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Does Climbing Build Abs?

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Rock climbing is an increasingly popular sport for a lot of reasons, but how does it impact your body? Does rock climbing build muscle? Does bouldering build muscle? Does climbing build abs? With so many questions about the physical strain that rock climbing puts on your body and the muscles worked by rock climbing, we figured we would take some time to answer your burning questions. 

While people get into rock climbing for a lot of different reasons, one of the reasons a lot of people love the sport is that it is a fun and engaging way for them to stay in shape. Figuring out what muscles it works or even if rock climbing will actually get you in shape can be challenging, so we’ll be answering some of those questions in this article. 

Does Rock Climbing Get You in ShapeDoes Rock Climbing Get You in Shape?

Rock climbing is an excellent full-body workout. It can be used as part of a strength training routine and can also be integrated into an endurance training routine. Rock climbing is an incredibly versatile workout that can fit into many workout routines and help keep your body and mind in shape. Rock climbing can also be used to help maintain existing muscles while continuing to develop others. 

Since rock climbing relies on your whole body working together to keep you on the wall and move you up the wall, it is a great full-body workout. It will help you build and improve muscle tone without the need for tons of knowledge about weights and will help your whole body. 

Although many people think rock climbing will primarily work out your arms, it works your legs and abs a lot. From significant muscles, like your thighs, to small connective and stabilizing muscles, like those in your ankles, rock climbing is excellent for pretty much every muscle in your body. 

Rock climbing can even be used to help keep your mind sharp! Staying in shape mentally is super important to your overall health, and rock climbing is a fun way to integrate puzzle-solving into your workouts. Whether you are tackling a roped climbing route or a bouldering problem, rock climbing requires a lot of thought to figure out how to get to the top. 

What Muscles Does Rock Climbing WorkWhat Muscles Does Rock Climbing Work?

As we discussed above, rock climbing works all the muscles, but it tends to really benefit your shoulders and arms, core, and legs. Rock climbing is also amazing for all the stabilizing and connective muscles throughout your body that aid in your balance, but these muscles are a lot less flashy than the bigger muscle groups. 

Shoulders and Arms 

When you tell someone that you rock climb, they will often say that you must have strong arms, and while rock climbing can help strengthen your shoulder and arm muscles, this is not the largest group of muscles targeted by climbing. That being said, the muscles in your arms and shoulders will take a beating, especially when you first start rock climbing. Rock climbing is a great way to keep your arms and shoulders in shape. However, if you find that your arms are the only parts of you that feel sore after a climbing session, you might not be using other muscles to the extent they should be. 


Does climbing strengthen core muscles? You bet it does! Your core muscles are what help keep you on the wall while your legs propel you up the wall. The more vertical a wall is, the more core strength is required to successfully climb the wall. Regardless of how strong your arms and legs are, they are nothing without your core, which is why your core is essential to your climbing success. 


Your legs contain some of the biggest muscles in your body and are what will be doing most of the work to get you to the top of a rock climb. Pushing up with your legs instead of pulling down with your arms will really help improve your endurance and allow you to continue climbing for longer. Learning how to use your legs when rock climbing is vital to your continued success as a climber. 

Is Climbing Good for AbsIs Climbing Good for Abs?

Can climbing build abs? Is it good for your abs? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes! Rock climbing is a great way to build up the muscles in your abs, as your core muscles are essential to your ability to climb. 

In general, your core is what aids you in balancing and keeping your body steady at any point in time. Balance becomes more and more critical as you start standing on smaller and smaller footholds, so you can imagine that it’s pretty darn essential to rock climbing. Your ability to maintain your balance and manage where your center of gravity is all comes down to how strong your core is. 

While vertical climbs are great for your core because of the balance and body awareness that they require, the type of climbing that will really push your core is overhanging climbing. Climbs that lean towards you and require you to use your core to keep your body stable while you move are the climbs that will really work and test your core strength.

Other Benefits of Rock Climbing for Your BodyOther Benefits of Rock Climbing for Your Body

We’ve touched briefly on some of the mental benefits of rock climbing, but there are still so many more benefits of rock climbing that we have yet to discuss. Although many people view rock climbing as purely a physical activity, it is a great social, mental, or meditative activity. 

With the rise in popularity of rock climbing gyms, climbing is becoming more and more of a social sport. Sure, people who use climbing as a social release and a way to connect with others also feel all the physical benefits of rock climbing, but the social connections built between climbers draw many people to the sport. The amount of trust needed between a climber and their belayer gives many people a sense of social comfort. 

Similarly, many people use rock climbing as a meditative activity. They use rock climbing to practice breath control and use it as an escape from their daily lives. It allows them space to focus and relax, letting all the stress of the day wash away as they climb. 

How to Incorporate Abs Workouts Into Climbing RoutineHow to Incorporate Abs Workouts Into Climbing Routine

Incorporating ab workouts into your climbing routine is a great way to increase your ab strength without needing to change up your climbing practice too much. For many people, rock climbing is a stress release and social time to unwind that also happens to be a physical workout, so they are less likely to tailor their whole climbing practice around a particular muscle. Throwing an ab workout or two in after each climbing session is a great way to work the muscles without changing your routine too much. 

Ab workouts for rock climbing can be as simple as planks or as complicated as a standing ab routine. Using a variety of ab workouts will ensure that you work out all parts of your abs, including the sides, upper abs, and lower abs. Try a plank workout one day, followed by a sit-up workout the next session, followed by a bicycle crunch the next. 

Generally, when adding a targeted workout to your rock climbing practice, you’ll want to climb for around 10 to 15 minutes less time than you would otherwise. This is the time that you will use for your workouts. Adding about 10 minutes of simple ab workouts and stretches after each climbing session will help you build ab muscle tone and allow your body time to fully cool down after both climbing and working out. 

Wrapping Things Up: Does Climbing Build Abs?

Rock climbing is a fantastic full-body workout. Rock climbing works every part of your body, from your arms to your legs, from your core to your brain. You can create a climbing routine that is tailored towards working out specific parts of your body or a routine tailored towards building strength or endurance. Still, just the act of rock climbing is a great workout, even without the extra thought and planning. 

We hope that this article has helped answer some of your questions about the physical benefits of rock climbing and what muscles rock climbing truly uses. Adding in additional exercises is another great way to help create a climbing routine that works for you. This will allow you to enjoy the stress relief and social aspects of climbing while still getting the desired physical benefit from practicing the sport

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