Inspiration Rock Climb Training

How Climbing Can Give You the Best Rock Climber Body

Rock climbing benefits go far beyond the obvious. When you train for rock climbing, not only will you be able to move up in climbing grades and send harder routes, but you will also, with a little bit of planning and guidance, get the ideal rock climber body. Rock climbing is a full-body sport, so many of the exercises related to training for rock climbing will tone your arms, core, and even legs. Coupled with proper nutrition, rock climbing will give you your best body and climbers physique in no time!

Get ready to be the best version of you! | rock climbing body transformation
Get ready to be the best version of you!

Climbing Strength Training

A lot of rock climbing ability is strongly correlated to pure strength. Being able to do finger pull-ups and pushups (both normal push ups and dips), for example, will certainly help you get to the top of a climb. Especially when a wall is overhung with varied rock climbing holds that aren’t jugs, your strength and finger grip is the key to conquering big moves and powering to the top. You can start with training board workouts and finger hangs and then progressively adding weight.

Conveniently, the type of strength that you will need to gain for climbing will also help give you strong lean climbing muscle and a good build and form.

The weight room isn't just for weight lifters - Build climbing strength
The weight room isn’t just for weight lifters.

Rock climbing body building

Many climbers develop a climbing strength training routine alongside their regular climbing to maximise their potential.. Some of the following gym and home exercises are beneficial to modern rock climbing, as well as to your overall health and strength.

Arm and back exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, bicep/ tricep curls, wide-lat pulldowns, and triceps dips will be extremely helpful for gaining climbing-specific strength. Additionally, exercises that help with explosive/ dynamic strength, such as jumping rope, box jumps, and burpees, are also guaranteed to keep you in a great physical form.

What Happens To Your Body When You Climb | w/ Shauna Coxsey

Whatever you do, don’t skip leg day. Leg strength is just as important as your upper body strength, and actually an area in which many hobby climbers are lacking. High-steps and heel hooks require strong thighs, quads, and calves, and a decent amount of flexibility. Weighted squats, pistol squats, and calf raises can be great exercises for targeting the specific leg muscles that we climbers need, along with sculpting your lower half. Regular yoga will also help to relax your mind and develop your mobility and flexibility for difficult slab routes. 

If you are unaware how to use gym equipment, it is worth consulting some of the staff at your local gym or speaking with a coach to ensure that you do not injure yourself.

Weighted squats are a great leg exercise for rock climbers. - Build climbing muscle
Weighted squats are a great leg exercise for climbers.

Rock Climbing Benefits

Toning

Spending hours in the climbing gym or out at the crag will help you to maintain low levels of body fat and keep a toned body composition. After all, if you leave out all of the pauses in between boulders and routes, rock climbing burns around 8-10 calories per a minute. Laps on the lattice board or splatter board are a fantastic way to reduce your body fat, build up your endurance, and to work on your technique and strength. , 

Something else worth considering, especially for outdoor climbing, is that the approach can be physically demanding and you will burn a decent amount of calories in the process of getting to the start of your route. The time in nature is also relaxing for your mind, and makes many climbers feel overall more positive. These small climbing habits have an overall positive effect on your mind and body. 

Singapore women in travel - Batu Caves Kuala Lumpur | rock climbing body transformation
Photo was shot at Batu Caves at Kuala Lumpur

Aside from pure strength, rock climbers develop a good level of aerobic fitness. Training endurance through cardio can be helpful when you’re trying to send a route at your limit, with little or no opportunity to rest, so it is important to include some sort of cardio routine into your rock climbing training, whether or not it be climbing specific. Two fantastic options are swimming, which develops a lot of your antagonist muscles, and also simply cycling to the climbing gym instead of taking the car, where possible. Cardio training will help you to keep your body fat levels low, so you’ll be able to see those toned muscles that are so confident boosting and important to your success as a climber.

Don't forget about cardio - best climbing exercises and workout for a tone body
Don’t forget about cardio!

Do bear in mind that too much cardio can have counterproductive effects, so do your best to balance this out if your goal is to develop as a climber and to work on having an overall healthy body. Rock climbing and bouldering is a brilliant sport for generally toning your muscles both for men and women, and with a little bit of persistence, you will quickly notice changes in your arms, legs, abs and glutes. 

Aside from pure strength, it’s important for sport climbers to have a good level of aerobic fitness. Training endurance through cardio can be helpful when you’re trying to send a route at your limit, with little or no opportunity to rest, so it is important to include some sort of cardio routine into your rock climbing training, whether or not it be climbing specific. Cardio training will help you to keep your body fat levels low, so you’ll be able to see those toned muscles that are so confident boosting and important to your success as a climber.

Do bear in mind that too much cardio can have counterproductive effects, so do your best to balance this out if your goal is to develop as a climber and to work on having an overall healthy body. Rock climbing and bouldering is a brilliant sport for generally toning your muscles both for men and women, and with a little bit of persistence, you will quickly notice changes in your arms, legs, abs and glutes.

Core Training for Rock Climbing Body

Climbing is a full-body sport, and those who take the sport seriously quickly develop strong core muscles to maintain body tension and to confidently hold and maintain difficult positions on the wall..  While the effect of training core muscles is a little less obvious aesthetically at first glance, climbing regularly and working on your core strength will help to define your abs which can give climbers a little boost in confidence. There are endless exercises that can be helpful for your rock climbing, but a good rule of thumb is that the exercises should be high intensity rather than high repetition. Planks, situps, walking planks, and dish exercises are all excellent examples.

