I Wanna Be A Climber

Climbing for Beginners | Starting Rock Climbing

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Rock climbing is an exhilarating sport that challenges your physical and mental abilities. If you’re about to embark on a climbing journey that will take you to beautiful places, below is a detailed guide to climbing for beginners which will absolutely help get you there.

Climbing for Beginners – How Do You Become a Climber?

My biggest tip for rock climbing for beginners is to just start climbing! Okay, I understand; you need more information than that. So here is a list that can help you become a rock climber:

  1. Find a climbing gym: Look for a local gym with indoor climbing walls. These gyms provide a controlled environment with routes of varying difficulty levels, making them perfect for beginners to learn and practice.
  2. Take an introductory course: Enroll in a beginner’s climbing course at the gym. These courses cover essential skills such as proper equipment usage, climbing techniques, and safety procedures. In addition, you’ll learn how to tie knots, belay (the method of securing the climber), and use climbing gear.  A good course taken early will help you avoid common mistakes beginner climbers tend to make.
  3. Get the necessary gear: Start with basic climbing gear, including climbing shoes, a harness, a helmet, and a chalk bag. You can rent or borrow gear initially, but I recommend investing in your own equipment as you progress. 
  4. Practice proper climbing techniques: Learn proper climbing techniques such as footwork, body positioning, and weight shifting. Focus on balance and efficiency to conserve energy while climbing. Practice these on a climb well below your pay grade so you burn them into your brain.
  5. Climb with experienced climbers: Join a climbing community or find a mentor to guide you in your early climbing days. Climbing with experienced climbers will enhance your skills and teach you valuable tips and safety practices. For example, when I started climbing with people better than myself, I progressed quicker than when I climbed alone.
  6. Gradually progress to outdoor climbing: Consider transitioning to outdoor climbing once you feel confident in the gym. Start with easy routes and always climb with a partner. Learn about outdoor climbing ethics, anchor systems, and how to assess potential hazards.
  7. Emphasize safety: Climbing involves inherent risks; always prioritize safety! Double-check knots, use proper belaying techniques, and communicate effectively with your climbing partner. In addition, be aware of potential hazards such as loose rocks and weather conditions.

The Ideal Age Range for Beginning Rock Climbing

While there is not an ideal age range for starting rock climbing for a beginner, there are advantages to starting younger. Children and teenagers who start climbing young benefit because they learn proper climbing techniques early and can focus on strength development later in life.

There is no upper age limit for starting rock climbing! Climbing gyms usually have programs designed specifically for adult beginners, gradually focusing on technique, safety, and building strength. Adults can progress at their own pace and enjoy the physical and mental challenges climbing offers.

While rock climbing may be physically demanding, older adults with good health and a reasonable fitness level can also enjoy the sport!

(It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any physically demanding activity and to approach climbing with appropriate caution and consideration for personal limitations)

Three Main Types of Climbers

Boulderers, sport climbers, and trad climbers are the main climbers you’ll find in the wild. Bouldering requires the least amount of gear and is the most accessible, while sport climbing requires technical knowledge. Furthermore, trad climbing requires a lot of technical knowledge to do.

  • Bouldering – Climbing around 15 ft up using crash pads (or big foam pads in gyms).
  • Sport Climbing – Using a rope and quickdraws, the climber clips into preplaced bolts in the wall to connect the rope to.
  • Trad Climbing – Using a rope and pro (protection), the climber places protection in the weakness of rock such as cracks and seams to clip the rope to.

Many gyms offer introductory courses to bouldering and sport climbing. If you’re interested in trad climbing, though, seek out a professional or mentor to show you the ropes!

types of rock climbing, different types of rock climbing

Essential Gear for Beginning Rock Climbing

All you really need to start rock climbing for a beginner is a pair of climbing shoes! Climbing gyms are great for beginners because you can save money on the gear associated with the different climbing disciplines. You can rent shoes, chalk bags, and even harnesses at a rock climbing gym to find out if you’d like to invest in them!

You’ll find your own rock climbing shoes superior to gym rental shoes when you develop more. Unfortunately, some gyms keep their rental fleet around long past their time of resoling, making it harder to stand on those smaller footholds.

Depending on which way you’re leaning, I recommend buying a harness or crash pad next. If you’re planning to only climb in the gym, skip the crash pad, these are only needed if you’re climbing outdoors. A rental harness will do, but you’ll find many choices online for your body shape. (Usually with a little more padding too)

If you’re interested in Trad climbing, I recommend seeking a professional or mentor who you know has tons of experience. Trad climbing has many nuances, such as placing gear, redirecting the rope, and building anchors that require essential knowledge to do safely.

Recommended Training Exercises for Beginner Climbers

Your body uses specific muscles each time you climb. Therefore, focusing on exercises that strengthen these muscles are an excellent recipe for improvement on the wall.

