How Do You Do a Boulder With Straight Arms? 
A person bouldering with straight arms, above a safety matress.

Have you ever seen rock climbers doing their thing and said to yourself: now, wait, this can’t be possible, right? If that’s correct, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a boulder climber in action. The positions these folks take upon a natural rock can see quite… Well, downright impossible. However, with a bit of training – nothing’s impossible (we’ve probably ripped off a sports equipment company slogan).

Anyway, are you new to the sport known as rock climbing? If your answer’s YES, you might want to hear a word or two about a branch of this fantastic activity called bouldering. Today we’ll discuss it in the article you’re about to read, the text that’s concerned with just how do you boulder with straight arms!

The main point is to try not to bend your arms at the elbow unless it’s absolutely necessary. This way, you’ll save some precious amounts of energy that you’ll need later on during the climb. Once you notice you’re holding onto the rock with your bent arms, try to relax and straighten them out.

Now, one can’t learn anything by reading just the preview, right? Right. That’s why we blatantly encourage you to read the rest of the text!

Beginner climber tips (Bouldering)

Before we tell you how you’ll boulder with straight arms, it’s better if we first go through the basics. Here we’ll discuss some beginner rock climbing tips with an unmistakeably intentional emphasis on the activity known as bouldering. Stay tuned!

What is bouldering?

First things first, let’s define today’s main subject – bouldering. Bouldering is a branch of rock climbing. The interesting thing about is that it’s done with the use of any ropes (you don’t have to worry about broken climbing ropes or similar scenarios) or safety harnesses. It can be practiced both outdoors and indoors (on small rock formations or climbing walls known as boulders). Bouldering was originally “created” as an exercise to help climbers practice particular moves while, at the same time, being at a fairly safe distance from the ground (about four meters).

How can a beginner get better at bouldering?

Here we’ll introduce you to some beginner tips on how to get better at bouldering. So, how does one achieve this?

Utilize your toes (avoid standing on midsoles)

This advice’s closely related to one of the most “popular” mistakes you’ll witness at the climbing wall. It’s the folks that are using their midsoles instead of their toes. Needless to say, this greatly restricts their movement by offering reduced traction. Also, the climbing shoes you’ll wear (and here’s how you’ll break in them) are carefully designed to enable you to stand on small holds with your toes. By steering clear of standing on your midsoles you’ll avoid many potential accidents.

Push up using your legs

Were you aware of the fact that leg muscles are one of your body’s biggest muscle groups? Now that you do know that, you’ll also wanna hear about how leveraging them can assist you greatly in your bouldering adventures. Anyway, don’t let your arms do all the work; sometimes you’ll be able to push your body using your trusty legs in order to be as efficient as possible.

The two don’ts

Here we’ll tell you what you’re not supposed to do when climbing a wall. Don’t:

  • use too much chalk (both liquid and loose). Using too much of it (especially liquid) will have a negative influence on the traction you’ve got on the holds. 
  • be afraid to fall. Fallin means you’re trying and practicing hard. It shouldn’t demotivate you as falling is the most natural thing that you can experience when bouldering.

Of course, there are some other climbing tips we’d mention if it weren’t for the format of this article. As they say: rules are rules! Anyway, let’s see if there’s another way of practicing bouldering besides going to the gym (with a climbing wall) and trying your luck with a small natural rock formation.

How can I practice bouldering at home?

Now, of course, if you’ve got a climbing wall installed in your backyard, that’s a completely different story. Here we’ll show you how to do some home exercises that will greatly help you become a skillful climber:

  • Practice grip strength with books. Sounds a bit silly, but feel free to try it out! Walk around your home holding a big book in each hand, as if you were carrying two suitcases.
  • Do 30-second one-legged stands. Seems easy, doesn’t it? Well, first you’ll have to try standing about 5 inches (13 cm) from a wall, facing it with your eyes closed, with your hands upfront (without touching the wall), and lastly – with your one foot off the floor. You’ll have a hard time balancing this position, trust us. However, it’s an exercise that will teach you how to control your body better.
  • Practice tricep dips with two chairs. You’ll want to use two chairs of similar height for this one. Space them apart so that you can place your feet on one (while your legs are outstretched) and your hands on the other chair. Your chest should be facing the sky, not the floor. Simply dip your body down, while, at the same time, keeping your chin up and legs totally straight. Afterward, push yourself back up. Repeat.

