I started climbing by bouldering. I find the simplicity of it fun, the difficulty of the moves engaging, and the process rewarding. These statements apply for outdoor projects and indoor training.
As a coach, however, I find that many climbers either eschew bouldering altogether or don’t really know how to do it effectively. The reality though is that for those climbers looking to improve – no matter what their preferred climbing style is – bouldering is essential. Here are three reasons why.
Most Sport-Specific Way to Develop Strength
In sports science, there’s the rule that exercises/training that is the most similar to the sport will have the best transfer to improved sports performance. We call this specificity.
Well, it’s hard to get more sport-specific than bouldering. After all, you’ve got climbing shoes on and you’re doing climbing moves. Best of all, because boulder problems tend to be short and powerful, the intensity of the moves will help you get stronger… All while you practice movement skills and get to enjoy climbing in the process.
“If you can’t do the moves, then there is nothing to endure.”
This quote was famously said by climbing legend Tony Yaniro. The gist of it is that it doesn’t matter how big or long of a route you’re trying, you have to be able to do all the moves before you can worry about needing the endurance to link them together.
Another way to think of this is that the crux of a route is really just a boulder problem and routes, no matter how long, are really just a series of boulder problems stacked on top of each other. If you adopt this way of thinking about routes, then the importance of bouldering from both a training and skill development perspective is pretty clear.
Bouldering is Movement Distilled
As climbers, we talk a lot about how climbing is a skill sport. This statement comes from a desire to acknowledge that improving your climbing isn’t just about getting stronger: We also need to get better.
What we don’t talk about as much is how to actually go about getting better. While this is a big topic, it’s safe to say that we need to practice. When it comes to breaking movements down into practicable chunks, there’s no more efficient and convenient way than through bouldering. Yes, you can develop good movement skills on a rope, but learning requires repetition. There’s no disputing that bouldering makes it easy to try a move, fail, and try again – all without an extremely patient belayer.
Upcoming Bouldering Class
These are three reasons bouldering is so central to successful climbing training. In my upcoming class, I’ll be covering how we can all make our bouldering sessions more effective, no matter what your climbing goals look like.
Climbing Class: The Anatomy of an Effective Bouldering Session
When: Tuesday, May 27th at 11am-1:30pm MDT
Where: Zoom call
Who: Limit of 10 participants and taught by me, Matt Pincus
(NOTE: If the time has passed for this class, please check for another date here.)
You can sign up for the class even if you can’t make the time and date; I’ll send out a recording of the call and the presentation notes after class. This is a quick and easy way to get a bunch of your questions answered in a short period of time.
This class will be 2.5 hours long with this structure:
- 90-minute presentation
- Outline an effective template you can use for all your bouldering sessions
- Exploring the pitfalls that can undermine your efforts
- Answering questions
By the end of each class, you will know exactly how to structure your bouldering sessions so that you get the most out of your efforts no matter what kind of climber you identify as.
There will be a maximum of 10 people in the class and it will be held over Zoom. There’ll be plenty of time for questions, so this will be more like a group clinic where we can all learn from each other and not just a lecture.
There are only a handful of spots left in this class coming up on Tuesday the 27th, so if you want to join me, please sign up soon.
I hope to see you in class, and if not, I hope these ideas get you bouldering and thinking about its importance in your overall climbing improvement.