12 Ways to Improve Your Climbing RIGHT NOW

There have been 12 Definite moments when I find something new, or someone tells me about there secret or perspective. It can instantly improve your climbing! its like your first time using chalk!

If your looking for something new, or just wonder what you can do right now to get better…Read on.

Photo by Allan Mas from Pexels

To kick things off i will start with:

1. Rest More

Rest more? how can that be a way to instantly improve?

This one came from a coach of mine back in the day, yeah simply rest more!

Let me elaborate, i mean when your redpointing a boulder for example, You probably arent resting enough.

You may feel completely rested and ready to try as hard as you can all over again in 2 minutes tops but actually giving your body more time to recover will pay massive returns in your likelihood of sending that climb!

Your body needs from 2 to 4 minutes to recover its ATP-PC energy system, used for your highest power efforts.

Quite valuable to our climbing, especially bouldering!

Try resting at least 3 minutes inbetween your attempts and see for yourself how much more recovered you feel!

A good guideline is to wait around 3 minutes at least between attempts for a boulder.

On routes, people even take up to hour to fully recover from there pump before having another go!

Just make sure you warm back up again after a long rest.

Its hard to rest for enough time when your bouldering because its so social, and you might have only been climbing for a minute…

But you will definetly see a improvement of your climbing if you focus your mindset to Quality Over Quantity.

You see its not just the benefits of being more recovered.

This extra time inbetween attempts will allow you to invest more time in reading the route and thinking about how you can make the next attempt better.

Would you rather have 5 great attempts, each with good chance of sending, or 15 mediocre goes?

Having more and more goes when your tired will probably engrain bad technical habits into your climbing movement.

I know what i would rather do, and it has helped me become MORE succesful in my climbing.

2. PULL with your Feet

Yes Pull with your feet! This may sound wierd but you should really be actively pulling on your foot holds in a lot of circumstances!

I see so many climbers just plop there foot on a hold and carry on climbing!

Using your legs more actively in your climbing can pay massive dividends in your ability to control your movement, generate movement from somewhere other than your arms and just give you a secure feeling to your climbing.

Try walking up a slab no hands and pull with your feet to balance and move about on the slab. Since its lockdwn explore this on a ladder, feel your self alternating between pulling and pushing with your feet as you ascend the ladder.

This wil develop your ability to conciously pull with your legs while you climb, then just slowly integrate it into your climbing by practicing it on all terrain in your warmups.

3. Breathing Excercises

Its mind blowing how much power your breathing has!

you can control your breathing to strengthen your core on a steep and powerful boulder, or you can calm and recover your body and mind with it on a rest, halfway up a route.

The first technique is called the ‘Valsalva Maneuver’ in other industries.

It creates pressure in your abdomen and is manipulated in weightlifting to increase strength and core tension for a brief moment during a heavy lift.

You can see how this technique will revolutionize your climbing ability!

To do it you simply take a deep breath and ‘compress’ it in your stomach. You should be trying to exhale but not letting any air out. im sure this is what some climbers are doing when they growl or let out a ‘TSSssaaaA’ because it sounds like there exhale is pressurised, from the Technique.

This technique creates pockets of pressure in your abdomen that increase stability and tension in your core immediately. Impliment it best into your steep climbing or on long reaches between holds!

Secondly, Deep breathing can work wonders for your mind.

To relax on a climb or boulder, go into deep breaths, paying attention and carrying out each breath with concentration, This will bring your mind back into the body if your mind is racing, and has the added benefit of boosting you mid climb recovery by pushing more oxygen into the muscles that need it!

4. Visualising

You may already implement visualising, perhaps as you route read.

But for the longest time i just ‘read the route’, and imagined doing the moves. it wasnt until i heard adam talking about it i realised you have to really FEEL yourself doing it.

The emotions have such a huge impact on outcome its unbelieveable. you must become invested and know you are going to do it!

How many times have you wrapped your fingers around a hold but not stuck it. You feel like you just let go, and you basically did. You had already decided you werent going to stick the hold and so your body followed.

To properly uilize visualisation you must visualise yourself doing it, and then feel you can do it. you have seen its possible, and have imagined what it would feel like to do it. This makes you more emotionally invested, resulting in you trying harder and even sticking moves you didnt thing you would stick.

You need to decide you are going to do it, so you can fully give it everything!

Theres no point leaving the ground if you have already decided you wont do it.

‘If a man thinks he can or cannot, he is right’ I cant remember where i heard this but its so true when it comes to your climbing!

5. Let go a little!

people often overgrip a little when they are at height or feel panicked. My grandad climbed up into one of those boat watchtowers up on the mast, and was totally pumped when he arrived because he was gripped with fear haha.

Hold onto ideally a climbing wall, or any kind of ‘hold’ you can create, with your feet against the wall, close you eyes and lean back onto your hand holds.

Slowly relax your grip until you think you might actually slip, then relax them a bit more!

Its amazing how much we can actually relax onto the holds. some holds I feel like the hold is holding onto me when i try this.

This will show you how little you actually need to hold on compared to how tight you have been so far.

do this in your normal climbing on all kinds of holds and angles and reap the benefits on your projects! Think about the compound this has, you could get an extra 10 or 20% extra energy in your forearms from this one trick.

You might not have relaxed much at all until you slipped, or you might have been blown away by how much extra force you hold on with, iether way your now one step closer to your climbing goals!

6. Squeeze your ass

Its a bit more complicated than that i promise but yeah basically just squeese your glutes more!

