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Guide to Indoor Bouldering Holds

Many beginners struggle with understanding the types of holds and their purpose. Indoor climbing walls are distinguished by their different holds that require specific techniques. Learn more!

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It’s time to learn about the different types of holds. Indoor climbing walls are distinguished by their different holds that require specific techniques.

Finger Buckets

Finger buckets are a type of grip that, as the name implies, fits on your fingers. To use them, you simply place your index finger into the bucket and wrap your thumb around the outside of it. They're recommended for more difficult climbs because they help climbers take more weight off their feet while climbing and allow them to reach higher while still keeping their feet on the wall. Finger buckets can also be used in conjunction with other grips like jugs and pinches.

Finger bucket holds are most commonly found on overhangs or routes that have high difficulty levels (the harder a route is rated). A good example would be at Montreal's Crux Rock Gym where there are many climbs for beginners as well as several bouldering problems for experienced climbers to get creative with!


Slopers are the easiest holds to grab. They're also good for beginners, because they allow you to get a feel for how to grip and hold onto a climbing hold without having to worry about precision. Slopers are great for warming up before climbing. As they're easier than other types of holds, it's easy to practice pulling yourself up onto them, which helps build strength and endurance in your forearms—the key area that determines whether or not you can climb well. Slopers are also good for cooling down after climbing; despite being relatively easy, they still require some effort from your hands, so they're good at burning off excess energy from your body after a long session on harder moves like pockets and crimps.

Slopers can also be used as resting points during longer climbs (for example: if you're attempting a big wall). This is because slopers require less physical exertion than other types of holds do; therefore it's easier for an advanced climber who has exhausted their supply of energy reserves during their climb and needs some time off before continuing with another section."


Jugs are the large, easy-to-grip holds that make bouldering so much fun. These are the holds that you'll see in almost every climbing gym in the world, and for good reason: they're easy to hold onto. They're great for beginners, who need something easy to grab at first so they can learn how to move up and down the wall without falling off. But they aren't just good for beginners—jugs are also perfect for advanced climbers who want an extra challenge or people who are short or tall (because many standard jugs come in different sizes)


Finger crimps are small holds that use the fingers. When you climb on a finger crimp, you'll feel it in your fingers and palm. Finger crimps are common in gyms and outdoors because they can be used to add difficulty or make up for other types of holds that may not be available in certain areas. Finger cracks are another type of hold that uses your fingers and palm to grip onto an edge or groove on the surface of a rock face or artificial wall. They're generally no wider than two inches across, so these types of grips require good hand strength as well as technical skill when climbing them!


Pinches are holds that you can pinch with your fingers. They are usually sloping and easy to hold on to, but can be difficult because they're so small.

Open Handed Grips

Open-handed grips are used to help you reach the next hold. A good way to use open hand grips is to press down on the hold with one hand and use your other hand to reach for the next hold. This helps you get out of a pinch when you don't have any feet on a wall or if there aren't any footholds available. Open hand grips can also be used when climbing an overhang, which is when it's difficult for your feet to reach holds that are above you because they're too far away from each other or too high up on the wall (or ceiling). To do this, grab onto both sides of an open-handed grip and pull yourself up until your body is parallel with the floor or wall below; then reposition yourself so that one foot rests on top of that hold while your other foot remains anchored in place below it. You'll want at least one foot securely planted before attempting this maneuver—if there isn't anything solid where it needs to go then chances are good that neither will be able to support much weight!


Pockets are a great tool for intermediate climbers to use during their indoor training sessions. Pockets are cylindrical shapes that fit in the hand and help you grab onto the wall, allowing you to climb more easily.

Pockets come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, so there’s something for everyone! There are big pockets and small pockets, wide pockets and narrow ones…the options are endless. You can also find pockets with varying depths—the deeper they go into the wall, the less likely they will be to break off when placed incorrectly on a hold (a problem that often happens with shallow pockets).

When using these holds during an indoor climbing session or competition, remember these tips:

  • Always clean your holds thoroughly before climbing on them—you don’t want dirt getting stuck under your nails if possible!
  • Don’t pinch between your fingers when holding on; instead try using all four fingers together when possible as it will distribute weight better across your hand versus just two fingers per hold (unless otherwise specified).
  • Try not overreach around corners by placing one hand above another; instead reach from side-to-side so both hands stay within arm's reach from one another at all times during movement across different levels of difficulty within this area known as “The Wall".


Gastons are a type of hold that is usually found on overhangs. They are used for pulling and hanging, and they are flat and wide. Gastons are often located at the end of routes, where climbers will grab them to pull themselves up onto a ledge or overhang. Gastons can be made out of wood or plastic, depending on the material used in your climbing gym's walls.

The more you climb, the easier all of these holds will become.

As you gain experience, the more these holds will feel familiar—you will have a better sense of how much grip you need and what kind of grip you can use. As your climbing skills improve, so too will your ability to determine which grip is most appropriate for any given hold.

It's important to practice on a variety of angles as well; this will help make it easier for you to recognize whether or not a hold is suitable for climbing on (and therefore worth spending time with).


Climbing is a wonderful way to build strength, endurance, and confidence. It’s also a great way to challenge yourself and have fun with friends or family. Hopefully, this guide has given you some insight into the different kinds of holds in indoor climbing gyms so that you can take your climbing to the next level. Remember that the best way to improve your skills is through practice! That means finding the climbs and holds that work for you—and then getting out there and climbing as much as possible!

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