What is the most important muscle in climbing?
In climbing we train our movement, we gain skills through practicing them, and we gain strength though training and strength/power regimes. But what about our brain?!? Why do we just assume we should be able to feel comfortable at height? Why do we get frustrated when we just can’t fall off? Or why do we use negative affirmation when we cannot complete a route or move? Or why do we not challenge ourselves, because we think we may not succeed?
These are all common themes I see and recognise within a lot of climbers, whether beginners or advanced. We seem to forget the most important muscle in our bodies… our brain…. We assume we should be able to fall off from above the last clipped quickdraw, as an example. The fear of falling, fear of failure, a negative mindset and/or negative affirmation can all influence our self-image, which in turn affects how we talk to ourselves and in turn affect our climbing performance.
As Wolfgang Güllich said, “The brain is the most important muscle for climbing”, and he knew a thing or two about the sport. Wolfgang pushed the limits of climbing, and redefined what was possible. Climbing the first ever 9a, Action Directe in 1991, in Germany’s famous Frankenjura area. Wolfgang was all about training physically, but also mentally.
As an example, you may have a physically strong climber with a weaker mental game, and a physically weaker climber with a strong mental game who will easily outperform his or her climbing partner. Through regularly training our mind, we can change our perception of self, the way we affirm ourselves, how we perceive failure and success, and how we deal with the fear of falling.
Don’t forget about training the brain. If you would like to find out more about the psychology of climbing, either contact us, or follow the link below:
Climbing Psychology Book
Climbing Psychology coaching or workshops