‘Squeezing your ass’ creates more tension in your Posterior chain, and increases the amount of weight you will be able to put into foot holds. (and take off your arms)

More importantly, i just see people not doing it at all in scenarios where they should be fully utilising there glutes. you should be tightening your glutes for pretty much each move you make. actively engaging with your legs begins or ends in the hips so conciously engaging here can bring you so much stability and efficiency.

You want your hips to be as far over your feet as possible for pretty much every climbing move.

Try hanging onto some kind of overhang and lift your hips up from your feet. try pushing your hips up as high you can go, then as low as you can and see how they both feel. Then try it on slab or slight overhangs and vert for a sense of how much you should be engaging your glutes on these terrains.

Stability in the hips is such an important factor, and this technique will help you instantly boost it!

7. Smile!

Maybe this one is a bit much, But pleassseeee hear me out!

We previously established how your mood can affect your climbing, and how you feel can make or break your climbing.

You know you can tell when someone is about to fall off, (im not talking about pros) because they become all tense and they give off loads of physical cues. The telltale signs were anxious has physical manifestations that make us climb slow and tense, perhaps we also get tunnel vision and rush.

Smiling is a physical cue you can give to your brain when your about to climb, tricking it into feeling relaxed.

This is soooooo valuable to your climbing, feeling relaxed allows you to approach things in a challenge mindset, meaning youll be more open to try hard and will have less chit chat going on in your concious brain.

Being relaxed is a key factor for being able to access flow.

You can even do ‘power poses’ to boost your Confidence and increase your ‘assertiveness’ in your climbing.

In Climbing this often looks like moving faster, not readjusting as much and is a MASSIVE factor for your climbing performance! no joke id say it matters more than how strong you actually are for the climb!

fake it till you make it!

8. Watch your Feet

If you dont already, watching your feet as you place them fully into holds is so important.

It means you can be fully confident in your feet and determines how much you uilize your legs.

You have to watch your feet right into the holds to know exactly where to place them. You must confirm they are where you put them BEFORE you move onto your next move.

You can feel solid on your feet once you KNOW they are on the holds well. it lets you move with confidence and you will fully utilise your legs knowing there not going to slip.

i think looking away before your foots on the hold is why so climbers feel ‘insecure’ on there feet, relying on there upper bodies and never fully weighting there feet because of UNKNOWN.

climbing this way means you dont know how good your feet are and this can cause you to over rely on your arms.

Do this next time you climb for a climbing level up!

9. Take a Fall

Going for a voluntary fall wether your bouldering or roped climbing will do wonders for your confidence.

in roped climbing your just telling your monkey brain one time that its okay to fall, a step into climbing with confidence.

In bouldering it will callibrate you for how far you can fall, and again your just telling your brain falling is okay.

unknown is a major factor in fear right!? im scared of the sea a bit because i dont know if theres wierd fish around me but its the same thing.

Once you have had a fall you have eliminated the unknown and have a better ability to control your nerves.

To completely get over your fear of falling will take much more than one fall, but taking at least one fall every time you go climbing is the behaveour of someone who has no fear of falling!

10. Climb to Recover

This one might sound a bit counterintuitive but some light use of the muscle is proven to recover from lactic acid build ups much better than fully resting your muscle.

I think its pretty fascinating and i assume its because using your muscle a little brings more blood and oxygen into the muscle than if you just went completely into rest.

I just know it works! try doing some slab or just walking your hands about on holds to get them engaging at 10 to 30% effort in between attempts on your Project to recover much faster!

Id suggest trying a minute or two aerobic climbing because you dont want to risk straining your aerobic system and hindering recovery further, and just see how much more recovered you feel!

11. Use good shoes

I know not all of you need to hear this but some of you do, so I thought id include it!

While no one wants to admit there not as good as the original climbers, going from a pair of ill fitting shoes to a good pair can revolutionize your climbing!!

The feeling of a shoe fitting you and having all that power in your toes is so good. You will be able to unlock so much climbing because you will be able to actually interact with the holds properly!

While getting used to a new pair of shoes, and improving your footwork is a constant practice, getting the pair of shoes that will work for you is pretty much a instant performance boost!

For those of you that found a great pair of shoes that fit well, while you maybe should diversify your climbing shoe eventually if you get more specialised needs, but overall, resoling or replacing them with the same shoes is a pretty sensible way to keep your foot work on point since your already used to how the shoes behave.

you dont need to spend a month or two getting used to climbing in a different pair of shoes, this will stunt your footwork development and you risk getting a bad pair of shoes which will make your footwork worse!

12. ‘Use every muscle but your forearms’

im pretty proud of the last tip, although it doesnt really make sense.

its a great way to visualise climbing movement for efficiency.

Thats the essence of all climbing technique right! using your legs and core and shoulders in certain ways to be able to use our arms less!

But i think ‘use every muscle but my forearms’ is a much simpler way to be able to think about it.

Use every muscle you can to minimise the amount you use your forearms

someone might have a better way of saying it but this is what I came up with 🙂

Climbing efficiently might be interpreted as ‘hanging on straight arms’ and using all of your muscles equally, Avoiding using any muscle with too much force, but this isnt really efficiency.

you want to use all your muscles as MUCH as possible to keep the weight off your forearms.

Thats efficiency!

try thinking about your forearms like you ideally dont want to hold onto the wall at all, so your going to be mostly sat on your feet and keeping your body right into the wall.

I think it can really help some of you that have heard all the general climbing technique ‘Tips’ but need a more simple way to visualise it.

Conclusion

Well there we go! 12 ways to instantly improve your climbing, i hope you liked them.

if you have any more leave a comment! Thanks for reading these, I hope it helps your climbing!

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