Basic Bouldering Techniques

Here are some basic bouldering techniques and tips to improve strength and stamina while climbing. Bouldering is a great exercise for every muscle in the body. It requires mental and physical awareness and can tone and strengthen as well as improve confidence. Bouldering is great for people who are just getting into climbing and/or are afraid of heights. It requires little gear and the boulderer can decide how high they wish to go. Learning how to boulder can take a great deal of time and there are a lot of different aspects to the sport. Some of the best climbers in the world have been doing it for decades. 

  1. Wear the right shoes: Proper shoes are necessary for bouldering. There are hundreds of types out there, but some are better for sport, crack or multi-pitch and can cause pain or injury if the wrong ones are worn. Some people who have been bouldering for years will climb in the same shoes no matter what, while others will have different pairs for the type of climbing they are doing.
  2. Stretch: This is an obvious technique that is used for any type of exercise. Stretch not only the legs and arms, but also the wrists and back. Bouldering requires flexibility as well as strength. Stretch after climbing as well, to keep from cramping or feeling sore later.
  3. Look at the problem: Each boulder face has a unique "problem" or route. Knowing the problem in advance will make the climb easier. Guide books can be bought in most outdoor stores that are about local climbing areas and they will have the routes in the books as well as the difficulty of the climb.
  4. Chalk up: The chalk helps to keep hands from slipping and can be used on the shoes as well. Climbers usually wear a chalk bag around their waist while climbing so that they don't have to get back down to chalk up. Some bouldering problems can keep a climber on the rock for long periods of time, so this is just a more efficient technique.
  5. Focus on the feet: Even the most difficult climbs can be made easier with the right foot placements. Putting the majority of body weight on the feet will help to keep the hands and fingers from getting tired as well as keep the rubber on the shoes from slipping easily.
  6. Toe hooks: This technique is is used quite often in climbing. Toe hooks are when the climber uses the rubber on the top of the climbing shoe to hook to the edge of a hold or around an arete. It prevents the body from spinning in the wrong direction.
  7. Crossing through: The crossing through technique is possibly the most used when climbing. It is exactly as it sounds, crossing through, which is when a person on a climb crosses the arms through, or in front of, the body to better grab a hold.
  8. Drop knees: This is a type of back stepping where the climber drops their knee down while the other knee is straight up, and puts the foot back to gain access to a hold. This technique is great when climbing on and overhang.
  9. Smearing: This means to put the foot directly on the face of the rock. The shoes will grip the rock and keep the climber from falling. This is good for bouldering on a flat face when a toe hold cannot be found, but a hand hold will be needed.
  10. Open hand grip: This technique is used when the climber holds onto the rock using the first joint of the fingers while the rest of the hand is open. This is the most comfortable and best position for the hands to prevent joint pain.

Remember to be consistent with bouldering. It requires more strength than rope climbing. In order to get the most out of this type of strength training a regular bouldering routine will be needed. Bouldering, like climbing, is a dangerous sport and should be respected. You should wear the proper gear and use all of the safety measures you would use while climbing with ropes when bouldering.

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