Category Archives: Physical

Physical parts of climbing performance

Hot Rock Climbing Holidays in Spain

In conjunction with the site owners other business Sunnier Climbs,  How to Climb Harder is hitting the road this winter in an effort to get some winter hot rock climbing holidays in Spain. So if you want to experience some sunshine rather than the winter blues then join us on one of our Spanish Hot Rock Climbing Holidays.

We have several bases for our winter Hot Rock Holidays. All of which we have thoroughly tested over the last few year and have been chosen because they have amazing climbing and great weather.

What’s included with the Hot Rock Climbing Holidays in Spain?

Our courses are staffed by Mark Reeves the author of How To Climb Harder and highly experience climbing coach. The ratio is a max of 1 to 2. Meaning you will not only be guided around the best areas but get great coaching.  All our courses include transport from as little as £800 for seven days. 

Picos De Europa Climbing Adventure Holiday

This Picos De Europa Climbing Holiday is a great way to experience the best trad and sport climbing in this magical region of Northern Spain.

The Picos De Europa is an amazing place to climb, the area has some spectacular limestone crags with a variety of single and multi pitch sport climbing as well as some amazing trad routes in the Higher Picos. The main peak a gigantic limestone dome is ‘Naranga Del Bulnes’ and as well as having some harder routes also sports one of the most staggering Hard Severe routes in the world. The South Face climbs all the way to its amazing summit.

The North Face of Naranja Del Bulnes, one of the dos impressive peaks in Spain. With some of the most amazing routes from HS to E4+.
The North Face of Naranja Del Bulnes, one of the dos impressive peaks in Spain. With some of the most amazing routes from HS to E4+.

This is a holiday with the emphasis on fun, enjoyment and above all living a little adventurously. We can cater for anybody from beginners right through to experience climbers looking beyond the coast blanca for a sun rock holiday.

Click Here to find out more…about the Picos De Europa Climbing Adventure 

Madrid Granite Hot Rock Holiday and Coaching Course

The climbing around Madrid is one of Spain’s hidden gems. With granite slab and crags resembling Yosemite’s Touloumne Meadows. As such it will be unlike any hot rock sport climbing holiday you have ever been on.

Based out of the picturesque Miraflores on the edge of the region Park of Pedriza we have a wealth of different areas to climb on in the area. Three are based on the granite cliffs around Pedraza, Valdemanco and La Cabrara, which offer fantastic friction slabs, cracks and corners. From simple single pitch climbs to exciting multi-pitch routes to the summits of Granite Domes.

An amazing Granite cornering La Pedriza, near Madrid. Truly the Touloumne Meadows of Europe.
An amazing Granite cornering La Pedriza, near Madrid. Truly the Touloumne Meadows of Europe.

Just out of the mountains is La Patones, a pocketed limestone venue set in a picturesque valley with vertical climbing on often good but spaced holds.

This variety means that we will get to experience a whole array of different climbing on both granite and limestone. If you want to find out more about the rock climbing then Mark Reeves has written a mini guide to Madrid  for RockFax.

Click Here to find out more…about the Madrid Granite Hot Rock Holiday

Chodes and Calcena Hot Rock Holidays and Coaching Courses

Chodes was one of the first areas bolted in Spain for Sports Climbing. As such it makes a great place for a climbing holiday away from the crowds. A 5th and 6th-grade climbers paradise, Chodes and Calcenca offer a great variety of climbing in what are fair compact areas.

Two hours east of Madrid just outside Zaragoza is the Morata del Jalon valley, where you find the amazing climbing area of Chodes. This offers highly technical climbing which will hone your technique and footwork.

Amazing technical climbing in Chodes will help you hone your technique and make you a better climber.
Amazing technical climbing in Chodes will help you hone your technique and make you a better climber.

Where as a 30km drive up the road is Calcena, which has recently been redeveloped. So there are loads of fresh climb on a variety of different limestone type. Including some fun routes up small towers.

