Rock climbing is a unique full-body sport. It works your arms, legs, core, and even brain, all while being an incredibly social and engaging sport. These are only some of the many reasons that the sport has attracted so many new participants in recent years.
One barrier many people feel keeps them from trying rock climbing is the discrepancy between their bodies and that of professional climbers they see in movies and on TV. While someone who is in incredible shape might be able to climb more complicated routes than someone who spends all their time on the couch, anyone can climb. In this article, we’ll discuss how climbing can fit into anyone’s life, regardless of physical condition.
How Does Rock Climbing Work?
Rock climbing as a term describes a broad category of sports, including bouldering, sport climbing, and trad climbing, just to name a few. By standing on tiny footholds and using your hands for balance and support, climbing is a means of getting up a rock face. It involves using your body to climb up a rock wall, either natural outdoor rock or man-made indoor rock.
Climbing is a great full-body workout that attracts people of all different ages and sizes. Although rock climbing has been around for years, it has only recently started skyrocketing in popularity. Now that rock climbing is in the Olympics, more and more climbing gyms are popping up all over the US and other countries.
What is the Ideal Weight for Rock Climbing?
There is no rock climbing weight limit, but there is no minimum weight to go rock climbing. Although there is strength to weight ratios that make climbing easier to do, there really is no ideal weight for rock climbing.
Typically when you see a picture of a rock climber, they will be a taller man with solid muscles, but not bulging muscles. Muscles add weight to your body, so having functional, lean muscles is best for climbing. Generally, bodybuilders or professional weightlifters find climbing relatively challenging simply because of how much weight they have to get up the wall.
While a lot of climbers are tall, some excellent climbers are not as tall. Kids and shorter adults tend to develop a great technique to help them make moves that a taller climber might find more manageable. Another benefit of being a more diminutive climber is that you will have less weight to get up the wall.
Overall, anyone can rock climb if they want to. Just because you are tall or short or old or young doesn’t mean you can’t try rock climbing. If you are a heavier adult and want to excel at climbing, you may want to lose some weight to make climbing easier, but simply by climbing, you will start to get in better shape.
Do You Need to Be Fit to Go Rock Climbing?
In order to simply go to a rock climbing gym and have a casual day climbing, you don’t really need to be in very good shape. While it might make climbing more effortless for you if you are in good shape, you can enjoy climbing even if you are not.
If you plan on competing in rock climbing or trying to climb really hard grades of climbs, you will need to be in excellent shape. Rock climbing is a full-body workout that requires immense core, arm, and leg strength. It also requires that all of the tiny stabilizing muscles throughout your body be in good shape, as these muscles are what will help you balance and stand on tiny footholds as you work your way up the wall.
How to Get in Shape for Rock Climbing?
There are a lot of ways to get in shape for rock climbing, and the best way is simply to go rock climbing. Rock climbing works out tons of different muscles, both big and small, in your body, so there is no better training than climbing itself.
That being said, mixing some body control workouts, such as yoga or dance, with some cardio, such as running or biking, with some strength training, such as weights or resistance training, will give you the best groundwork to get in shape for climbing. Make sure that you work out both your core muscles, your larger muscle groups like your legs and arms, and all the small stabilizing and balance-oriented muscles. This will help keep you well-rounded and ready to climb.
Although many people don’t think of climbing as being very cardio-heavy, having good breath control and lung capacity can help control your climbing movements. Including activities like running, hiking, or biking as cross-training for climbing can help improve your climbing abilities faster than just focusing on strength.
That being said, strength does play a role in your rock climbing ability. The challenge with focusing too much on strength training, such as weight lifting, is that if you develop too much muscle, you then have more weight to get up the wall. Finding your body’s ideal strength-to-weight ratio is complex, but it can be done. Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of focusing too much on weight training and neglecting the other aspects of training.
3 Training Exercises for Rock Climbing
There are tons of exercises and routines out there that can help improve your rock climbing ability. Here are a few of our favorite workouts for climbers:
Having good control of your body and fantastic balance are some of the simplest ways to improve your climbing ability without the need to develop large muscles. Yoga, dance, pilates, or any similar style of workout that focuses on body movement and control is great for training for rock climbing. Workouts like yoga really help improve your body control and balance as well as help your flexibility. Yoga focuses on the little muscles that are often overlooked by traditional workouts but are essential to your success in climbing.
2. Weight training
Weight training should be used sparingly, but it is an excellent addition to any rock climbing training routine. Simple movements like pull-ups, for example, are a great way to use your body as your weight and help you transition smoothly into climbing. In rock climbing, the only weight you are moving up the wall is your own body weight, so training with substantial amounts of weight won’t help you as much as using your own body weight for resistance.
3. Ab workouts
Your abdominal or core muscles are integral to climbing. More challenging climbs will be almost impossible without a strong core. Including a small number of ab workouts in every training day is a great way to help improve the strength and endurance of these muscles. Your core is also a crucial part of your balance, so just like yoga, having a strong core will help improve your balance.
Does Your Body’s Fitness Affect Your Rock Climbing Ability?
Will rock climbing get you in shape? Do you need to be in shape to be a good rock climber? What muscles does rock climbing workout? Can you lose weight by rock climbing? These questions are commonly asked by climbers who are just starting out. Figuring out how such a simple sport can work out your whole body is slightly boggling at first, but it makes more sense when you start climbing more.
Unlike some other sports, there really is no ideal body type for climbing. Your ideal body type is based on how much you want to push yourself and what you want to get out of climbing. Ultimately, just like every other sport, your fitness will directly affect your ability to climb.
It all depends on your body and what you want to get out of your rock climbing practice. If you plan on using rock climbing to lose weight, for example, you will likely see your climbing ability increase as your fitness does as well. On the other hand, if rock climbing is an everyday activity for you, but you really like running marathons, you may not see much of a correlation between how fit you feel and what level of climb you can achieve.
Wrapping Things Up: How Fit Do You Need to Be to Rock Climb?
Rock climbing is a full-body workout for all! From accessible gym climbs to massive physically-demanding multi-pitch climbs, there really is something for everyone in the realm of climbing. Whether you plan on using rock climbing as a social activity, a weight loss routine, or just as a fun addition to your workouts, there is a space for anyone in rock climbing.