Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that requires no rope or harness. Consequently, it is practiced at heights of less than 4 meters both outdoors, on suitable rocks and boulders, and indoors, on artificial climbing walls. Bouldering is a fun, high-intensity sport suitable for people of all ages, genders and endurance levels. Start reading the article from the first step to get more detailed instructions on how to bouldering.
Method 1 of 3: Getting Started
Step 1. Get the right equipment
Buy a good pair of outdoor climbing shoes at a local sporting goods store. Ask an experienced sales employee to help you, as finding the right shoes is extremely important. Therefore, ask someone who is familiar with their use. The price can vary from 30 to 150 euros.
As a general rule, they should be sock tight. Even more! The grip, in fact, will give you greater control of the toe during the climb. Also take a pack of climbing chalk (magnesium carbonate) at the exit of the shop. It will help dry the sweat from your hands when you climb, preventing you from slipping.
- There are all kinds and different colors, but for now stay on the most convenient one. Usually, it costs around 1-1.5 € per pack.
Step 2. Consider security
Bouldering is one of the safest forms of climbing, because it takes place at heights of less than four meters and involves the use of a mat called a crash pad. However, as in all sports, there is some risk, so it is important to consider the safety rules at all times.
- Bouldering does not involve the use of ropes, so expect to fall several times when you encounter difficult problems. Even if you don't fall from a high height, you will often fall suddenly or awkwardly, so it's important to have a crash pad under you at all times.
- You can reduce the risk of injury by trying to land upright with your knees bent (to absorb shock), rolling to the side if necessary. Remove any rings or jewelry before climbing and have someone follow you during the climb - that is, someone who is ready to intervene as you fall, guiding you on the crash pad and protecting your head from injury.
Step 3. Decide if you want to bouldering indoors or outdoors
It can be practiced outdoors, on any type of rock or rocky wall, or indoors on the artificial wall of a gym. Either way, it will be fun and engaging climbing - whichever way you choose, it's a matter of personal preference.
Outdoor bouldering has the advantage that it can be practiced outdoors and offers a more natural climbing experience, preferred by some people. However, it depends on the weather conditions and requires you to have personal equipment - such as shoes and a crash pad.
Indoor bouldering is a good option for beginners who want to try something new without investing in equipment right from the start (shoes can be rented and crash pads are also provided), but it is also a great choice for beginners. experienced climbers who wish to further hone their skills. The "problems" are arranged on colored walls and can be adjusted to mimic the outdoor climbing experience, in a wide range of difficulties. Indoor bouldering is not constrained to weather conditions, but space is usually limited and walls can get crowded.
Step 4. Warm up and stretch
Bouldering is an intense physical activity that requires power and flexibility. And like any physical activity, it is important to warm up and do some stretching exercises before starting to avoid injury.
Get the blood flowing by doing a few minutes of cardio before climbing - this way you will feel your body that it's time to prepare for the climb. Try jogging, biking for ten minutes, or jumping for five minutes. If you are outdoors, a walk or an excursion to the place where you intend to bouldering will probably be useful!
Then do some stretching to stretch the muscles, joints and tendons. Focus on your upper body by stretching your fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck and back, but also remember your legs, hips and ankles.
Finally, start climbing by choosing simple "problems" that you are sure you can complete - in this way you will accustom your body to the movements and slowly favor the transition to actual climbing.
Step 5. Understand what the difficulty levels are
Most of the places dedicated to climbing - both indoors and outdoors - use the same scoring system to indicate the relative difficulty of each "problem" (this is the term used to define the climbing itinerary, in in case you didn't know!).
- This scoring system is known as the "V scale" and helps climbers identify problems that are suitable for their skill level. The V scale goes from V0 (the simplest) to V15 (the most difficult).
- In addition, each point can have a minus or plus sign, which indicates the level of difficulty within each point. For example, a V0- is the simplest problem a climber can tackle, while a V15 + is the most difficult.
To help you follow the correct path, in an issue all climbing aids are marked with the same colored tape or in some cases will have the same color. You should not use any media that is not part of the chosen problem - the color system is there to prevent this from happening.
Method 2 of 3: Climbing Techniques
Step 1. Choose a problem and imagine the path
Before you begin, choose a problem that fits your abilities. If you've never bouldered before, start with the simplest problem and practice while uphill. By practicing, you can improve very quickly, at least in the beginning.
