So you caught the climbing bug too. You felt the satisfaction after each small success on the wall and you want to keep getting better to conquer new heights. If you are reading this then most probably by now you also realized that climbing is not just about gear. There are also a number of rock climbing techniques for beginners that you should always keep in mind. Here are a few rules of thumb to get you started.
1. Use your legs
One of the most common mistakes all beginner climbers make is to try to pull themselves up with their arm. First and most important rule from the rock climbing techniques for beginners – your legs are a lot stronger than your arms. Think of climbing like going up a ladder. Your arms support you but your legs are doing all the work.
By putting your weight on your feet, instead of on your arms, you will increase your endurance dramatically. Don’t be discouraged if your footwork is terrible at the beginning. It just takes some practice and a good pair of climbing shoes.
One common footwork exercise that you could start with your next visit to the climbing gym is called “Silent feet”. The idea is quite simple – try to place your foot on the hold as quietly as possible. If you cannot hear your foot touching the hold you’re on the right track. This exercise will help you control your feet better and focus your attention on the footwork.
If you still have any doubts about the role of your legs in climbing take some time to watch some of the experts in the climbing gym. Turn specific attention at how deliberate and silent their foot movements are.
Once you start getting the basics of footwork you will notice that they are the key to your balance on the wall. Once you set your foot, keep still and don’t rush immediately to the next hold. Try to look for footholds even more than for handholds.
2. Keep your arms straight
While climbing you might feel tempted to keep your arms bent at the elbows. You do it instinctively. But imagine for a moment you are carrying your groceries. If you keep your arms bent your muscles are constantly engaged and you will get tired a lot faster than if you simply straighten your arms.
Here comes the second important rule of thumb in the rock climbing techniques for beginners – keeping your arm straight makes the moves a lot easier and more efficient. Allow your skeleton to take the weight of your body by bending your legs rather than your arms.
3. Keep your body close to the wall
After your legs, the strength of your core is another key you need to use for balanced and efficient climbing. Keep your body close to the wall so that your center of gravity is kept low on your torso and legs. If you lean away from the wall your arms will have to take the weight instead.
While staying close to the wall, try to keep one hip pushed up against it. This will help you keep the weight on the feet so you could lean back and relax with your arms straight.
The 3 Points of Contact rule
A common beginner mistake is to try to reach a far handhold without thinking about your footwork in the meantime. Trying to then find a position for your foot blindly could pretty easily put you off balance and result in a fall. The 3 Points of Contact rule is meant to prevent this exact situation.
Simply said, the rule means that at any given moment 3 hands or feet should be touching the wall. You can then use the fourth limb to move upwards. Moving in such a manner will not waste your energy and will help you keep your balance.
The rule is only broken when you need to execute more complex movements.
Learning how to plan your route more precisely is something that will come with the practice but if you are willing to advance faster it is important to try and execute only conscious movements. A good exercise here is to take a good look at the wall before you start climbing and to try to imagine the route you will take and the movements you might have to make.
Rest whenever possible
Resting is as important as any other of the rock climbing techniques for beginners. Even if you follow all basic rules and save your energy as much as possible rock climbing is a very intensive sport. Give your muscles a chance to recover whenever you can. This is especially important on a long route. When you feel you are stable enough drop one arm and shake it to remove the tension from the muscles.
Remember to also breathe deeply both when you rest and while you climb. A good breathing technique will ensure your body gets enough oxygen and will increase your endurance. Deep breathing also helps you maintain your focus and calm your mind in order to assess any difficult situations that arise during the climb.
Learn from the experts
If you’re stuck on a problem don’t get discouraged just because you believe you don’t have the strength for it. Don’t hesitate to ask the more advanced climbers for beta. Beta is the strategy you could use to climb a route. Climbers are usually very social people and gladly share beta with the others.
Take every chance to learn from those with more experience. Watch the way advanced climbers move on the wall and try to understand their techniques. Pay special attention to the way they place their feet and body, how they grip the holds, etc.
Once you feel comfortable with the basic rock climbing techniques for beginners keep challenging yourself with more and more advanced problems. You might as well wish to take part in a more advanced course at the local gym. There are many advanced techniques and positions that you may learn only from the experts on the wall.
You will pretty soon find out that climbing is not just about strength but also about having the right arsenal of moves to get you through the route and all the way to the top.