Ti find out more about the climbing here, then Mark reeves has written a mini guide to Chodes for Rockfax

Click Here to find out more…about the Chodes and Calcena Hot Rock Holiday

Costa Blanca Hot Rock Holidays and Coaching Courses

Come and join us as we bask in the winter sun on our amazing 7 day Costa Blanca Sports Climbing Holiday.

Winter is rapidly approaching you have resigned yourself to a winter of indoor climbing. Why is that? Alicante is often only £50 return to fly to, it is sunny and warm throughout the winter and we are running sport climbing holidays there. What more could you ask for to wash away those winter blue by feeling the sun on you skin.

There is literally something for everyone in Costa Blanca, and quite often all at the same crag. Another great place to get a tan whilst you climb.
There is literally something for everyone in Costa Blanca, and quite often all at the same crag. Another great place to get a tan whilst you climb.

The Costa Blanca is one of the original winter hot rock destination, situated just north of Alicante the area is cheap to get to and has an amazing variety of classic sport climbing routes and destinations. This is the reason we have chosen to run our climbing courses from here over the winter as they will suit anyone from the F4/VDiff leader to someone trying to break through into the 7th grade.

We are based around the sea side town of Calpe, which is nestled below the amazing Penon D’ifach. This is a great location from which to be based as it is close to the centre of the Northern region of the Costa Blanca best climbing. This allows us easy access Sella, Toix, Echo Valley, Alcalali, Olta, Gandia and Guadalest.

Click Here to find out more…about the Costa Blanca Hot Rock Climbing Holiday.

Links to Holidays


How To Climb Harder

Do you dream of pushing your grade and climbing harder then we offer a fabulous course for you. Our How to Climb Harder course uses a holistic approach to improve your technique, tactics, confidence and mental approach to climbing. We find this delivers repeatable and longterm results to your climbing. There is even a How to Climb Harder book to go with the course.

Our How to Climb Harder course runs over 2 days and will make a real difference to how you climb. Helping you be more relaxed and climb with better technique and improved tactics, meaning you will be much more efficient. It will also help re-energising your drive to get out there and enjoy yourself on the rock. More often than not you will also break into harder climbs.

Our How to Climb Harder course involves movement coaching of rock climbing techniques on both boulder problems and rock climbs. We also cover the tactical approach to leading a rock climb, as well as the psychological skills that will help you improve how you feel lead climbing.

In essence, we cover the Technical, Tactical, Physical and Psychological aspects of rock climbing performance. Looking to make small gains in each area, will have a major impact on your climbing.

How To Climb Harder Course

Day 1

  • Fundamental Technique Workshop
    • Footwork
    • Balance, Body Position and Efficient Movement
    • Hand Holds
  • Gear Placement Workshop
  • Basic Tactical Climbing
  • Leading a route within Limit
    • Isolating individual mistakes
    • Personalised feedback
  • Steep Rock Workshop

Day 2

  • Mental Skills Workshop
    • Relaxation
    • Anxiety Management
    • Imagery
    • Self-talk
    • Confidence
  • Training Workshop
    • Strength
    • Stamina
    • Strength Endurance
  • Putting it altogether on difficult lead
  • Creating a plan for the future
  • Course review


  • April 7, 2018
  • July 21, 2018

Cost: £250 – To Book visit Snowdonia Mountain Guides.

More Rock Climbing Courses

Private Rock Climbing Coaching

Lead Climbing Coaching Courses – North Wales

1 Month UK Trad Climbing Tour

Costa Blanca Sports Climbing Coaching Holidays




Warming Up Overview

Warming up will get the heart, lungs, muscles, joints and tendons ready for action. Whilst some people will do a full aerobics style warm-up, some will opt for easy bouldering or climbing. Some climbers will choose to do none. Although this might feel like you will be able to get more climbing in because you have not ‘wasted’ energy on the warm-up, the opposite is true.

Warming up promotes blood flow through the muscles, dilating the capillaries and actually allowing you to climb harder for longer. It will also help switch your mind from normal life to to climbing mode. A good warm up will help make your muscle and tendons more flexible, a bit like warming up blue tack or silly putty. Once you have got them warm they are less likely to snap.

