Bouldering can be a fun and rewarding experience for anyone, regardless of their experience level. Whether you’ve just started climbing or are a veteran climber, there are always new bouldering tips to learn and techniques to master.
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28 Bouldering Tips For Beginners (And Veterans)
Bouldering is a great way to get in shape and have fun while doing it. Here are some tips to help beginners (and veterans) get the most out of their bouldering experience.
1. Use Your Toes While Climbing
A common error beginners make when climbing is using their midsole rather than toes, which restrains movement and offers decreased friction.
Pivoting your foot when you use your toes gives you added flexibility, and it will also help increase how far you can reach when standing on your tiptoes.
Climbing shoes are designed to help you grip small holds by using, as you may have guessed… your toes. If you try to stand on your midsoles while wearing them, you could slip and seriously injure yourself.
2. Use Your Legs to Push Yourself Up
Developing strong leg muscles can help you succeed in any physical activity. Instead of relying on your arms to do all the work, use your legs to push yourself and be more efficient.
Utilizing your legs instead of just relying on your arms will help you push yourself up a slab wall. If you’re climbing an overhang, focus on using your legs to propel yourself toward the footholds; it’s much more effective.
3. Keep Your Hips Close to the Wall (One of the Best Bouldering Tips Out There)
When most climbers attempt bouldering (or any rock climbing discipline) for the first time, they often let their hips sag away from the wall. This is quite understandable because we humans usually stand vertically.
However, this position will cause your center of gravity to be farther off the wall and makes it more difficult for your legs and toes to bear weight. As a result, most of the weight will be transferred to your fingers and forearms.
Your leg muscles are physiologically larger than those of your arms making them more effective in carrying your weight while rock climbing, but leveraging their strength will also help you distribute the weight more evenly, which saves you a lot of energy.
If it feels awkward at first, don’t worry, you just need to get used to the fact that your body is facing to the side instead of the wall.
4. Know Your Gripping Techniques and Holds
While training in a climbing gym you’re going to see a lot of different holds. There are numerous ways to hold them and various hand positions to use.
Here are a few of the different holds and some of the techniques to hold them:
- Slopers: Slopers are simply sloping handholds. To climb them effectively, keep your center of gravity underneath the sloper and maximize the amount of surface contact you’re making with the hold. Some Slopers can be climbed using a Gaston grip, which is when your thumb faces down.
- Jugs: Grasping the jug from the bottom is called an undercling, which you can use to pull yourself up.
- Pockets: As the name suggests, tiny pockets in the wall which you insert your fingers into for stability. There are 1, 2, and 3-finger-sized options.
- Crimps: Get the most out of the edge by placing your thumb over your index finger and applying pressure.
- Pinches: The hold is so tight that your thumb becomes engaged and starts to pinch.
- Underclings: All of these holds are slanted downwards.
- Matching hands: This is a position where you put both hands on the same hold.
- Side pulls: For this climbing technique, you’ll be pulling sideways against a grip.
- Gastons: The Rebuffat hold takes its name from the famous French climber Gaston Rebuffat. It is executed similarly to a side pull, but with your fingers and palms facing into the hold, while your thumb points downwards.
There are 3 ways to grab handholds:
- Pull down
- Pull up
- Pull sideways
When you feel yourself getting fatigued, it’s easy to grip the handholds tighter and rely on them more. However, try to maintain most of your focus on using your legs, as they should be doing the heavier lifting.
The handholds exist primarily to give you a sense of stability and keep you from toppling over– think of your fingers as tiny balance hooks.
5. Keep Your Arms Straight to Conserve Energy
When you climb with your arms bent, you use more muscles and tire them out quicker.
Engaging your forearms, biceps, shoulders, and back with each move is much harder than using extended arms. When you use straight arms, it’s easier to relax and let your legs and upper body do most of the work.
You will want to grab the holds lower down, near waist level, and keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle to avoid putting too much strain on your biceps and tiring them out quickly.
Fold and only use your arms to grab the next hold when you must. The primary movement should come from twisting your body positioning so that your arms remain straight most of the time. This will help work different muscles and avoid injury.
6. Use Your Body Efficiently
Establishing a good technique is essential for climbing. Make sure you understand how to use your body (and body weight) in the most efficient way so that you can minimize fatigue and maximize efficiency.
Keep your feet close to the wall as much as possible and use your feet’s natural flexibility when edging them against holds. Use your legs whenever possible, as they are much stronger than your arms. When reaching for a hold, twist your body to reduce the weight on your arms and conserve energy.
Finally, practice good breathing techniques – inhale deeply before reaching for each handhold and exhale as you grip it. This will give you more control and help you stay relaxed while on the wall.
7. Think About Every Move
When climbing, you can’t afford to take any chances. Get into the habit of thinking about every move before you make it. A successful climb doesn’t come down to luck – it comes down to careful planning and precise execution.
