Rock Climbing Tips And Techniques for Beginners

Rock climbing can be intimidating for someone just getting into the sport. Many risks are involved, and one bad move can be life-threatening.

We don’t like to paint this picture of doom and gloom, but it’s necessary. Sorry.

Even experienced climbers sometimes face difficulties. There is something new to learn with each climb.

However, it is a thrilling and rewarding sport once you get the hang of it.

So if you are stepping into the rock climbing arena, here are a few rock climbing tips and techniques to help you get started.

Let’s begin.

Invest in the Right Gear

rock climbing gear

As a beginner, investing money in the right climbing gear is a smart choice. Rentals will add up to a major expense, especially if you are planning on committing to climbing.

Since you are starting out, you will only have to invest in quality beginner gear. This gear can vary depending on which form of climbing you want to get into.

Most beginners start with bouldering, a simpler style of climbing where climbing is the main focus. Bouldering gear includes chalk, a chalk bag, and climbing shoes. If you plan to climb outside, then a helmet is recommended.

Avoid spending money on gear that is unnecessary for your experience level. As you level up, you can upgrade your gear.

Find an Instructor

two people practicing rock climbing on boulder

Getting the gear was step one. The next important step is to learn the ropes from an experienced instructor.

If you want to learn new skills, learn from someone who’s done it before.

There will be many new things to learn, and these techniques will be easier to absorb with the right teacher.

You can join a class or a climbing gym. Some gyms have a training team for non-competitive climbers to learn and improve their techniques. 

Having an instructor will give you the strength to take the first steps and keep you accountable.

You can take an outdoor rock climbing class online at REI’s website here.

Get a Climbing Partner

guy and girl rock climbing

A buddy system works great in the rock climbing sport. Getting a partner when you start out will help you become a confident climber. 

A climbing partner will support your climbs and help add a little competition to the mix. This will encourage you to further your progress. 

Learn the Basics of Climbing

indoor rock climbing for practice

Before you start climbing, you will need to understand the basics of route grades or bouldering grades.

These grades determine how difficult a climb is going to be. They are of paramount importance for those who are into extreme mountaineering.  

If you have an instructor, they will break down the grading system for you. In the gym, the system will help you understand and compare the difficulty level of each climbing wall.

However, these grades should not be your main focus. Do not view them as levels of progress. Instead, your main aim should be to enjoy yourself and feel confident during each climbing session.

Equally important is learning how to properly use your climbing gear, such as:

  • Carabiners
  • Climbing harness
  • Climbing ropes and bag
  • Etc

Start Slow

Rock climbing is tough. It is hard on the body. When you first start out, you will barely be able to get through two sessions in a week. 

It is a stressful sport, and as a beginner, you should pace yourself and not expect to see instant results. It will test your endurance along the way. Learning and developing skills and techniques will take time. 

However, do not be hard on yourself. Know your limits and know when to take a break. If you push yourself too much, you risk injury.

Practice Your Footwork

Every beginner in the climbing sport has terrible footwork. However, practicing the ‘silent feet’ drill can quickly improve your climbing technique.

The drill is just as it sounds. Most climbers get spooked or hurry when climbing. They noisily move their feet around, trying to find footholds. They end up wasting precious energy. You can avoid this with proper footwork.

While climbing, pick a route below your level and try to place your feet on the holds as quietly as you can. The simple yet effective drill will help you improve your footwork.

Practice Falling

Rock climbing comes with the inevitability of falls. So it makes sense to master the art. As rock climbers, you must spend time learning how to purposely fall the right way to limit injuries and save your joints from impact abuse.

To learn and practice the proper falling technique, you require an instructor, so make sure you have one. 

Straighten Your Arms

Straighten your arms. This is a very important tip for beginners. If you climb with bent arms, it will affect your performance. Bent arms mean your arms are bearing the brunt of your body weight. This will tire you out very quickly.

Bent arms also restrict your reach. Limited reach will make the climbs harder than they need to be. Therefore, it is vital that you straighten your arms when you reach up and climb.

Improve Core Strength

One common misconception regarding rock climbing is that it requires more upper-body strength, but this is not true. As a result, your core strength matters more than your upper-body strength.

You will need to work on your core strength to learn to maintain stability and balance on the wall. Engaging the core will help you nail the ‘silent feet’ footwork drill and become a better climber.

Do Proper Warm-Up

Proper warm-ups are essential to any sport if you want to minimize the risk of injuries.

Fall into a habit of doing a basic warm-up routine that you can wrap up in 10 minutes or less. A no-frills routine will make it easier for you to incorporate it into your climbing prep on any day.

A basic warm-up routine can be a mix of a few exercises like arm circles, lunges, squats, jumping jacks, etc. Any exercise that perks you up and loosens your body for the climb is a good warm-up.

It is vital that you do not skip the warm-up, no matter how much of a hurry you are in. In addition to warm-ups, you will also need to have a cool-down routine.

Final Thoughts

As a beginner, rock climbing may seem overwhelming at times, but remember why you started in the first place. 

Remember to take a step back if you start to get frustrated and revive the vigor and spirit of the sport in you before tackling the problems again.

Rock climbing should be fun and exciting. Celebrate each climb and keep pushing forward.

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