For the past 2 years, I’ve been practicing bouldering, my learning process was pretty intense, 3 times per week with individual trainers. Many of my friends ask me a lot at the begging of their journey, that is why I want to answer a common question which is how to get better at bouldering. I’m not professional, but somewhere in the middle, that is why for this article I’ve asked my trainer Robert Coil to help me get what’s best for that topic.
As a quick answer for how to get better at bouldering, I’ll say: Put your feet on the biggest toe, shift your center of weight, think about the route before you start, and keep looking at people when they climb at your gym. Of course, there is a lot in this topic that will help you get better so stay with us to learn more.
Think before you climb
If you have the route before your eyes, try to think how exactly are you going to do that. Look at the end and the start, then what’s between, try to spot the main issue in this route then try to solve it in your brain. That way you will have instructions in your mind, and even if your instructions were incorrect then you will learn something for your next attempt, after a few tries, you will get better at the visualization of any route.
When you rush to a route without thinking you won’t have a good position to look because you can see the route more clearly if you stay a few meters away from the wall, that way you will save some energy. Remember that the routes are also called “problems” and that’s the part of our sport to figure out have to solve it.
The biggest toe is important
Many climbers tend to put their feet in the wrong direction, like if you have a small rock to stand on, then you put your foot sideways to the wall, in most cases because they are scared. Your feet should be perpendicular to the wall, and mainly focused on your biggest toe, that way is safer and more practical because then you will be able to freely rotate that foot in any direction.
You should focus your body weight on the biggest toe, which is the strongest of them all, and that way your ankle can be far away from a wall which will make stick to the wall more.
Don’t overdo your training
if you have been in the gym yesterday, then take a break for 2 days, that way you won’t kill your gains from the previous training. That can be related to a few other sports, but when it comes to bouldering then you have to use the same muscles every time you are at the gym, and if you do that too often then your muscles won’t regenerate from the previous session, because the muscles are regenerating, growing after exercise and not during that exercise, so make sure to take a break for at least 2 days.
Legs are stronger than arms
Your leg muscles are way stronger than your arms muscles, here is the exact research for it. So your legs won’t fatigue as fast as the arms muscles, so0;you should prioritize your legs when you should try to stand up rather than pull up. That way you will have a lot more energy left for the harder parts where using arms is the only way.
When you burn all of your arm muscles’ energy before the end of your route then you can get injured if you force yourself too much, that’s what happened to me half a year ago, and that is how I’ve got my arm broken. So try to avoid pushing yourself past that limit you’ve decided, and try again next time, it’s not the race, it’s a marathon.
Climb and rest on straight arms
If you climb on bend arms, that means your muscles are active and that’s burning your energy. So how to get better at bouldering? Just don’t bend them! Your arms should be straight, that way your bone structure will hold you on its own, and your muscles will burn less energy.
Also if you need to rest a bit, then just find something good to stand on, then straighten your arms, that way is commonly used by many top climbers. You can also try to swing to the next handle with that method. In general swinging movements are a good technic in climbing and bouldering, but sometimes you shouldn’t do it. It depends on the position that your body is in.
Losing weight is a huge benefit
That’s the hardest way, but also the simplest. If your technic is good, and you can’t improve with simple tips, try to lose some weight. When I lost 15 pounds, everything changed. That was crucial to my growth as a climber. Your muscles won’t need to pull up that much, and it really makes things different. If your current weight is 140 pounds then if you lose 7 pounds, that’s a 5% percent of your total body weight, and that is going to change your bouldering style forever.
I’ve struggled a lot, to lose some weight, but in my case, I couldn’t do much without it because I started at 148 pounds, and for a short climber like myself with 5’3 in height it’s a lot. We have many diets on our blog, like a fruitarian diet or vegetables-only diet, check them out if you want to lose some weight!
In conclusion – how to get better at bouldering?
The bouldering gym is an open space so no one will be offended if you look at them, so try to catch some good techniques and tricks, and remember that for beginners the best what you get out of this article is to:
- Straighten your arm
- Use the biggest toe ontent_38 - incontent_38 -->
- Use more often your legs rather than arms
- Think before you climb
- Don’t force yourself
If you’re more ambitious you can try to lose some weight with our hardest and most effective diet, which is water fasting. That way will definitely help in your bouldering journey.