Climbing Tips for Tall People: The Ultimate Guide

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If your friends have ever told you that you would be great at rock climbing because you’re so tall and you’ve wondered if they’re right, you’ve come to the right place to find out. Many people assume that tall people will always be amazing at rock climbing since they can reach up higher, and while this is sometimes true, it isn’t always the case.

This article will look at the advantages and disadvantages of being a tall climber and how to combat these disadvantages. If you are a taller climber looking to up your climbing game, we’ve got some tips and tricks for you as well as some general training advice. Get ready to get out climbing!

What Height Are We Defining as Tall for Climbing?What Height Are We Defining as Tall for Climbing?

Defining what it means to be a tall climber is a little more challenging than defining what it means to be a short climber. Since the average height of climbers is between 5’8” and 6’, an exceptionally tall climber would have to be over 6’2” or so. That being said, many of the advantages and disadvantages of being tall can be felt starting even around 5’10”, it all just depends on the route.

Some routes may favor taller climbers, so for a climber to be considered tall on those climbs, you would need to be well over 6’ tall. Other routes are easier if you are shorter, so on those routes, you would be considered tall if you were over 5’10”.

Is Being Tall Good for Rock Climbing? Can You Be Too Tall to Climb?

Is Being Tall Good for Rock Climbing? Can You Be Too Tall to Climb?

The common perception when starting out with climbing is that tall people are better at rock climbing since they can reach higher. While this may seem to be true for the first few months of someone’s climbing career, this doesn’t tend to hold true the longer you climb and the more technique you learn. So the answer really is sort of, it’s sort of good to be tall for rock climbing.

If you want to spend your time climbing indoors at a climbing or bouldering gym, then being a little on the taller side, really anything over around 5’8”, can be super beneficial. This is because indoor routes are set for an average height, meaning that it can often be a detriment to a shorter climber who can’t reach as high up.

Generally, outdoor climbing is a much more height-equalizing field. There is no great benefit to being super tall in outdoor climbing, but there’s also no great benefit to being super short for outdoor climbing. It all has to do with the rock that you’re climbing on. Since the holds weren’t placed on a sheer wall and the wall was instead formed through natural processes, it means that there is a lot more to work with, sometimes it’s just harder to see.

This all leads to the conclusion that you can’t be too tall to climb, but you also can’t be too short. Chris Sharma is an amazing climber and happens to be 6’, while Lynn Hill is also an amazing climber and she happens to be 5’2”. Climbers come in all heights and sizes. There is not an ideal climbing height.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Tall Climber (Besides the Obvious)

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Tall Climber (Besides the Obvious)

While the obvious advantage of being a taller climber is reaching holds that shorter climbers can’t always reach, there are some less obvious disadvantages. It is true that being able to reach holds is an amazing advantage, especially when climbing indoors since the holds are set with indoor climbing. This provides some advantages outdoors, but significantly less than it does indoors.

Some of the disadvantages of being tall become more apparent on certain styles of route. Any route with a sit-start, or any other move that forces you to work your feet up close to your hands before you are able to stand up fully, are significantly harder the taller of a climber you are. This disadvantage holds true both indoor and outdoor.

Another thing that tends to be more challenging for a taller climber than a shorter climber is keeping your center of gravity close to the wall, but, again, this completely depends on the route. Generally, when taller climbers try to work their feet up closer to their hands to stand up and reach higher, they unintentionally push their torso away from the wall. This makes it harder to stay balanced as you stand up.

An odd disadvantage that tends to be associated with taller climbers is a general lack of technique. Taller climbers generally find climbing easier when they’re starting out than shorter climbers do and often don’t focus as much on technique, since they are able to climb harder and harder grades as they get stronger.

This often ends in a tall climber plateauing in ability until they take some time to learn technique, just proving how important technique is. To combat this challenge, take some time to learn technique as soon as you start climbing. A great way to do this is by taking a class from your local gym or climbing guide. These people are trained to help you get better at climbing, so take their advice.

Helpful Techniques for Tall Climbers

Helpful Techniques for Tall Climbers

One of the best things for tall climbers to work on is keeping their hips close to the wall. This makes balancing much easier and allows you to be much more stable in each move that you make. This is often a challenge for taller climbers since when you bring your feet up, you often push your hips out and away from the wall, thus pulling your center of gravity away from the wall.

Another challenge that tall climbers often come across is that they tend to get better at climbing fast in the beginning, but then quickly taper off and plateau in ability shortly after starting. This can be prevented and helped by taking the time to learn the technique. Understanding how to move and why you should move a certain way will be super helpful for a taller climber to keep progressing and getting better.

This could mean taking a technique class or studying and practicing the technique on your own. There are some common things that you should make sure you work on, including flagging, smearing and edging for your feet, and open crimps, closed crimps, laybacks, and slopers for your hands. This often means just paying more attention to how you move and working to find a better way to make any awkward moves.

Technique is super important for everyone. Even the so-called tall person beta requires technique to be done properly. Slowing down your climbing so you can work through the moves with proper technique can be immensely useful for taller climbers looking to up their climbing game.

