FISE has proudly introduced bouldering into select stops of this year’s World Series, and we’ve been blow away by the skills on show.
Strength, coordination, problem-solving… you don’t quite appreciate this sport’s difficulty until you chalk up your hands and get on the wall. Once you do, you’ll know what we’re talking about.
To help you climb quickly through the V grades, we’re giving you some easy tips to improve your bouldering skills. You’ll be crushing V17 routes in no time. Maybe.
1. Warm up
Don’t roll your eyes. Warming up is the key to peak performance and injury prevention. Elevate your heart rate and get the blood flowing to your muscles. Climbing with cold, stiff muscles will make it so much harder, not to mention increasing your chances of injury. Then you won’t be able to climb at all.
How do you know you’re ready to climb from a warm up? You’re sweaty.
2. Get on the wall
You can improve your overall strength and coordination with floor-based exercises, but nothing beats the real thing. You will naturally improve all the individual skills needed for bouldering by being on the wall, so spend as much time on it as possible. Getting your mind familiar with figuring out routes is also crucial.
3. Think tactically
Problem-solving is a fundamental part of bouldering. It’s not all about raw strength and control – picking the right route can often compensate for a lack of physical capability. Think of the wall as a puzzle – so take the time to figure it out. use your brain to solve it!
4. Pay attention to your feet
When starting out, so many climbers only concentrate on their hands. Footwork is essential in bouldering – your legs should do more work than your arms. Make ‘silent feet’ your mantra, try and place them on the wall with soft precision.
5. Rest your arms
You’ll quickly find out bent arms = exhaustion. Keep your arms as straight as possible and when you get into a safe position, rest and shake them out. This will give you renewed energy for that next leap up.
6. Engage your core
It’s not about upper body strength. Body tension is where it’s at. Develop your core and make sure you use it on the wall. Bouldering will make you discover muscles you never knew you had!
Yes, bouldering effectively is really, really hard. But learning to relax and control your breathing will help you not expend unnecessary energy on the wall, think clearly and give your body the best chance to reach the next hold. Studying a route in its entirety from the ground will help ease any doubts once on the wall and practicing rhythmic breathing will keep you moving smoothly.
There are few activities as rewarding as bouldering, so stick at it and you’ll soon find yourself the centre of attention at any climbing wall!
Want to see how the pros do it? Relive the IFSC Bouldering International Series Men’s Final from FISE World Series Hiroshima on YouTube.