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Rock Climbing Vs. Weight Lifting: Which One Is For You?

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If you are looking for a full-body workout to improve your overall fitness, you have likely considered rock climbing and weightlifting options but have found yourself with some questions. Can rock climbing replace the gym? Is rock climbing better than weight lifting? Is weightlifting better than rock climbing?  

Don’t worry; we’re here to answer those questions and many more! For the sake of this article, we will assume that you are most likely debating between a rock climbing gym membership and a traditional gym or weight gym membership. We are here to help you decide which membership fits you and your fitness goals.  

What is Rock Climbing: What to ExpectWhat is Rock Climbing: What to Expect? 

Rock climbing is a fast-growing sport that can be practiced indoors and outdoors. The term rock climbing describes the overall sport that includes roped climbing, like top rope climbing and lead climbing, as well as bouldering or climbing without ropes.  

According to the USA Climbing, there are over 600 climbing gyms across the US and according to the Benzinga research report on the climbing gym market, more are projected to open in the next few years, making them a great option for anyone looking to improve their overall fitness, find a new community, and challenge themselves.  

Rock climbing is a full-body workout. It can be used in place of strength training and cardio and includes a massive mental component, making it an engaging and physically demanding sport. With films like Free Solo winning Academy Awards and rock climbing’s debut in the Olympics in 2020, the sport has skyrocketed in popularity and notoriety.  

What is Weight Lifting: What to ExpectWhat is Weight Lifting: What to Expect? 

Weight lifting or weight training is a form of strength training that utilizes either free weights or machines to act as resistance for your muscles. With thousands of gyms across the US, weightlifting is an incredibly approachable exercise, especially at its most casual level.  

Weight lifting can be used as a casual workout to help improve your overall strength, or it can be used as part of an intensive body-building routine. With so many different ways to utilize and customize your experience with weight lifting, it is no wonder why it is so popular.  

Gyms can be found in schools, apartment complexes, and almost every town in the country, making them easy to find. When combined with a cardio workout, like running or biking, weight lifting is a great addition to a training routine.  

Comparing Rock Climbing vs. Weight LiftingComparing Rock Climbing vs. Weight Lifting 

Rock climbing and weight lifting are very different, but they are great workouts. Below, we’ll talk about some of our favorite pros and cons of rock climbing and weight lifting. By first thinking about your fitness goals and then using the pros and cons below to figure out if rock climbing or weight lifting will help you achieve your goals better, you’ll be able to figure out if rock climbing or weight lifting is best for you.  

Pros and Cons of Rock Climbing and Weight LiftingPros and Cons of Rock Climbing and Weight Lifting 

Here are some of the pros and cons of both rock climbing and weight lifting in relation to your physical and mental fitness:  

Pros and Cons of Rock Climbing 

Rock climbing is an amazing full body workout that many find to be a very enjoyable way to workout. It does, however, come with great risks. Please seek professional training to ensure you stay safe while climbing.  

Pros of Rock Climbing 

1. Amazing full-body workout  

Rock climbing is truly one of the best full-body workouts out there. It works both your large muscle groups and small muscles and includes some cardio. Although you can focus on different muscle groups during a climbing session, climbing really will work your whole body, giving you a well-balanced full-body workout. 

2. Fun mental challenge  

Rock climbing is more than just a physical activity. It is also a great mental challenge. The problem-solving process is used to figure out how to get to the top of a climbing route or boulder problem. It is a great way to keep your brain sharp while getting in a good workout. 

3. Engaging social activity

Most rock climbing gyms and cliffs are excellent places to meet friends and connect with other climbers. Climbing is an awesome social outlet since it allows you to connect with others while cheering them on and supporting them. It can be a good morale-boosting experience to climb with others who encourage you and make you feel supported!  

Cons of Rock Climbing 

1. Hard to target certain areas of the body  

Although it is possible to target one area of the body to work, it is challenging, and you will still be working out other areas of the body. For example, having a leg or arm day isn’t possible when climbing as your workout since both your legs and arms will be used every time you climb. 

2. It can be quite expensive.

Climbing gym memberships are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the cost of rock climbing. You’ll also want to consider all the gear you will need to buy and how frequently you will need to replace the gear. Even a simple pair of climbing shoes will cost you nearly $100 and will wear out frequently. The cost is what keeps a lot of people from getting into climbing. 

3. Not as effective as other forms of cardio  

Although rock climbing has some great cardio aspects and can be made into a more cardio-heavy workout if you want, it will never be as good as running or biking. If you want to focus on improving your cardio, rock climbing might not be the most effective way for you to achieve your goals.  

