How to boulder like a pro...

By Alpkit

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 what is usually a pretty epic location, or even just heading down to the local wall with your mates 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?

Well, to give an insight into the best training techniques that will take you to the next level we thought who better to ask than our expert Alpkiteers!?.. So whether you're brand new to buldering and wanting tips for beginners, or an advanced climber looking for advice to improve your skills,here's Billy, Zofia and Gracie to tell us their tips for bouldering!

Billy Ridal

Warm up as best you can at home

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 thatwarming 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 importantwhen 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.

Prepare your skin

Everyones 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!

Zofia Reych

Consult a coach and a physio

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.

Find a realistic objective and train with that in mind

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.

Photo taken by Andy Day
Photo taken by Andy Day

Gracie Martin

Work your weaknesses

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.

Remember to have fun

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.

Further reading

How to choose a bouldering mat

Hati's beta on buying a bouldering pad.

High Perfoamance

Read this article for some in-depth foam beta.

Our new bouldering pads

Hebe, our UK-made designer, talks you through how we put together our range of bouldering pads

UK Made by climbers

We have over 10 years of experience making pads, find out more about our design criteria.

Safer Landings for Bouldering Landings

A pad does not give you carte blanche to climb without due care and attention. If you're new to climbing outdoors, read these tips on climbing and falling.

Bouldering with multiple crash pads

More pads are better than one pad! Using multiple pads brings its own challenges, Ashleigh explains what to look out for.

Keep your pad going longer

Looking after your bouldering pad, how to replace foam, repair your shell, clean and store it.

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