- One of the main mistakes that beginners make is to get on the wall and start climbing, without planning a route. This quickly leads to getting stuck or falling.
- It is important to understand that bouldering is as much a mental as it is physical exercise - before starting the climb it is necessary to examine the route and imagine the route you are about to take.
- Think about the supports you intend to use and in what order, think about the grips to be grasped with your hands and the specific foot positions you intend to take, and finally think about how you can complete the problem as effectively as possible. This is why it is called a problem - it is something that makes you think to come to its solution!
- Of course, not everything will go as planned once you are on the wall - it may be that a stand doesn't look what you expected or that you won't be able to stretch as much as you thought - so, don't be afraid to improvise when you're up there. Just stay calm and find a new path.
Step 2. Use your legs as much as possible
Many people new to bouldering believe that a climber's most important physical asset is strength that resides in the upper body, but that's wrong.
- A good climber relies a lot more on his legs, which makes sense when you think about it. The quadriceps are the largest and strongest muscles in the body, so it makes a lot more sense to use them in place of the biceps which are weaker in comparison. Is it easier to do a pull up or a squat?
- Balance most of the weight on your legs and use them to push yourself up when moving from one support to another. Remember that power and stability come from the legs. The arms, on the other hand, should be used primarily to balance and pull yourself up, while leveraging your legs. Try to keep your arms as straight as possible when climbing - this will load the bones, rather than the muscles.
Step 3. Use a correct hand grip
As a beginner climber, it's okay to grab the grip in whatever way feels most natural and comfortable. But as you go along, you need to learn how to use the hand grip in a specific way, positioning your fingers and hands correctly, in order to tackle the most difficult problems.
Crimping: Crimping is a method of grasping an edge (a narrow, horizontal support) or a sidepull (a vertical or diagonal support) with the fingertips. The latter must adhere to the support, keeping the fingers arched above. This is a fairly solid grip, but requires good finger strength.
Pinching: pinching is a method of grasping a support protruding from the rock with the hand, taking it between the thumb on one side and the fingers of the other. It can also be used when there are indentations from one side of the rock to the other - in this case the grip is similar to the position of the fingers when holding a bowling ball.
Palming: Palming is a method used when there are no supports to grasp, but only the flat face of the wall or rock. Simply hold your open hand against the wall, together with your fingers, and balance the weight in the palm of your hand. Palming allows you to change the position of the feet while the body is balanced thanks to the pressure exerted on the palm of the hand.
Step 4. Use correct foot position
Many first-time bouldering climbers tend to focus all their concentration on the hands and neglect the feet, but the footed position is extremely important for balance and stability. Some more common foot movements in bouldering include:
Toeing and edging: In bouldering it is rare to have a large enough support where the whole foot rests confidently, so you need to get used to using individual parts of the feet. Toeing, as the name suggests, is the technique used to grasp a small grip with only the toes. Narrow shoes come in handy, as they will give you a better grip on small surfaces. With edging it is possible to use both sides of the foot to stand on a small ledge.
Smearing: Smearing is a technique used when there is no clearly defined grip. It involves exerting pressure with the foot (usually the forefoot) on an inclined and rough surface, balancing the weight as much as possible on the latter. Smearing can feel precarious, but stay relaxed and committed to complete the move.
- Swapping feet: another foot movement that is necessary to advance in bouldering is the swapping feet. It is necessary when there is no space on a given support for both feet and a change of foot is required to progress the problem. There are two methods of doing this: you can simply jump with one foot, moving one foot on the grip while the other remains free, or you can slowly slide one foot on the grip, simultaneously sliding the other out.
Step 5. Learn to fall correctly
Falls are inevitable in bouldering - whether it's an accidental fall after a failed or intentional catch from the top of a completed problem. Therefore, it is important to learn how to fall correctly, to minimize the risk of injury.
- If you climb outdoors with the use of a crash pad, try to predict the trajectory of your fall before attempting the problem, to position the crash pad correctly. Do not push the crash pad directly against the rock face - it is much more likely to fall out of a straight line.
- Get in the habit of landing vertically, bending your knees to cushion the bump and rolling sideways if necessary. Do not rely on the crash pad to lessen the impact of the fall, even when climbing in the gym, because a clumsy landing could cause an injury, no matter how soft it is.
