Doing cardio outdoors during the summer doesn’t have to entail the tedium of running alone. Look to your local park or nature preserve for a rock to climb—or find a gym with a rock wall. Depending on your size, you could set fire to nearly 1,000 calories in an hour. Ben Hendrickson, a rock-climbing instructor and elite trainer at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers in New York City, gave us some insight to help you get to the top of the mountain, or wall, breaking it down to three essential points you should keep in mind:
Train For the Hike
If you climb outdoors or plan to, your rock probably isn’t close. you’ll need to hike some distance to get to the foot of it, and most newbies don’t anticipate that drain on their energy. Include some old-fashioned aerobics in your regimen—stair climbing, hill running, or walking on an inclined treadmill for 20–60 minutes at least three times per week to build stamina.
Stay on the Wall
Climbing-specific cardio relies mainly on the ability of your forearm muscles to process oxygen. Do multiple laps up and down or across the rock wall. The key is not to come down—the muscles must always be working—so go at a pace you can sustain. Start with 10 minutes (or whatever you can handle) and increase your duration over time. Repeat three to five times per week.
Shake It Out
While doing your laps, practice clinging to a hold with only one hand. As you’re doing it, shake out the burn from the other hand. This will teach your body to recover quickly (and your mind to endure the pain of being on the wall when it’s not fun). Mastering this skill will take practice. Periodically hang out on a hold with one hand for 30 seconds and build up to two minutes over time.