Does Rock Climbing Burn Fat?


When was the last time your workout brought you a huge rush of adrenaline plus a thrill of accomplishment? It’s time to ditch your gym membership for a climbing gym membership, or hike to your favorite crag.

Rock climbing will give you some amazing workouts that will be exciting, challenging, and tons of fun, not to mention addicting. Rock climbing can be a great workout to help you improve your fitness, get in shape, and lose some weight by burning calories and fat.

You can burn about 400-500 calories per hour of rock climbing. If you are burning 400+ calories per hour by rock climbing a few days per week, and eating 200-500 calories less per day, you could easily lose 1-2 pounds per week. That’s a healthy rate for long-term sustainable weight loss.

Do you want to get in shape by burning calories, shedding fat, and building muscle? Here’s how rock climbing can help you with all the above….

Read on for the exercise and health benefits of rock climbing.

Rock climber

Does Rock Climbing Burn Fat?

The short answer is yes, rock climbing burns fat! The long answer is yes it can!

Rock climbing is considered a type of aerobic exercise, with a mix of anaerobic depending on the type of climbing and difficulty. Both types of exercise are so beneficial and help your body in different ways, plus they each burn calories.

Aerobic exercise uses your glucose AND fat stores to fuel your workout. It’s important to include aerobic exercises in any type of weight loss plan to help you burn fat. And the longer you exercise, the more fat is used for fuel.

How to Burn Fat- written in total detail for you:

  1. Choose a type of exercise to get your heart rate up
  2. Do it regularly
  3. Burn calories and fat (and don’t eat too much)
  4. Lose weight

It’s not quite that simple, but it can be! If you are committed to burn fat, you need to include at least 75 minutes of vigorous or 150 minutes or moderate exercise into your week (recommendations are from the US Department of Health and Human Services), and to lose weight you may want to double that to be 150 minutes of vigorous or 300 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Rock climbing is a great choice of activity to get you there as long as you are climbing your hardest and bringing your A-game to the gym or crag (and have a partner that will endlessly belay for you….). If you are climbing hard enough that holding a conversation is difficult, then that counts as a vigorous workout.

Harvard Health states that you can burn around 409 calories per hour of rock climbing (take out the breaks) if you weigh 155 pounds or 70.4 kg (that may be more or less calories depending on your size and the intensity of your climbs).

Rock climbing is a great form of exercise to help you burn calories and fat and eventually lower your BMI and decrease body fat.

Interested now? Overall, the best type of exercise for burning fat is the type that you enjoy and will commit to. Climbing is loads more fun than many other exercises like jogging, push ups, sit ups, and weight lifting. If you get serious about rock climbing, you’ll look just as in shape, probably more so, than those types of exercisers anyway.

Have fun and burn your fat off while rock climbing.

Flexing Climber

Can Rock Climbing Help You Lose Weight?

Rock climbing is a great way to help you burn extra calories and excess fat to lose weight, as long as you are eating healthy. Successful weight loss is a combination of exercise plus good nutrition (and a few other things like getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, and decreasing stress). By eating a little less and exercising a little more than normal, you can realistically lose a few pounds per week.

Remember you can burn about 400-500 calories per hour of rock climbing, that’s a great workout’s worth of calories! If you are burning 400+ calories per hour by rock climbing a few days per week, and eating 200-500 calories less per day, you could easily lose 1-2 pounds per week. That’s a healthy rate for long-term sustainable weight loss.

Rock climbing is a great addition to a weight loss plan. It combines cardio and strength to help you burn calories and fat. Any type of exercise can help you lose weight as long as you are burning more calories than you consume.

Any type of exercise you choose will contribute to your weight loss goals. Just focus on moving more and sitting less. If rock climbing is your chosen type of exercise, then do it!

Is Rock Climbing a Good Way to Get in Shape?

Most experienced rock climbers seem rather scrawny, but ripped. Skinny people tend to be fairly good at rock climbing because they have less weight to get up the wall, however bigger climbers can be phenomenal climbers, and continuing to rock climb can help them build strength and lose extra weight that is slowing them down.

Rock climbing is a good way to get in shape, just be sure to add additional exercises to your rock climbing regimen such as weights, cardio, intervals, and stretches.

