No matter how much we girls want to believe it, we do climb differently from boys! Trust me, I think we are just as strong and can climb just as tough of routes as they can. We will though, climb them differently.
Boys are built to have lots of upper body strength and have bigger hands to wrap around holds. Girls however have more balance and flexibility. Thus, it’s okay that we climb differently!
How to Climb Like a Girl!
First, be daring! It happens at least once every visit to the gym, I see a girl struggling with her confidence to just reach up to the hold above her because it’s just slightly beyond her comfort zone. While there’s a fine line between being stupid and pushing yourself a bit, even a small confidence/daring push while climbing can improve your ability to climb. The best time to push yourself is while top roping. Tell your belayer you’re going through the crux of a problem and would like them to keep the rope taught. Then go for the next hold! The worse that can happen is that you don’t reach the hold and you drop a few inches in the air.
Second, re-angle your body. As females, we are flexible and can stretch and contort our bodies in weird ways. Test your ability to do this next time you’re stuck and don’t think you can get to a hold due to balance or position. If you’re top roping, just swing back a second and relax. Can you curl up more on the rock and get your feet higher? Can you use a hold from the sides or from underneath? What if you shift your weight over to one side instead of it being centered? Don’t be afraid to stretch out and try new things. Re-positioning your body can make drastic improvements in your ability to climb a problem.
Third, use ALL your holds! A great advantage of being a girl is that we can hold onto all those tiny little holds. Crimps, no problem! I regularly use foot holds as hand holds when climbing a 5.11c or higher. I’m not saying every foot hold can be used as a handhold, but try around and test your strength some. You’d be surprised what even placing a finger upon a “foot chip” can do for balance.
Last, keep your abs tight! Keeping the muscles constricted allows you to compensate for less upper body strength and keeps you closer to the wall. It’s okay to feel like you’re hugging the wall, the closeness is what keeps you from falling. I especially have a hard time thinking of keeping my abs tight when I’m climbing slopers and have to focus on weight positioning on my fingers. The first moment I let my stomach muscles relax, I fall backwards or “barn door” off the wall.
I hope these tips help you be a better climber, no matter if you’re male or female. Here’s a picture from where I climbed this weekend, does it look serene or what?
What is your biggest strength when rock climbing? And your biggest weakness?