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Rock Climbing Basics: What You Should Know on Week 1

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Rock Climbing Basics

Rock climbing is an exhilarating sport, filled with challenges, rewards, and a lot of fun along the way. But for many beginners, getting started can be daunting. That’s where we come in – this guide is designed for those who are just starting out and will walk you through the rock climbing basics that you need to have an amazing first week in the gym.

What to Expect

Embarking on your first rock climbing experience can be thrilling yet nerve-wracking. You’ll face a vertical challenge, learn new body movements, and discover the strength you never knew you had. The climbing community is known for its camaraderie and support, so you’re sure to make friends along the way.

Start with the Basics

Rock climbing is as much about technique as it is about strength. Learning to use your legs for power and your arms for balance is a great start. Also, remember to climb using your hips, not your shoulders. Always aim to keep your body close to the wall and your arms straight whenever possible.


Warm-Up and Cool-Down

Just like any other sport, it’s essential to warm up your body before you start climbing and cool down afterward to prevent injury and promote recovery. Consider a combination of dynamic stretches, aerobic exercises, and targeted warm-ups for your fingers, arms, and legs.

Planning Your Route

Before you start climbing, try to visualize the route and plan your moves ahead of time. Think about where you want to go and how you might get there. This is known as “route reading,” and it’s an important skill in bouldering which will improve as you climb more. If you curious, this article from Friction Labs expands on this topic.

Using Your Legs

Many new climbers make the mistake of pulling themselves up the wall with their arms. In reality, your legs are much stronger and should do most of the work. Push with your legs, and use your arms and hands for balance and grip. For more on this, we love this video from Catalyst Climbing on improving your footwork.


Your feet are essential for efficient climbing. Pay attention to where you’re placing them and how you’re using them. Aim to place your feet precisely, stepping on the balls of your feet or the edges of your climbing shoes. Avoid noisy, imprecise footwork.


Body Positioning

Understanding how your body position affects your balance and reach can help you solve problems more efficiently. For instance, keeping your body close to the wall, especially your hips, can help you maintain balance. When reaching for a hold, it can be more efficient to move your feet first and bring your body along, rather than reaching with your arm first.


Seems obvious, but it’s easy to hold your breath while focusing on a tough move, and this can lead you to fatigue more quickly. Remember to breathe steadily throughout your climb.


Find positions on the wall where you can rest and shake out your arms. This might involve hooking a leg over a hold (called a heel hook) or finding a comfortable spot to sit or lean on a hold.

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Instead of jumping down from the wall after each climb, practice downclimbing. It’s safer and helps build strength and technique. And feel free to use any holds or volumes beneath you (being cognizant of other climbers around you) while you make your way down.

Fall Safely

Learning how to fall properly can greatly reduce the risk of injury. Aim to land on your feet, bend your knees and roll backwards, tucking your chin to your chest. Avoid trying to break your fall with your hands.

Have fun out there

Remember, climbing is as much about problem-solving and technique as it is about strength. So take your time, be patient with your progress, and most importantly, have fun!

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