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  • Writer's pictureClay Chaszeyka

Top 5 Beginner Climber Tips for Bouldering

Updated: Apr 26

Bouldering is the most accessible type of rock climbing, requiring as little as your body, some athletic shoes, and clothes. Even if you invest in rock climbing gear, you only need a pair of climbing shoes and a chalk bag/chalk. The walls, especially indoors, are generally 8-15 feet tall, with thick landing pads reducing the fear factor around heights. Boulder problems can be complex, thought-provoking sequences of moves inciting joy and getting you to try hard. Hanging out between trying boulders can create beautiful interactions with fellow climbers and become a social event.

Are you convinced that you need to try out bouldering? Hopefully, the answer is yes because we’ve gone ahead and broken down 5 Beginner Climber Tips for Bouldering. Each tip is simple yet will ensure a safe and fun experience, leaving you wanting to return and send those climbs you left unfinished!

5 Beginner Tips for Boulering in a Rock Climbing Gym

male climber bouldering

  1. When in doubt, downclimb.

Safety is the priority when engaging in a higher-risk sport such as rock climbing. Most rock climbing gyms have handle-like holds, called down-climb jugs, dispersed among the holds on the boulder wall. These help you climb down from either the top of the wall or a risky position. You can also downclimb using any holds. As a general rule of thumb, if you are hesitating to move because you are afraid of the fall or feel like your grip is about to give out, downclimb! There is no climb worth sending that should warrant putting yourself in a position where an injury is possible. You can always come back and try the climb when you feel fresh or move on to another boulder problem.

  1. Use your feet to position your weight.

Most first-time climbers need to pay more attention to their foot placement. As much as rock climbing relies on upper body strength, it also depends on using your feet and legs to position your weight advantageously. Your legs are home to the largest muscles in your body, so it is a game-changer if you can engage them in your climbing. However, the extent to which you can use your leg muscles depends on the positioning of your feet, as they connect your lower body to the wall.

The best way to improve your footwork is to watch your feet move between footholds. Start looking at your foot as it leaves one hold, and keep your eyes on it until you securely place it onto another. At first, this may seem repetitive or silly, but over time, using your feet effectively will become a subconscious action.


  1. Accept that you're going to fall (likely a lot).

Don’t let falling or failing to reach the top discourage you from continuing to try. Rock climbing is challenging, and boulder problems can be cryptic, taking many attempts to figure out how to use the holds or position your body. Some boulders may be easier than others, and you complete them on your first attempt. If that happens, that’s fantastic. But, also know that even world-renowned rock climbers regularly fall off boulders. It’s part of the process and fun of rock climbing.

  1. Don’t wear your chalk bag; the gym staff are thanking you.

Boulders are short. If you chalk up your hands before getting on the wall, it’ll be sufficient for the rest of the climb. When you wear your chalk bag around your waist, you risk spilling chalk on the boulder mats and yourself. That usually happens if you fall and land on, or roll onto, your back, sending puffs of chalk out of the bag. While you won’t get in trouble for this happening, the rock gym staff will appreciate the gesture (vacuuming up big chalk spills is not fun), and the back of your shirt will thank you, too.

  1. If you’re trying hard, rest at least 3 minutes between climbs; it’s science.

Bouldering is a power-intensive activity. That means you’ll perform short sequences of intense effort and then need to rest. If you want to perform well on each attempt, you’ll want to rest long enough between climbs to allow your muscles to recover. A quick science lesson: your ATP stores take about three minutes to replenish in your body after exerting maximum power. (ATP stands for adenosine tri-phosphate and is the energy source at the cellular level). So, to help you feel your best each time you try a boulder, ensure you’ve allowed yourself an adequate rest!

Remember these five beginner climber tips for bouldering, and you are ready to go! Grab some climbing shoes and chalk, and discover the excitement that awaits. You’re guaranteed to learn many more tips and tricks of the trade if you regularly climb and through conversations with other climbers. The beauty of rock climbing is that you can learn, grow, and discover new techniques continually. If you found these tips helpful or have any others to add, share your thoughts, comments, and questions below!

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