Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight? (4 Things You Need to Know)

I’ve been asked countless times whether rock climbing can help lose weight. If you visit a climbing gym, you’ll notice that about 80% of the population have good muscle tone. People are fit but they don’t look bulky like bodybuilders do. And this makes you wonder about the health benefits of rock climbing.

Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight? Yes, you’ll burn an incredible amount of calories because you exercise every bit of your body with it! Just make sure that you don’t consume more calories than you burn. You won’t be bored with rock climbing because it feels like play rather than monotonous exercise. And the positive, chill and enthusiastic community will pretty much add more motivation for you to be consistent. | Rad Rookies
Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight?

A rock climber showing his focus in climbing the purple climb route.
A rock climber showing his focus in climbing the purple climb route. You will lose weight if you climb regularly.

From a health perspective, I suggest that you change your mindset. Focus on getting strong and fit rather than losing weight. After all, you can lose a lot of weight but if you don’t feel happy about yourself, then you’ll revert to your old habits. But if you feel strong and good about yourself, then you are likely to be consistent and continue your progress.

“Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight? Yes! You’ll burn an incredible amount of calories with it!”

#1. But I’m really fat! Won’t Rock Climbing be too difficult for me? | Rad Rookies
Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight?

Don't worry because there are beginner walls. Climb now to lose weight!
Am I too FAT-bulous for climbing? 😛 Don’t worry because there are beginner walls. Climb now to lose weight!

Can you climb a ladder? If yes, then you can climb the beginner walls! 🙂

Rock Climbing has progressive levels. This means that there are beginner walls that are easy to climb. These walls can be climbed by overweight, malnourished and physically weak people. And it is a good starting point for your rock climbing journey! The rock holds you’ll use are big for your hands to grab and feet to step on.

“If you can climb a ladder, then you can climb the beginner walls!”

Beginners can climb a “rainbow route” or use any holds that look handy. And once you become used to it, you’ll probably look for a little bit of challenge to test your progress. Try one of the easiest climbing routes when you feel like the “rainbow route” is becoming too easy. | Rad Rookies
Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight?

There are beginner walls you can start with.
The left (blue) and the right (pink) walls are beginner walls. You can ascend them if you can climb a ladder! Photo of Power UP Climbing Gym Tandang Sora. 🙂

Keep in mind that climbing is a failure driven sport. You’ll see even the intermediate and advanced level climbers fall regularly too. And there is no shame in that! Treat every fall as a stepping stone for your fitness journey!

You might also want to use hand protection if you’ll be rock climbing for the first time.

#2. Which muscles will I work out if I climb?

In general, rock climbing will give you a full body workout. The more muscle groups you use, the higher the calories you burn and the more fats you lose. And this is why rock climbing is really good if you wish to lose weight. | Rad Rookies
Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight?

Outdoor climber reaching for chalk. 

Photo credit: Noel Cabauatan
An outdoor climber reaching for chalk. Check out his chiseled back and low fat percentage body! You can look like this if you get consistent in climbing and lose weight! (Photo credit: Noel Cabauatan)

I’m assuming that you are a beginner who will try the easy walls for the first time. In this section, I provide you a list of muscle groups that you should expect to get sore. (I wrote the list in order of which muscle groups get sore first)

  • Arms – Beginners, especially men, will tend to use their arms more for climbing. This is the first muscle group that will get sore because you aren’t used to getting power from your legs yet.
  • Core – You’ll feel your midsection get a lot of workout especially if you try inclined walls. Keeping your core tight will help your body get closer to the wall, thus reducing the possibility of a fall.
  • Back – This large muscle group handles a lot of workload when you climb. They work with your arms and core to keep you stable on the wall.
  • Legs – Proper climbing technique relies a lot on the power of your legs. This muscle group will be under used until you improve your technique. Using your legs to push yourself up will reduce the workload of your arms and core.
  • Glutes – You have to improve your climbing technique before you feel your glutes get sore. Your glutes will provide extra power to your legs when you move yourself upward.

“The more muscle groups you use, the higher the calories you burn and the more weight you lose.”

And when you advance further, you’ll workout even your extremities such as your fingers and toes. You’ll be surprised by how much stronger you can get from consistent rock climbing.