Pros and Cons of Weight Lifting

Weight lifting is a great workout, but does have a lot of safety concerns to be aware of. Here are some of the biggest pros and cons associated with weight lifting, but please seek professional training to help ensure you stay safe while lifting.  

 Pros of Weight Lifting

1. Great for targeting certain muscles  

Unlike rock climbing, weight lifting is excellent for targeting certain muscles. Weight machines at gyms even have diagrams on them that show you what muscles that machine will work, assuming you use the machine correctly. Weightlifting might be the best option if you are looking to improve a certain area of your fitness but aren’t as worried about others. 

2. Easy access to gyms  

Weightlifting gyms are plentiful and easy to find. Most schools, apartment buildings, and almost every town or city has a gym. Since they are easy to find, weightlifting is much more approachable than rock climbing. Finding a gym within your budget is often much easier than finding a rock climbing gym within your budget. 

3. Super customizable workout  

Weight lifting allows you to completely customize your workouts. It gives you the freedom to pick the muscle groups, the weight, the number of reps you do, really everything. This customization is great for creating a unique workout that is just right for you and your fitness goals.  

Cons of Weight Lifting

1. Steep learning curve  

In order to see the most benefits possible from weight lifting, there is a lot to learn. Learning what muscles to work out and how often is only the beginning. You’ll also need to understand how to prepare workouts that will keep your body balanced while understanding how to keep yourself from getting hurt. Weightlifting can be a lot to learn! 

2. Easy to injure yourself if you push yourself too far 

It’s easy to push yourself hard when weightlifting, but this also makes weightlifting so dangerous. Weight lifting is known for having a high risk of injury, so safety is super important when practicing weight lifting. Ensure you seek expert advice when you start weightlifting, as this is the best way to minimize your chance of getting hurt.   

3. Not great cardio  

Weight lifting is not a good option for someone looking for a cardio workout. If you love weight lifting but want a cardio workout, you’ll want to include something like running or biking on top of your weight lifting.  

Should Rock Climbers Lift WeightsShould Rock Climbers Lift Weights? 

There is much to consider when determining if rock climbers should lift weights. With so many pros and cons to think about, we will only scratch the surface here! If you are looking for a more in-depth answer to the question of whether rock climbers should lift weights, please check out our article on the topic:  

Link “Should rock climbers lift weights.”  

For the short answer to the question, here are a few of the key pros and cons to consider:  


  • Increased strength  

Weight lifting can increase your strength, which can help improve your rock climbing ability. The key is to ensure you are building functional muscles, not just random ones that will add weight to your body.  

  • Increase in anabolic hormones.  

Anabolic hormones are great for helping your body recover after a hard workout. They have been shown to increase when you utilize large muscles in your body, so utilizing weight lifting to build strength in your legs will also help increase your recovery speed after a hard climbing or weightlifting workout.  

  • Potential for lower risk of injury  

By training the muscles you don’t use as much in climbing, you will be able to maintain a more balanced body and thus minimize your risk of injury. In rock climbing, you use mostly pulling muscles in your arms, for example, so using weight lifting to train the pushing muscles in your arm will help minimize the risk of injury from muscle imbalance.  


  • Addition of extra weight  

One of the biggest downsides to weight lifting for rock climbers is that it adds extra weight in the form of muscle to your body. Although rock climbers want to be strong, there is a point where more muscles add extra weight for you to haul up the wall, and the negatives now outweigh the positives. Many climbers worry about this when considering weightlifting.  

  • Added risk of injury  

Weightlifting can be an incredibly dangerous activity, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing. For someone who loves rock climbing and is trying to use weight lifting as a cross-training activity, the added risk of injury can be a huge downside to weight lifting. The safest way to integrate weightlifting into your routine is by seeking professional advice and coaching to ensure you stay safe.  

Incorporating rock climbing and weight lifting into your routine is an excellent way to balance out the pros and cons of each, but it must be done carefully to minimize the risk of injury. We recommend seeking professional help to create a schedule and routine that works for you and your fitness goals. Finding a balance between rock climbing and weight lifting is essential to successfully integrating the two activities.  

Wrapping Things Up: Rock Climbing vs. Weight Lifting: Which One is For You? 

Rock climbing vs. weight lifting: Which is better? The answer depends on what you are looking for in your fitness experience. Consider each activity’s pros and cons, and then think about which will help you reach your fitness goals. Make sure that for both rock climbing and weight lifting, you seek professional training to make sure you are staying safe while working out. 

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