For many, discovering rock climbing is a revelation.
It was my case.
But when one is a beginner, mistakes are made.
And some are very frequent.
So if you are starting climbing, read this article and apply the advice.
Beginner’s mistake #1: You climb with your arms bent
It is the most common error.
Indeed, when you start, you think first to correctly tighten the holds to climb with the help of your arms.
However, it is the best way not to make it.
By climbing with bent arms, you’ll overstress the muscles of your forearm and find yourself quickly with pumped forearms.
And therefore you are going to be running out of energy to continue the route or the boulder that you started.
Try to keep your arms outstretched a maximum when you climb.
Bend your legs to transfer your weight to them and build, this way, a force of natural pressure of your hands and your feet on the holds.
Eventually, you should bend your arms only to go seek a new hold higher. And to do this, you must first have pushed on your legs.
Once the holds held, raise your feet to then be able to stretch your arms.
Beginner’s mistake #2: you think that strength is more important than technique
In the beginning, you think that progress mainly resides through a gain of strength.
The most important is to have a good technique.
Then yes, by acquiring more power, you are going to make progress in the grades. But your style will be lousy and you will quickly reach a plateau.
In focusing on learning the techniques, your potential will be infinitely greater.
It is not a coincidence that the greatest climbers in the world, male and female, are working their technique over and over. Even after having reached an exceptional level.
Bonus: by working your technique, you will also work your strength.
Beginner’s mistake #3: You only look toward the top
When you climb and you get stuck on a foothold, your first reflex is to seek above you the next possible handhold.
As I said in the paragraph on error #1, rock climbing is above all working with your legs.
Before you begin each move, cultivate the habit of first looking down to identify the next foothold. Once you have, check out at the top to visualize the next handholds.
An effective exercise is to force yourself to have a 360° look around you as soon as you must begin a move: start from your right and then to the bottom, and then to the left and finally finish to the top.
The objective is to push yourself to take the habit of looking all around you what are the possible solutions.
And ALWAYS start from the bottom.
Beginner’s mistake #4: Your hips are continuously facing the wall
In the beginning, you automatically climb as if you were climbing a ladder.
It is quite normal; this is how you have learned to move toward the top, since always.
Therefore you are facing the wall, the hips nicely parallel to the wall, and your behind to the back.
Mistake! (As you might have expected!)
In reality, it would be much easier to climb with one of your hips against the wall, from side-on.
As a general rule, it is the one that is on the side of the arm that seeks to catch the next hold.
Indeed, in doing so, your reach is much more important.
Another advantage: you are also much more stable.
Simply because your foot will also be stuck to the wall (at the same time as your hip).
This video shows a really nice exercise to do. It is called the Egyptian.
Beginner’s mistake #5: you warm-up only by climbing an easy route
I know this one very well…
And I think that you too!
You arrive at the climbing hall, you get dressed, you wear your harness, you get belayed and there you go on an easy route, cold.
Then yes, once finished, you feel “hot”. But this is not the proper way to do so.
Because warming up helps in two ways:
- To prevent injuries
- To increase your performance
However, climbing an easy route is not sufficient to fulfill these 2 objectives.
Doing a series of body warm-ups and stretching. I will write a full article on the subject, in the near future, in which I will recommend 2 programs of complete warm-up (including a “quick one”).
As soon it will be ready you will find it on this site.
Beginner’s mistake #6: You ignore the ethical behavior to adopt when you climb outdoor
It is one of the consequences of the advent of “fitness” climbing: you climb only indoors because it is more convenient for you.
And this is not a criticism on my part, everyone practices as he wants and as he can.
But all of a sudden, when you do your first outing at a cliff, you don’t realize that some ethical efforts must be done.
And what do you mean by that?
Climbing up on rocks is a privilege that nature is offering you.
If you do not take this into account, you cannot have responsible behavior towards nature when you climb outdoor.
Here, it is simply common sense.
Avoid leaving your garbage at the foot of the cliffs, prevent damaging the rock, pay attention to the surrounding flora and fauna, …
In short, be environmentally responsible!
Beginner’s mistake #7: You want to train every day to progress more quickly
You have just discovered rock climbing and a sense of euphoria prevails.
You want to make progress as quickly as possible.
And for this, you’ll climb every day. Even if your body hurts everywhere.
Do you want me to predict the result?
OK, I will tell you: you are heading straight towards an injury.
And injury means a stop of progress, and then regression.
Climbing is a sport very traumatic for your body so don’t be in a hurry.
Let yourself at least 48h of recovery between 2 sessions in order to allow time for your body to rest and your muscles to rebuild (and become stronger at the same time).
Recovery is an integral part of your practice and your progress.
So don’t overlook this aspect. Here is a very comprehensive foam rolling guide that gives some helpful and practical tips for quick and effective muscle and tendons recovery.
What You Must Remember
Each of these errors is normal at the beginning.
Climbing is an exciting sport, a great activity but which requests an adaptation time.
As a beginner, try to pay attention to everything described in this article in order to take conscience of these errors that prevent you to progress correctly as you are starting to climbing.
Thanks for reminding me to keep my arms outstretched and avoid bending them during rock climbing. My brother wants to visit Zion National Park for their outdoor activities and the one that caught my eyes is the rock climbing tour. Maybe we should talk to their guide service first to see what is included in the tour.
You’re welcome Zoe. I’m sure you’ll find some awesome rock climbing trips at Zion 😉
Very good article, hi. I hope you will print again such sort of post.
You’re welcome, Thomassen.