Although bouldering has been around since the early 1900s as its own sport, it has only started skyrocketing in popularity in the last 20 years or so. With new gyms popping up all over the US, more and more people have been getting into climbing and bouldering every year.
Bouldering is an amazing workout and an awesome social activity, but don’t just take our word for it, try it! In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to get into bouldering, as well as explain why you should try this awesome sport.
What is Bouldering?
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that can be practiced both indoors and outdoors. It does not require the use of ropes, as climbers stay close to the ground when bouldering. Unlike roped rock climbing, in bouldering, your falls are protected by pads or mats on the ground underneath you and by your friends or climbing partners spotting your falls to help keep you safe.
Spotting, or protecting someone’s fall by directing them to land safely, is the main way of keeping yourself safe when bouldering. Since you might fall or might jump down once you have reached the top of a boulder problem, it is essential that you have someone spotting you or guiding your fall, so you actually land where you want to and not somewhere else.
Another difference between roped climbing and bouldering is the term is used to describe the climbs themselves. A boulder climb is referred to as a problem and typically consists of a few hard or challenging moves you have to work through, like a problem, to get to the top of the climb. Since you are low to the ground, boulder problems won’t have too many moves, but the moves do tend to be challenging.
What Muscles Does Bouldering Work?
Bouldering, like roped climbing, is a great workout, and there are many benefits of bouldering. Like all climbing, bouldering will work your core, your arms and legs, and all of the small stabilizing muscles in the joints in your body.
Bouldering and roped climbing are both great ways to work out the stabilizing muscles that help keep your joints working well. These muscles tend to be harder to find workouts for in a traditional gym setting, but bouldering is a great way to focus on these muscles.
Since the moves in each boulder problem tend to be challenging because there are so few of them, many boulderers end up developing a type of bouldering physique. The typical boulderer’s physique has more obvious muscles than that of an average roped climber. These muscles tend to be most prominent in the upper body, centered around the shoulders.
Is Bouldering a Good Workout?
Bouldering is an amazing full-body workout that will provide not only great exercise for your muscles but also for your mind. Bouldering engages muscles from all over your body while simultaneously asking you to think critically about the moves ahead of you and reflect on how your body will be able to navigate the moves best.
Seeing why bouldering is good for you is easy as soon as you start practicing it regularly. It won’t take long before you see your body and mind become more attuned to the wall you are climbing on, regardless of whether that wall is inside or outside. People tend to get hooked on bouldering after only a few sessions simply because of how it makes you feel physically and mentally.
The bouldering body transformation is a draw to the sport but is not often the reason people stick with it for a long time. Bouldering is great for your body and will help increase your body awareness and control, but the mental strength and active problem-solving required tend to be what makes people stick with the sport.
3 Incredible Benefits of Bouldering
Bouldering is an amazing sport that works out both your body and mind, but what are all the benefits you might see after practicing bouldering for a while? Here are some of the incredible benefits of bouldering:
1. Increased muscle tone
Bouldering is a great workout that many climbers overlook because of how short and low to the ground the problems are, but this is an oversight on their part. Bouldering is an amazing core workout, shoulder workout, and balance exercise. It really is a great option for a full-body workout.
Since bouldering is so low to the ground, it makes it a great way for people with a fear of height to still get the benefits associated with rock climbing. Continued bouldering practice will help you develop new muscles without the need to go hundreds of feet in the air, something that tends to hold a lot of people back from trying rock climbing.
2. Increased mental resilience
Bouldering problems can be challenging and frustrating. Understanding how to manage your mental health while pushing yourself to try more and more challenging problems is a great exercise to help build up your resilience. Since bouldering problems are so short and quick, many people may wrongly assume they are easy, but this is not the case.
3. Access to a whole new community
The community of boulderers is vastly different from the general rock climbing community, so even if you already have a roped climbing crew that you go out with every now and then, you could grow your climbing community even more by getting into bouldering. Bouldering gyms are a great place to start meeting other boulderers and forming new friendships.
Bouldering is a social sport, sometimes more so than roped climbing, because you are actually in close proximity to your partner all day. It is conducive to chatting between problems and forming some pretty strong friendships.
How to Get Started with Bouldering: 3 Tips
One of the draws to bouldering is how easy it is to start. Unlike roped climbing, which requires lots of gear and training, bouldering is a relatively low-commitment way to get involved in climbing. Here are our tips to get started bouldering:
1. Join a gym, or just go a few times
A rock climbing or bouldering-specific gym is a great place to start. Gyms will have shoes you can rent and are a perfect place to try out the sport to see if you like it before you commit to investing in your own gear.
Bouldering gyms are also a great place to start meeting other boulderers. Typically, if you climb at around the same time every day or a week or so, you will start to recognize the locals at the gym, and they will start to recognize you. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you see for help on a problem or if they could give you some pointers.
2. Invest in a pair of shoes
The first piece of gear you will need for bouldering is shoes. Although some climbing shoes can get pretty expensive, for your first pair of shoes, you only need a good starter shoe that fits your feet well. Rock climbing shoes come in tons of different shapes and styles, so picking one that works well with your feet will make bouldering a more comfortable experience.
Get a pair of shoes that fit your feet, and you are comfortable in, and you will be more likely to climb. Ask at your local gym or climbing store what shoes they recommend. Just make sure you don’t fall into the trap of trying to find the most expensive or aggressive shoes since these shoes will likely be uncomfortable and discourage you from climbing more.
3. Find a bouldering group or community to climb with
Finding a group to climb with, either at the gym or outdoors, is a great way to get started with bouldering. Climbing alongside more experienced people is the perfect way to start learning the local bouldering areas and any of the local lingo or phrases you should know.
Look at your gym for a group that meets up there, or try checking on social media for a local climbing group. Sometimes, Facebook is the best place to find your local climbing organization or group, so don’t be afraid to check there.
Wrapping Things Up: What is Bouldering, and is it a Good Workout?
Hopefully, we’ve left you with a good understanding of why bouldering is such an amazing workout! The best way to gain the confidence and strength needed to work through more challenging boulder problems is simply to go out bouldering more. Figuring out how to get better at bouldering is easy; simply do it more.