If you’ve seen a climbing wall at your local gym, then you might be thinking “what’s that all about?” and “is it just rock climbing inside?” We’ve got the answers to those questions and more.
And before you know it, you’ll be scaling that climbing wall at the gym like a pro. Ready to learn more about bouldering and why you should give it a try?
What Is Bouldering?
You’re probably at least a bit familiar with rock climbing, right? Where people are literally scaling the sides of mountains and cliffs with all this gear on.
Well, that’s not what bouldering is. Honestly, I like to think of bouldering as the safer, lazier way to do a bit of rock climbing.
With bouldering, you’re not dealing with harnesses or ropes, you don’t have to worry about a fear of heights, and there is a crash mat below you to cushion any falls you may experience.
Think of it as rock climbing with training wheels.
Can you fall while bouldering? Yes, you can but the distance you can fall is short and you have those crash pads to cushion your landing.
Benefits of Bouldering
The nice thing about bouldering is that it is a full body aerobic workout. When you take up this activity you’ll get a variety of benefits for your body and mind.
Thing about bouldering is that it takes a massive amount of concentration. You really gotta plan your moves and move your body the right way to scale that wall.
So, all this focus on concentrating means that you end up with better concentration overall – not just when you’re climbing.
Boost Your Strength Training
If you’re interested in strength training, then you’re going to love bouldering. All of your body’s major muscle groups get a hell of a workout.
From your legs to your core, you are doing some impressive whole body strength training when you take up this activity.
Better Grip Strength and Forearms
Even if you’ve only just seen pictures of it or watched someone doing bouldering, then you know just by what you’ve seen that it has to improve your grip strength. But what you might not know is that working on a computer most of the day has led to most of us having really terrible grip and forearm strength.
So, bouldering is actually a great solution to deal with, and prevent, things like carpal tunnel and cramping in your forearm from too much typing.
Better Problem Solving
Much like concentration, bouldering has a lot to do with problem solving. You have to make quick decisions on things like which route to take, how to safely and efficiently move your body, etc.
This helps develop your problem solving skills, and that boost in those skills stays with you even off the climbing wall.
If you think bouldering looks super easy, then you’re be wrong. This activity takes power, strength, and the determination to really push yourself toward that end goal.
So, if you regularly do bouldering at the gym, then you’ll start to notice that it helps your endurance.
It’s A Social Activity
When you go bouldering, you’re usually around other people so you end up chatting with them. Maybe you’re helping each other out and giving tips on scrambling up that wall.
It’s a great way to meet new people and being social is good for you.
Do You Need Any Special Gear Or Attire?
Bouldering is a lot like any fitness activity – you can wear pretty much anything that you’re comfortable in that doesn’t restrict your movement. It’s best to stay away from baggy clothes and billowy shirts so that it’s easier for you to do your climbing.
You won’t need a rope or harness. But you will need to wear climbing shoes.
Don’t have any climbing shoes? Most gyms have them for rent, or you can buy a cheap pair to get you started.
If you want to buy some climbing shoes, then I suggest a pair of velcro climbing shoes. A good pair of bouldering shoes for beginners are the ones made by Five Ten, Scarpa, and Black Diamond – REI has some good deals on them.
You’ll probably also want some climbing chalk to deal with those soon to be sweaty palms of yours. If you don’t have any, then you can probably buy some from your gym – or see if any other climbers can help you out.
How To Get Started Bouldering
Okay, so you’ve got your shoes and chalk and you’re mentally stoked on taking up bouldering. So, now what?
Well, you’ve got to find a place where there is a climbing wall that you can use to do your first bouldering climb. Lots of gyms and fitness clubs have climbing walls.
You can even find them in some spas. Another good option is a looking for a climbing gym – these are specific to climbers and tend to have several walls of varying heights.
Ideally, you should look for a gym that has an introduction class or workshop that you can sign up for. This way, you’ll be taught all the basics by someone with experience.
Bouldering Tips for Beginners
As with any fitness activity, you’ll want to make sure that you warm up your body before you start climbing. Just do some warm up stretches so that you prevent injury and fatigue after a bouldering session.
When you approach your first climbing wall, remember that you don’t have to scale it as fast as you can. Instead, take the slow approach until you get used to the movements.
This way, you’ll prevent injuries and be able to focus more on positive progress.
You can do some training before you do your first climb. Since you’ll need a strong grip strength, then you can focus on grip strength exercises and activities.
Resistance exercises are another good way to train for bouldering. Focus on things that engage your core and strengthen those leg muscles, which are vital for climbing.
Before you know it, you’ll be a pro at climbing that bouldering wall. And you may even graduate to rock climbing outdoors in the wild.