Is Rock Climbing A Good Workout?


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Rock climbing is not just an exceptional workout for your physical body; it also engages your mind as you try to solve the puzzle of a route on the rock and triggers your emotions as you face your fear on the wall. If you’re looking to get into a sport that challenges you completely and serves as both cardio training and strength-building exercise, then rock climbing may be what you need.
If you are just starting out, you may not realize how physically, mentally, and emotionally difficult the sport of rock climbing can be. But if you’re a seasoned pro, you know rock climbing is one of the best whole body (and mind) workouts you can do.
And it doesn’t matter whether you are indoors at a climbing gym or soaking up the beautiful sun from your local rock; rock climbing is a good workout, period.

Body systems developed by climbing

  • Cardio

Not really a runner? Struggling to climb hills on a two-wheeled bicycle? Do you dread the monotony of the indoor treadmill?

Do not worry; you can get in your cardio and have fun at the same time with… you guessed it – rock climbing!

If you are climbing outdoors, the approach to the boulder, which can range from a few steps to a few miles, often serves as a thrilling warm-up for your day of climbing.

Many approaches involve going up steep inclines or walking for miles on windy, rocky trails while carrying a heavy backpack, which increases your heart rate and warms up your muscles.

Once you hit the wall, whether it’s after a cliff-walking approach or a drive to your local indoor gym, it’s recommended that you prep your muscles with some dynamic climbing-specific warm-up stretches to avoid injury.

This warm-up period can serve as light cardio because it’s designed to get your heart pumping blood to your cold muscles and preparing your cardiovascular system for the upcoming cardio-intensive climb.

When you attach the pointed end of the rope (or attach the locking carabiner to your harness), you’re ready to start climbing the wall and the real cardiovascular workout will begin.

A 2004 study at a university in Canada found that rock climbing is even more of an aerobic activity than originally thought.

The dynamic and rapid movements involved in climbing a 30- to 80-foot vertical wall require your heart rate to increase in order to send enough blood to all of your engaging muscles as you grasp the holds and you move along the wall.

Plus, if you’re climbing for more than an hour at a time with breaks in between, you’re essentially doing interval training which is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and feel great

  • Agility

Rock climbing and bouldering (short climbing, intense “problems” without a rope) require you to be quick on your feet and move efficiently and gracefully, which means you need to be fit and agile to play the sport. for an extended period of time.

You don’t have to start with a high level of agility (or grace), of course.

Most people find the first time they climb they are exhausted after just a few routes or an hour of trying to climb the wall and they have to take a break before coming back in a few days.

Once you get over this beginner bump (which usually takes 3-6 months) you will find that your sense of balance and overall agility in everyday life as well as on the wall has improved dramatically, all thanks to the unique complex physical movements required. for a good climbing technique.

If you climb a few days a week for a few hours at a time, you’ll be fit as a fox and agile like a chimp in no time, scaling walls, and overcoming obstacles that surprised you with a new sense of self-confidence. ability to move your body in ways you never thought possible.


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  • Strength

In case that isn’t obvious when you think about the effort involved in hoisting your body straight onto a vertical surface with little (read: no) support from gravity, climbing actually builds strength.

It’s part of what makes rock climbing such a fantastic body workout – not only do you improve your aerobic and agility abilities, but you also engage an impressive number of major muscle groups as you climb a steep cliff. .

The areas of your body where you will see the most improvement after a few months of steady climbing are your core, arms (especially your forearms and biceps), and back.

Your legs also make a good workout because, contrary to popular belief, climbers don’t really pull themselves up against the wall with pure Hulk strength.

Your arms are important for climbing, of course, but they’re only part of the equation for reaching the top. If you want a little inspiration and a reminder that rock climbing isn’t about hand or arm strength, just look at Maureen Beck, who manages to climb 5.12 (a difficult intermediate level) with only an arm and a half!

She, along with all the other experienced climbers, intelligently uses her legs to keep her hips close to the wall, increasing her sense of balance and sculpting her quads and calves to be as hard as the rocks she chooses to. to climb.

Will rock climbing help me lose weight?

Many people find rock climbing fun and an effective way to exercise, with the goal of losing weight and improving their appearance. This is not a bad goal to strive for, but keep in mind that rock climbing is a sport that requires a certain level of investment before you start to see physical results.

Because rock climbing is such an intense aerobic activity and requires a healthy body weight to be a lasting physical activity, if you devote yourself to the sport of rock climbing, you will undoubtedly start to notice a significant change in your body composition after climbing for a few months.

Aerobic exercise like rock climbing inevitably burns calories, which helps you maintain healthy body weight and improves your ability to climb the wall, in turn increasing your sense of self-confidence and mental motivation.

A climber weighing around 160 pounds climbing at a medium intensity level will burn 8-10 calories/minute (up to 600 calories in an hour!). And, the dynamic movements involved in a rock climb challenge the whole body, which is more tiring and effective for losing weight and building muscle than repetitive movements like running on a treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike. the sports room.


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How Does Rock Climbing Compare to Other Cardio Workouts?

If you’re new to rock climbing but have been a gym rat for decades, you might be wondering if rock climbing is a good replacement or supplement to your weekly workouts.

Many people who run or cycle for fitness on a regular basis also find themselves in this dilemma, as rock climbing is definitely an aerobic exercise, although it may feel less like cardio and more like fun.

A lot of people are wondering how you can be sure that you are having a good workout when you are having such a good time climbing the wall?

Isn’t exercise supposed to be hard and make you feel like you really have to work out for it?

That’s the thing about rock climbing, though – it’s a smart way to get cardiovascular activity and work on increasing your strength and flexibility while having the best time of your life!

Running and cycling are arguably two of the most intense aerobic activities a person can engage in – you’re sure to lose weight, build muscle (especially in the lower body), and improve. you’re endurance if you run or cycle a few. times a week for one hour at a time.


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a climber weighing around 160 lbs / 72 kg climbing at a medium intensity level will burn 8-10 calories/minute (up to 600 calories in an hour!)

But did you know that you can achieve the same results and increase your mental sharpness and emotional stability through rock climbing?

When you climb the wall, whether indoors or outdoors, you are working your heart (increasing your cardiovascular health), your body (improving your strength in all areas of your body, not just the lower half), and your head (improving your mental clarity and balancing your emotional responses). I bet you can’t get all of that and the social aspect of spending time with other climbers in the field through your daily running practice!

Of course, there is some benefit to combining your climbing habit with gym workouts and other cardiovascular exercises like running or swimming, but these other exercises are just extra fuel for the fire. that will take you up the next time you decide to climb.

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