What is Bouldering: All You Need To Know

Bouldering is an activity similar to rock climbing but with a twist. It is done close to the ground without needing a harness or rope. You can either do bouldering indoors or outdoors with a pair of traditional climbing shoes, a big foam crash pad, some chalk, and a helmet. 

As bouldering can be done without much gear, it has become popular among fellow climbers and newbies. It's a great way to train the body, learn something fun, and have a good time. Even so, a person requires some know-how to get the most out of this activity.

What is Bouldering: All You Need To Know

With multiple boulders, bouldering has become an essential sport on its own. What's more? The indoor bouldering gyms have brought this challenging sport to the masses, making it the next big fitness craze. 

Differences Between Bouldering and Rock Climbing

Bouldering can be considered a form of rock climbing; it began after the famous John Gill. But it boils down to the physical side of things as this activity does not require much gear. Both the activity has similar hold types, slang, and dynamic movement. 

With modern bouldering, an individual can push their limits of climbing as a whole as it lets them practice incredibly hard moves. Once you frequently repeat hard moves, it improves your bouldering technique and strength. 

Rock climbers focus on rope and gear skills; depending on experience levels, bouldering pioneers do not require much gear for their core practice. For this reason, they spend more time on the wall working on a string grip, precise technique, and powerful grip.

Differences Between Bouldering and Rock Climbing

Some athletes focus entirely on bouldering, whereas some use it to train for bigger artificial climbing walls for highball bouldering. Highballing is also a form of bouldering. There are many benefits of bouldering, some of which includes:

  • Bouldering provides full body workout 

  • It improves the muscle tone and physical strength 

  • It builds lean muscle, core strength, and finger strength

  • It improves physical fitness

  • It improves cardiovascular health 

  • Bouldering also helps with improving flexibility 

  • It helps you focus the mind and enhance your concentration level

  • The climbing community helps you build better social skills, confidence, and self-esteem 

  • It helps with weight loss 

  • Lastly, this activity is suitable for any age

Why Should Children Do Bouldering?

Like adults, children should also do bouldering, mainly because they have a natural instinct to climb from a younger age. Regularly performing bouldering will help them to develop their flexibility, coordination, and balance. 

Kids can also burn off their excess energy and increase their physical fitness in a fun way. For kids, it's important to create a safe bouldering environment where they can practice without the risk of getting injured.

Below are five main areas of child development triggered by the regular bouldering practice. 

Cognitive Development 

It refers to a kid's ability to solve problems and learn. Bouldering is known to help the kid develop the cognitive ability as it has climbing routes, which are known as problems. 

Children must do route reading by working out a sequence of moves for problem-solving. It also helps them reach the top of the wall. 

Social and Emotional Development 

It's a child's ability to interact with other kids, help themselves, and have self-esteem control. With group climbing, kids can promote social and emotional development by communicating with each other, interacting in groups, and taking turns. 

Speech and Language Development 

The kid's speech and language development will improve with regular bouldering practice. Their listening and speaking skills will also improve from learning climbing terminology, coaches, and interactions during the activity following the bouldering route of a specific climbing grade.

Fine Motor Skills Development 

It's referred to as the ability to use small muscles, like hands and fingers. As bouldering includes different climbing activities, motor skills are correctly developed in kids. 

How Tall are Bouldering Walls?

How Tall are Bouldering Walls?

Averagely, bouldering walls are around 4 meters or 13 feet high. Some artificial rock walls also go up to 4.5 meters or 15 feet. Similarly, the indoor bouldering padding is usually around 39 centimeters or 12 inches thick, but the thickness of outdoor bouldering mats can vary. 

How to Start Bouldering?

If you are new to the bouldering world, you can look at the introduction book at the bouldering locations or climbing gym. This way, you would be able to learn the bouldering basics without getting injured. You will also get an overview of basic techniques and features. 

Once you have understood the features, you can start bouldering like a pro. Regular bouldering will improve your socializing skills and is also a great way of exercise. 

What Do I Need to go Bouldering?

What Do I Need to go Bouldering?

For indoor climbing, you can purchase all the required gear, which will keep you safe. The first bouldering session usually includes a pair of climbing shoes and a chalk bag.  If you're from Canada, Squamish in British Columbia is the bouldering destination. 