#3. Climbing feels like play rather than exercise

I understand why a lot of people don’t like hitting the gym. I used to work out in a weight lifting gym and it often felt monotonous. Lifting weights and running on a treadmill can get pretty boring fast. I always needed to put my earphones on just to motivate myself to continue. It felt like a chore and I wouldn’t be doing it if I wasn’t concerned for my health. | Rad Rookies
Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight?

Advanced climbers horse playing at the gym
Advanced Climbers playing around the bouldering area. Power UP Climbing Gym Tandang Sora.

This is where rock climbing shines! Rock climbing is a functional full body workout that can bring out the kid in you! 

“Rock Climbing feels like a game of solving puzzles while working out”

Each wall and route has its own character and challenges. It is so varied that you’ll never get bored! Not only will you workout your body but you’ll also train your problem solving skills. | Rad Rookies
Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight?

Climbers doing specific routes or problems.
Each climber in this picture is solving a specific route. The left most climber is restricted to only the purple rock holds. The one next to him uses only orange rock holds. Power UP Climbing Gym Centro Atletico.

When you climb a route, restricted holds, you’ll discover that there are moves that work and moves that don’t. It’s like a puzzle!

You’ll have to develop strategies based on your own physical structure, strength and flexibility. A strategy that works for you may be difficult for another person and vice versa.

All in all, there is always a sense of accomplishment every time you climb one hold higher.

#4. Community Motivation | Rad Rookies
Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight?

Group photo of climbing community in the Philippines.
Not only will you lose weight, but you’ll also develop a more positive attitude in life. Group photo of rock climbers in Power UP Climbing Gym ROX BGC.

Their grit is infectious! 

I mentioned earlier that rock climbing is a failure driven sport. Everyone experience falls in their projects but they don’t stay down. They stand up, study their climb routes once more and try again. Everyone is encouraged to try and try until they surpass their current limit.

“If you climb, you’ll build the heart to always stand up after a fall… and try again.”

It is hard to give up when your environment is filled with people pushing themselves regularly. Their grit is infectious! 🙂

If you climb, you’ll build the courage to always stand up after a fall and try again. You’ll develop your own grit. Later on, you’ll find weight loss as a small and very achievable aspect of the sport. And you might even wonder why you had trouble losing weight in the first place. 🙂

Chill and Enthusiastic Attitude

The general attitude of climbers is positive. Up until now, I’m still amazed by how supportive the climbing community is. Everyday is like a gathering for very chill and enthusiastic people. There are shy people too who just keep it to themselves. But douchebags? I haven’t met any yet.

“Dominated by chill and enthusiastic people all over the world!”

I haven’t met many any kind of asshole in my climbing gym. So I did some research on how it is for other countries too. And surprisingly, it is dominated by chill and enthusiastic people again.

Filters Out Egoistic People

I guess that the failure driven culture of climbing filters out egocentric people. I’ve encountered a few bodybuilders who belittled climbing. They thought it was too easy so they skipped the beginner walls and went straight for the intermediate routes. Long story short, they had a very humbling experience and never returned.

“Cast your pride aside or… be naturally casted away”

You’ll learn to conquer your ego. Thoughts like “not wanting to look ridiculous” or “one upping others” won’t help you here. In fact, you should cast them aside and let a more positive attitude to cultivate.

Filled with Very Friendly and Warm People

You’ll come back regularly because the climbing gym is filled with warm people you can easily befriend. Heck, I know a lot who goes out for drinks after every climb session!

No one will ridicule you even if you think your climbing looks weird. Everyone who stayed in climbing will be able to relate because they’ve been there before. They know that rock climbing is a challenging activity. This is why they’d love to give you advice should you need one (we call this “beta”).

“Everyone will encourage you. No one will ridicule you.”

The people you’d meet here will encourage you to always try your best. You’ll enjoy the company of climbers and end up going back regularly to the Climbing Gym. And if your immediate goal is to “Lose Weight”, then you’ll achieve it in no time! (P.S. Just make sure you don’t eat or drink too much 😛 )

Final Thoughts on “Rock Climbing to Lose Weight”

Rock Climbing is an intense activity that will make you burn a tremendous amount of calories! And in order to lose weight, all you need to do is make sure that you don’t consume more calories than you burn. You can find a sample computation in this article.

