Five Important Tips for Gym Climbing

Matt Burbach shares some of his most essential climbing advice. Matt is the author of the new, fully updated second edition of "Gym Climbing: Improve Technique, Movement, and Performance," and has been a climbing instructor and coach for more than two decades.
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Mountaineers Books author
August 22, 2018

Gym climbing is a great way to engage your body, mind, and get vertical. With the accessibility of gyms in nearly every state and a high concentration of them in urban areas, you’re never far from crimps, slopers, or jugs. Whether you’re a first-time climber or advanced competitor, these tips will help you stay on the wall.

1. Stand Up

While climbing may seem like an upper body intensive activity, it’s really all in the legs. You can only hang from your arms a fraction of the time you can stand on your legs, so use that to your advantage. If you having a hard time going up, step up and push with your legs, moving your center of gravity up.

2. Look Down

Not to fixate on ground, but your feet! Precise footwork, like using the inside edge of your toe, will give you the confidence, balance, and ability to subtly shift your weight over your feet. Keep eye contact on your foothold until you’re stepping on it and can feel it with your toes. Sloppy footwork will leave you feeling insecure.

3. Plan Your Attack

In a general sense, up is the right way to go, but take time to figure out where the holds will take you. Often, interesting and engaging routes will have you move side-to-side or around corners and features. Scope out the big picture from the ground before your start, and take mental note of decisions you may need to make while on-route.

4. Diligent Safety

Whether you’re bouldering, top-roping, or lead-climbing, gravity is always fighting against you. Because of that, it’s imperative to learn the safety skills required to minimize risk. Even though climbing can put you in situations of consequence, these skills can keep you safe. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of climbing, but make sure safety is foremost.

5. Breathe

We tend to hold our breath when we’re focused or exerting physically, two things that climbers often experience. Make sure you keep breathing. Full exhales will keep your breathing deep and getting the oxygen you need to keep your muscles flexing and blood flowing!

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GymClimbing2E_FinalCover.jpgThanks for stopping by, Matt! To learn more, make sure to grab a copy of Matt's new Gym Climbing, 2nd Edition, available now.