Nobody is perfect, everyone has bad habits they want to change in order to improve. The aim of your training should be to find new climbing techniques to perfect and to fix bad habits. Climbing is a skill sport and relies heavily on muscle memory. This muscle memory can either work for or against you as it is very hard to out-train a bad habit.
To know how to get better at climbing, you first need to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Try asking someone you train with to see if they have noticed anything about your technique or similarly film yourself climbing so that you can critique yourself.
So how can you get better at climbing? Here are some rock climbing tips to help you improve your climbing technique.
Climbing is all about your feet. It’s often overlooked when you first start climbing as the focus tends to be on your upper body strength, BUT learning where best to place and weight your feet reduces strain on your forearms and puts your body in a more efficient position to reach for the next handhold.
To see improvements for real rock climbing, try using small, frequent foot movements. Specifically, try working at a 3:1 ratio where you make three foot movements for every hand move. Climbing in this style will train you to keep your body close to the wall and your weight on your feet.
For some drills to improve your footwork check out this Climbing.com post.
Practice makes perfect (well, almost). Climbing several times a week, even if it’s just short sessions, can help to improve your muscle memory and body awareness. Many climbers are familiar with having a couple of weeks away from climbing, or being inconsistent with training, and feel like their progress has disappeared as a result. To prevent this, try to remain consistent with your training! This is the best way of improving your technique, especially for the first few years as consistency is key for your muscle memory development.
3. Challenge Yourself Constantly
If you persist with the same difficulty of climbs, you will restrict yourself from improving. This means that you should climb routes that challenge you and require 100% effort. Your body will adapt to whatever stimulus you give it so don’t be afraid. General rule of thumb: if you fire everything in two or fewer attempts you are not trying hard enough to stimulate progress.
Try setting yourself a target project, ideally something that inspires you. A project is an excellent way of incorporating your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t expect to do all of the moves on your first go; keep reminding yourself that if you’re trying hard, anchors or not, you are improving!
4. Change It Up
When you reach a mini-plateau, swap climbing disciplines (trad, sport, and bouldering) to renew the spark. This also creates the perfect opportunity for strength acquisition and to learn new techniques. Done all the routes at your red-point limit in the gym? Try hitting a new gym for new angles, or ditch the harness for a month and boulder. Or, if you mostly climb indoors, go outside for a few weeks and vice versa. Hit a trad slump? Try clip bolts. Adding the endurance of sport climbing, the head power needed for trad climbing and the raw power of bouldering to your resume will help you across all disciplines.
Additionally, simply switch up the area of climbing and the rock type. Different rock types provide unique footwork, sequencing and body positioning challenges. This variety aids strength and technique allowing you to try new movements in a variety of holds.
Greatness doesn’t happen overnight.
Climbing requires strength and skill in equal amounts. There are no-shortcuts; efficient movement and careful footwork can take years of practice to develop. However, climbing is just as much of a mental sport as a physical one. Building up your strength will only get you so far if you fail to develop the mental and logistical aspects. Give yourself the patience to practice your climbing technique over a couple of seasons and accept failure as part of the process. Remember, it’s the climb.
At How Stean Gorge we offer fantastic rock climbing facilities suitable for all abilities, under the guidance of our fully qualified instructors. You will have the opportunity to test your skill and nerve on an array of different gritstone and limestone rocks at Brimham Rocks in the heart of the breath-taking Yorkshire Dales. How Stean Gorge also offers you the chance to really put yourself to the test with Via Ferrata, the only Via Ferrata in Yorkshire. This activity is a unique high-wire experience that requires a range of different skills that make it extremely fun and exciting!