Rock climbing is a challenging sport that combines intense physical demands with exhilarating thrills, regardless of whether you're climbing in an indoor center or out in nature. Because of the strength the sport requires, especially in your upper body, performing a number of specific exercises before you ever strap on a harness will help you during the vigorous upward climb.
If achieving one pullup on the bar at the gym is a challenge, rock climbing likely isn't for you. The sport requires pullup motions on a nearly constant basis, making the strength in your arms and shoulders crucial to success. Grab a pullup bar at the gym and try to lift yourself as high as you can. Don't be discouraged if you can't elevate all the way to your chin; stick with it and you'll see gradual improvement over time.
A 130-pound woman climbing for an hour can burn nearly 650 calories, making rock climbing a challenging cardiovascular workout. Although it's not the same as jogging, rock climbing is physical enough to quickly have you out of breath. Any sort of cardio workout helps you prepare for rock climbing. Try running on a treadmill, riding the stationary bicycle, jumping rope or in-line skating to get your heart rate up and elevate your endurance.
Any exercise that has your shoulder muscles burning translates well into rock climbing. Barbell and dumbbell shrugs help strengthen your shoulders, giving you power to lift your torso during a climb. The amount of weight you choose to shrug depends on your body weight, but Metolius Climbing recommends heavier weights at fewer reps to build your muscles.
With strong abdominal muscles, a climber can help lift her lower body so she can get a foothold on a ledge or crevasse. Rock climbers should include a series of abdominal exercises in their workouts, including crunches, medicine ball twists and planks. For the medicine ball twist, sit with your feet outstretched in front of you while twisting from side to side and tapping the medicine ball on the ground on each side. To increase the intensity, lift your feet off the ground while performing the exercise.
- Alive: Rock Climbing
- IndoorClimbing.com: Rock Climbing Exercise
- Metolius Climbing: Training Guide
- ABC-of-Rock Climbing: Rock Climbing Training
- DPM Climbing: The One Workout Every Climber Should Do
- FitDay: The Exercise Benefits of Rock Climbing
- ABC-of-Rock Climbing: Rock Climbing Training -- Aerobic Capacity
- NutriStrategy: Calories Burned During Exercise, Activities, Sports and Work
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.