Upper Body Climbing Basics

Positioning for Leverage
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Search for the most efficient posture possible

Now put all of the parts of the puzzle together and you'll be on the fast-track to great climbing technique. You want to straighten your limbs as much as possible in order to save your arm muscles, and you want to find a position that allows you to get the maximum amount of leverage off your handhold, no matter what its shape. In order to do this, you will find yourself experimenting with a number of body positions besides the classic face-the-wall-and-hang-on-like-a-spider posture.

The main thing you will be searching for is that opposing stance. For example, if a handhold is most positive as a sidepull, and you're searching for an efficient posture that allows you to hang off the hold without pumping out, you'll look to position your body so that you are pulling away from the hold, and opposing that pressure through the placement of your feet, and your general body position. Once you find this taught position you'll be able to use your entire body as a lever, pushing with your feet and rotating off the sidepull hold and extending your reach for the next hold. Keep your hips in close to the wall, as that will generally help keep your weight on your feet and off your arms, and let your chest and shoulders fall away from the wall.

Yes, this is all generalization. Upper body climbing technique will differ slightly depending on the steepness of the route and the type of rock climbing you do.

And it doesn't hurt to be fit

When it's all said and done, you'll need to be fit as well, and the perfect combination will eventually lead you to climbing greatness. Work your hands and lower arms, and don't underestimate the importance of strong abs and back. The best thing you can do is climb frequently.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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