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How to Improve Your Climbing in Just 30 Minutes

Make the most of your time on the wall with these tips from IFSC Bouldering World Champion Shauna Coxsey.
By Pip Stewart
4 min readPublished on
It's probably no surprise that Shauna Coxsey's top tip for improving your bouldering is to "climb, climb as much as you can."
We picked her brain to find out what other tips she had to help us take our bouldering from zero (or thereabouts) to hero in under 30 minutes.

1. Get sweaty in the warm-up

Shauna Coxsey working her way up the wall.
Make sure your whole body is warm
"If I could go back and tell my younger self something it would be 'spend more time warming up.' If you want to prevent injury and get the most out of each and every session warming up is invaluable. I recommend warming up with a jacket on, even in summer. You want to be really warm when you start climbing, aim to get that heart rate up. The only way we know we're warm in a visible way is by sweating. So get sweaty!"
"You could try skipping, or just hit the wall — whatever works for you. I always jump on the wall with a jumper and climb for five to 10 minutes when I first get there. I climb up, down, sideways — it's just getting those movements in. Work through different climbs and holds, make sure all of your body is warm from your shoulders to your fingers."

2. Spend your time on the wall, not the floor

Shauna Coxsey trains at the Climbing Hangar, Liverpool, on Jan. 19, 2016.
Spend time on the wall, not the floor
"Do as much climbing as you can as nicely as you can. If you climb well, it feels good and it looks good. You want to be moving and flowing, be nice and precise with your feet and hand placements. Do as much climbing as possible in a session — it's the best training. You can do pull-ups, you can work your core, you can do finger strength exercises, but ultimately the more time spent on the wall, the better."

3. Don't skip through the grades

Shauna Coxsey performs during a training session in Liverpool on Jan. 20, 2015.
Don't skip grades
"An important thing to do is not push your limit all the time. If you are a runner and are training for a marathon you won't be training as hard as you possibly can all the time. However, people come climbing and think 'I've done a green, I've done a blue, now I'm on the red one' — they work up through the grades really quickly. If you're doing multiple sessions a week, one of them, in my opinion, should always be a base session."
I have a really easy circuit that's well within my capability ... If you're just falling off all the time, you're just learning how to fall.
Shauna Coxsey
"Get some building blocks in there so that you're learning loads of different grip types and movements, foot placements and hand placements. Get on different angles and don't skip out ones that you would have done previously. It also tires you out, so you end up having to climb slightly differently — it teaches you a lot more than just having a session. Even now, I come to a climbing wall once a week or once every couple of weeks and have a really easy circuit that's well within my capability. It means you get loads and loads of climbing and movements in — it gets me flowing again. If you're just falling off all the time you're just learning how to fall!"

4. Use momentum as much as strength

Shauna Coxsey gets ready to climb.
Hang with Shauna
Watch the video above for some great examples of how to use momentum.
"Climbing's all in the hips. Having a good body position is obviously really important. However, as soon as things get tricky you have to be more dynamic. If you're climbing using just strength it's so much harder than using momentum, and momentum is generated through your legs and your hips. Think about thrusting your hips into the wall. The more tired you get, the more you'll have to use your hips because your arms and legs are fatigued. If you can keep your feet and hand placements good and use your hips it'll force you into a smoother way of climbing."