

    I’m curious if there is a climbing gym near here….I’m going to look into it.

    Marc

  4. Son of Grok

    Marc,
    Totally. When we went I wanted to continue climbing but I could not get my brain to ontrol my fingers! I would try to grab a rock and they would start trembling and would not grip. I would then try to realease and they wouldn’t. It is a very creepy feeling to not have control over something on your own body like your hands!

  5. Chris - fitnessfail.com

    I’ve been climbing (alpine, trad, sport, ice) for a number of years and it’s one of my main passions in life. A lot of my interest in training and nutrition grew out of a desire to improve me climbing, before becoming something I pursued in its own right.

    I have to disagree with the statements that SOG is “too big”. It is true that most very high level climbers have a smaller build (think power to weight ratio). This isn’t really a factor until you get to very high levels though. He may be too big is he wants to reach seriously elite levels. Just like he may not be built to be an olympic gymnast.

    Until then though..it takes a long time to really reach your physical limits. I’ve seen a friend of mine onsite overhung, sandbagged 5.11 trad with his beer gut wiggling away.

    Some of the alpine and ice guys tend to be a little more burly too – somehow all the uphill slogging with a pack rewards having strong legs.

  6. Son of Grok

    Chris,
    I knew you would speak up here as I remember you saying you are a climber. I am far far FAR from elite. lol. That was my first time really climbing or anything like that (with the exception of doing some repelling in the Army). I certainly did not find my build a limiter at all in doing the easy beginner stuff I was doing. Any tips you want to email me about climbing or anything feel free to do so! I am going to give this climbing thing a run for sure. One of the big drawback I have right from the get-go is how pricey a membership to the climbing gym is.

  7. David at Animal-Kingdom-Workouts

    I wrote about my indoor climbing experience on my blog a couple of days ago. Once I (somewhat) got over my fear of heights, I really enjoyed it. By the end, my grip strength was just gone, and my forearms were burning. It was an amazing workout.

    - Dave

  8. Son of Grok

    David,
    I read about your journey to the “Wall of Doom”. Good stuff!

  9. Brett

    I will have to give it a try. I have always wanted to just start climbing when I pass one in the gym. I guess those ropes are there for a reason, though. :)

  10. Son of Grok

    Brett,
    That is one of the cool things about at least the gym I went to. They had a no rope area that had thicker mats in case you fell lol.

  11. Roger De Rok

    I gotta try it.

  12. ttfn300

    OOh, i have been meaning to give this a try!!

  13. Jeremiah Bell (Digital Trainer)

    Good post brother. I wrote a post a while back about how climbing is such a good workout. You can check it out here, http://www.digitaltrainer.ca/blog/2008/11/why-i-rock-climb-instead-of-using-a-treadmill/

    Great to see you caught the bug. Just wait until you go outside and get a chance to do some repelling!

  14. Son of Grok

    ttfn300,
    You have to do it at least once!

    Jeremiah,
    Phenominal article man! You gave me some great ideas. I am really not wanting to drop a lot of money on the indoor climbing gym so i might look up some outdoor climbing groups now that it is warming up!

  15. TrailGrrl

    Cool! And your arms look fabulous in the pic, btw. I’ve been wanting to try this. We have a wall at the university rec center where I work out. There are also two good climbing gyms locally… one has higher ceilings and the other is more for bouldering.

    I want to try it for sure… at 4’11″ climbing is a natural activity for me because I can’t reach anything.

    TrailGrrl

  16. emergefit

    My brother bought his home in Colorado exclusively so he could walk out his back door and climb 50-300 foot faces. That and running is all he does to exercise and he’s in better shape than I am. I grew up climbing in Colorado, but now live in Sa Diego. Haven’t tried the rock wall yet, but am now inspired to do so. Whenever I go back to Boulder I climb for a day or two — always more sore the next day than from anything else I ever do — it’s back-nasty!

  17. Son of Grok

    Trailgrrl,
    Thanks! 4’11″? Wow! I can picture you darting all over a climbing wall like a spider monkey. I bet you would like it.

    Emergefit,
    I do have to say that I think in two weeks and 2 climbing sessions, I can already notice an improvement in my skills and physique. It is impressive! I think your brother may be on to something!

  18. John Sifferman - Real World Strength Training

    I’m also FAR from being a pro, but I have been climbing for fun for about 8 years now. I took a trip to the local gym two weeks ago with my little brother, and we had a blast. If you climb regularly enough, you’ll get the local muscular adaptations and your endurance will increase substantially – that is when climbing is best, when your grip muscles aren’t screaming bloody murder with the occasional loss of motor control.

