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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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! 🙂