Okay, so we’ve gotten a bit carried away with this larger-than-usual intro. Let’s try to answer the main question of today’s article: how do you do a boulder with straight arms?

A kid trying out climbing boulder-style.

How do you do a boulder with straight arms?

Every climbing instructor will tell you that one should use straight arms when practicing the activity in question. Now, one thing’s for sure: hanging with your arms straight seems pretty intuitive and no one needs to explain anything to you. However, climbing using straight arms sounds easier than it actually is (it certainly ain’t no piece of cake). That’s why today we’ll show how to boulder with straight arms!

Why should you boulder with straight arms in the first place?

Here’s the main reason behind the idea of climbing with straight arms: energy efficiency! One loses less energy climbing with straight arms than climbing with bent arms. Simple as that! Trust us, you don’t want to fall out of exhaustion on your first climb.

Let’s further elaborate on this idea. When climbing with bent arms, one utilizes various muscle groups constantly. Imagine all the energy invested in, well, nothing. Now, the same thing can be done (the same traversed number of rocks) using less energy by climbing with straight arms.

How about a fun fact? Regardless of their muscle strength, folks tend to get tired pretty easily when climbing with bent arms. There’s a good chance some of our readers have seen scenes similar to this in the gym: guys looking all tough and hard falling in exhaustion after their sixth or seventh move (if they’re lucky, they eventually don’t end up on climbing fails YouTube compilations). Because? Because they haven’t implemented the proper climbing technique!

So, how does one boulder with straight arms?

First of all, you’ll want to try keeping your arms long and relaxed while you’re climbing. Try not to bend your arms at the elbow when it’s not completely necessary. That way, you’ll save some much-needed energy. Now, we get it, this seems absurd: how come flexed arms aren’t the way to go, how come they don’t provide a stronger, more powerful grip? While that last bit might be true, keeping your arms bent will soon enough result in you showing signs of exhaustion and fatigue.

All in all: each time you notice you’re holding onto the rock with bent arms, simply pause, take a deep breath and straighten your arms. Now let’s see if there’s any piece of advice we’ve forgotten to mention (it seems there’s something).

What about hips?

Here’s what climbing enthusiasts like to say as something of a motto: once you’re reaching out with your left arm, place your left hip against the wall. If you’re reaching out with your right arm, you’ll, of course, position your right hip against the climbing wall. Think we’re kidding? Simply place your right leg, right hip, and right arm against the climbing wall and reach for the sky using, you’ve guessed it, your right arm. You’ll be amazed at how the tips of your fingers can reach such height. This will help you “obtain” greater extension and give you a more natural body movement when climbing.

Oh, and speaking of fingers… Here’s how you’ll tape your fingers for climbing.

And what about feet?

That’s right, everyone seems to be forgetting about them (luckily, we don’t). It’s fairly common to witness beginner climbers first looking up instead of paying just a little attention to their feet. Avoid doing the same since you’ll lose some stamina and the sight of the most efficient position if you only keep looking for the next handhold.

Before moving your hand, make sure your feet are in the best possible position. It’s quite challenging, but don’t be turned off – you’ll eventually learn how to do it without much hassle.

The bottom line

That’s about it when it comes to this little guide (if we can call it like that) on how to boulder with straight arms. Hopefully, you’ve had some fun reading about the best techniques out there for (beginner) rock climbers and other folks who are just getting ready to engage in this sport.

For more tips on various “extreme” activities and sports, pay a visit to our blog (guide) page.

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