Will weightlifting make you worse at climbing? Will weightlifting help you improve your climbing ability? With so many myths surrounding weightlifting and rock climbing, it can be hard to tell what’s best for your body.
Don’t worry; we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll break down how rock climbing can both benefit and detract from your climbing ability. Understanding both the good and bad associated with weight lifting is essential to deciding if weight lifting is the right cross-training for you.
Does Weightlifting Help with Rock Climbing?
Should rock climbers lift weights? The age-old questions about weight lifting for climbers. Is it good? Is it bad? Will it help you improve your climbing? Although there are lots of different myths surrounding weight lifting and climbing including that weightlifting will make your muscles bulk and you will get worse at climbing, and if it’s good for you, the science says that weight lifting has both the potential to help with rock climbing and the potential to hurt you.
If done properly, weight lifting can be a great tool to help build your strength and decrease the chance of injury, but, on the other hand, if weightlifting is used improperly, it can cause you to gain excessive muscle mass, thus making your climbing potentially worse. Making sure that you are using proper form when weightlifting and not lifting too much weight will both help you minimize the chance of developing bulky and unhelpful muscles. Figuring out if weightlifting will help you improve your rock climbing ability is all about figuring out how best to integrate weightlifting into your existing routine.
Benefits of Weight Training for Rock Climbers
Although there can be lots of different benefits of weight lifting for rock climbers, there are a few that stick out to us as the most commonly seen benefits of weight training for rock climbers. Here are our favourite benefits that you might experience by integrating weight training into your climbing routine:
1. Decreased risk of injury
Climbers often develop imbalanced muscles due to using their pulling muscles a lot more than their pushing muscles. Making sure that you are using all of your muscles will help increase the overall stability of your body by increasing the support that all muscles give one another.
While we know that weight training can be risky and is known to cause injuries when done improperly, it can actually help decrease the risk of injuring yourself while climbing if done properly. Climbing injuries tend to be caused by an overuse of a particular muscle, so by creating more balance amongst the muscles, you will be less likely to overuse one and instead will rely on a more varied group of muscles
2. Boost the hormones that help improve muscle recovery
There are certain hormones, known as anabolic hormones, that your body uses to aid in the recovery and repair of your muscles after exercise. Weight training the larger muscle groups in your body has been shown to increase your anabolic hormones, making it easier for your body to repair after use. This includes workouts that focus on your thigh muscles and calf muscles, since these leg muscles are some of the biggest in your body.
This is one of the lesser talked about benefits of weight training for bouldering and climbing since these sports do tend to wear on your muscles a lot. Understanding how to utilize strength training for rock climbers to help improve your body’s recovery skills will make weight training seem a little less intimidating.
3. Improved strength
The easiest benefit to see of weight lifting for rock climbers is improved strength. Combining weightlifting and climbing is a great way to help improve your body’s overall strength and muscular tone. While bulking up will not be beneficial for your climbing since it will improve the weight that you need to move up the wall, increasing your overall strength will help improve your climbing ability.
We recommend focusing on toning your muscles as opposed to bulking your muscles when weight training, specifically for rock climbing. Learning how to do this can take time, so we recommend talking to an expert at your local climbing gym or weight training facility.
Risks of Weightlifting for Rock Climbers
Although we’ve discussed some excellent benefits of weightlifting for rock climbers, there are still some risks to take into consideration. These are some of the risks that you’ll want to watch out for if you start weightlifting to improve your rock climbing ability:
1. Adding excess weight to your body
Most climbers aim to keep their bodies lean and strong, meaning that they all have the highest ratio of muscle to weight possible for them. As a result, adding excess weight to your body in the form of muscle or fat is generally viewed as a negative when it comes to your climbing. Since weightlifters often gain weight while training, many climbers tend to steer clear of weightlifting for this reason.
2. Increasing your chance of injury
We know we talked about how weightlifting can help decrease your chance of injury while climbing, but it is important to acknowledge that weightlifting is risky. It can help you prevent future injuries from happening while you climb, but the chance of injuring yourself while cross-training, in this case, weightlifting, is much higher than it would be with some other forms of cross-training.
3. Building non-functional climbing muscles
Climbers tend to want to build climbing-specific muscles. In weightlifting, each movement is associated with building a different muscle, and understanding which movements will help improve the muscles you need for climbing is a long and arduous process to learn. Since climbing itself is pretty complicated, many climbers want a simpler cross-training activity than weight lifting since weightlifting requires immense knowledge to do properly.
Weightlifting and Other Strength Training for Climbers
Should rock climbers lift weights? Are there other forms of cross-training that may be more beneficial to rock climbers than weight lifting? The topic of cross-training is something that many climbers discuss frequently, as cross-training is a great way to potentially improve your climbing ability.
Weight lifting is a great option for those looking to build strength, but it is not the best cross-training option for every climber. Many climbers love activities like Pilates and yoga since those help tone the muscles without bulking them as much. Sports that involve stretching, like those mentioned above, are also popular since they aid in improving flexibility.
Climbers also utilize a variety of cardio activities as cross-training for climbing. Jogging, hiking, biking and even going on walks are all great cross-training activities that will help improve your cardiovascular health.
Climbing is an activity that requires your full body. Both physical strength and mental strength are often tested in climbing. It is for this reason that many climbers use various different cross-training options and don’t just stick to one. Make sure you find what works best for your body, and don’t feel pressured to do what someone else is doing just because it works for their body.
Wrapping Things Up: Should Rock Climbers Lift Weights?
Regardless of if you are a new climber or have been climbing for years, everyone can benefit from weightlifting in some way or another. But there are lots of risks to be aware of when including weightlifting in your climbing routine. By understanding the benefits and the risks of weightlifting, we hope you now have the tools necessary to decide if weightlifting is right for you and your climbing journey.
Remember that weight lifting can be dangerous though. Please seek out expert advice and help before trying any weightlifting on your own. Speaking with a professional is the best way to create a workout plan and minimize your risk of injury.