When temperatures drop and the first snowflakes fall, climbers in Chicago shutter because they know that their weekends spent north at Devil’s Lake or south in the Red River Gorge are dwindling. When a Chicago winter hits, it hits hard. But that doesn’t mean climbers can’t use the long winter to train hard and amp up for next climbing season. Rock climbers looking for a way to strengthen their endurance, technique or grip can utilize different approaches and warm ups to achieve their goals, even through a tough Chicago winter. Here are five ways to become a better climber over the winter:
This winter is the perfect time to work on arm and shoulder strength. Bouldering builds strength quickly through short, intense problems. Some head to local Chicago bouldering gym Hidden Peak for the city’s freshest and most in-depth bouldering spot.
Flex your fingers
Many use the chilly months to grow a grip. For bonus hand workouts between climbing sessions, some rock enthusiasts invest in a hand exerciser. Sports stores such as REI or Moose Jaw carry them, or there are plenty to order online. The Gripmaster Hand Exerciser is one of the most popular. Climbers treat them like mini exercise machines, doing a few reps before taking a breather and repeating.
Work on footwork
Fancy footwork is the key to strong climbing. Climbers looking to improve their technique can try setting goals to focus on leading with their feet in order to improve the rest of their body’s climb quality.
Grow your network
Climbers at many gyms throughout Chicago are friendly and eager to pair up with a rock friend to suffer through the long winter with. Sites such as Meetup’s Greater Chicago Rock Climbing Community connect belay buddies year-round.
Longer walls, such as the 50-foot one found at Chicago Athletic Clubs or the one at the University of Illinois offer longer routes, perfect for building endurance. These bigger walls let athletes climb up and climb on!