1st May 2010


I am almost 53 yrs old and have been climbing for 10 years. (yes I know I started a little late) I don't meet many women my age so I am not sure if there is anything in particular I should be doing differently, although I still seem to be getting stronger. Unfortunately I have a muscular build and large breasts. I am 5' 5" and weigh 130lbs. Would I climb stronger if I were lighter? It seems most advanced women climbers are very tiny


I’m glad to hear you feel you’re getting stronger; it’s nice to hear some positive words. It is true to say that the top climbers are small and power to weight ratio is very important in climbing. But I would question what type of climbing you want to do and get better at. Obviously, if you are into really steep stuff then the power to weight ratio really matters. But if you are into more technical vertical/slabby stuff then technique becomes more important than power. So it would be worth you working out where your priorities lie.

To be honest your weight sounds absolutely fine, especially as you say, you have a lot of muscle. As we all know- muscle weighs more than fat! There isn’t much than can be done about large breast, genetics took a hand there. I remember being disappointed and resigned to being the girl in the class with a pair of fried eggs but to be honest, it suits me just fine. I wouldn’t have relished having large breasts to contend with…if women lose weight breasts can decrease in size as they are made up of fatty tissue. But you do see stick thin women with sizeable breasts, I don’t really know how that works and I don’t have an answer to that one.

It could be worth you trying to steer clear of repetitive crimpy holds. Not great at any age but with age, joints become less pliable and vulnerable to damage, so there’s no point speeding up the process of rheumatism etc. Also, it would be good to get into a regular stretching routine- maybe joining a good yoga class for example. It doesn’t need to be full on but climbing is quite harsh on the body and if you already have bulky muscles, then climbing will only exacerbate this. If they aren’t kept pliable and flexible, you could develop some posture problems and overdevelop climbing muscles whilst neglecting others. Yoga is a fantastic discipline that manages to utilise the whole body and keep things balanced. When I have neglected my yoga (i.e. At the moment!) I start to really feel my age, probably older and it makes me realise how beneficial it is to general well being and body longevity.

Keep the climbing going and watch those muscles.