    You’ll soon realize that it takes a lot more thought than muscle to climb effectively.

    I had one friend describe rock climbing as a form of vertical yoga, and I think that definition suits it very well.

    To your health and success,

    John Sifferman
    Fitness Professional

  19. Son of Grok

    John,
    Do you toprope, lead climb or boulder? It is a zen experience better than yoga for me so i like that reference!

  20. Chris - fitnessfail.com

    Grok –

    You seem like you’ll pick it up just fine. I’ve taught a few beginning classes before, and the number one piece of advice for new people is to “climb like a girl”.

    If you watch new women climb, they generally don’t have the upper body strength to yard up stuff. So they actually learn to balance, keep the weight on their feet and not to pull with their arms. This is what we all SHOULD be doing. Guys are typically strong enough to overpower the easy climbs right away, so they don’t really develop footwork until they reach an early plateau. Then they have to go back and unlearn some bad habits.

    The take home message here is that footwork is king. Practice “quiet feet”. Before you move a foot, completely transfer your weight to the other one (so that it is unweighted). Then place it exactly where you want it. No scuffing, no adjusting or shifting once it touches the hold. Watch it with your eyes, it goes exactly where you want, the first time.

    Find an easy problem, and climb it like this until you can do the entire thing with no scuffs, noise from your feet, or sloppy placements. This is a huge thing. Even very advanced climbers usually need to keep this in mind. When you get this right, it’s pretty surprising how little force you need from the upper body and hands.

    If you want to delve into it further, there’s a book called “The Self Coached Climber” that is excellent. It’s a bit dry when they focus on the kinesthology, but a great book overall.

  21. Son of Grok

    Chris,
    Thank you for the advice! I had no idea. I am pretty sure I am probably guilty of doing exactly this. I will focus on the footwork this weekend. Thanks again!

  22. John Sifferman - Real World Strength Training

    I boulder mostly, but I have toproped in the past. My local climbing gym has a 6 story elevator shaft that’s fun to climb.

    I’ve also done some outdoor freeclimbing in the past, it’s been awhile though.

  23. Son of Grok

    John,
    That does sound fun. My local climbing gym has an arch about 4-5 stories up like a cave. I want to get to where I can climb under that!

  24. Dangeruss

    I love climbing. When I was 14, about 8 years ago, my parents got me a membership to my local indoor climbing gym, probably the greatest gift they ever got me. I went to that place at least 4 or 5 times a week and got to be pretty good at some of it. They had a bouldering area that was like a little cave, it was one of my favorite spots in the gym. They also had a really cool spot where two walls came together and there was a crack for your hands that went up about 15 feet. You had to put your hands in the crank and your feet against one wall and “walk” your way up the 15 feet til you even had any rocks to grab onto. Took me about 2 months to get to where I could do it. Unfortunately they closed down a few years back. But the gym at my college has a pretty good rock wall, but I’ve only managed to use it once so far.

    I’ve climbed on top of a lot of buildings in my town, I think the official count is something like 10, just added a local bowling alley to the list last night. Most of the time I climb up a pipe on the side of the building, or a ladder if they have it. One of the best was a karate dojo, that one required the use of my grappling hook (one of these days I’d like to be Batman). Good luck with the climbing adventures.

  25. Climbing (and eating) with Son of Grok | Fitness Fail

    [...] Rayna and I spent last week traveling. My mother lives in theMiddleOfNowhere, New Mexico so we flew into Albuquerque, drove the three hours to her place, then picked her up and drove all over the place exploring. After a week or so of this I was thoroughly worn out from four days in the car and from eating so-so food. We had a day left before heading back and I had been close to two weeks without climbing, going more than a week often threatens my mental stability, so I dropped Son of Grok a asked if he was interested in getting out. The weather turned out to be against us for climbing outside (it’s not supposed to rain in friggan New Mexico) so we ended up heading to the indoor gym SOG frequents. [...]

  26. Cody Drzewicki

    This kind of write-up has made me personally realize that we all need to take more attention of ourself and each other.

  27. P

    OK, I am way late to the game, but I stubbled onto your website through mnmlist.com, and that turned me on to MarksDailyApple.com, Thank you BTW! Love your site so I am starting at the begining but back to the post.

    Bouldering pretty much saved me from my self and helped me get back in shape. Your right you never notice till you go a few times. After about a month my boss pulled me to the side and asked what the hell I was on! In a month I went from 175 on a 5’8″ frame to a trim 155! Can’t wait to get back stateside to climb again. I’m an addict as well, oh well there are worse addictions out there.

    -P-

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