After some time, you can purchase some other equipment, including beginner climbing shoes. In addition, you can also get a brush for cleaning debris from your equipment and removing the chalk. You will need a crash pad, a chalk bag, or a chalk bucket for outdoor bouldering. 

How to Boulder Indoor?

Below are some tips on how to boulder indoors:

  • You need to start on the lowest hand and foot holds. Sometimes, it is marked with colored bolts, grade, or tape

  • Try to start your feet off the floor without jumping to start

  • You can use holds of one color and the walls or the corners

  • You do not have to use every hold

  • Both of your hands must be on the last hold to climb to the top

  • While getting down, you can use any color hold 

  • You must always bend your knees while jumping or falling. Your hands must be up in front of you 

  • Lastly, you must not jump away from the wall or put your hands behind

While it's a basic rundown, you must always practice with an instructor. To become a successful boulder, you must correctly learn how to fall safely and learn the basics. 

Regularly practice low falls without getting afraid. Roll onto your back and butt when landing so you do not get injured. 

Bouldering at Olympic

In the Sports Climbing event in Tokyo in 2021, bouldering was included for the first time in the Olympics. The other two categories include lead climbing and speed climbing.

Bouldering Olympic Rules 

There are four boulders in the bouldering stage for Men's and Women's categories. Each competitor gets four minutes per attempt. If they reach the top, they get full points. But if they reach the mid-way, which is called a zone, they get fewer points. 

The person with more "tops" is declared the winner. In case of a tie, most zones are used. If the most zones are also similar, then the climber with the least amount of attempts wins. 

Olympic Bouldering Wall Height 

The wall used in the Olympics Bouldering in Tokyo is 4 meters or 13 feet high; in addition, the wall has different interesting angles, which are overhung, huge pointed rows jutting out to the right, and inwards-facing. 

Is Bouldering Dangerous?

Though bouldering is pretty safe inside, it comes with a danger of injury. Individuals taking part in this sport are not prone to any serious injury, but they might experience spraining wrist or ankle. Besides this, cuts and bruises are also common. Awkward falls result in serious injuries in bouldering. 

The indoor mats are able to prevent injuries. But the players need to learn how to fall properly to stay confident while falling from any position. It also reduces the risk of the intensity of the injury. 

On the other hand, outdoors can be a bit dangerous as there are numerous hazards like rocks, sharp trees, and other similar things. So, if you are bouldering outside, try to properly cover these areas with a good mat, which will reduce the gaps. 

Make sure you boulder in a group so others can move the pad when required to protect you from bad falls. 

Not to mention, while bouldering outdoors, you must be aware of the serious injuries that might happen, like a broken leg. Also, you must inform someone so you can immediately contact them in case of any emergency. 

Is Bouldering Hard?

Bouldering is a bit challenging and hard. But you can get the proper training by regularly going to the bouldering gym to develop your climbing technique. You can also boulder outdoors to challenge yourself at any level. 

Bouldering is fun, and you will enjoy this activity even as a physical workout. What's better is that you do not require upper body strength or abs to start. This engaging activity will keep you in shape and increase your concentration level. 

You will feel like you are working out on a treadmill at any gym. You can start practicing this activity even if you do not know the technique or have upper body strength. 


Is bouldering hard for beginners?

Comparatively, bouldering is hard for beginners, but it's fun too. So, if you are new to this world, be ready to face difficult moves in an entertaining and friendly way. 

Does Bouldering Build Muscle?

All the forms of climbing or rock climbing, including bouldering, are known to help build muscles. With regular climbing, certain parts of your body will come more in shape, which is beneficial later. 

What is bouldering good for?

Bouldering is a high-intensity exercise known to be good for major muscle strengthening, including the back, muscle, arms, core, and grip strength. In addition, boulder climbers also have more balance, mental grit, and awareness. 


Bouldering is a fun activity similar to rock climbing but does not need a harness or rope. You can do bouldering indoors on indoor climbing walls with a big foam crash pad, some chalk, a helmet, and climbing shoes. 

As a beginner, you can look at the introduction book at the local bouldering or climbing gym to learn the basics. Then you can practice the sports on a higher difficulty level.

Kevin Macey
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