Before making any move, assess the difficulty of the wall and all available handholds and footholds, look for the path of least resistance, and plan your route; incorporate proper footwork into every move. Visualize each move in your head before you make it to ensure that you are taking the most efficient approach.
8. Make Sure You Have Specialist Bouldering Shoes
When bouldering, it’s important to have the right shoes. Invest in a good pair of specialist climbing shoes to give you the best chance of success.
Climbing shoes that are designed specifically for bouldering can provide excellent grip, stability, comfort, and precision when tackling tough climbs. They should fit snugly without being too tight so that you can feel every grip and move with confidence.
Make sure you get the right size and type of shoe for your feet, as this will make a huge difference in how well you perform on the wall.
9. Bring The Right Bouldering Equipment
In addition to your climbing shoes, you may also want to bring along other bouldering equipment.
- A chalk bag and some liquid or dry chalk will help keep your hands dry and give you a better grip on the holds.
- Climbing tape is another handy item – it can be used to protect skin from abrasive surfaces, provide extra grip on holds, and keep your hands from slipping.
- A crash pad/mat is also a must. It provides a safe landing area if you fall from the wall and can help prevent serious injuries, especially if you’re outdoor climbing.
- Finally, it’s a good idea to bring along some snacks and water to keep your energy levels high throughout the day.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Advice From The Climbing Community
PSA: Beginner climbers, don’t be afraid to ask an experienced boulderer for tips and advice! If you remember any of these bouldering tips, make sure its this one! Talented climbers can offer invaluable insight into proper technique, equipment, safety measures, and more.
11. Get A Climbing Partner To Help With Your Climbing Career
It’s always a good idea to find someone to climb with. Having climbing partners can be great for morale and they can also offer you valuable support and advice. Plus, it’s nice to have someone there to share in the experience of tackling challenging climbs!
12. Don’t Be Afraid To Fail When Trying Interesting Solutions
Bouldering is all about pushing yourself, and sometimes that means taking risks. Don’t be afraid to try interesting solutions or challenge yourself; you never know what will work until you try it. You never know, thinking outside of the box might just be what is required to figure out a tough bouldering problem.
13. Work On Your Weaknesses
No one is perfect, and no climb will be. We all have our weaknesses, so it’s important to identify these areas and work on them.
Focus on the types of holds or moves that you find most difficult. Practicing a specific move or hold can help you gain confidence and improve your technique on future climbs. You could even try creating a bouldering-specific workout routine to target your weaknesses and make you stronger.
14. Read Your Climbing Route
Consider what kind of technique will be most effective and efficient, as well as how much energy you’ll need for each move.
Practicing visualization techniques can also help you stay focused on the climb and make sure you don’t miss any key details. Visualizing each move before you attempt it can help you stay on the right track.
15. Don’t Use Too Much Chalk
Using too much chalk can make the holds slippery, which will increase your chances of slipping and falling. Use enough to keep your hands dry but not so much that it affects your grip.
16. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
At the end of the day, you’re going to fail and that’s okay. Everyone fails at some point, even the best climbers in the world. Learn from your mistakes and use them to become a better climber.
17. Pick Your Bouldering Problems Carefully
When bouldering, it is important to pick problems that are within your ability range. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to injuries or burnout and make climbing less enjoyable.
Instead, focus on picking problems you know you can and aim to climb them as efficiently as possible. This will help you build strength, endurance and technique, which will in turn help you climb harder problems.
18. Climb With Different People to Learn New Moves or Betas
Climbing with different people can help you learn new techniques, beta for a specific climb, or just get a better understanding of the sport.
19. Don’t Focus On Training a Specific Muscle, Just Climb
This statement is true for the most part. When you are climbing, your body moves in all sorts of directions and all of your muscles are working together to allow you to perform the motion of climbing.
Because of this, it is not necessary to focus on training a single muscle. However, if you want to improve your climbing ability, there are specific exercises that you can do that will target the muscles used in climbing. These exercises will help make those muscles stronger and more efficient, allowing you to climb harder bouldering routes with more ease.
20. Don’t Forget to Take Rests
Climbing can be tiring, and it’s important to take rests in between climbs so that you don’t become fatigued. Resting allows your body to recover and gives you time to think about the next moves before attempting the climb again.
21. Always Use Maximum Effort
No matter what level you’re at, always try your best and give it everything you have. Even if you don’t make the top of the climb, you can still gain something from pushing yourself to your limits and trying again.
22. Always Be Present When On The Wall
Bouldering is a mental as well as physical activity. It’s important to stay focused and in the present moment while you are on the climbing wall, so that your body and mind can work together to progress.
23. Be Organized With When and Where You Train
Creating a training plan and sticking to it can be beneficial for your progress. Training at the same time (and having constant climbing days) and place each day will help you stay organized, motivated, and consistent in your climbing.
