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How to climb overhangs

Lets face it, overhangs are cool. Climbing them feels good and looks good, but when you try overhanging climbing for the first time it can feel impossible. Your feet keep swinging off and your arms soon run out of power. Does this sound familiar? If so read on...

Climbing overhangs is all about the technique. Just like any type of climbing, overhangs are all about footwork and body placement. Ok, there is some arm power involved, but not as much as you think! It is possible to climb a steep overhang without doing a single pull up.

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If you put your feet on the rock some of your body weight is taken off your arms. Not a massive amount but anything is better than all your weight on your arms. Keeping your feet on does require some core body strength so start doing some sit-ups.

The most important part of overhanging climbing is twisting your body. This photo shows that if you place you right foot on the wall, your right hip can twist so it is touching the wall. This mean you can reach up with your right arm, without having to do a pull up.

Here left foot is placed on the wall, but not a foot hold. The left foot is used to keep the climber balanced. This might mean it is placed on the wall or left swinging in mid air.

Here is another example, the climber on the left is twisting but the climber on the right is not. Note of the climber on the right is having to contract the left arm to reach the handhold. The left-hand climber is performing the move well. The right foot is placed on the wall and the left is holding the climber in a balanced position as he reaches upwards. Notice how the right foot is pointing to the left, unless you point the foot in the correct direction you will not be able to twist the hip against the wall.

There are a number of ways of twisting the body whilst rock climbing. The far left photo shows an "inside flag". This is done when you can't place the correct foot on the hold (right foot when reaching for a right handhold). This photo shows the climber reaching with his left arm but using the right foot. The left foot has been crossed between the wall and the right leg. This allows the body to twist.

The middle left is the simple twist explained above. This is called a back step.

The last two photos show a move called a drop knee. This is used when the foot holds are to either side of the climber. The feet are placed on the two foot holds, but one foot is twisted so the toes point downwards. Rotating the left foot will bring the left hip next to the wall and allow the climber to reach with the left arm.


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