If you don’t warm up and jump on the hardest route straight away you will get what climbers refer to  ‘flash pump’ – your muscles instantly become exhausted because the blood cannot flow effectively through arteries, veins and capillaries restricting the muscles they supply. It is often difficult to recover from the flash pump as you need to go all the way back to the start of your warm up.

Warming Up

Starts heart and lungs working. Promotes good blood follow through cap- illaries. Helps tendons prepare for activity by making them more elastic. Helps promote uid in the joint to increase lubrications. Helps switch the mind to climbing mode.

A good warm-up should last about twenty minutes. It will help to set the scene for your whole session, get you in the right frame of mind and help you to concentrate on skilful climbing.

Video of Warming Up using Bouldering

Warming Up Key Elements

  1. Raise you heart rate by light jogging and extremely easy bouldering/climbing. Do this until you feel out of breathe and are starting to sweat. (5 – 10 minutes)
  2. Do some more very easy climbing, you should never feel pumped so maybe try slabs to start with. (5-10 minutes)
  3. Work up to one grade below you maximum (5 – 10 minutes)
  4. You should be ready to climb at your max now. If you find yourself getting pumped then drop a few grades to a very easy route, this will help you de-pimp.

The Pump

Bodybuilder’s coined the phrase ‘the pump’ for the swollen feeling and appearance of muscles after a workout. For climbers it is pertinent to climbing in our anaerobic zone, where the build up of lactic acid makes the muscle less and less effective. It starts with a dull ache and ends in a complete inability to contract the muscles effected, resulting in failure. If you carry on to failure the muscle will feel solid to touch, and you will need at least 15 minutes rest to recover.

Iy is essentially cause by you contracting the muscles so hard that you start to squeeze the capillaries shut and starve the muscles of oxygen and energy. In order to de-pump you need to rest the specific muscle but also use them lightly. As the blood pumping too the muscle will help so the accumulation of lactic acid, it is however the contraction of muscles that helps flush the lactic acid out of the muscles.



Coordination: Mind to Body Warm Up

As you are warming ups, doing some pulse raising exercise you can add in some co-ordination exercises. These will focus your concentration on kinesthesia (your sense of movement), proprio- ception (sense of space) and balance. We can effectively turn on the part of the brain that we use for learning and acquiring new skills.

In the long term, these types of coordination exercises can become second nature, it is in the context of the learning to learn that these exercises will benefit you for the first few sessions that you use this book.

Coordination exercises

  1. Balance on one foot and move upper body and other limb to counter balance each other.
  2. Rub tummy, pat head whilst balancing on one foot. Put the other foot forwards, left, right and back.
  3. Rotate arms in opposite directions whilst walking around then change your direction of travel.
  4. Basic Juggling, then move to see if you can do it on one leg?
  5. Rotate your right foot in a clockwise direction and then with your right hand write a number six in the air.
  6. Run on the spot with your legs going in slow motion and your arms as fast as possible and vice versa.
  7. If there are three of you tried the human plait or some gymnastic multi person balances. (see video below)
  8. Various Yoga poses 

Video of German Climbing team warm ups with coordination exercises

The video below show various routines that the german climbing team have used over the years to warm up. Many are fun and require a high level of coordination and look more like acrobatics than climbing.

Coaches Notes

This warming up people coordination is extremely important when we are teaching people new physical skills. As it helps them to access the right part of the brain for learning.



Stretching as part of Warming Up

Stretching is a very important part of any physical activity and should also be a part of warming. However remember warm up to then stretch, do not to stretch to warm up. As stretching requires you to have warmed up. As our muscular-skeletal system can be seen like a blob of silly putty, if you try and pull it apart whilst cold it can snap easily, whilst if you take time to warm it up, the putty stretches.

So having warmed up you should move onto some stretching exercises. As being warmed-up means you are far less likely to injure yourself by pulling a muscle whilst stretching.

Warm up to stretch, don’t stretch to warm up

Stretching muscles regularly will increase their useful range of movement. Sometimes we are forced into brutal geometries, wide bridging or contorted positions and if you are not flexible it will be hard to use your muscles at the limit of a your mobility.

