Fitness, sport climbing: three specialities, one big passion

They barely crawl again, but as soon as they can cling to any hold, their great climbs begin. The first goal to overcome are obviously the banks of the bed … but once you climb over these, finally the world is theirs. Chairs, benches, tables and even shelves and wardrobes represent for children the most exciting conquests, the funniest games.

Climbing is in their DNA: a primordial instinct, an innate skill that all fathers and mothers in the world can confirm, albeit with a minimum of apprehension. Yes, because, in fact, the first “vertical” experiments of our male puppies, most of the time end with clamorous ruzzoloni with lots of bumps.

Then, growing up, this passion does not diminish at all, but is contrasted by the many prohibitions and fears of the parents. And so, in some way, as the years pass, it risks to be put aside.


While many sports federations affiliated to CONI are worried about the progressive decrease in their membership, FASI, the Italian Federation of Sports Climbing, has in the last six years much more than doubled its members, going from 8491 in 2007, to 20037 in 2013.

A significant result for a Federation as young as enterprising. So much so that in the meantime it has obtained recognition from the CIP of Paralympic Sports Discipline and for some years has become part of the program of “motor literacy” in primary schools. But the most coveted objective is the Olympics.

Climbing, already in the short list of sports predicate to enter the Olympic program, strongly believes for a simple reason that can not be ignored for long by the members of the IOC: “At the Olympic Games, through the various disciplines – explains Matteo Pastori, technician and instructor FASI – are represented and enhanced all the qualities of an athlete’s motor, to be clear, strength, endurance, balance, coordination and so on, except one, the verticalization, what together with the race is undoubtedly the most instinctive motor characteristic”.


In fact, for some years now, with the birth of numerous indoor gyms with walls and boulders to climb – continues Pastori – not only have the number of climbing enthusiasts increased dramatically, but the trend has shifted from the mountains to the cities.

And, in fact, for those who are passionate about this sport, what could be better than finding a cliff where you can practice climbing practically at home? Practitioners are very uneven, amateurs and professionals, women, men, children and disabled people. It’s clear that the approach is, for each of these categories, different, but fun, passion and technical gestures are quite similar.

“In fact, there are many programmed team games where mutual help is fundamental – explains Pastori -. With adults we begin to pursue, after the first experiences on the wall, the refinement of the technique and the work on dexterity, strength and endurance.

The best start is always in the boulder, an artificial cave about four meters high, lying on an immense mattress, in which both on the side walls and on the ceiling there are handholds of different shapes, sizes and colors. It is here that one usually learns, in complete safety and without the need for ropes, carabiners, harnesses and anything else, the first notions of climbing: from the setting up of hands and feet, to how to feel one’s body in movement, to how to always seek balance”.


Initially, short movements are made, using the largest and most protruding grips, then different types of situations are experimented with, from vertical climbing to overhanging climbing, where strength must be perfectly integrated with the refinement of the technique. “It is essential to move economically – continues Pastori – and to achieve this it is necessary to know how to balance your body well, making the most of your feet to lighten the load on your arms.

The most expensive moment is when the climber is on the wall with only three handholds, two feet and one hand. Well, in these situations, which are also very frequent, it is necessary to assume the triangular position. In practice, the two feet are the base of support, the vertex is formed by the arm attached to the top of the wall, the second limb must fall within this hypothetical triangle, otherwise you risk going in rotation and lose grip.

However, sport climbing is not just a question of strength, endurance and balance. It is also above all attention, self-confidence and confidence in one’s companions, concentration and intuition to be able to plan in advance the most suitable ways and routes to cross the rock from one side to the other. What in jargon is called decoding the itinerary”.


You can climb both natural and artificial walls. But for competitions, which cover three different specialties, only on the latter, so that the size of the wall, grips and difficulties are identical in all races and for all participants. We have already said about Bouldering. We always start from this kind of cave to learn the ABC of climbing.

It is certainly the most instinctive and explosive specialty. You can climb without a rope and with varying degrees of difficulty. The goal of the boulderers is to reach the top, that is, the last grip of the ‘problem’, with the least number of attempts possible.

Lead is the classic ascent with a rope from below, complete with carabiners and companion, on walls between 15 and 25 meters long. The goal is to reach the highest point of the track. Finally, there is the Speed, practiced mainly in China and Eastern Europe, where what counts is the time to climb on a wall of 10 or 15 meters, following a route validated by the International Federation and therefore identical in all races in the world. Of course, the winner is the one who comes first in the fight against the time trial.


Moving in the vertical world means activating the whole body, arms, hands, legs, feet, abdominals and pelvis to the maximum. In the first workouts you will have muscles that are not sufficiently ready to sustain sustained efforts over time and suitable to support the body in conditions of precarious balance.

“The specific work – continues Pastori – is carried out directly on the wall, there is no better means of training than climbing itself, because it is only in this context that all the components of the performance can be developed optimally, from the psychological aspects to the technical-tactical as well as of course to the organic-muscular.

The student must immediately understand that in order to save energy, he must put his body weight on his feet and always create a situation of balance, the famous triangle. Climbing shoes can be extremely useful, as they have a smooth, sticky rubber wheel outsole and allow greater grip”.