Looking for tips to shed some weight to improve your climbing?  I’ve written some great tips to get you started in a previous post. Check it out here: The Best Diet for Rock Climbers; with FREE Meal Plan

See also:

What to Eat Before Indoor Rock Climbing According to a Dietitian (-that’s me, I’m the nutrition-nerd)

Is There a Weight Limit to Indoor Rock Climb?

Exercise Benefits of Rock Climbing

Is rock climbing count a good workout? I’ve answered that question in this post: Is Indoor Rock Climbing a Good Workout? Rock climbing counts as a good workout if it gets your heart rate and breathing rate up and burns calories (check, check, triple check).

Rock climbing may burn anywhere from 400-800 calories per hour, but that’s if you are climbing hard with limited breaks (your weight and size and other factors also contribute to the amount of calories burned).

Rock climbing can be a great workout to help you get in shape and stay fit. Here are some of the benefits you get from rock climbing:

  • Full body workout– Climbing can work all the major muscle groups of your body as you hang, climb, pull, step, and maneuver around the routes. You’ll learn to utilize your entire body as you improve on the wall, because come on…. haven’t you gripped the slopers with your eyelids before?
  • Burns calories and fat- As you climb hard and often, you can lose weight, lower your BMI and decrease body fat.
  • Provides a challenging workout- You can get in a total body workout, sweat up a storm, and climb until your muscles BURN!
  • Improves flexibility- You can get pretty creative with heel hooks, chimneying, crack climbing, and dynos.
  • Builds mental strength- Climbing is good for your mind. It’s a great way to use your problem-solving skills as you work your way up a route, overcome barriers (literally), and master technique.
  • Boosts your mood– Climbing exercise helps to reduce stress, increases your mood and overall happiness, and helps you conquer heights.
  • And many more– Climbing can also help strengthen bones and muscles, increase confidence, and improve your sleep and stress levels.

Rock climbing is a great complement to any workout regimen. But remember, the pros spend time training with other types of exercise as well. Rock climbing shouldn’t be your main form of exercise if you want to get in shape, build muscle, lose weight, and/or increase your overall health. Add in some weights, cardio, yoga, and other activities to help you have a well-rounded fitness routine.

Climb on!

Related Questions: 

How Do Rock Climbers Lose Weight? Rock climbers lose weight by focusing on a lot of exercise, and eating right. They fuel their body with healthy foods and ditch most of the overly-processed packaged junk (in fact, many professional climbers focus on plant-based foods and are vegan or flexitarian). I shared a lot of my best tips for losing weight and helping you get started in this post right here

Does Rock Climbing Build Muscle? Rock climbing really can be a full body workout, using many muscles in all the major muscle groups of your body. Climbing targets muscles such as your biceps, triceps, obliques, deltoids, abs, quads, lats, calves, etc. As you use these muscles, they are strengthened and grow larger. You can build muscle by rock climbing, but if your goal is to get toned and strong, you’ll definitely want to add some weight training to your routine for a well-rounded approach, since climbing may not equally target all muscles.

How Many Calories Does Rock Climbing Burn? According to research by Harvard Health and others, a climber weighing 155 pounds or 70.4 kilograms burns about 409 calories per hour. Other studies have ranges around 400-900 calories per hour. Climb hard and you’ll be sure to burn hundreds of calories in an hour-long session.

What is the Best Rock Climbing Diet? I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and a climber, so of course I wrote a rock climbing meal plan to give you some tips and get you started in the right direction. It’s focused on an appropriate balance of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats based on your type of climbing and body type. Check it out here: The Best Diet for Rock Climbers with FREE Meal Plan

See also: 

What to Eat Before Indoor Rock Climbing, According to a Dietitian

Is Rock Climbing Hard?

Is Indoor Rock Climbing a Good Workout?

How Many People Die Rock Climbing?

Are Climbing Pants Worth It?

How to Clean Rock Climbing and Bouldering Shoes- 5 Easy Steps

Katherine Harmer

I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a weekend warrior who loves rock climbing, canyoneering, camping, mountain biking, and anything to get outside. Also a cool mom.

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