10 techniques to improve your rock climbing

Interested in becoming a better rock climber. We came across this article the other week that sums up some great advice.  While you will still need to develop a combination of skill, strength and mental focus, these techniques are a good place to start.

1. Use your legs
Many people see rock climbers hauling themselves up steep walls and immediately assume that the main muscle that you use is your arms. While you certainly do need to use your arms to hold on, in many cases your legs are the work horses of the climb. Allow your weight to sit on your feet, and push with your legs, rather than pulling with your arms whenever possible.

2. Plan your route
While it can seem like experienced rock climbers naturally flow up a face of rock, this is a learned skill that takes time to develop. Even the most experienced rock climbers plan what they are going to do before they do it. Take time, look past the first couple of feet of the climb. Many people make the mistake of only planning the first few movements, if they plan at all.

3. Rest where you can
This is much easier if you are using point 1 well. Not every part of the rock climb is going to really hard, so if you can find a spot where you do not need to hang on your arms, you can give them a bit of a rest. This could be a ledge, a crack that you’ve jammed your body into, or even some people hang by their toes in order to get a much needed rest.

4. Hips in
Your centre of gravity is largely dictated by where your hip are. If you find that your butt is hanging out in the middle of nowhere, bring it home! The closer you can get your hips into the wall, the easier it will be to get your weight off your arms and onto your feet.

5. Loosen up
This goes without saying for any physical sport, you need to warm up! Don’t jump onto the hard stuff right away, or you will experience the ominous ‘flash pump’. Your arms will turn to rocks, and you won’t be able to grip even the best holds. Do some easy routes first, get the blood flowing in your muscles, and stretch. This is critical not only for climbing on harder grades, but also for preventing injuries.

6. Don’t over grip
This one pretty much says it all. Many of us don’t know what we can hold ourselves on, so we grip the holds as hard as we possibly can. While this keeps us from falling, it also uses up our energy way faster than we should be. Be efficient with your strength, and try using only as much grip as you need to stay on the wall. If you feel yourself sliding off, that’s ok! Tighten up a little, or if you fall, that’s ok too.

7. Take a fall or two
There is a lot to be said for the mental aspect of climbing. If we are afraid to fall, we will not put ourselves in a position where we may fall. This means you will never be able to climb as hard as you would like. While falling can be hazardous in some situations, there are benefits of learning how to fall when it is safe to do so. Take some time on top rope, or even a sport route to get comfortable with falling. This will allow you to make bolder moves, and not be held back.

8. If it hurts, ease up
While pain is a normal part of rock climbing, i.e. the burn, pain is also your body’s way of telling you that something might not be right. If you start to feel pain in your joints, or deep muscle pain, ease up. Often if I start to feel uncomfortable pulling in my shoulders I will back off and finish for the day. The last thing you want is to get an injury that keeps you out of the game for a couple of weeks.

9. Climb with better climbers than you
Often we have no idea how to rock climb better, and we need to see what other people are doing. If you only climb with those who are your skill level or less, you will likely miss out on a lot of learning that can happen just by watching how rock climbers move. You will miss attitudes, movements, and even technical skills that can all make you a better climber.

10. Climb consistently
When it really comes down to it, there is no better way to learn how to rock climb better than by doing it. The more you climb, the better you will be. Rock climbing is a skill that needs time to master, and you can only get better through practice. So get out there and climb!

Article thanks to Rock Climbing Onsight