We asked our Alpkiteers for their most important mantras when training and working on their bouldering technique. They came back with some great bouldering advice to help both beginners starting out and experienced climbers looking to make that next grade.
It's no secret that we love bouldering: the simplicity of just grabbing your climbing shoes, chalk and a chunk of foam and heading out to (usually) a pretty epic location. Or just heading down to the local wall with your mates - that simplicity makes it hard not to love the sport. But when you want to make that transition from indoor climbing to outdoors, or improve your climbing technique to tackle those harder bouldering problems, where do you start?
To give an insight into the best training techniques that will take you to the next level, here's Billy, Zofia and Gracie to tell us their tips for bouldering!
The Gritstone is a fickle mistress, and often to find the best conditions you have to venture out in bitterly cold weather. On days like that, warming up at the crag can be a real hardship, even with an array of toys to help, hang board, thera-band etc. Getting myself firing at home is hugely important when trying something at my limit, I can get on with fresh skin and warm muscles and therefore put in quality efforts straight away. A yoga flow, shoulder shrugs/pull-ups and edge hangs is my usual routine.
Everyone's skin is different, and different rock types require different things. Knowing what your skin needs to perform is key. My skin is naturally very sweaty, so Antihydrol, anti-perspirant, or when I shower are all things I consider to help reduce sweating. Equally if your skin is naturally dry you might need to moisturise, overnight or directly before you climb, hydrating your skin to make it more pliable, avoiding splits and dry fires. If you get bad flappers, get yourself a file so you can sand down excess skin. All of this is very individual and will require a bunch of experimentation to refine... Play around and see what works for you!
Much worse than not training at all is training badly. Consulting a coach and a physio is less about maximising the gains and more about avoiding injury - but I assure you the gains will increase! You don’t have to be a professional athlete to treat yourself to a certain level of professional support.
Think about it this way: if you spend money on eating out, or clothing, why wouldn’t you spend it on your passion, health and wellbeing? Get a training programme tailored to your level and goals and continue investing in physiotherapist’s support to iron out any kinks in the body that may lead to injuries.
Whatever it is that inspires you, have a clear goal in mind and let that lead you through the tough times in training, or when you feel demotivated. Ideally the chosen goal shouldn't be purely grade related. Get inspired by a line, a move, a landscape - something that really makes your soul sing.
I experienced the biggest gains a few years ago when I was training with one particular Magic Wood boulder in mind. It was “Morgenlatte” (7B) which I first came across at a time when I could barely scratch the 7A level. I saw a female climber of a similar height to me on that boulder and she absolutely crushed it. The wide compression moves on a perfect prow were so impressive!
This kept me going for six months of serious training. The feeling of stepping up my game so much and being confident that I could send was pure joy.
Most people don't like not being good at something, so when we push ourselves to do that thing we're not good at it can often be tiring, frustrating and de-motivating. However, the fastest way to get better is to work our weaknesses! Do the things you struggle with, little and often, and you will reap the biggest rewards.
Training can get a bit serious sometimes: counting the reps/sets, pushing on through the pain of the lactic acid etc. So we must remember that it is supposed to be fun! (And if we're not enjoying it then really what is the point?). Find someone who motivates you and who you can motivate too and keep in mind why your training!
There you have it, 6 tips and techniques to help you train harder, up your game and enjoy the life of a boulderer that little bit more.