Have you ever found yourself at the crux of a climb, pulling hard to stick the move, then sadly fall, take a huge gasping breath, and realize you had been holding your breath the whole time? Sounds familiar right?
Since we’ve been breathing involuntarily since birth, it’s not something many of us are used to consciously thinking about. During harder exercise when our muscles are demanding more oxygen, we breath more rapidly because that’s what comes naturally, not because we make the decision to. However, this doesn’t mean that the quality of our breathing is up to par. You could be breathing too fast, or too shallow, or too deep, or not at all! Learning proper breathing technique is a simple and easy way to boost your performance, even if only by a couple percent. But hey, that could be the extra you need to power through and CONQUER THE CRUX (see what I did there? 🙂 ).
Breathing affects how you perform both physically and mentally, so it only makes sense to leverage on this fact by making the necessary improvements and adjustments and start showing that rock who’s really in charge! Here’s a couple things proper breathing can do for you:
- improves focus
- calms the mind
- increases endurance
- improves concentration
Smooth and rhythmic breathing is an excellent way to deliver oxygen to your body so that it can function and perform more efficiently, with less effort, and for longer periods of time. Are you sold? Sounds pretty appealing to me!
So, like everything else, mastering your breathing technique takes practice. Fortunately, with consistency, it’s a fairly simple habit to pick up.
Developing good breathing technique starts before you even get off the ground. Make it part of your pre-climb ritual. Tighten your shoes, chalk up, study your climb and breathe. Start setting a rhythm with your breath to get you focused and in zone. It’s important to breathe with your diaphragm, which means that you are breathing into your stomach instead of into your chest. This type of breathing is the most natural and effective way of breathing and delivers the most oxygen to your body. Breathing into your chest is more shallow and is not as relaxing or efficient.
Ok, feeling relaxed and ready to crush!? Now it’s time to take this breathing with you up the wall. Use your breath to control your rhythm and movement as you climb. Inhale as you set up your feet and exhale to make the next move. Sometimes, you may find you need an entire breath (inhale and exhale) to set up, which is fine, it’s just important to always match your next move with the exhale. Exhaling is when you contract your muscles, which is exactly what you need to help you stick the next move. Inhaling at this point won’t really do the trick.
The best time to practice and get used to this is during your warm ups. In fact, practicing any technique is best on warms up because the easier climbs give you more mental space to focus on technique. So, during your warm ups practice this breathing technique until it becomes a habit. You want this rhythmic breathing to feel completely natural. Also (somewhat side note), practicing yoga is another excellent way to learn how to partner your movement with breath along with a plethora of other climbing benefits.
Don’t underestimate the simplicity of breathing technique. Use it’s simplicity to your advantage! Just think, doesn’t it make sense that you can gain great benefits by improving on the things that you do the most often? Well, breathing is something you do VERY often. So improving your breathing = big improvements. It’s that simple.
Enjoy the wonderful feeling moving in unison with your breath as you scale up the wall. It’s almost breathtaking…. 🙂
How’s your breathing technique? Share your thoughts below!