Rock climbing is not only a great full-body workout, working your back, upper body and legs, but also a super fun sport that tests your courage, problem solving and strength. Many people are put off by the sport because of its perceived dangers, but approached in the correct and safest way, there really is nothing to fear. Want to push your body to its vertical limit? We’ve got top tips from expert climber and all-round adrenaline junkie Ethan Walker to get you started.
1. Get training and advice!
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a rock climbing newbie, it’s important to be constantly vigilant of the dangers that come with the activity. Although rock climbing is relatively safe, if you don’t act in the correct manner then you could end up with an injury. If you’re new to the sport and aren’t feeling too confident then it’s important to seek out proper training and guidance from someone with experience to get you on your way.
2. Protection is vital
Common sense might well be the biggest factor in your safety, but soon after that comes your trusty equipment. Forget about the wall in front of you, because if your harness isn’t secure, the rope is loose and protection ill-fitting, you’re not going anywhere. Remember that rock climbing brings with it dangers, so don’t skip on the double, or even triple-check of your equipment.
3. Give your arms a breather
Stamina is key when rock climbing, and if you explode up the wall from the offset you could soon find yourself stuck halfway up with no energy left to continue. Take it steady and remember to control your grip on the handholds, the tighter you grip the more energy you will drain.
4. Don’t go top half heavy!
When climbing you’ll likely be focusing hard on what’s in front of you and where your hands are moving next, but your success will come short if you forget about your legs. The most powerful muscles in the body, our legs can propel us up the rocks and take pressure off our achy arms. Try and focus on training the positioning of your feet and you’ll soon be flying!
5. Think about your movement
Sometimes the biggest movement up isn’t necessarily the best option. To conserve your energy you need to be relaxed and maintain fluidity in your movement, and whilst a big push every now and again is fine, how successful you are will be down to the control you have over your body. With each move you make think about the positioning of your hands and feet and if you can’t picture it working it most likely won’t!
6. Be confident and remember to breathe
Rock climbers often find themselves in tricky situations, but with a calm mind and confident outlook any obstacle is easily accomplishable. Control your breathing to stay relaxed and repeatedly visualise the next move. Have faith in your ability and make the next step.
7. Give yourself fuel
Like any sport, staying hydrated and giving your body the right amount of nutrients beforehand is vital to your performance. Rock climbing works the whole body and therefore you’re likely to lose energy much quicker. For longer climbs remember to take water, and even an energy bar to give you that last push.
8. Don’t get disheartened
It might take a little longer than an hour’s training to be the next big thing in the world of rock climbing. Whether you’re climbing a wall in an indoor centre, or up close with Mother Nature, each climb brings with it new challenges and the only way to truly improve is by experiencing as much as you can.
Whilst strength is important, technique trumps power every time. Attend training courses and constantly review parts of your technique to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. The more time and effort you put in, the better you’ll get.