Innovative tactics for using your hard won fitness to recover stronger. Ascend the indoor climbing walls and you may just find improved recovery, flexibility and better posture waiting for you at the peak. Here’s how the ultimate bouldering rest day can help your gains climb.


Muscular gains that bouldering delivers

Asking which muscles bouldering doesn’t benefit is probably a better question. It goes from the showy ones, such as your biceps and abs, all the way to your smaller stabilizer muscles that you’ve never heard of. The improved blood circulation you receive while you climb will drip feed nutrients to help your recovery from previous days workouts. Your most important muscle, the ticker, shouldn’t feel left out, though – Harvard Health Publications found that the cardiovascular benefit of bouldering (climbing) is strong, to the tune of burning a whopping 800 calories per hour of climbing for the average 70kg person.


The mental release

Bouldering isn’t all about your physicality. You’ll also need to use your grey matter to think on your feet. While climbing, and at times hanging, you’ll need to be clear of mind enough to strategize your next move – make the wrong move and you could find yourself hitting the crash mat below. Its exercise related puzzle solving that’ll see you leave the horizontal world’s troubles in the rear view mirror to focus squarely on the vertical maze in front of you. If you struggle to switch off from work this is the sport that’ll give you Zen like calm.


Posture perfect?

The joint stability and flexibility required for bouldering is immense and your body will adapt swiftly. There will be some climbing routes on offer that require you to open your hips and get flat against the wall. An alternate route may have rock placements further apart which require a bigger stretch to reach. Both scenarios will lead to much improved shoulder stability and flexibility of your hip flexors – two things most commonly lacking in those of us who sit hunched over a keyboard all day.


bouldering rest day


Before you set off

As with almost all sports, there is a risk of injury but indoor bouldering centres cater for rank beginners all the way to the highly advanced. Colour-coded, labelled rocks will point you in the right direction for your skill level. Start slow and progress – this will ensure maximum fun instead of frustration and potential injury. Why not climb with a friend? Having a buddy shouting encouragement and advice from below keeps you going, not to mention, we all love a bit of good hearted competition.


The recovery pyramid

Where bouldering fits into your ability to bounce back from training


Stage 1

45% of your recovery

Activities include :


Stage 2

30% of your recovery

Activities include :
Cool downs
Planned rest breaks
New training routines
Active rest techniques


Stage 3

15% of your recovery

Activities include:
Swimming pool based therapy
Technical sports garments
Sports trackers


Stage 4

10% of your recovery

Activities include:
Experimental therapies
Sports psychology
Detoxing activities

Remember that your rest days don’t need to be you glued to the couch. Active rest days serve tons of benefits both physically and mentally. Try bouldering on rest day and you might just find a new hobby that is gain-friendly.