I hope this article was helpful to you! You can also read how I spent my 20 hours of active rock climbing time and use it as a guide. If you enjoyed reading this, then share it on facebook! And if you want to read more content like this, then subscribe to my mailing list. Have fun rock climbing! Be good at anything fast and be a rad rookie! 🙂

37 thoughts on “Can Rock Climbing Help Lose Weight? (4 Things You Need to Know)”

  1. This is a very good info especially for a chubby person like me. Right from the beginning, I was already thinking, “Nah, I can’t do that because it’s not for fat people.” And guess what was the number 1 tip? Yup. I was wrong in thinking I couldn’t. Makes me want to find a local centre where rock-climbing is offered. Thanks for sharing the info.

    1. Hi Ria! I’m glad that you feel like going to a local rock climbing center after reading my article. 😀

      Yes, you can still climb even if you are chubby. It’s just a matter of progressive climbing. And after a few months of climbing, you’ll really ask yourself “why did I find it so hard to lose weight before?”. haha 😉

  2. I think this is something I should try to lose my weight :D, but I wish my husband will accompany me to do so :D. Thanks for sharing, I’ll show this to my husband and hopefully, I can convince him, cause he needed to lose that weight than mine 😀

    1. Hi Erk! Yes, rock climbing is a great way to burn calories! And couple it with eating healthy, it’ll make your weight loss faster. 😉

      Rock Climbing is FUN and therefore easy to be consistent at (unlike going to the gym that can be boring, haha).

      1. Well, if you are very overweight, then you can start with deep breathing exercises and plant based diet first. 🙂

    1. I am totally recommending rock climbing to my friends who want to lose weight right away. Will visiting a rock climbing gym, let’s say twice a week, be more effective that cardio 6 times a week? This is given that my friend is on a strict diet..

      1. You can start with once a week, then twice a week and finally thrice a week. In terms of losing weight, I found it a lot more effective than simple cardio.

    1. Hi Nicole, it is valid to feel scared at first. I was scared of it at the beginning too! haha

      Once you get past your initial fear, you’ll find rock climbing is a very FUN exercise. 🙂

  3. Blairvillanueva

    I never tried rock climbing, however it seems a good exercise, and helps to strengthen the body. I wouldn’t mind to try someday 🙂

  4. Can I assume the beginner walls also address potential bouts of acrophobia? That’s really my most pressing concern. And the fear is real, ot imagined. I almost get paralyzed trying to walk across a wooden suspension bridge.

    1. I’ll share something about me… I am also afraid of heights. And yes, the fear is valid because there are consequences if you climb UNSAFE.

      My acrophobia was addressed by BOTH the beginner walls AND safety climbing equipment. Beginners are always taught how to use a harness and how to belay your partner so both of you are protected from a fall. 🙂

      I actually TESTED the safety equipment by emulating falls. First at a low height, then from a 2 floor building height, and finally from the max wall height. My fear reduced dramatically because I learned to trust my climbing equipment through TESTS. haha

    1. Very informative article about Rock climbing. I am inspired to try it not as a sport yet, but maybe as a pastime? Specially that I feel like not going to the gym but this can make me lose weight too!

      I also like the idea of having a supportive community. Sharing the same passion with people — makes you want to do more!

      1. Hi Danica! Yes, it is a fun hobby! You’ll be surprised that a lot of girls climb too. Many of them started climbing as a past time or a fun way to get fit.

        Also, you’ll gain a lot of friends from the supportive community. 🙂

    2. It is a great and fun activity! Come join me at Power UP Climbing Gyms. Their rates are much more affordable than their competitors, haha

  5. I have been wanting to try wall climbing but never had a chance. And yes, being overweight make me afraid to go and try it. Maybe I’ll ask my husband to accompany me.

    1. Yes, give it a try! You can try the POWER UP Climbing Gyms.

      The rock climbing community is a very supportive bunch. You can ask almost everyone for climbing advice. 🙂

  6. I have always wanted to try rock climbing for the thrill of being at high places. I guess I’ll be doing it soon – for a fun way to stay fit, as my metabolism slows with age.

    1. Try Rock Climbing! It is suuuuper fun! And you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll improve your metabolism. 🙂

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