March 27, 2023

If you are new to climbing, you may feel that you have reached a plateau. And this despite encouraging beginnings in the activity and a dazzling progression at the start… Then this article is for you!

Nowadays the easiest way to start climbing is indoors. Modern climbing gyms offer a fantastic, friendly and inclusive environment. You can rent climbing shoes and you don’t have to go very high. You can very well start with bouldering, which consists of climbing without a rope to modest heights above protective mats, and de-climbing or jumping to descend. If you want to try climbing with a rope, you can also do so in certain rooms. Read down below and see the important tips for beginners.

Tips for rock climbing


Let’s start from how climbing has been categorized as a sporting discipline: skill-sport, translated skill sport. For example, tennis, golf and jiu-jitsu are part of this category. In fact, in climbing technique and skill make the difference: for example those with good technique are able to climb hard routes even without being the strongest in the group, while the mere fact of being able to do 100 tractions in a row will ever lead to the release of a seventh degree by magic. Furthermore – you will have already noticed – no route is the same as another and if we succeed in freeing a given difficulty it does not mean that we will automatically be able to free all the routes rated at the same level.

Climbing is learned primarily by climbing. In the first stages it is very important to give the body a lot of stimuli – which translated means climbing often and in the most varied way possible: different types of rock, inclination, grips… Only in this way will we be able to train as many motor patterns as possible and therefore be able to try our hand at the most diverse key passages.

You have certainly seen various training tools for climbers in the bouldering room. It is a too specific type of training , to be followed only if you already have a couple of years of climbing behind you.

Tendon adaptation

Another reason why, at least for the first couple of years, it’s better to put your hands off beam, pan güllich and the like is tendon adaptation.

Scientific literature is practically unanimous in telling us that tendons are among the slowest anatomical structures to adapt to the body’s demands. Climbing often in a couple of months you will already become much stronger and more coordinated than when you started: the muscles adapt to new stimuli in a few weeks and it is enough to repeat the gesture a few times for the nervous system to automate it and make it fluid and efficient. By their nature, tendons need – unfortunately for us – several months to adapt to the new activity. Specifically, the tendons of the shoulders and elbows require a year and those of the fingers a couple of years to adapt to the typical overload of climbing.

For this reason, right in the first years of climbing, our tendons are very susceptible to tendinopathies and injuries. We have said that it is important to climb often, so as not to “forget” the stimulus, but be careful not to overdo it! It’s not unusual to feel sore after a successful day at the crag but if the pain in your fingers, elbows or shoulders is unbearable or lasts a week or more, it’s a clear sign that your tendons are struggling to keep up with your pace. Repeatedly ignoring signs like these is the fastest way to develop inflammation and degenerative processes that can last several months. Reduce the volume of your workout and allow yourself more rest between sessions to allow for full recovery of the hamstrings.

Stretching, stretching, stretching

Being mobile and flexible in climbing automatically lengthens us by a few centimeters and allows us to dare different movements from the ordinary and therefore to succeed in a greater number of cruxes. It also helps muscle recovery and is an excellent prevention against injuries.

Exercise your fingers too

Sometimes it’s up to your fingers to do all the hard work. Encircled in perilous positions, conquering the rock face isn’t always about how strong your body is – it’s about how good your grip is. Doing regular finger exercises for between 3-10 seconds per finger can help develop hand muscles (it could mean the difference between falling and reaching new heights). With straight or slightly bent fingers (arc or clip for the connoisseur), this warm-up technique will allow you to have stronger fingers. Regular and consistent exercise could help your grip in the long run. The goal is to have the fingers as little bent as possible on the way up.

Push don’t pull

Trying to climb with just your arms is a rookie mistake we’ve all made. At first it may seem safer to use your arm muscles to hold on, but as you’ll soon realize, it’s quite tiring and you’ll find it harder to bear such a climb. Use your legs to do all the hard work and let your arms stretch out to help you find those all-important anchor points – pushing up with your legs, not pulling. All the hard work should come from your legs and your long arms should be used for reaching – ensuring a stable balance between your arms and legs.

Eat smart and drink more

Climbing is a physically demanding and intense activity – eating well is really important. You’ll need a lot of energy to keep going, and adapting your diet to include lots of fresh, vitamin-rich ingredients can really help. Whatever sport you do, eating a balanced diet is a good idea, but when it comes to climbing, the idea is to feel light and strong – so heavy, hard-to-digest meals aren’t recommended. And of course, don’t forget to stay well hydrated. Specialists recommend at least two liters a day, your body will thank you.

Respect rest days

Once you have the climbing bug, it can be difficult to give yourself a day off. We get that, but even if you want to hit the wall every day, your body might not be with it. Give yourself a rest day and a chance for your body to heal and store that muscle memory. Everyone is different but, in general, for every couple of hardcore climbs, you should have at least one rest day.

Understand the classification system

The official rock climbing “Scale of Difficulty” rates each route according to type, method and difficulty. The first person to the top of the climb usually gives the difficulty rating. There are various country classification systems. In France, the scale refers to a number (3-9) but may differ in other countries (UIAA). A subjective system that depends on each climber’s ability, scale is regarded as a general estimate rather than a rule.

Explore the climbing gym near you

The best way to get started is to visit a climbing gym near you. The staff can offer you an introduction to climbing and rent you all the necessary equipment for your first session. If you choose to take lessons, you will learn climbing techniques and safety measures with an instructor and you will also be able to meet other apprentice climbers. By staying in touch with them afterwards, you will build up a group of climbing partners for your future adventures.

Inspect your equipment

Regularly check your equipment to assess its wear and replace it when necessary. This control is absolutely essential, since faulty equipment can lead to injuries.

Plan every detail and always imagine the worst

Make sure you always pack warm clothing and a waterproof jacket, in case the weather conditions deteriorate, as well as a first aid kit, which will be useful in case of injury. We also advise you to slip an extra bottle of water, a cereal bar and cash in your backpack, to prepare for the unexpected.

Do not ignore the warm-up

As you can imagine, the practice of climbing mobilizes all the muscles of the body and requires significant physical effort. Even if you limit yourself to bouldering, take the time to warm up to prepare your body for what lies ahead. A good warm-up also helps to avoid injuries in the long term and improve your level of performance and endurance during the ascent. Incorporate dynamic movements and stretches into your warm-up to get off to a flying start.

Feel the center of gravity of your body

The right exercises allow you to “feel” the center of gravity and to find balance through the movement of the pelvis. Before lifting one foot, it is necessary to move the pelvis, seeking perfect balance on the other foot (the one that remains supported). We must then remain balanced on one leg, while we move the other to reach the next support. If the center of gravity of the climber’s body falls on the support base, the body is in stable equilibrium: an economical style of climbing, which allows for saving strength, always tends to make the body assume an equilibrium position that is as stable as possible.

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