Whether you’re a seasoned climber who’s hit a plateau at 5.11 or fairly new to the game and hoping to get strong enough to head outside, Longmont Climbing Collective offers indoor climbing that is focused on helping climbers reach their goals and get to new levels of the sport.
While the state of Colorado has literally thousands of routes and everything from alpine and ice climbing to trad, sport and bouldering, sometimes the best way to get stronger and increase your climbing skill level is to head to the gym. Plus you don’t even need to leave Longmont.
Climbing Gym Benefits
“It will get you stronger for outdoor climbing and that’s basically a proven fact, but one of the best parts of it is how efficient it is,” said Chrissy Vadovszki, a head coach at LCC. “We all live these really busy lives so you can get a good workout really quickly.”
Vadovszki says skipping the long drive to a wall can be game changing. Instead of only being able to make it outside on the weekends, the convenience of climbing gyms makes a huge difference for anyone looking to focus on specific skill sets when you may only have an hour or two after a long work day.
She says another benefit is that the controlled environment can be safer whether that’s a guaranteed floor mat below, or a little more efficient if your goal is to improve something like finger strength.
Patrick Bodnar, another coach at the Longmont climbing gym, agrees with how the controlled indoor climbing environment can be beneficial for those looking to improve the mental aspect of their climbing.
“I think climbing indoors is a great way to get in your headspace and get comfortable trying hard, you know obviously to get your sea legs,” said Bodnar. “And then obviously it’s a great way to build a little bit of strength and endurance in a controlled environment.”
Step one for any climber looking to improve is to figure out what they need to work on.
“Knowing what to work on requires a lot of self reflection or potentially even coaching,” said Vadovszki. “But if you can work on your weaknesses inside whatever it might be it’s really time efficient.”
Anyone who feels stuck can look at LCC’s climbing courses for adults. From there, you can then use the different types of climbing in the gym, whether that’s slab or finger pockets, to help build on your climbing foundation. Vadvoszki says knowing the kind of climbing you want to work on can be key, and as Bodnar mentions, unlike the outside, gyms are able to provide multiple different styles of routes.
“I think we’re super lucky climbing in the gym because you have a million different styles you might not encounter all the time outside,” said Bodnar. “But it’s really cool to check out them all in the gym.”
From there, climbers can efficiently use even small amounts of time to focus on things like building up core strength on overhangs, better footwork on slab, using a hangboard to build finger strength or running laps on a route to increase endurance.
“For example if you aren’t very good at climbing on overhangs, there’s plenty of boulders at the gym plus you can use our boards and crank them back,” said Vodvoszki. “You can really work with your weaknesses and isolate them. That’s kind of hard to do outside.”
Another proven way to get stronger with indoor climbing is to actually get off the wall and vary your exercise routine. Simple changes to your workout can help you get over the spot where you feel like you have plateaued, plus it avoids overuse of the same muscles which can lead to injuries. Changing up your routine is also mentally good for you with learning new skills and avoiding burnout.
To do this, climbers can focus on building muscle in fitness classes, whether that’s by lifting weights or expanding their cardio. You can also increase your mental game with both focus and balance by checking out a yoga class.
Translating Indoor Skills to Climbing Outside
The best part of the skills learned at the indoor climbing gym is being able to take them back outside. Whether you’re a long time climber, or you’re making your first jump to bouldering outside.
“I definitely think getting comfortable falling and learning how to fall consistently and not hurt yourself is a great practice in the gym before you head outside,” said Bodnar.
Both Bodnar and Vodvoszki say the social aspect of the gym can also help climbers find friends and mentors to climb with both inside and outside, which can help climbers learn proper techniques and new ways to look at problems by working on routes with different partners. Plus veteran climbers often have the safety skills needed to head outside.
“Don’t start alone,” said Bodnar. “Make sure you have someone with you who’s making sure you’re climbing safe and obviously climbing with friends and mentors is more fun anyway.”