  • Forearms: Responsible for your grip strength; you wouldn’t climb long without any of it. Try doing wrist curls to strengthen these bad mama jama’s.
  • Back: Lats and traps are the primary muscles used in your back when climbing. Pull ups are a great way to strengthen these muscles. If you find you can’t do too many yet, stand on a resistance band wrapped around the bar to take some of your weight off.
  • Core: Often overlooked but essential for staying close to the wall and allowing your body to contort into different positions. Start with planks! You can do normal planks or modify them to be harder by alternating leg lifts. Don’t forget side planks too! These will strengthen your obliques to help you twist your body easier on the wall.
  • Legs: Also overlooked when talking about climbing, your legs power you up the wall! The lovely squat. This exercise works your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and even your core! (Still do those planks, though)

best finger strength exercises for rock climbing - hangboard training

Remember to properly recover not only after each set, but after each workout. Poor form caused by tiredness can lead to injury.

Climbing is all about pulling your body. To ensure you don’t develop any muscle imbalances, I also recommend doing antagonist exercises (exercises that work the opposite muscles) that you use to climb. The main muscles beginner climbers neglect are the tops of their forearms, chest, and legs. By exercising these muscle groups, you will maintain balanced muscles that will help you avoid injury.


Is Rock Climbing Hard for Beginners?

Rock climbing for beginners can be challenging, but it is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all skill levels! The difficulty level largely depends on the type of climbing you’re doing, such as indoor climbing, bouldering, or outdoor rock climbing. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Physical Demands: Rock climbing requires strength, flexibility, and endurance. You may find specific movements and holds difficult at first as a beginner. However, with regular practice and strength training, your body will adapt and become stronger.
  • Technique: One of my favorite things about rock climbing is that it’s not solely reliant on physical strength. Learning proper techniques, such as efficient footwork, body positioning, and balance, can significantly affect your climbing ability.
  • Mental Challenge: Rock climbing also involves mental challenges, such as overcoming fear, problem-solving, and route planning. As a beginner, you may feel intimidated by heights or unfamiliar movements. However, you can build confidence and develop the mental resilience required for climbing with practice. Start low on the ground and work your way up. Your confidence will grow when you recognize yourself using more techniques!
  • Safety: Safety is a crucial aspect of rock climbing. Learning how to use climbing equipment, such as harnesses, ropes, and belay devices, is essential to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Learning from experienced climbers or taking introductory courses is recommended to understand the safety protocols.

While rock climbing can be demanding for beginners, it is also a rewarding and enjoyable activity. Start with indoor climbing gyms or bouldering facilities that offer routes suitable for beginners. Then, progress at your own pace, focus on building a solid foundation, and remember to always prioritize safety.

How Often Should a Beginner Climb?


I’m just kidding! Definitely don’t climb every day. Start slowly with 1-2 sessions per week. Climbing is very physical, and if you’re not used to using the necessary muscles, you can be sore for days after. Let your body recover before jumping back on the wall after a climbing session.

Also, listen to your body. That may sound weird, but I’m serious. Take note of how your muscles are feeling. The easiest things to injure are your fingers, so if they feel weak, skip that climbing session. The last thing you want is to aggravate a tendon that will leave you climb-less for weeks or sometimes months.

You can still go to the climbing gym on your days off, but instead, exercise those muscles I mentioned earlier!

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Embrace the Adventure of Rock Climbing

Embrace the adventure of rock climbing! It’s a thrilling and fulfilling sport that offers a unique blend of physical and mental challenges. Here’s how you can fully embrace the adventure:

  • Embrace the Learning Process: Approach rock climbing with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Be patient with yourself as you acquire new skills, techniques, and knowledge about climbing. Rock climbing is hard! But with persistence and consistency you’ll look back and wonder how you ever struggled on that one route.
  • Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Rock climbing often pushes you outside your comfort zone. Embrace the opportunity to face challenges and overcome fears. Push yourself to try new routes, heights, or types of climbing. Each step you take outside your comfort zone can lead to personal growth and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Appreciate the Outdoors: Outdoor rock climbing allows you to experience the beauty of nature firsthand. Take a moment to appreciate the breathtaking views, the feel of the rock beneath your fingertips, and the sounds of the wilderness. Connect with the environment and let it inspire and energize you during your climbs.
  • Connect with the Community: Rock climbing has a vibrant and supportive community of climbers. Embrace the opportunity to connect with fellow climbers, both experienced and beginners. Attend climbing events, join local climbing groups, or seek out climbing partners. Sharing experiences, knowledge, and encouragement can enhance your climbing journey.

“Happiness is only real when shared” Jon Krakauer

  • Stay Safe and Respect the Environment: Safety should always be a priority. Follow proper safety protocols, use appropriate equipment, and know your limitations. Additionally, respect the environment by adhering to climbing ethics, leaving no trace, and supporting sustainable climbing practices. Finally, preserving the natural beauty of climbing areas ensures that future generations can also enjoy the adventure.


Rock climbing for beginners starts with going out and just climbing! Find a climbing gym or experienced climber to help you learn. Gyms have wonderful introductory courses that will teach you about technique, the grading systems, how to size your shoes, and everything in between. Climbing is a continuous learning process! It takes dedication to improve so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not seeing results.

Rock climbing offers an incredible blend of physical challenge, mental stimulation, and connection with nature. So embrace the adventure, stay motivated, and enjoy the journey as you explore new heights and push your limits. Tackle the challenges, celebrate your progress, and enjoy the adventure. Admittedly, rock climbing is weird. People seeking out rocks to get to the top of them? Have fun, and don’t take yourself too seriously. 

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