9 Tips and Techniques for Beginner Rock Climbers

May 19, 2015
9 Tips and Techniques for Beginner Rock Climbers

Even if you’re only just heading to your local climbing gym for the first time, if you know these simple tips and techniques, you'll soon be impressing your friends and perhaps even your instructor. Focus on these steps while rock climbing, and while you are at home to make it up that route that always knocks you down.

9 Beginner Rock Climbing Tips

1. Hug the wall

If you are hanging off the wall by your arms, looking up for your next hold the whole time, your arms will soon fatigue and you will fall. The closer you keep your centre of gravity to the wall itself, the less weight you will put on your arms and the longer you will be able to rest and plan your move to the next hold.

2. Take rests

You should learn to rest not only between climbs or while belaying your buddy, but while on the wall itself as well. Knowing when and where to rest can mean the difference between a successful climbing attempt and a failed one. Use the inside of your legs to grip the wall where possible and shake your arms out before moving onto the next sequence.

Read more: the climbing journal vol. 1

3. Use your legs

A common mistake among beginner climbers is to rely heavily on their arms in order to scale a wall. Those with good upper body strength might excel early on – especially on over hanging routes – but their arms will quickly run out of gas. Use your upper body to stay close to the wall and push up with your legs.

4. Stretch

Not only will improving your flexibility help you reach those distant holds, but will also help strengthen muscle fibres and tendons that work constantly while you are on the wall. Stretching before and after a climb is great for warming up and loosening anything you might have strained during your previous session.

Learn more: how to reset a bouldering wall

5. Speed

Some climbers naturally move faster on the wall than others. Before you find your natural rhythm, it’s a good idea to play around with your climbing speed. Work on accelerating through sections that require a lot of upper body strength and slow down through the tech stuff. The less time you spend hanging from your arms the better.

6. Learn to rely on yourself, not your line

It’s tempting to use your rope as a safety net when you can’t seem to keep a grip on the wall. If you are just trying to learn a route, that’s fine, but there is a good chance that the route you are trying is a little out of your reach if you are hanging from your line. Try moving back to a route you have completed before and mix up your ascent.

7. Strength

Climbing doesn’t have to be reserved for the wall. There is a huge range of devices you can use at home (or while sitting at your desk at school or work) that help improve hand and upper body strength. Any sort of exercise is going to help. The fitter, stronger and more flexible you are, the easier your climbs will become.

8. Stay hydrated

Climbing is like any sport in that it requires you to maintain a constant intake of fluid as you sweat. Muscle cramps are fairly common while climbing due to the strain and angles at which you approach certain moves. Making sure you are hydrated will reduce your chances of cramping up and will provide you with the energy to climb for longer.

9. Pay attention to your feet

They say never to look down when you're up high. But if you're climbing don’t ignore the lower half of your body. Your legs and feet should be doing most of the work and sometimes the reason you can’t make that next hold is because you have planned where your hands should move, but not your feet. Look down and try and get a leg up for a big boost.

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