7 Training Tips for Tall Climbers

7 Training Tips for Tall Climbers

There are some specific exercises that taller climbers can do to help improve their climbing ability. There are also a number of key areas of training to target that can help taller climbing get better at climbing. This list includes some great ways for you to improve your climbing technique and also some areas that you should make sure to target when training for rock climbing.

Hip Flexibility

Being able to keep your hips open can help you keep your hips and center of gravity close to the wall. This can be particularly challenging as a taller climber, so hip-opening workouts and stretches are a must. Keeping your center of gravity close to the wall is one of the best tall person climbing tips out there.

1. Butterfly stretch

The butterfly stretch is a common yoga pose that pushes your hips open. It’s super easy to adjust how much of a stretch it is, which is super nice, especially for someone just starting out with stretching. To do the butterfly stretch, find a comfortable seated position on a flat surface with your legs in front of you. Place the soles of your feet together and either pull your feet in closer to you for a deeper stretch or push them away from you for a lighter stretch.

2. Frog stretch

The frog stretch is used by dancers to help improve their turn-out, or their ability to keep their toes and hips pointed outwards. It is the same motion as the butterfly stretch, but lying on your stomach with your legs out behind you. Your toes should be down towards the ground, and your pinky toes should be up towards the sky. For a deeper stretch, pull your feet in closer to you, while keeping your knees as close to the ground as you can.

Core Strength

Core strength can never be understated for anyone, but when you have more body to keep on the wall, more core strength is always helpful.

3. Work your whole core

Make sure that however you choose to work your core, you work the center and both sides of your ab muscles. Common moves, such as sit-ups, tend to only work the center of your core. Just make sure that there is enough variation between your exercises to get a full workout.

Here are some workouts that are great options for including in your core workout:

  • Sit-ups

 

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  • Bicycle crunches

 

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  • Burpees

 

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  • Mountain Climbers

 

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  • Oblique Tucks

 

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If you want a real challenge, work your core until you’re able to do a front lever, such as the one in this video.

 

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4. Follow a preset core workout

There are some great core workouts out there online if you don’t want to fully design your own. Many climbers have their own, but the core workouts created by non-climbers are just as good. There are so many activities that require a strong core, so dedicating some of your training to your core is never a bad thing.

Here are some examples of workout routines:

 

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Don’t neglect your legs

While it may not seem that important for a taller climber to work on their foot placement and train their legs, it can be super helpful in allowing you to use your legs more and rely less on your arms. Take some time in your training to work on your leg strength and footwork while on the wall to help improve your climbing.

5. Train your legs

Make sure you don’t neglect training your legs. If you are climbing with proper technique, you should be using your legs much more than your arms, so training your legs is key to proper technique. Use whatever leg workout routine works for you. This could include exercises like squats or wall-sits, but could also be taking a spin class. Just find some workouts that work for you and your body.

Here are some great workout ideas that you could try:

  • Walking lunges

 

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  • Spider-Man Crawl

 

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  • Step-ups

 

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  • Jump Squats

 

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6. Footwork drills

There are some great footwork drills to do on the climbing wall that will help you focus more on your feet and legs and much less on your arms. Drills and games can also be a great way to make training more exciting. Get your friends together and try some of these games and drills or ask at your local gym to see if they know of any other climbing games or drills.

  • No hands: pick a slab route and try to climb it without using your hands at all. You can also do this by holding tennis balls in your hands so you can only use them for balance. You will be forced to pay attention to your footwork.
  • Traverse: This might seem obvious, but try to pick your friend who has the best footwork and have them lead a whole crew along a traverse. Make sure you use the exact holds they did. This can also be a great way to think of new movements. Chances are, your friends move very differently than you do, so climbing behind them can be a great way to learn from them.

Slow down your climbing

Slowing down your movements on the wall is a great way to focus more on technique. This can be super helpful for taller climbers, especially if you tend to rush through moves. Moving slowly and statically can be really helpful for progressing as a climber.

7. Pay attention to your center of gravity

Paying attention to where your center of gravity is and how you move it can be a really useful thing to pay attention to when you’re trying to slow down your climbing. One of the best ways to do this is by making yourself a weighted tail.

Take a piece of tape that will reach from your tailbone down to slightly below your knees and tape a small weight to the bottom. Something around the size of a tube of chapstick, but slightly heavier is all you need. You could use your keys or even a bolt, like the ones used to hold climbing holds onto the wall.

Tape the free end of the tape to your lower back, so the weight hangs down like a tail behind you. As you climb, have a friend watch and tell you every time your tail moves around too much or isn’t directly over your weighted foot. This helps show you exactly how you move your weight, which often makes it easier to think about.

Wrapping Things Up: Climbing Tips for Tall People

While taller climbers may have the obvious advantage when they start out climbing, they are not inherently better suited for climbing than someone of a smaller or shorter build. Climbing can be done by anyone of any size, so don’t be discouraged if you try a route and think that you’re too tall or too short.

If you are a taller climber looking to up your climbing game, just make sure that you pay attention to your technique. With technique and proper training, anyone can be an amazing climber. You just need to put in the time to learn how to climb.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like our climbing tips for short people here.

> 21 Advanced Bouldering Tips and Techniques

> The Best 25 Climbing Stretches

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