24. Always Look After Your Skin When Climbing (Especially Your Calluses)
When climbing, it is extremely important to take care of your skin. This is especially true for your hands and feet. Climbing can be very hard on your hands and feet, and if you don’t take care of them, they can become cracked and dry.
In addition, calluses can form on your hands and feet, which can make it easier for you to grip the rocks and hold on while rock climbing.
There are a few things that you can do to take care of your skin when climbing.
- First, make sure that you always wear sunscreen when climbing outside. The sun can be very harsh on your skin, especially if you are climbing in hot weather.
- In addition, make sure to drink plenty of water when climbing. Dehydration can cause your skin to become dry and cracked.
- Finally, make sure to regularly apply lotion or cream to your hands and feet. This will help keep them hydrated and protected from the sun’s rays.
25. Try Your Best to Prevent Injury
Injury prevention is always important in any sport, but especially when bouldering. Take the time to warm up properly before each climb and cool down afterwards. This will help your muscles get ready for the physical challenge and reduce the chance of injury.
Additionally, when pushing yourself on a climb, take periods of rest in between attempts so that your muscles have time to recover.
Finally, make sure that you know your limits in terms of the types and grades of climbing that you can handle.
Don’t try to jump up grades too quickly or push yourself beyond what is safe for your body. Stick to lower grades and enjoy the process.
There’s no rush when it comes to advancing in your climbing career, you’re supposed to enjoy the process so go at your own pace.
26. Outdoor Climbing is a Whole Different Game To The Climbing Gym
When you’re rock climbing on real rock, you need to be aware of the different types of holds and surfaces that you will encounter. Rock is unpredictable and can contain all sorts of hidden cracks and crevices.
Make sure to take your time when bouldering outdoors, to get a good look at the route before attempting it. This will help you better understand the nuances of the climb, and allow you to plan your movements accordingly.
Lastly, always remember that when bouldering outdoors, safety should remain your number one priority. Make sure that you are properly equipped with a helmet and rock climbing shoes as well as other protective gear before attempting any route.
27. Don’t be a Sprayer
Finally, when bouldering, it’s important to be aware of other climbers who are on the wall. Trying to “spray” or give unsolicited advice can be disruptive and create a bad atmosphere for everyone else.
If you want to offer feedback, wait until the climber is done with their attempt and approach them in a respectful and helpful manner. This will help ensure that the gym remains an enjoyable place for everyone.
28. And ALWAYS Have Fun!
Most importantly, remember to have fun! Climbing should be an enjoyable experience, so take the time to appreciate each climb and don’t focus too much on the grades.
Take in the scenery and make sure to enjoy every moment while out rock climbing. You never know when you’ll make that breakthrough or get a
These are just a few tips that you can use to become a better climber and stay injury free while doing so. Remember, progress takes time and dedication, so practice patience and enjoy the journey!
With hard work and consistency, you will be able to see steady improvement in your climbing skills over time.
How do you get better at bouldering?
The best way to get better at bouldering is to practice consistently and focus on technique. Make sure to take the time to warm up properly before each climb, as well as cool down afterward.
What should you not do while bouldering?
It is important to be aware of other climbers who are on the wall and not try to “spray” or give unsolicited advice. Additionally, don’t push yourself beyond what is safe for your body and always make sure to wear protective gear when climbing outdoors.
How does a beginner progress in bouldering?
Beginners should start climbing easy routes and work their way up as they gain confidence and improve their technique. Additionally, taking time to rest between attempts will help the beginner progress without risking injury. Finally, setting goals can also be helpful in tracking progress.
How long should a bouldering session last?
The length of a bouldering session depends on the individual. However, it is important to not push yourself too hard and take breaks when necessary. A good rule of thumb is to aim for two to three hours per climbing sessions.
Do you have to touch every hold in bouldering?
No, you do not have to touch every hold when bouldering. Instead, focus on making efficient movements and resting when needed. This will help ensure that your body is fresh for the next attempt and reduce the chances of injury.
Although, if you’re climbing indoors, there is DEFINITELY a reason the hold exists; so it could be useful to you.
Do you need rest days from bouldering?
Yes, rest days are an important part of any bouldering program. Make sure to take at least one day off per week to give your body time to recover and avoid injury. Additionally, make sure to listen to your body and take extra rest when needed.
Is bouldering a good way to get fit?
Yes, bouldering is a great way to get fit as it combines strength and aerobic exercise. Additionally, it can be an enjoyable and social activity that can help you stay motivated.
How often should a beginner go bouldering?
A beginner should aim for at least 3 times a week, with the length of each session being between two and three hours. You really shouldn’t climb longer than that. Additionally, taking rest days is important to ensure that your body has time to recover and avoid injury.