Breathe Better Climb Harder
You’re outside at your favorite crag or bouldering pit. The weather is perfect, you’ve been training hard to send your project and you’re geared up and ready to crush! You start climbing, your heart’s beating, you’re starting to sweat and your forearms are pumping out. You only have a few more moves until you send, but you don’t think you’re going to make it. What do you do? The answer: Breathe!
WHY IS BREATHING IMPORTANT WHILE CLIMBING?
We all know that breathing is vital to staying alive. Besides exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs, breathing influences our quality of life and empowers our mental and physical states of mind. Therefore, it is essential for athletes, including climbers, to breathe properly while performing.
Climbers, though, tend to want to hold their breath while climbing. This is the complete opposite to what you should be doing. You wouldn’t hold your breath while running a marathon, so why would you hold your breath while climbing?
When you hold your breath, you are hindering your performance and holding back from your true potential because the natural exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide isn’t taking place.
Breathing while climbing offers us the following:
- Relaxes the mind while climbing, which allows you to evaluate situations more clearly
- Sharper attention span and minimize risk of distraction
- Prolonged endurance with decrease in pump
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EVERYDAY BREATHING VS. BREATHING WHILE CLIMBING?
It is important to practice correct breathing techniques every day because poor breathing can lead to mental lethargy, amplified pain, depression, and illness. Typically, we should utilize the entire diaphragm to help fill the lungs all the way down to the belly. However, climbing is the exception to this rule.
When we climb, we are engaging our core, causing tension to the abdomen, which inhibits us from taking those full “belly” breaths. With proper practice, we can still use our diaphragm and maintain quality breathes while climbing. The following are breathing tips for before, during, and after climbing.
BEFORE CLIMBING OR WHILE RESTING
- Take five deep “belly” breathes to help relax your core, ease your mindset and help you focus on the task at hand.
- Take smooth, relaxed, calm breaths between moves
- Find your resting positions. While resting remember:
- Slow your breathing. This allows your heart rate to slow down
- Re-center your focus and assess the remainder of the climb
- Shake out as much as possible. It helps decrease fatigue and pump
Breathing is a necessary for everyday life, but especially important for all athletes. If you find yourself mid-climb with an increasing heart rate and irregular breathing pattern, employ these tips to maximize your climbing performance.
*If you’re in interested learning more about breathing while you climb, check out these links:
Climb Harder by Mastering Breathing Technique
Justen Sjong: The Art of Breathing While Climbing
Read this next: Breathing Tips That Will Change the Way You Climb