I recently realized how powerful the breath is by spending a couple sessions focusing on how it empowers my climbing. There are many articles and videos about it from professionals that offer a lot of detail. Here’s what I’ve been focusing on and what I think is a great start for anyone interested in the topic:
The breath before the climb:
For the 10 to 30 seconds before you climb your boulder problem, breath in through your nose and out through your mouth calmly: 1 to 2 second inhales followed by 2 to 4 second exhales. Keep breathing as you walk up to your problem and start climbing.
As you focus on this across a few sessions, notice how it impacts your focus and performance! You should be getting more climbing of each burn by oxygenating your muscles before you get on the wall and continuing the process while you climb.
Breathing during hard moves:
Now that you’re breathing more freely and openly before and through out your climbing, let’s add a variation.
The breath is empowering during hard moves. It's especially easy to practice this on a boulder problem with a hard move coming off the starting holds. Maybe you’re having a hard time sticking the move each try, maybe you’re unable to stick it at all. The breath will give you the focus to stick the move and to hold the tension to stay on the wall.
To be effective, you’ll settle into your starting holds and as you reach out to stick the move you’ll exhale through your mouth with determination, contracting your muscles and core as you do so to “connect” your musculature from the feet to the arms; you can make a “tssss” exhale noise with your breath (Think of Chris Sharma’s “PSSAAATTT!” in the videos). Try this on those hard moves you’re struggling with and see how it impacts your performance.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
A tangent on projecting:
I’ve had a ton of fun projecting again lately. I think that a few injuries switched my mindset to want attainable sends rather than enjoy learning the movement like when I was a complete newbie. Lately, I’ve been focusing on those climbs that are not necessarily at the limit of my grade maximum but that are at the limit of my movement knowledge, that are not my style, “sand-bagged”, or simply different and quirky. It’s been a fun rediscovery.