Equipment for rock climbing workout

There is a lot of affordable exercise equipment that can be very useful for core training for climbing. Ab wheels, yoga balls, medicine balls and believe or not – slacklining at home, can train you to become a better climber and perhaps give you a nice six-pack in the process.

Planks, push-ups, and even certain yoga poses can help you get great climber abs.  | rock climbing body transformation
Planks, push-ups, and even certain yoga poses can help you get great climber abs.

Climbing workout without equipment

However, if your gym doesn’t have some of this equipment, and you don’t want to invest in it yourself, there are plenty of bodyweight core exercises that will tone your  abs and help with your rock climbing. Planks and plank variations can be extremely beneficial to your climbing abilities, as well as hanging leg raises and crunches.

Good Nutrition for the climbers physique

Aside from physical training for climbing, an extremely important factor in becoming a better climber (and getting a better body in the process) is nutrition. A common topic that comes up in interviews with professional climbers is diet, and unfortunately for us, there is no single way to achieve a healthy diet specific to climbing. What is certain is that you are unlikely to see progress in your climbing ability or your physique if you are eating junk food all of the time, although the occasional post-session pizza and cold beer to soothe the finger pain is forgivable. You also won’t get any stronger if you are not eating enough healthy food that gives you the energy you require for such an intense activity and promote muscle growth.

Cook real, whole, healthy foods -rock climbing diet
Cook real, whole, healthy foods!

A pretty good rule of thumb that will make nutrition planning effortless is just to eat whole and natural foods! Protein sources such as lean meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds will help you get stronger, and complex carbohydrates like whole grains (oats, rice, quinoa, etc.), potatoes, and fruit will keep you full and fuel your workouts and climbs. With that in mind, many professional climbers are vegetarian and vegan, and there are plenty of ways to maintain a balanced diet with plenty of protein, even without meat and eggs. 

It’s also important to be sure that you’re consuming enough fiber. Fiber helps to keep you full, which will keep your fingers out of the cookie-jar, and is crucial for someone who wants to see the physical results of their training. Getting fiber from plant-based food sources, such as beans, whole grains, nuts, and vegetables, is always preferable than taking a fiber supplement.

Oatmeal with fresh fruit is a great example of a healthy climber’s breakfast.
The key is balance, and maintaining a healthy diet will make all of your training pay off. Eating mainly natural, plant-based foods, along with being sure to include sufficient levels of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber into your diet, will ensure that all of your climbing training pays off, helping you to keep good form during climbing and to feel more healthy in your skin.

Oatmeal with fresh fruit is a great example of a healthy climber's breakfast - boulderer diet
Oatmeal with fresh fruit is a great example of a healthy climber’s breakfast.

It is also important to look after your sanity, so do allow yourself to eat whatever you want every once in a while. There is nothing wrong with a little ice cream or chocolate, and high sugar foods can give you little energy boosts exactly when you need it.

Don't be afraid to hit the gym and get strong! | rock climbers physique
Don’t be afraid to hit the gym and get strong!

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Brain health and focus

Lastly, rock climbing focusses your mind. When you set your mind to the next move and hold, you learn to cut off all distractions and force yourself to focus on sticking the hold. Even with distractions like fear, wind, screaming children, angry birds, ego, or general background noise, an adjusted climber is entirely in the moment and ready to commit their mind and power with absolute finesse.

You can train your mind to focus best from a young age, as this takes time to develop, however, regular yoga and meditation, frequently tackling your fears on the wall, and practice will help you to refine your mind and build up a mental tolerance for what can be, quite frankly, a terrifying sport

– QnA –

Is Rock Climbing a good workout?

Rock climbing and bouldering are idea workouts that help tone and strengthen your body. With that being said, they are not a replacement for cardio workouts like aerobic classes or running, which help to burn more calories and increase your heart rate. You will definitely lose some weight if you frequently climb, but be mindful to monitor your body’s response. In view of the pandemic, while it might be harder to climb regularly at a gym, an option would be to train up on your own climbing wall (if you have one) or on a fingerboard. All in all, rock climbing requires a certain level of fitness, strength and a stable health condition to make the most of it. 

Can you get ripped rock climbing?

Rock climbing may not bulk you up as well as lifting weights in a gym, but it will definitely help tone your entire body. Some of the obvious changes will be in your upper back and biceps, but the smaller more targeted parts will include forearms and calves.

What does rock climbing do for your body?

Rock climbing helps strengthen and tone a huge proportion of your body, primarily your hands, shoulders, upper back and even legs. The most prominent parts you will notice are your back, biceps, forearms and shoulders. Rock Climbing also complements and boosts your performance in activities like yoga, pole dancing and even aerial silks.

While every body shape is perfect, we do tend to feel best when we are healthy. Climbing and bouldering are just two more methods to help you towards feeling a little more vibrant, both mentally and physically. Some of us may spend our entire lives hating our bodies, but our bodies never say bad things about us, and you may learn to love yourself a little more when you see the amazing things that your body can accomplish through this wonderful sport.

Best Rock Climber Body | climbers physique
If you put the work in, you'll see results! | rock climber physique
If you put the work in, you’ll see results!

Read other relevant articles about rock climbing:

How Climbing Can Give You the Best Rock Climber Body

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