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Habit Climbing


Once you’ve constructed your wall, you’ve only to put the finishing touches on it before you can start using it. This is usually the easiest and most fun part of the process.

If you haven’t done so already, you’ll want to:

  • treat the plywood (if you didn’t use pre-made wall panels)
  • thoroughly sand all edges
  • pad the landing area

If you want to get fancy, you can add flare and functionality to your wall by designing and adding features—that is, large three-dimensional shapes that protrude beyond the wall’s main surface. These can be created with spare plywood. The most common and easiest to build are  three- and four-sided, pyramidal prisms. Don’t forget to put holes and t-nuts in the features!

Next, you’ll want to make the space as a whole more useable. Chalk dust, especially in small, enclosed areas, can be difficult to deal with, and can present health problems. As such, you’ll want to make sure your space is decently ventilated. Ensuring ventilation might be as simple as opening the garage door—but if your gym is located in a basement (with limited windows and doors), you will have to get creative with this one. The more climbers your gym will see, the more you’ll have to address the ventilation issue.

JForth image;

Following are some other things to think about. These will make your gym more enjoyable to use (and therefore eventually make you stronger, by making you more likely to train):

  • good lighting
  • good (enough) sound system
  • comfortable “rest zone”
  • a problem book (if you plan to fill your wall with tons of holds, rather than tape individual problems)
  • motivational adornments
  • training apparatus
  • stretching space

Good lighting can be easy and relatively cheap to set up. You can go to the thrift store to get floor lamps, or to the hardware store to buy work lamps—either the clip-on or the hook-on variety. In general, the more light sources you have the better—as multiple lights will not only make the space brighter, but it will also help eliminate eye-straining shadows and contrast.

Steve A Johnson image;

A massive sound system is not absolutely critical, but a fairly decent one will certainly motivate you to train much harder and longer than a silent gym (or a crappy radio). However, don’t spend a lot of money in this department. No matter how well ventilated your space is, chalk dust will eventually ruin any system you put in it. You’d be wise to do a craigslist or thrift store purchase in this department.

As much as possible, you want to make your space comfortable to be in. And part of a comfortable gym is a comfortable rest zone. Consider getting a craigslist couch if you have the space. As much as possible, you want to outfit your gym with a good “hang” so that you’re naturally encouraged to rest enough between burns.

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If you plan to fill your gym’s walls with holds, rather than set individual problems (a common approach for getting the most out of a compact gym) you’ll want to keep a binder or blank notebook in the gym to serve as a “problem book.” That way, you can invent warm ups, training problems and even projects on the wall, and record them for yourself and friends.

If you’re like many people, you might find it useful to stock your gym with magazines, books and posters on climbing and training. Just like a note on the refrigerator can help a dieter avoid extra calories, pictures and stories of successful climbers can encourage you to push it a little harder each training session.

Speaking of training: if you’re motivated enough to build a home climbing gym, you’re likely also motivated enough to train for rock climbing (beyond just climbing). As such, you’ll want to fill your gym with training apparatus like pullup bars/ rings, free weights, therabands and campus rungs. If these items live in your home gym, you’re much more likely to use them when you should: right after your climbing workout.

Finally, if you don’t want to get injured in your new gym, you’d be wise to incorporate a space for stretching. As with training, the best time to stretch is right after you’ve finished your workout—when your muscles are warm, and you’re the longest before your next workout, time-wise. If you’re prone to injuries but don’t stretch regularly, you’d be amazed how much of a difference a regular stretching routine will make in the health of your soft tissue.



Habit Climbing recommends consulting with an engineer whenever building a home gym. Our ideas are for consideration only, and should not replace advice of an expert. 




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