We’ve all seen the likes of Adam Ondra or Magnus Mitdbø on YouTube climb multiple times per week without issue. But is bouldering this often feasible for a non-pro climber? Or may it be true that rest days are indeed necessary to prevent injuries?
You should boulder 2-3 times per week depending on your experience as a climber. Most climbers should stick within this range as it allows for at least 1 or more rest days in between.
📚 Learn more about bouldering in our Bouldering Beginners Guide
How often should you climb as a beginner?
Beginners should go bouldering no more than 2 times per week. Always listen to your body before going climbing and in case of any soreness or tenderness in the fingers, you should postpone the session. To be on the safe side, allow for multiple rest days in between climbs, especially in the early days of climbing experience.
A good beginner climbing schedule looks as follows:
- Monday: climbing day
- Tuesday: rest day
- Wednesday: rest day
- Thursday: rest day
- Friday: climbing day
- Saturday: rest day
- Sunday: rest day
Climbing on both Monday and Friday allows plenty of rest days in between your climbs. This gives your muscles plenty of time to recover and your fingers time to heal. You can change this schedule to fit your own but ideally have at least 2 days of rest between bouldering sessions as a beginner climber.
How often should you boulder as an intermediate climber?
Once you get past the beginner stages of climbing (6 months – 1 year) and your body has adapted to your new climbing lifestyle, you can increase your bouldering sessions to 3 times per week.
Here’s what an intermediate climbing schedule could look like:
Monday: climbing day
Tuesday: rest day
Wednesday: climbing day
Thursday: rest day
Friday: climbing day
Saturday: rest day
Sunday: rest day
By climbing 3 times per week, you are still able to give your body plenty of recovery time as you can implement at least one rest day in between each session.
For the sake of recovery, I don’t recommend you climb up to 4x per week. If you must, try to keep your consecutive sessions light and focus on the climbing technique as opposed to projecting your bouldering limit.
📚 Related : Complete Guide to Climbing Technique
How often should you climb to avoid injury?
How often you can climb depends entirely on the speed at which your body recovers from a previous session. A beginner could get injured from climbing twice in a row while a professional athlete might be fine climbing all week at a high level.
A study conducted at the University of Cambridge which tested 201 rock climbers, found that 50% of climbers sustained injuries in a 12-month period. 33% of these climbers sustained chronic overuse injuries, primarily in the fingers. The study concluded that frequency is one of the main contributors to climbing injuries.
Not all injuries come from overuse, sometimes injury is inevitable but if you wish to have the utmost control over injuries you have to play it safe. This means you should stick to a 2x per week session as a beginner climber and never go bouldering or climbing when your body feels off. If you have over 6 months of experience, you could transition into 3x per week as long as you stay safe.
I’m actually writing this article with a strain in my left shoulder. Today is Monday, climbing day. I’m not going until my shoulder feels fine again. Some of my friends who would say ‘**** it’ and go climbing anyway but that’s not me. I’d rather not go today, or tomorrow and climb later this week than sit at home for months recovering from an injury.
How long should a bouldering session last
If you’re anything like me, you prefer a long bouldering session. There’s only so much you can do in a single hour of climbing. Luckily, you don’t need to fear the length of your climbing session as long as you allow enough time for recovery between your climbing days.
So if you climb 2x per week as a beginner, you will be fine doing longer bouldering sessions of 2-3 hours. If you climb more regularly, you might want to shorten the length of your bouldering sessions.
Always cut a session short if you feel pain in your wrist, elbow or fingers Continuing to climb might result in injury.
Should I climb two days in a row?
Plenty of sports can be performed daily with minimal risk of injury. Climbing is sadly not one of them. Being. a full-body workout, bouldering and climbing use A LOT of different muscles. Daily climbing can definitely lead to injury for all levels of climbers but especially beginners.
I remember visiting my GP with a potential elbow injury after just 3 months of bouldering. The first thing he asked me was “how often do you climb per week”? He seemed content with my ‘twice per week’ reply but continued to warn me how different climbing is from every day activity. As beginners, our bodies are not yet used to putting muscles under this type of pressure.
Luckily my elbow injury was a false alarm. But I’m glad I went anyway, talking to him made me realise that it was much too soon to transition into climbing 3x per week. And I like to think it has helped keep me injury-free until now.
I tend to get pretty obsessive so I could definitely see a version of myself climb daily. Luckily, I did my research, talked to the right people and always listen to my body before and during my bouldering sessions.
I suggest you do the same.
Climbing daily is a bad idea. If you are an experienced climber, you could potentially climb on two consecutive days provided you feel good. However, if you are a beginner climber you should under no circumstances climb two days in a row.
I assume most of my readers have less than 2 years of climbing experience. For this reason, I think it’s safe to say that none of you should try to climb 4x per week. At most, you should boulder 3x per week. Such as schedule gives you plenty of rest days where your muscles and tendons can recover.
If you must climb two days in a row (e.g. an outdoor bouldering trip) be sure to stop when you feel pain and allow for plenty of recovery afterwards.
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