Abs are cute, but what about core? — Why core workouts benefit your climbing more than abs ever will

Everyone knows the importance of a six-pack — because it looks good and impresses people, duh — but what does having a six-pack do for your climbing? Turns out, not much! Besides having the hot babes and dudes always willing to give you a spot, abs don't make you a better climber. It's why we offer "core" classes here at Summit instead of "abs" classes — abs look good and all but it's your entire core, which consists of a whole group of muscles in your midsection and back, that keeps you stable and strong on the wall and not those cute squares decorating the front of your belly."The core is one of the most important things in your climbing," says Adam Assistant Manager at Summit Dallas and fitness instructor / handstander extraordinaire Adam Hughes, whom I consulted for this post, since I am a lazy bum and in no way qualified to tell people how to work their core. In short, here's what I got: So basically our bodies are broken down into two basic muscle categories: we have stability muscles and mover muscles. Mover muscles are the bulkier muscles we have on the surface, that are lookin' super jacked and are where most of our strength comes from. Our core muscles are stability muscles, which try to keep our body in a proper alignment as best to be able to use our mover muscles. With a weak core, your body relies more on your mover muscles, which leads to overuse and possible injury. Overly relying on mover muscles like your biceps and forearms makes your climbing less efficient, and you'll tire yourself much faster than if you were better able to engage your core, and keep your body in tight as you're making difficult movements. While mover muscles are strong in bursts, stability moves must be trained for endurance, to stay engaged for long periods of time.

The system of muscles that comprise your core.
The system of muscles that comprise your core.

Since your core is a series of muscles and not just those "abs" that everyone seems to spend so much time on, all of these muscles — your abdominal muscles, your obliques, those center back muscles, etc. — need to work together in perfect tandem to achieve strength. A pretty genius analogy Adam came up with — your core is like rocket, chugging its way to space. When a rocket is ready to blast off into the intergalactic unknown, the first engine fires up to get the rocket to a certain place in the atmosphere, and then the next engine takes over from there, and then another until the rocket has successfully reached space, to fight aliens or something. Basically your core is a series of things working together to accomplish the same goal — entering space to fight aliens. Or better climbing. Whatever.

So the best way to work this muscle system is to train them all at the same time. That's why core workouts like Penguins, or Plank position (spoiler alert: all these workouts and more with our Core Class whoa!) are some of the best ways to train your entire core to stay tight and strong, as opposed to a lot of the individualized ab workouts you can find elsewhere, like that darn internet. Working one core muscle at a time is pretty much next to useless!

FullSizeRender (9)
FullSizeRender (9)

If you find yourself cutting your feet a lot on overhang, or having a hard time getting your feet back in over they've cut, it might be time to train core! If your footwork is imprecise or sloppy, core can fix that! If you're just missing that jump move on your project, train that core so you can stay tighter to the wall and more dialed-in with your movements.

Most every climber can benefit from a stronger core. Your core is basically the suspension bridge connecting the top and bottom halves of your body together — your feet are San Francisco and your hands, Marin County, and you better keep that Golden Gate tight or you're gonna dump a bunch of cars in the ocean, compadre, and no one likes that. Since your feet can only do one job at a time, and your feet can only do one job at a time, your core controls what you're doing in between and connects the two to work in tandem.

If you're intrigued, and step up your core game, don't hesitate to try one of our core classes! They're offered at every gym, and are included with your day pass or membership.

Together, we can make that rocket ship more efficient!