Leading ladyJA-IN KIM MAY BE SMALLER THAN THE COMPETITION, BUT THE WORLD’S BEST FEMALE CLIMBER TRAINS AWAY HER DISADVANTAGE.
“Logically, I really shouldn’t be a World Cup winner,” says Ja-In Kim, reigning global champ in lead climbing. “I’m only 5 feet tall.”
Lead climbing is the toughest type of all, because with no top ropes, all upward motion has to be generated by the body. It’s also the most dangerous, with greater potential for falls (competition climbs are on indoor routes up to 65 feet tall).
“I have less range on the climbing wall than most,” she says. “That’s a big disadvantage.” Yet it’s pushed the 25-year-old South Korean to more than make up for her height with years of training.
“I put my body through a training drill for five hours a day, five days a week,” Kim says. “I do weight training for dynamism, stretches so that I can twist and turn smoothly on the wall, and lots of endurance. For example, I hang suspended by one hand for minutes at a time. It really hurts, but you’re incredibly happy when you beat your record, even by a second.”
INCREASE YOUR CORE STRENGTH
“Climbing is a sport that gives your whole body a workout,” says Kim,“but core strength is particularly important, as it takes the strain off other muscles. I do a lot of my endurance training on the floor.”
HOW TO DRILL YOUR DIGITS
“Strength in your fingers is vital for climbing,” Kim says. “The stronger your fingers are, the tougher the routes you’ll be able to climb. The Gripmaster is a quick way of increasing the power of your finger muscles. It’s also good for warming up before a competition.”