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Burnout: it’s something we all struggle with at some point in our lives – no matter the endeavor. I have personally experienced burnout in both volleyball and rock climbing. While this feeling is a challenge, it can also lead to new discoveries. In fact, if I had not experienced an injury while playing volleyball in college, I may have never discovered the joy of rock climbing. Now, I can find joy in both sports when I develop a healthy balance between the two. So, how do we best prevent burnout in the world of rock climbing?

Add Variety to Your Climbing

The first way to battle burnout is by adding variety into your climbing routine. For example, sport climbers can focus more on bouldering in order to strengthen muscles and build mental problem-solving skills. Boulderers can get on ropes in order to gain endurance or face a fear of heights. Climbers of all types can go outside to climb real rock – enjoying time in nature as much as the sport itself.

Ultimately, variety does not simply exercise our mental and physical muscles in unique ways, it allows us to build enduring connections within our community. All that it may take to prevent your next feeling of burnout is to meet folks who help you get stoked on a new element of climbing.

Add Variety in the Gym

If you’re burnt out on both bouldering and rope climbing, fitness classes can add physical and mental variety into your routine. If you prefer an individual workout, try working out on the 60 degree wall or hangboards in the training room. In addition to adding variety, these elements will build your cardiovascular strength as well as upper body, back, core, forearm, and finger strength. These improvements will ultimately increase your skill on the climbing wall.

Yoga classes will also improve your strength, control, and flexibility. The rooftop yoga sessions on Tuesday night are a unique opportunity to practice yoga on the roof of the climbing gym overlooking the city. Rather than detracting from rock climbing, working out in these other ways will not only help shuffle things up and prevent burnout but also prepare and strengthen climbers.

Add Variety to Your Routine

Plateau is a word that many of us loathe. It’s the enemy of progress. When someone hits a plateau, it’s hard to stay motivated and work hard. However, adding a new sport can help you grow in unforeseen ways and overcome the plateau. For me, this comes in the form of playing volleyball.

So, how are the worlds of rock climbing and volleyball connected? You will hear many climbers tell you that the secret to climbing is using your legs rather than pulling yourself up the wall with your arms. Muscularly speaking, volleyball also requires a lot of lower body strength. Years of plyometric training and weight lifting helped strengthen my lower body and unknowingly prepare me for rock climbing.

Furthermore, any volleyball player will tell you about the importance of body awareness. In nursing school, I learned the term proprioception which is defined as the “perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body.” This awareness is essential for both volleyball and climbing. While playing volleyball, there is so much to be aware of. You must be in tune with your physical position on the court, the rotation of players, your teammates, the net, the opposing team, and of course, the volleyball. You learn awareness very quickly – or you rapidly discover it by getting nailed in the face with a volleyball, falling into the net, or running into one of your teammates.

Proprioception is just as useful in climbing. In climbing, being aware of your body position and movement on the wall is crucial. How you balance on the wall, how you fit your body into a route, how you position yourself to clip the rope – all of this involves proprioception. While these sports seem extremely different, they are more similar than you think.

Ultimately, many activities can help simultaneously prevent burnout and strengthen you as a climber, so go out and find them! Don’t forget that you have a world of opportunities available to you. These may actually give you a new appreciation for our sport and add new depth in areas you could not have predicted.

Sarah Hall

Author Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall is a nurse as well as instructor and staff member at Climb So iLL. She has been climbing for 7 years and teaching belay technique for 6 years. She teaches the Rope Skills 1 class and enjoys spending time with new climbers.

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