Category Archives: Finding Rest

Features on finding rests when climbing

Placing Gear Efficiently

Effective placement of gear comes down three things, knowing your racking system, developing a good eye for placements as well as the appropriate size of relative protection, and using rests where possible to place gear whilst in balance.

The first two are down to hands on experience with your rack and gear placements. You might go through you racking system at home, trying to reach straight for the piece of gear you think of and take it off and replace it in the same position in time each time. Getting to know gear placements is down to time spent at the crag.

You can however practice the hands-off rests we cover in hands off rests section. By being in balance you avoid placing gear mid move in a strenuous position. You may often find that the instant you have placed your runner you find a better position to place it from. Try to be relaxed when placing gear and ask yourself whether if you make another half move you will be in a more balanced position?

When at a rest it is sometimes possible to see a gear placement above. You may be able to judge the size from the rest and select the correct wire and clip it to a quickdraw ready to place, saving time and energy. Some people climb up with the gear ready in their mouths. Be aware that it is quite easy to drop the gear, possibly meaning you don’t have anything to place. Besides, metal plays havoc with you tooth enamel!

Placing Gear Efficiently exercise

Rack up ready to climb and walk along the bottom of a cliff playing ‘guess the placement’. Find a crack and guess the best size of gear. Experiment with other sizes to see if you got the best fit. See section on various gear placements.

You may be able to judge the size of a camming device placement in finger widths; one finger = cam 1, two fingers = cam 2 and so on.Try it and see if it works for you.

Placing gear on lead exercise

When you are leading try to place gear only where you can stand in balance or from a hands-off rest. Place the gear from here and before you leave this position take time to look up and spot the next rest and gear placement. Take the time to look at how you might climb the next section.

This can be described as anticipating the next moves and gear. So ask yourself two questions where you can stand next and where you can place the next gear. Until you can answer these two questions don’t move.

WARNING — Lead climbing is dangerous. Before attempting this exercise it is worth practicing placing gear on your route whilst on top rope, trailing a rope to simulate lead climbing. Make sure that your belayer has the neccesary skill to stop you if you fall!



Corners and Chimneys

Bridgeable features often provide ways to rest the pulling muscles in our arms and make upward progress.

Climbing using only the flat wall for hands and any hold for feet. A good exercise to work on bridging
Climbing a corner trying to only push down on holds. Thos will help you realise that you don’t have to pull all the time. When climbing this might allow your forearms to recover.


Pushing off a hold and walking your feet up the opposite wall and then getting back into a bridge/rest position. This might help if there is a long wy to the next hand hold.

Another trick for ascending corners and grooves is ‘back and footing’, see Chimney Rest.

Climb a corner with as many hands off rest as possible, by bridging and back and footing.

Climb aagin but your hands can only grip as if you were holding a cup of tea.

Corner tips

  • Use your hand to pivot around your feet and feet to pivot around hands.
  • Palming off the wall uses different muscles to pulling down on holds.
  • Rest whenever you can, both bridging and ‘back and footing’.
  • Sometimes corners and grooves are like pantomimes, the holds are “behind you!”


Climbing chimneys ef ciently is often dif cult, as much of the time actually moving up requires an energy sapping ‘thrutching’ that tires the whole body. The only respite you get is when resting in between the struggling up. The best psychological approach for many chimneys is one of rugged determina- tion and that given a good ght you will succeed.

Chimneys cover a vast range of width of cracks; essentially anywhere you can t a body, it is possible to chimney. Generally the way we move is by locking or wedging one part of our body which then allows us to move another part. By continuously repeating this wedge-move-wedge-move it is possible to edge our way upwards.

Chinmey exercise

Find a chimney, doorway or corner and place your back against one wall and feet against the other and try and sit down in a wedged position.

Push off one foot and your back and move the other foot up and then wedge yourself of the higher foot and your back.

Using your hands against the wall you back is on, thrutch your back upwards and attain another sitting position. By repeating this movement it is possible to edge your way upwards.