- If you dive off the top of a problem, first remember to immediately identify where to land and make sure there are no people below you that you risk falling on.
- If you are a beginner, stay away from highballing (it's a bouldering term for higher climbs and riskier problems). Falling from a greater height greatly increases the chances of injury. Stick to completing less difficult, more horizontal problems, focusing on improving your technique.
Method 3 of 3: Become a More Experienced Climber
Step 1. Focus on your strengths, but don't neglect your weak ones
The great thing about bouldering is that each person approaches the same problem differently, based on personal strengths.
- In reality, bouldering is one of the few sports where men and women can be on the same level, because qualities such as flexibility and balance are just as important as physical strength. Try to understand what your greatest strength is and use it in improving your bouldering techniques.
- However, as you go up the climb, it is also important to work on the weak points, otherwise your overall performance will be affected. Avoid completing only problems that are suitable for you and seek out new challenges with yourself every now and then.
Step 2. Don't get down on yourself
If you fail to complete a particular problem, it is likely to put you down, stubborn or give up altogether.
- However, these approaches are unlikely to help you improve - remember that bouldering is as much a mental as a physical activity. Therefore, it is important to take a deep breath, stay calm and take your time.
- Examine the problem again and try to figure out if there is a hand or foot grip that you may have missed or an alternative way of dealing with the problem.
- It is important to understand that failure is also a part of bouldering - pushing the physical and mental limits is all part of the fun. If I were able to complete every problem on the first attempts at climbing it would be a boring sport pretty quickly.
Step 3. Watch other climbers
Watching more experienced climbers tackle a difficult bouldering problem can be a great way to develop new skills and will help you understand some of the best ways to try out specific moves.
- You'll also find that most climbers are happy to offer advice and guidance on how to complete a problem you're struggling with, so don't be afraid to ask questions!
- However, it should also be considered that everyone approaches bouldering problems differently. There is never a single "correct" method to do something, so what works for one person may not work for another.
Step 4. Work on balance
Probably, balance is the single most important factor for being a good boulderer.
- You must be aware of your center of gravity at all times and shift your weight when necessary in order to maintain balance. Try to move with slow, controlled and fluid movements, keeping your weight centered on both legs as much as possible.
- Avoid what is known in the climbing world as the "sewing machine leg" - where one leg shakes out of control when it has to support the entire weight of the body, while the other climbs towards a hold. When this happens, it means that you need to pay more attention to positioning your body well.
Step 5. Don't forget to rest
Once you have bouldering fever, you will probably want to go to the gym to climb every day, but be careful as you risk tearing a muscle or straining a tendon.
- Bouldering is a strenuous activity and your body needs time to recover between climbs. Take at least 48 hours if the climbing has been particularly intense.
Always remember to stretch after climbing - it will help reduce muscle stiffness and pain the next day.
- If you are in full bouldering fever and want to improve your climbing, look at the methods of practicing - from techniques and balance exercises for the fingers, arms and the coxo-lumbo-pelvic complex, the so-called core - the advantages of a tough guy. training, and even with a little more strength and technique you can reach another level.
- Keep it fun! Mix it up, try new things, climb with different people - variety is good.
- Make it fun! Move fast, try new things, climb with different people - variety is always good.
- Involve friends. Everyone climbs differently! It is useful and fun to be able to talk during a climb, even if it is relaxing - it's amazing what kind of things people think while climbing.
- Indoor gyms are a great way to meet people and get them involved in this sport. Most people are willing to show you some of the more ingenious methods of movement. Many gyms also offer inexpensive courses on how to start bouldering or climbing.
- Try removing the chalk from the rock you are leaning on. The gypsum is used to absorb the moisture in the air and makes the grip very dry. Use an old toothbrush to clean it before you leave it.
- Some shops sell "crash pads" bouldering products. They are highly recommended to keep your climbing safety standards high in case of falls.
- Getting someone to follow you while you are climbing is essential, especially if you are a novice climber or intend to reach your limits. Choose someone you trust to protect, slow down or guide your fall. Good communication and attention are fundamental requirements.
- Remember that 'buildering' - climbing along the side of buildings is illegal … so don't get caught! Most bouldering sites have free access - some sites require permits or a payment to the landowner, so the best way to proceed is to contact the nearest climbing association or local administration authority. you want to climb or to the landowner.