Climbing is loads of fun, but it’s also an excellent workout. It makes use of just about every muscle in your body, as well as those you don’t use as regularly, like in your hands and feet.
Although climbing originated outdoors, we have seen a rise in the number of indoor walls recently due to climbing’s increase in popularity. This allows those who prefer exercising outside to stay active whatever the weather.
Beginner Climbing Tips
Whether you’re a complete novice or a more experienced climber, it’s worthwhile to learn some of the key principles of climbing. This involves warming up, perfecting your footwork and finding the right shoes, as well as using chalk and belay devices.
1. Warm Up
Before you hit the walls, it’s important to warm up thoroughly. The three stages of our beginner climbing warm up involve movements that increase your pulse and heart rate, mobility and finishing with some easy climbs.
To raise your pulse, we suggest jogging on the spot, jumping jacks and high knees, all at one minute intervals. Arm circles and core tornados loosen up your joints ready for climbing and finger explosions help to limit the risk of injury. Finish up by attempting a few easy climbs to prepare you for tackling the trickier routes.
2. Climbing Footwork
Although getting your hands in the right position is vital, foot placement is equally – if not even more – important. This is because without a stable base and good technique, your climb is over before it even begins.
A common mistake made by many climbers is to stand on large foot holds with the middle of their foot and no precision. This only works due to the size of the foot hold and it sometimes isn’t possible or as effective on smaller holds. It’s bad practice and can quickly become a habit.
Standing very precisely on your toes is a much better approach. It allows you to stand on very small holds and gain extra height when you extend your ankle.
3. Climbing Shoes
Making sure you’re wearing the correct pair of shoes is an essential part of your preparation and you should never take to the wall wearing inappropriate climbing gear or shoes.
You shouldn’t expect a brand new pair of climbing shoes to be comfortable. They’re likely to be tight at the front and your toes will be slightly bent and touch the front of the shoe.
4. Learn Your Climbing Terminology
Climbing’s a sport that’s full of jargon. If you’re among the uninitiated, it can be rather daunting when you first hit the climbing gym.
Bicycles, barn doors, beta, dyno or dynamic movement, sandbag, bridges, smearing and flashes. What do these all mean?
In the video, we help explain and navigate you round the minefield of climbing jargon. So even if you’re new to the climbing community, at least you’ll sound like an expert!
5. Do Push-Ups Like a Pro
Push-ups aren’t just a punishment for forgetting your gym kit or any other minor faux pas. They’re a fantastic way to build upper body strength, which is pretty significant for climbers.
In this video, we demonstrate six different press ups, each focus on building core, pectoral and general upper body strength. This will help you pull yourself up onto those more difficult hand holds more easily.
6. Clipping Like a Boss
Making sure you can clip into a quickdraw quickly and efficiently is an essential part of lead climbing. If you’re wasting all your focus and energy on trying to clip, then you’re going to find the rest of your climb a bit tricky.
You should learn at least two different methods to clip each carabiner whether it faces to the right or the left or if you prefer using behind the thumb or a finger pinch to push it in.
We demonstrate some of the best methods of clipping in to your quickdraws. The key is to make sure you develop your own style you’re comfortable with.
7. Know Your Belay Devices
The number and variety of different belay devices available is much higher than it was a few years ago. But their function and the way they work hasn’t changed much.
They’re still used for paying out and taking in. The golden rule is ‘never to let go of the dead rope’ and they should only ever be used according to manufacturer’s guidelines.
8. How to use Chalk
Chalk can be a very handy tool when used properly on climbing walls. But applying too much, too little, or the wrong type of chalk won’t help to make you a better climber.
There are a few different types of chalk (some which include added drying agents) such as, chalk balls, chalk blocks, loose chalk and liquid chalk.
Be careful when chalking up, as not everyone will enjoy getting your second-hand chalk in their face. Also remember brusher’s rights, whoever brushes the hand holds to get rid of any excess chalk gets to use them.
9. Dynamic Movements
Dynamic movements use your body’s own movement to get to holds that appear out of reach.
In order to make those tougher manoeuvres on the wall, it’s handy to learn your body’s momentum using dynamic movement. This allows you to reach further and grasp tougher holds than you’d be able to when using more static reaching techniques.
We talk you through how to best use momentum and your whole body strength to reach those extra few inches of the wall as effectively as possible.
Climbing is a very technical sport. It’s therefore vital you familiarise yourself with the specific names that each of the hand-holds are given as you learn more about the sport and progress to new heights.
Our climbing team give you the low down on the holds you’ll encounter at our centres, such as crimps, side pulls, sloper, volume and tufa.