Back and fitting up a chimney
Back and fitting up a chimney
The tight confines of a narrow off-width chimney
The tight confines of a narrow off-width chimney

Chimney tips

  • Although it is possible to climb a totally smooth chimney, placing your feet on footholds or edges makes the whole process a lot easier.
  • You will have a fight on your hands.
  • You can often rest by simply sitting down, it is the thrutching upwards that is exhausting.
  • Decide which way round you are going to face before you start. Try the first move facing one way and then reverse down and try it the other, decide which is easier before committing yourself. It will often be impossible to turn around half-way up.
  • Thin chimneys are even harder to climb, unforgiving on the body, totally claustrophobic and requiring a lot of energy to move up. Improvisation is the answer, but the principle is the same, wedge-shuffle-shuffle-wedge.
  • It will often be impossible to see your feet, or arms for that matter; so take note of prominent foot holds as they pass you face and struggle relentlessly until you can feel your feet on them (perhaps your only chance of a rest).



Corkscrew Rock Over / Rule of Opposites

Although similar to the rock-over as it essentially involves the transfer of weight from one foot to the other. Its difference comes from pivoting during the movement phase so that you arrive at the next point of balance on your outside edge, which as we have learnt from earlier exercises is more efficient. This keeps your hips and centre of gravity as close to the rock as possible, reducing the leverage onto you hands as you lean back.

A break down of the corkscrew rock-ver with the twist towards the end of the movement.
A break down of the corkscrew rock-ver with the twist towards the end of the movement.

Stand on the oor and raise your foot onto a hold using the inside edge of your boot. Use handholds for balance and rock-over. As you reach the point of balance pivot around on your foot to end up on the outside edge of your boot to nish.

Then try the pivot during the rock-over rather than at the end of the move-ment. Pivot round on the higher foot as you move up to arrive at the new point of balance on the outside edge of your boot.

Link a series of movements from foot to foot, concentrating on putting the twist in as you rock-over and arriving at the point of balance on the outside edge of your boot.

Compare this corkscrew rock-over to a standard rock-over, which feels easier? How do they compare on short distances and at the limit of your stretch? Short step or high step? Which type is easier on slabs, vertical walls or overhangs?

Pick a foothold directly above the lower hold and then a hold way out to the side. Try moving the pivot to before, during and after the rock-over. Does one need a stronger grip with your hands?

A corkscrew rock over onto a high ledge.
A corkscrew rock over onto a high ledge.

The rule of opposites

A standard rock-over tends to make us move left and right as we step up, whereas a corkscrew rock-over or a step through can help us to go directly up. Stepping across the centre line of your body and trying to stay sideways uses opposing left and right limbs.

So the rule is: The upper body uses the opposite limb to the lower body (left hand, right foot – right hand, left foot). Combined this with facing towards the hand you are using at the time.

Using the rule of opposites: Stepping up onto the outside edge of the left rock boot, and using mainly the right hand to layaway, and left hand to press down.

Rule of opposites exercises

Use only opposite limbs left hand – right foot and vice versa..

Emphasise the direction that you are facing, if you are pulling on your right hand then face to the right.

Now try making the pivot before you rock over so that you are always rock- ing over onto the outside edge of your foot. This will help keep your centre of gravity closer to the wall, reducing the leverage on your hands.

You may find that if the step is too high you will have to do the twist during the rock-over.

Experiment with higher and higher steps, reaching them using sidepulls.

How does the rule of opposite feel? Easier or harder when stepping through? Is there a height of step when stepping through that it is easier to twist before, during or after the rock-over?

Cork screw rockover/rule of opposites tips

  • Move fluidly, carried by momentum, between one foot and the other.
  • The pivot can happen before, during or after the movement. Experiment with what feels better when doing short or long steps, stepping out to the side or into the centre.
  • When you pivot before the movement you will back step onto the hold.
  • Use opposite limbs.
  • Face the right direction.


One of the more basic climbing movements (which you will have worked out for yourself no doubt) – how to transfer your weight from one foot to the next. Be awarene of your centre of gravity (usually around your belly button). The key is to rock your weight from one foot to the other fairly quickly and hit the next point of balance before moving on.


An everyday action like getting out of a seat requires rocking our weight from one point of balance to the next – a ‘rock-over’.

Rock-over exercises

Standing on the floor, raise your foot onto a bench and bounce up onto this foot. You have just performed a rock-over. This can be done with your hands at rst, but eventually you should be able to manage it without by gauging the amount of force needed to just arrive in balance. Too much and you fall over the foot you are rocking onto, too little and you end up back on the foot you started from.

