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How to improve climbing and bouldering techniques?

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  • How to improve climbing and bouldering techniques?


    Today I went to a rock climbing gym and practiced climbing (with a wire) and also some bouldering without any harness for the first time. I enjoyed it but my arms tired very quickly and I had some difficulty balancing as I made horizontal movements. I do plan on going back to the gym in the future and also watching some videos online to help me better understand the sport.

    Are there specific type of workouts I can do to help me improve? Any methods I should be focusing on? My friend told me bouldering is based more on short bursts of energy and less so on endurance. I have fairly good lower body strength with considerable experience with hiking over the last year but do not have great upper body strength at this point. I am also short (can't extend arms as far) for a guy and have fairly wide hips so building lower body strength has been easier.

    I'm sure using the gym would be the most helpful, but I'd like to consider methods I can use between visits.
    Last edited by Progenitor; 08-15-2011, 03:15 AM.

  • #2
    the primary method of training for rock climbing for beginners is. . . rock climbing.

    i hate to say it, but bottom line, the more you do, the better you will get. don't worry about technique at this point, just work on the puzzles.

    outside of rock climbing, i would recommend weight training or stretching, or yoga. lots of rock climbers practice yoga (or aikido, honestly) if they do anything other than rock climb. nearly every climber i know just climbs, though.

    i'm one of the weird ones. but i came to climbing well after coming to yoga, so. . . of course i do yoga and climb.


    • #3
      Improving technique is all about practice. Getting stronger up top will help (pull-ups and grip work), but most of your fruits will come from time spent on the wall. Anyone new to climbing will be limited by their grip's endurance first, but that passes as you climb more. Doing that you'll also get used to the movements, and you'll figure out more efficient ways to move -- don't waste as much energy, and you won't get tired so quickly.


      • #4
        I would probably list these as the 3 most useful physical strengths for bouldering:
        1. Grip strength
        2. Core strength
        3. Lat strength

        Some good exercises for improving those might include using a hangboard (or just hanging from hard to grip things like door jams), deadlifts, rows, planks (and their many variations), hanging leg raises, and pull-ups (again... try many different variations).

        Honestly though, I wouldn't worry much about strength training. Do it for fun if you'd like (it may help somewhat), but nothing will improve your climbing more than simply going climbing. By actually climbing, you'll develop a "feel" for the sport -- an instinct for how to move on the rock. This is the most important "strength" for a climber. Generally speaking, an improvement in technique will always trump an increase in physical strength -- especially if you're a beginner.

        Oh, and of course, going climbing will make you physically stronger in all the right ways too.

        Welcome to the wonderful world of bouldering!


        • #5
          Thanks everyone.

          I plan on going back there in a couple weeks and if I find a good climbing partner I might get a monthly or annual pass and go there more often. I woke up today with slightly sore shoulders and triceps, but it was my upper back that was most sore. Although I think I should be fully OK by tomorrow morning. I would like to incorporate yoga into my weekly schedule, mainly build upper body strength. The hangboard looks interesting, I might get one down the line.


          • #6
            i love bouldering because it's a no-equipment game. i wear my vibrams, i go over to the beach, and that's that. done. no money, no expense, nuffin. LOVE IT.

            my son loves it too. 3 yr olds are like that, though.


            • #7
              I was wondering about wearing my vibrams to boulder. No body else seems to be wearing them in London, although that could be because not many people wear them!
              As a beginner climber would you recommend it?


              • #8
                Originally posted by runningwild View Post
                I was wondering about wearing my vibrams to boulder. No body else seems to be wearing them in London, although that could be because not many people wear them!
                As a beginner climber would you recommend it?
                Absolutely. Go for it. Climbing in Vibrams (or just plain barefoot) is awesome!

                That said, actual climbing shoes are generally easier to climb in, especially on problems requiring more precise/technical footwork.