Getting a Grip: The Ultimate Guide to Rock Climbing Holds

Hey there, thrill-seekers and vertical adventurers! Welcome to your ultimate crash course on rock climbing holds. Whether you're new to the idea of defying gravity or a seasoned climber with chalk-stained hands, understanding the diverse world of holds can truly elevate your climbing game.

This guide doesn’t just discuss lumps of rock on a wall. We're diving deep into the nitty-gritty of jugs, crimps, pinches, and everything in between. We'll show you how to get a grip on our ultimate guide to rock climbing holds, from their shapes to their styles, and how to pick the ideal shapes for your indoor climbing wall.

Rock Climbing Hold Shapes

The first method of choosing rock climbing holds for an indoor wall is by shape. Keep reading to learn about the common shapes climbers find on indoor walls.


Slopers are one of the most challenging types of rock climbing hold. They're characterized by a rounded, sloping surface that requires you to use your body's tension to stay on them.

These holds are common on overhangs, making them even more difficult to grip. Slopers are great for building upper body strength and honing your technique.


Jugs are the opposite of slopers. These holds have a large surface that is easy to grip with your entire hand. They're often found on beginner routes and are great for building confidence and developing proper gripping techniques.

Don't rely too much on jugs; you'll miss out on the challenge and variety of other hold shapes.


Crimps are small, thin holds that require climbers to use their fingertips to grip them. They're typically found on vertical or slightly overhanging routes and can be challenging for beginners. However, crimps are essential for developing finger strength and precision in climbing.


Pinches are holds that require you to pinch them with your thumb and fingers. They're usually found on vertical or slightly overhanging routes, and their difficulty level can vary depending on the angle of the hold.

Pinches are a great way to build hand and forearm strength and improve your grip endurance. However, they can also put a lot of strain on your fingers, so listen to your body and take breaks when needed.


Pockets are small holes or indentations in the rock that require using your fingertips to grip onto them. They can be shallow or deep, making them a challenging hold for climbers of all levels. Pockets are great for developing finger strength and coordination. However, make sure to properly warm up your fingers before attempting to climb on pockets, as they can be strenuous on your tendons.


Footholds are small, flat ledges or edges used to push off and gain leverage on the wall. They're essential for maintaining balance and stability while climbing. Depending on their size, angle, and shape, these holds range from easy to extremely challenging.


Rails are long, narrow holds that require you to use your entire hand to grip them. They're often found on overhangs and are for pulling yourself up or traversing the wall. Rails are great for building upper body strength and improving technique.

Roof Jugs

Roof jugs are large, and positive holds are found on the underside of roofs. They're essential for navigating roof sections and can be a fun challenge for more advanced climbers. These holds require you to use your body's momentum and coordination to climb overhangs successfully.


Volumes are large, three-dimensional shapes attached to the wall as holds. They come in various sizes and angles and require your entire body to grip them. Volumes add a unique element of creativity and problem-solving to your climb.

Don't be afraid to experiment with different ways of using volumes, as they can provide endless possibilities for routes and challenges.

Rock Climbing Hold Styles

Climbers can also shop for rock climbing wall holds by style, otherwise known as their appearance or texture.


Basic holds are simple in design and can be found on most beginner routes. They're easy to grasp and provide a good foundation for learning proper climbing techniques.


Facets are holds with multiple flat surfaces, giving them a more complex appearance. They require you to use different parts of your hand and body to grip, making for an interesting challenge.


Divot holds have small indentations or pockets on their surface, adding extra difficulty for climbers. These holds require you to be precise and use your fingertips to grip the divots.


Omni-directional holds have multiple angles and surfaces, making it difficult to predict how to grip them. These holds require you to be creative and think outside the box to climb on them successfully.

Sandstone, Limestone, and Dripstone

Rock climbing holds can also replicate real rock formations climbers could find in outdoor rock climbing. Sandstone holds tend to have a rougher, grainy texture, while limestone holds are smoother and more polished. Dripstone holds are formed by mineral deposits and have a unique, sometimes slippery surface.

Granite, Patina, and Mudplate

Other common holds that mimic outdoor rock formations are granite, patina, and mudplate. Granite holds are typically rough and coarse, while patina holds have a smoother surface with distinctive markings. Mudplate holds have a muddy, slippery texture that can be quite challenging for climbers.

Choosing the Right Holds for You and Your Wall

When decking out your indoor climbing haven, think of holds as the spice rack of your vertical kitchen—variety is the key! With some crimps, a dash of slopers, and a pinch of pinches you can season your climbs with just the right flavor.

Texture also plays a massive role; you want the Goldilocks grip— not too rough or smooth, just right to challenge your skin and grip without turning your hands into a shredded mess. And then there's grip strength! Hold selection should cater to strengthening those climber paws and building beefy forearms.

Find the Best Climbing Holds at Atomik Climbing Holds

Well, climbers, we've reached the end of our ultimate guide to getting a grip on rock climbing holds. Now that your fingers are itching to grip, pinch, and press their way to climbing glory, remember the ultimate destination for all your hold needs is just a climb away.

Atomik Climbing Holds has every shape, style, and challenge level to up your climbing game. Whether decking out your home wall with a smorgasbord of styles or looking for that perfect hold to conquer your nemesis route, Atomik has the variety and quality to bring your climbing adventures to new heights. Climb on, friends, and turn those vertical dreams into reality!

Getting a Grip: The Ultimate Guide to Rock Climbing Holds

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