Fingers or feet? To the outsider, the sport of bouldering appears to rely largely on the upper body, particularly the fingers. But some top boulderers seem to win instead because of better footwork. Yes, they have very strong fingers, but their footwork pushes them over the top. So, for high-level bouldering, both the fingers and the feet are crucial.
And yet few climbers train their foot technique.
But… if you train mostly your footwork, can you still boulder competitively?
It’s possible. As one example, I recently entered my first-ever competition, the Boulderham 2016. And, after a year and a half of largely avoiding the gym, doing mainly foot training on our soon-to-be released CAT Station, I placed 1st in the master’s division.
(Above, on a warm-up route at Boulderham, 2016, at Vital Rock Gym in Bellingham, WA.)
Why do few people train their footwork? The answer is probably a combination of factors, but one of them must be the lack of good footwork-training devices. Resolving this factor is our main mission. We aim to have more and more people using footboards such as the CAT.
Other benefits Other than doing better at competitions, foot training has other benefits. In general, it adds to your workout, working the larger leg muscles as well as the smaller foot muscles. In general, practicing foot moves seems to increase coordination and flexibility as well. And by using your feet more, you may be less likely to injure your fingers and shoulders.