Climbing (but not by bike) - Rock Climbing / Bouldering

Taking a break from training on the bike for a while following Cyclocross season. I’ve been looking for another activity for a change of scene and have ended up going bouldering the past few weeks.

I was wondering if anyone on here does both sports, and if they are in any way complimentary. I figured I’d try and do something to balance out upper body strength a little (while avoiding traditional gym workouts). I’m a complete beginner and I really notice it in upper arms, forearms, fingers, shoulders next day.

Things I like so far: It’s kind of cool to be at the absolute beginner end of a sport (but this can also be pretty frustrating); I love how limited the amount of equipment required is (at this level anyway I basically only need shoes and chalk); good in winter - I can go climb indoors and be warm and dry - no mud / road spray / general grime to clean up afterwards!..Although saying that I have been traveling there by bike.

Anyone have any tips? Have you found climbing helps on the bike in any way (or vice versa)? … Or is it in fact massively detrimental and I should just give up now!?

I mean are you being paid to ride your bike? If the answer is no then do what makes you happy. It might help a bit with core strength but I doubt it would have other benefitial effects that carry over. At the end of the day if you like climbing keep climbing.

1 Like

Thanks, I am enjoying both, so I will keep going with both for now. I was really just interested in others personal experiences with both sports more than anything else. If there’s anything you’ve learned from one that can help the other.

One thing that springs to mind for both which I think I need to improve is reading routes - I tend to not be too good at reading the best lines on the bike, and I’m not good at reading routes on the wall. I’m more of a throw myself at the situation and see what happens type. I think I could benefit in both by being more analytical.

Having gone climbing for a few years I personally feel it will help balance out your body physically. Though it is also an unbalanced sport in the sense that you are going almost all concentric movements. It is good to balance this with power yoga or some other eccentric exercises.

Another thing which I think is correct, but could be totally wrong, but I think it would stress your bone structure and may help in increasing upper body bone density which is a problem with cyclists. But that is me theorizing that this is the case.

Also helps with stress and concentration. You won’t get far if you panic on the wall. You learn to hold stressful/painful positions while not panicing. It is also mostly a thinking sport rather than physical. You have to solve the puzzle while maintaining good posture/position/breathing etc.

So for myself it became a sort of meditation. Which I actually experience on the bike as well when TTing.

1 Like

Climbing is awesome by itself. Even if there was no crossover benefit to cycling, it’s a ton of fun.

The two biggest things I found are core strength (climbing requires a ton) and forearm / grip strength. Arm pump on the mountain bike became a thing of the past for me.

The other thing climbing and biking enable is big days out in the mountains. Eg aerobic fitness from cycling and climbing ability mean you have the fitness and skills/confidence to climb some big mountains. Build up to something like the Grand Teton - it’s a bucket list thing something like an Ironman or Leadville.

1 Like

I love bouldering. I bouldered for quite a few years before taking up cycling. I tore a tendon while climbing a while back and haven’t been back since. I do miss it.
I can’t think of too many benefits to cycling. While it’s true that it is largely concentric, there are also lots of isometric contractions. If you watch good climbers, a lot of the time, one part of their body is locked off and stabilized while one arm or leg moves. In the beginning, lots of climbers move their whole body, lunging from one hold to the other. There are actually some eccentric contractions when bouldering though. Every time you fall, you are eccentrically loading your legs (pretty intensely) to cushion the fall. Hopefully you’re landing on your feet anyway:)
In terms of tips. Just enjoy it. Have fun learning and getting stronger. Feel the movement, the balance, the flow. To me, that was the most fun part. The other part which I especially enjoyed was figuring out little tweaks to body position which would allow me to succefully climb what previously felt impossibility. Be careful not to stress your joints too much. Especially in the beginning, if a hold feels like it is putting too much stress on your joints, don’t risk it. There will be lots of other problems (Boulder routes) to challenge yourself on. A basic tip which you may have already figured out is to keep your hips close to the wall. Experiment with moving your hips side to side and rotating them to figure out the best position. In no time that will become automatic.

2 Likes