New to Climbing? Learn to Fall… love with climbing!  See what I did there?

So you’ve just taken your first climbing class, your first fall, or finished your first v3 – whichever way you spin it, you’re a newbie looking to advance to the next level.


Bouldering in Fontainbleau, France, May 2007

Here are some bouldering best practices to keep in mind as you take your next steps on the wall:

Map Out Your Goals: As with any new endeavor, ask yourself what you’re looking to get out of climbing first and foremost. This will help you maximize your climbing sessions and keep you focused on the techniques needed to achieve your long-term objectives – whether they’re fitness-oriented, fear-conquering, fun-focused, or all of the above!

Design a Training Plan: Practice makes perfect, and bouldering is no exception.  Now that you have a few sessions under your belt and a few techniques up your sleeve, you’re ready to crush that pesky project you’ve been working on in your class, or the new shiny v2+ problem you’ve been eyeing that just went up this week.  Try to get to the gym at least two to three times a week to maximize your training time, and take at least one rest day between sessions at the outset.

-Be Kind to Yourself: Rome wasn’t built in a day, so instead of expecting to climb v10’s overnight, empower and encourage yourself through the learning process.  You will most certainly fall, and you will pick yourself up just as quickly, so try not to feel frustrated if you can’t get a certain move right, or you find yourself hitting a plateau.  You’ll be surprised how much memory your muscles retain, so even working through a difficult problem will program them to learn new techniques

-Breathe: Oftentimes, when we find ourselves in difficult situations, we forget to take a step back and take a deep breath.  This is particularly important to remember when working through the toughest moves, including the ones that are just as mental (e.g. fear-driven or commitment-phobic) as they are physical

-Stretch, Hydrate, Rest, Repeat: One of the rookie mistakes I’ve definitely made in my climbing career was to neglect all of the above before and after climbing.  That’s why I start all my classes and private lessons with a five-minute stretching session to warm up our shoulder, finger, and hip joints, and end our classes doing much of the same.  You’ll often see me downing tons of water during our sessions too, as that helps with alleviating the lactic-acid buildup (aka forearm pump) we feel after pulling our own body weight on the walls

-Invest in a Good Pair of Climbing Shoes:  You may notice after a few sessions that you’ve outgrown the rental shoe options and have a hankering for your very own pair.  A customized and comfortable shoe fit for your level (whether you’re a beginner or an expert) will help you take your climb to the next level.  There’s a handful of online resources on how to purchase the perfect pair of climbing shoes, but I like this simple guide best.

-Make it Social: One of the awesome benefits of joining a local climbing gym is the sense of community you create with others who are just as passionate as you are about the sport.  Aside from mingling with like-minded members, you’ll also have a spotter who encourages you on and off the walls

-Have a Blast: The most important best practice of them all.  ‘Nuff said.

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