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Busting climbing myths #1

Busting climbing myths #1

😱 I don’t have any upper body strength

The myth ‘I need to have strong arms’ often stops people getting started, so today’s article is all about why you don’t need strong arms when you’re starting out. In fact, you don’t need to be fit or skinny to get started and enjoy climbing. When most people start climbing they are not strong. With little technique it takes time to get to the top of the first wall, whether that’s inside or outside. So here is our take on why the upper body strength myth shouldn’t hold you back…

1. Legs, legs, legs

First, think about the size of your arms and the size of your legs.  There is much more muscle power in your legs; that’s what to use first when climbing. It is very tempting to try to pull ourselves up, but if we focus on our feet and pushing up, it can make things much easier on our arms. When you get started, every time you touch a hold, think legs, legs, legs.

2. Choose easy routes that aren’t steep

Climbing is about tactics, technique, processes, movement and many other things. Strength is only one small aspect and it’s one you can build. You don’t need to have strong arms to get started, because the chances are, you can start on some easier routes that aren’t steep, so you can use your legs to push up. Choose routes that are ‘slabby’/ less steep.

3. It’s ok to improve

It is normal to not be good at climbing as a beginner. Cut yourself some slack in the knowledge that almost everyone takes time to improve.

4. It’s all about you

Climbing is an activity which isn’t super competitive like other sports can be. There will be people who talk about grades, but often this is to help match up who to climb with, so that you get an appropriate level of challenge. Essentially, climbing is whatever you want it to be – it can be social, training, strength-building, which means that it doesn’t matter if you’re not strong, because you can do it for whatever reason you want. Your reasons are as worthy and valid as the next person’s!

5. Find your tribe

Find a group of people who will support you whatever your strengths – legs, mind, technique, willpower, effort or footwork.

Sometimes, groups can get cliquey. It doesn’t mean that all groups are like that, so if you try it out and it doesn’t work first time, try another group or climbing centre. You might be surprised

6. It might be uncomfortable

It is ok to feel uncomfortable. It is normal to feel uncomfortable when we try something new. You can expect that the first time you go into a climbing centre, whatever your upper body strength, you might feel a bit uncomfortable as you get used to the environment, the setup, the equipment and the people.

What might happen if you step outside of your comfort zone today?

7. Be the best you

It takes time to build upper body strength. Sometimes, climbers use technique, endurance and power in other areas, so strength isn’t important. What is important is getting started, so remember that it might take time and it might take you longer or shorter than others. It doesn’t make you a good/bad/better/worse person – you’re just different with different strengths. Own yourself and know you’re good enough as you are.


  1. Legs, Legs, Legs
  2. Choose less steep routes
  3. You (probably) won’t be great on day 1
  4. Focus on yourself
  5. Find your tribe
  6. Feel uncomfortable
  7. You are good enough

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, share it with your friends, or comment below with your ideas and thoughts.

Emily & the Womenclimb Crew

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