What is Bouldering?

November 19, 2021

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What is Bouldering?
Bouldering Blog

What is bouldering?

Bouldering is a style of rock climbing that is close to the ground on short walls, usually 3-4 metres, without a rope or harness. Bouldering can be done both indoors or outside.

A beginners guide to bouldering 

Bouldering is very popular with both rock climbing beginners and avid climbers alike because it's easy to do without a bunch of gear. Instead of being caught by a harness and rope, you stay close to the ground. You can easily hop, fall or drop back down onto a very thick mat indoors or a pad outdoors. 

In the past, getting as high off of the ground as possible was a major factor in rock climbing. The problem with this is that it required loads of safety gear to ensure you wouldn’t get hurt falling. It wasn’t very beginner friendly. By limiting the height factor, bouldering has enabled rock climbing to become more accessible to the masses.

Interested in bouldering? You can find out more about NOMAD's first time special here.

Is bouldering hard for beginners?

Indoor bouldering gyms are the perfect start for indoor rock climbing and are well suited for beginners. Bouldering gyms tend to be more beginner friendly than alternative climbing gyms or climbing on real rock outside. Indoor bouldering gyms have a wide variety of climbs to suit the ability of kids or first timers, to the ability of high level professionals.

Bouldering is easy to get into; you don’t need any gear to start indoors. There are difficulty levels for everyone and it facilitates an amazing community vibe allowing you to sit in the gym, have a coffee and chat with friends.

Do you need to be strong to do bouldering? 

The short answer is no. The moves on boulders do not just require strength and power. There are a wide variety of climbs at indoor gyms with some that rely on flexibility, balance and delicate movements. The variation of climbs and the need to use the whole body including the legs means there is always something for everyone. Bouldering at NOMAD is a great place to take friends for the first time, even if they're adamant they have poor upper body strength. You'll find they'll be scaling the walls in no time! 

That said, shorter walls does not mean that bouldering is always easier. The difficulty varies from beginner to pro. When it gets to the harder levels (intermediate to advanced) it can take the intensity of the climb to a new level. Where a normal rock climbing wall is about endurance over many moves (typically 40-60), a bouldering problem can condense intense sequences into 5-10 short moves. This has pushed the limits of climbing, allowing intermediate to advanced climbers to practice incredibly hard moves over and over again. 

Is bouldering a good workout?

Bouldering is perfect for regular exercise whilst also giving you the opportunity to socialise with friends. You can have a great work out, be mentally engaged, enjoy a challenge, and have a chat whilst you're at it!

Bouldering is a high-intensity exercise that will strengthen all of your major muscle groups, particularly your core, shoulders, arms, and back. 

Bouldering also improves balance, body awareness, and creates mental grit. Bouldering is not just about brute strength and will develop your problem solving ability. In bouldering the rock climbing routes (the sequence of holds you use to climb up the wall) are specifically called “problems”, climbers have to solve these in order to get to the top.

Bouldering is one of the main reasons rock climbing is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing sports around the world. It even featured in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics for the first time ever. 

How do I start bouldering?

The best way to start bouldering is to visit your local bouldering gym. At NOMAD before you begin bouldering, you'll be required to learn and demonstrate a safe rock climbing fall technique supervised by our trained NOMAD Instructors. You will also be shown an overview of the gym and it’s facilities. Be sure to ask one of our staff or one of the many friendly people in the community for some quick tips.

You can also take one of our beginners courses. Our professional coaches will teach you the core fundamentals and quickly improve your ability to climb.

What to wear bouldering?

Comfy or stretchy clothing, like your classic exercise gear. 

Some people prefer to wear leggings and others wear shorts or long stretchy pants. Jeans restrict a lot of movement so are not ideal to wear bouldering. Any exercise top, singlet or t-shirt will work perfectly. You will likely work up a sweat so don’t forget to bring a water bottle!

When bouldering, we recommend wearing the same thing you'd wear rock climbing outdoors. The only other consideration you need to make when climbing outdoors is the weather, always ensure you have enough warm clothing to stay comfortable.

At NOMAD if you don’t have any bouldering gear (shoes or chalk) don’t worry! Our friendly staff have climbing shoes and chalk available for hire for when you arrive at NOMAD. By hiring climbing shoes and chalk you’ll get the most out of your bouldering experience and feel more comfortable on the wall. For more information about climbing shoes and how they work, read our blog article about them here.

If you end up liking your first few experiences bouldering indoors we recommend you get the bouldering basics from the NOMAD online store: climbing shoes , a chalk bag, chalk and a brush.

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