The spread of climbing frames has quickly changed the climbing sports scene. Now people are pouring into the gyms who would otherwise be too scared to try climbing. As a result, the sport is growing exponentially. People come from easy 5.7 degree climbs to more difficult 5.10+ climbs at an unprecedented speed. Gyms make climbing a spectator sport where people see and are seen. There are simple things you can do to improve your climbing ability at any level. I will discuss tips for better climbing through movement, technique, mentality and training.
The abundance of strong climbers can be discouraging for the beginner. It is important not to get discouraged by comparing your climbing level with those that climb longer. Remember not to calm down. For example, don’t tell yourself that you are a slow climber. Instead, say that you climb slowly. See the difference? You have the potential to learn from your mistakes and become an amazing climber over time. Learning and developing is the way, and you have to accept that you will improve over time. Instead, try to learn from the other climbers by observing their movement. Where are their feet when they are climbing? How do they shift their body weight? Do they look relaxed or tense? Are their movements conscious?
Let’s talk about the mental state of climbing. This is often overlooked by people when they learn to climb. You must not try to climb a route too fast. Don’t forget to relax. The best climbers do not try to defeat their route. Instead, they watch the ascent and work with it. Their bodies flow effortlessly through the movements and they seem relaxed. Your goal should be to climb as evenly as possible, not just to finish the ascent. But above all, you must remember to breathe. Breathing relaxes and provides the body with vital oxygen. It also helps to distribute the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. Many beginners hold their breath while climbing. This almost always causes them to be stressed and exhausted.
Watch the ascent before you start. Imagine how you successfully go through each of the moves. Have a positive attitude and tell yourself that you can succeed. Breathe in a few deep breaths before you begin the ascent. When you stand on the wall, leave your mind empty. It’s easier to get into the climbing zone if you don’t think about failure or who is watching you. One of the wonderful aspects of climbing is the freedom you can feel on the wall. You leave your problems on the ground. As you climb, concentrate on your movement. When climbing, concentrate on the present. Don’t worry about the next steps. Instead, concentrate on the next two moves. Climbers often speak of their 8-foot bubble of consciousness. They don’t think about how high they are. They are only aware of the task at hand.
If you fall off a route, don’t get discouraged. Falling teaches you how to climb better. Holding your muscles until they can no longer grip is also the best way to increase muscle endurance. Consider your falls as a springboard to success and better skills. Even the best climbers have High Gravity Days.
Climb at your level. Although it’s fun to do climbs that are difficult for you, it’s best to mostly climb within your levels. Know what you can climb and concentrate on your movement instead. If you climb outside your abilities, you will make desperate movements and not work on the technique. Don’t exaggerate and don’t use too much energy. Make every move with caution. Work on shifting your weight.
Remember to always warm up on easier climbs before trying harder climbs. Warming up is better for your body, and will allow you to climb harder for longer. I can climb 5.11s in the gym, but I always start with 5.8s and 5.9s. I once made the mistake of climbing a 5.12+ without warming up after having 2 weeks off. My arms pumped out extremely fast, and I couldn’t climb to any height for the rest of the night.
Accept that you are going to be sore after climbing. People who climb a lot are often sore after the hard climbing.