Move onto a higher bench or a table, remembering to use both feet.


Rocking over onto a bench.
Rocking over onto a bench.

Try the move on a slabby wall, rocking up onto a foothold. Emphasise a dynamic and speedy movement to a point of balance. Visualise the next point of balance as your belly button or head moving to directly over the foot you are about to rock-over onto.

Rock over onto a slab
Rock over onto a slab

Now link a series of moves from foot to foot, each time concentrating on that point of balance.

Rocking over from standing on the floor,
a quick movement to re-establish yourself on a balanced position stood on the next hold, with the climbers belly button directly
in line with the foot.

You can demonstrate the shift of you centre of gravity from one foot to the other with a water bottle or weight hung from a belt in the small of your back (roughly where your centre of gravity normally is). The plumbline will hang directly over the foot you are balanced on.

Using a Plumbline to visual the point of balance.
Using a Plumbline to visual the point of balance.

The plumbline helps you visualise when you have reach a point of balance, when the weight is directly over the foot.

Try all this blindfolded (or just close your eyes) .You will need to rely on your sense of balance, rather than vision.

Advanced rock-over exercises

With well developed exibility you can attempt to place your foot beside your hand into a rock-over. This high stepping rock-over is particularly useful for the short, as well as on hard slabs. This will place strain on your groin, so build up slowly.

A high stepping rock over, where you match hand and foot before rocking over.

Stand side on when making the move and you will be able to step through onto the outside edge of your foot. Alternate stepping though with both your left and right foot to zig-zag upward.

Stepping through whilst rocking over
Stepping through whilst rocking over

Rock over tips

  • Move uidly, carried by momentum, between one foot and the other.
  • Hands can help you initiate and stop movement.
  • Concentrate on coming to rest on on one foot in balance.
  • Stand side on.
  • Pivot from facing one way to the other as you alternate the in which direction you headed.

Basic Climbing Techniques Overview

Imagine two identical twin climbers with equal strength, one uses good basic climbing techniques whilst the other doesn’t. The twin who uses their feet and body more effectively will be a far better climber. Rather than stumbling upon basic climbing techniques there are some essential building blocks which you can drill into yourself. In the following section there are some exercises that you can repeat and test on different climbing surfaces.

So that they can be repeated until they become second nature, many of the exercises need to be practiced on easy terrain. And by keeping the climbing simple we can gauge which techniques feel easier. For footwork excercises, small boulders can be very useful as hands are super uous. Otherwise start them on easy top-roped routes.

If you are already a climber, then you may have develop some poor technique, as such you effectively need to unlearn those techniques and learn the newer more efficient ones. This in itself presents all sorts of problems for the learner, as unlearning something is possibly harder then learning right the first time.

How Often Do I need to Train Basic Climbing Techniques?

You will need to regularly carry out these training drills to develop good fundamental technique over and over again. Until your default technique becomes the more efficient one. As you will find yourself if you haven’t spent the time relearning technique returning to the older less effective technique when you become stress.

As a rule of thumb, it is often worth spending the initial warm up of any climbing session focusing on technique. As first off the terrain should be easy and secondly focusing on this process rather than an outcome will help you to drive home these basic climbing techniques.



Hands Off Rests

Learning to climb with efficiency is all about saving energy. So finding a hands off rests or a little respite is a key component of good climbing technique. A hands of rest is a place where we can recover from a tricky section and shake out the lactic acid from our arms and even legs, but also a place to plan the next section of climbing from.

In the video above we cover several different type of rest, the first thing to do is practice them in isolation so you can recall them. The next step is to see what shape the wall/rock needs to be for you to get the rest. This ability to identify rests from below will give you islands of safety and rest to aim for.

Once you get to the rest remember to take a deep sooth breathe, this can help calm you down if on lead. As the rest can help you regain a composed and relaxed manner, as well as giving a physical rest. You might also be able to add to this relaxing feeling by placing gear from these restful positions when trad climbing.

Finally use the rests to plan the next section of a climb. Whether be a plan to get to the  next runner or rest. The rest or respites become a tactical component of your climbing, but essentially they are all just simple techniques based on the ability to identify the rest and use it.