A woman’s perspectives on rock climbing are often different from that of a male counterpart. Their experiences in the sport and background contribute to this discrepancy. In this article, I wanted to analyze the common rock climbing issues that are unique for women like me, as well as offer some helpful tips on how to overcome those challenges.
I remember going through most if not all of these challenges! I still suffer from some! LOL!
Having Enough Strength To Climb
The first and most obvious difference between men and women in rock climbing is strength; a woman’s ratio of muscle to fat is ten times smaller than that of a man. In general, this makes it more difficult for a woman to haul her weight up the wall. Fortunately, there are techniques a woman can use to help her body overcome this deficit.
- Picking your right spot: Start in an area that is easy to climb once you have been training for a few months. Choose an area that has a lot of holds with a variety of sizes. A large, overhanging wall is perfect if your climbing ability allows you to pull yourself up in one or two moves. This will allow you to work through the motions more easily and give you plenty of time to rest between sets.
- Use your feet: Women tend to have smaller hands and smaller feet. Use these to your advantage! I can easily place my bare foot on any hold I reach. If I can’t, or if there is something in the way, I can sometimes stretch my leg out to reach the hold.
- Weight training: Weight training is one of the most effective ways for women to gain strength and muscle mass, which will help you climb more effectively. The exercises in your workout should target your upper body, not just your legs. Pushups are an excellent exercise to start with. They work your arms and shoulders, two very important muscles in rock climbing.
The greatest thing about training is that it will build you stronger for everyday life as well as climbing!
- Work up to it: It is impossible to get stronger without putting in time at the gym or crag, so keep going even if you cannot do a single pull-up yet.
- Resistance bands: If you have access to one, resistance bands make an excellent tool for strengthening your forearms and abdomen. They are portable exercises that can easily be used at home or on the go.
Perseverance is the key to all climbing achievements! Think of it this way: You’re already at the top! A woman’s perspective tends to be different from that of a man, but it doesn’t mean women cannot climb as well as men.
Not Being Able To Reach As Far While Climbing
I’m short so this is one of my main issues – tall women obviously wouldn’t have this problem! In rock climbing, the concept of reach is defined as how far you can comfortably reach for a hold. Reach may be more challenging for women, who are usually shorter and have smaller hands than men. The average man in the United States is 5’10” and weighs 195 lbs. The average woman is 5’4″ and weighs 134 lbs.
For example: On a route that is rated at 5.10a, the average women’s finger size is 15.5cm while men are 13.2cm.
Some women may be able to use the same holds as men, but some may have to resort to using slings or having a belay pull them up once they have gained enough strength.
Remember, being short is not always a disadvantage! It can be stronger than the average man if you use reach to your advantage. My advice to women: Find your strengths and put them to work for you!
My Damn Boobs!
Okay, this one is kind of funny, but sometimes when I am trying to reach for something, my breasts get in the way.
This can be extra difficult if there are loose rocks. The trick is to keep calm and simply pull your chest back a bit and you should be able to get past the problem. This technique only works for me because I’m small, so it may not work for everyone, but it’s worth a try!
So many of these factors make climbing completely different for women than for men. Of course, some women are blessed with both strong arms and legs. However, even if the average woman is stronger than the average man, she still has to overcome many obstacles.
Surely there are many women who have overcome these obstacles and are able to climb better than most men! Yet it’s true: Rock climbing is a different game for women.