To get the most out of your stretching you shouldn’t bounce in the stretch, instead just go gradually as far as is comfortable and hold that position for at least ten seconds. If you bounce, the muscles and tendons stretch like an elastic band and unless you hold the position for long enough they will not elongate. As your exibility improves with regular stretching, you will be able to hold the stretches for longer.

As well as stretching before your session after a good warm-up, more drastic improvements can be made by taking time to stretch in your daily routine. Yoga or Pillates will aid flexibility as well as tone muscle and build core strength. When stretching to train exibility, hold your stretch for at least twenty seconds, you should be able to build up to holding them for a minute.

Your sports physiotherapist may offer PNF (Prepriorceptor neuromuscular facilitation) stretching. This is an advanced form of stretching that requires expert supervision to avoid injury. A physiotherapist can measure your gains in flexibility as well as offer advice and treatment on the general aches and pains of climbing.

As a lazy warm up for stretching sessions at home you can take a hot shower or bath.

It is useful to use a systematic approach to your stretches, to ensure that all the major muscle groups are included, starting at the head and working down to the toes or vice versa.

Videos of Stretching for Climbers



Warming Up

Whether you climb indoor or outdoors on routes or boulders you need to do some form of warming up. Failure to do so will often lead to poorer performance and/or injury.  We cover some of the basics of warming up for indoor and outdoor climbers.

Warming up for the Indoor Climber

At an indoor climbing wall a good warm-up will extend the length of a session, by allowing you climb harder for longer.

The majority of climbing walls will have some easy top roping for groups, these routes are ideal for warming up on as they will allow you to work your muscles without tiring. You need to operate below the level where you nd your arms becoming pumped because of the build up of lactic acid. You should be excercising in anaerobic way. If you do start to become pumped lower off and drop the grade and angle of the routes that you are warming up on. Very easy bouldering on slabs, traverses or juggy routes can offer an alternative.

Throughout the warmup, how does your body feel; are you finding it too intense? If so, make things a easier, the level you warm up at will rarely be too easy. You will be able to feel your body warming up, and the blood flowing more freely through the muscles, a raised heart and breathing rate and a glow of light perspiration. Keep going until that feeling is well established (for about twenty minutes).

The warm-up is a great time to introduce some climbing drills that help reinforce technique on this easy terrain. So as part of your warm-up visit some of the exercises we’ll in the Basic climbing techniques section. Exercises like climbing only facing left, then right, being sideways on (zigzagging up the wall), climbing silently, climbing slowly, Climbing one or no handed and climbing like a monkey. All these exercises develop good technique and used during the warm-up will help switch you mind to climbing mode. Doing them every time you go climbing will engrain them in your subconscious and help ensure that you think about effeciency whenever you climb.

Warming up at the wall

  • Remember climbing during the warm-up can never be too easy!
  • A warm-up should last for at least twenty minutes.
  • Consider doing some technique drills.

Video on the importance of warming up

Warming up at the wall

Warming Up Outside

At the crag it may be harder to do a thorough warm-up, although sometimes a long walk-in suffices. You may find that by the time you have rigged a top rope or racked up you have already cooled down, so consider doing an easy route as a warm-up. If you have warmed up on the approach wrapping up in an extra layer of clothing once you have arrived at the bottom of the cliff can make a big difference.

If climbing an easy route isn’t possible then bouldering up and down the first few moves of a climb several times is a good alternative. This process of going up and down the start of a route can be extended to actually placing gear and coming back down, not only getting warmed up but also getting to know the route and the gear.

Simply walking around the bottom of the crag, moving and flexing your arms and hands as well as jogging on the spot will all help to get the heart and lungs into gear. Whatever you do, any form of warm-up will help you climb better and fight off the pump.

Warming up at the crag

  • The walk-in can be part of the warm-up.
  • Start on an easy route or boulder up and down the start of the route.
  • Boulder around the base of the crag.
  • Use an easy route or small boulder to work on technique.
  • Doing an easy route can help you get to know the rock type.