Articles - Beginners’ Guide: How to be a Better Climber
Jamie Maddison - Posted on 26 Oct 2010
ClimbingBy now you've probably heard the old saying 'that the best training for climbing is climbing itself'. Well this is largely true. If you wish to get better on the wall then the first and most obvious issue that should be addressed is how often you actually climb. For instance, if only going climbing once every two weeks then it’s doubtful much progress is being made past the very basics. If, on the other hand, you climb at least twice a week then you should be beginning to see a steady improvement from your initial starting ability.
The next problem to look at is how effectively you conduct your climbing sessions. It is incredibly easy to visit the local wall or crag, climb a few simple problems and then settle down to have a good ol’ chatter with the mates. Instead, approach such sessions (especially indoor visits) seriously, like you are going for a heavy gym workout. Warm up thoroughly and then attack whatever you feel is currently your weakness (such as overhangs, or slopers) with a vengeance.
Bouldering is generally considered the best form of climbing in which to get physically strong. This is because not only can you push your body to its limits without worrying about the mental aspects of roped climbs, but also because of the simple reason that you spend more time actually on the wall, as opposed to belaying from the floor.
The next thing to remember when climbing is to always be aware of your body positions whilst on the rock. The visualization and storing of each move in one’s memory is invaluably useful, as it can be recalled (often without any conscious effort to do so) to help overcome untried sequences whilst onsighting new routes and problems.
If you follow these simple guidelines then your climbing ability should gradually increase over time. Remember, it takes commitment and determination to get better at climbing. Don’t expect to be able to jump grades after just a few sessions’ input!
Training & LifestyleAbsolute beginners to the sport do not need to ‘train’ just yet, as going climbing itself will make much more successful gains instead. If however, you’ve been climbing for a while now and have reached a grade of around Fr.6a+ to 6b then you may wish to begin a training regime. The two areas I would suggest that are best to work on are power and endurance.
For power, the fingerboard is undoubtedly the best device around. A comprehensive guide on how to use this tool properly can be found in our Guide to Fingerboarding article. If conducted correctly, one or two sessions a week, in addition to regular climbing, will undeniably lead to you becoming a stronger climber, so long as you don’t overdo it! Remember to listen to what your body is telling you; pushing yourself when you feel tired or have tweaky fingers is a one-way ticket to injury and enforced rest.
(Fingerboards don't have to be massively complex or expensive. Simple homemade concoctions, such as this one, often work just as well.)
Last but not least, to become a better climber can often require a number of simple lifestyle changes. Students, for example, may wish to scale back on the excessive drinking, as it really doesn’t help the body’s rest and recovery (meaning that you cannot climb as regularly) Other healthy lifestyle adjustments, such as skimping on sugar in drinks, using skimmed or semi-skimmed milk or abstaining from fast-food pig-outs, will all add up to happier, harder-cranking you.
Further InformationFor more advanced and comprehensive advice, why not visit the excellent training section featured on the MOON website.
For other ‘how to’ features and informative articles, please check out our Beginners' Guide series