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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Competition Warm-up

Many people have asked me how I warm up for competitions so I thought I’d write about my warm ups. Usually I take between 45 minutes and 75 minutes to warm up really well. Sometimes, during a competition, I might only have 30 minutes to warm up and you just have to tweak your rests and difficulty of moves. Another thing is, sometimes the isolation zones are just terrible at some gyms so I’ve actually learned how to do most of my warm up just sitting around on the ground. Obviously, I only use this technique if the climbing walls are really bad for warming up on. A pretty good example of this would be at North American Championships. During finals isolation, there was no overhanging walls to warm up on. Instead, I try to get pumped by just opening and closing my hands above my head. This gets you pumped and your fingers warmed up without actually touching holds. After you’ve done this, you also have to go and get on your hard moves before you go out. My 75 minute warm up starts with 5 minutes of cardio. You can do anything, jump up and down, go for a run, jump rope, anything to get your heart going. For the first 10-15 minutes, if your feet are cold just wear your street shoes, if not put on your climbing shoes, do easy moves on big holds. I’m usually just trying to get the blood pumping through my arms so when I go and try harder moves, they feel easier. After you feel a bit warmed up, get your climbing shoes on and do 40+ moves on the climbing wall. You can change the difficulty of the movement but they shouldn’t be really hard yet. I do this on usually pretty big holds and I make it long so I can get a bit pumped. If there’s a really hard section in the warm up wall, don’t be afraid to just jumped down and skip that section. It doesn’t matter how hard you’re climbing in isolation, it’s all about the competition route or boulder problems. (As a side note, my warm ups for climbing and bouldering competitions are extremely similar. The difference between them is for lead warmups, I do more resistance warming up and for bouldering, I’ll do 5-7 hard move boulder problems before I go out.) Getting back to the warm up, after those 40+ moves, I stretch out for about 15 minutes and stretch my arms. Usually after that, I’m feeling really good, I still have 30-35 minutes before I go out so I start doing really hard moves. I’ll start by making a boulder problem of 10 or so moves but I’m pretty sure I can do. Usually they’ll have dynamic moves in them and trying to use all sorts of different holds. Also, I try to touch every single hold I’ve never seen before while I’m in iso. You never know when one may pop up in a really har spot on your climb. When I’m competing in Europe, it’s usually every hold, which makes route sequencing a bit harder… a After I make a few hard boulder problems, I always finish with a really hard boulder problem. Usually I’ll fall, but sometimes I even surprise myself and do it. The reason I make a really really hard boulder problem is because if you’ve tried harder moves in your warp up than in the competition, the competition boulders will feel much easier. I usually rest for at least 10 minutes before I’m supposed to go out to climb to stretch out my arms again. Before I go out, I’m completely de-pumped and I’m already psyched to climb new moves. It doesn’t matter if I’m about to climb a route, or a boulders, every single time before I get on the wall, I chalk up, wipe the chalk off on my pants, chalk up again, swing my arms back and forth a couple times, then I get on the wall. I’m not sure why I do this but I always do. I swing my arms back and forth to release the nervousnous in my body and I always take a few deep breaths. I get on every boulder problem on route thinking that if I’m lucky, I’ll top it out. You have to have this mentality when you’re competing. If you think that you’re going to fall half way up, you probably will. Competing is 80% mental, maybe more.

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Comments (9)

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    Jamie Chong

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    The problem I have is recovery. I find that during qualifiers I perform okay, but if finals are the same day four hours later my body is already winding down. It is really hard for me to re-warm up and get to a level where I can perform as if I were fresh. What do you do in between rounds? Do you ever feel the same way as I do? If so, how do you deal with it? What sort of foods do you eat before the comp and between rounds?

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    Meshkat

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    What do you eat between qualifiers and finals, Jamie? I would be interested to know what either of you eats between rounds on the same day and if the rounds are on different days.

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    Sean McColl

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    When I have to compete the same day, I always try to eat some sort of fruit, usually a banana. If finals aren’t till 7-8, I’ll usually have a pretty light dinner, something that isn’t very filling but good energy. Also, I try to stay very hydrated. About your winding down comment. If I know finals are the same day, I won’t try as hard in qualifiers. Once you know you’ve got a spot in finals, stop climbing, it doesn’t matter what number you come out. If finals isn’t until the next day, I’ll eat a full dinner of usually pasta. If I know I’m going to compete the next day, I try never to eat red meat. Chicken is good, and I love pastas.

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    Jamie Chong

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    @Meshkat.

    Maybe that’s my problem. I don’t really stick to a diet when it comes to a competition weekend. Between rounds I’ll have dinner or a late lunch – something that digests easily like a Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl. Before the comp I don’t really think about it – just no drinking. I guess I don’t take it serious enough to really plan my food intake leading up to a comp. However I do get disappointed when I don’t perform as well in Finals as I do in Qualis. I’ll take a different approach the next time and see if it helps.

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    Marc

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    amazing article!!!!! wonderful !! never seen that before from any other climber

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