The year-long lockdowns during the pandemic forced many of us to come out of our comfort zone and take fitness more seriously. More and more people started working out during this time and shifted their focus to a healthier lifestyle. Fitness, interestingly, was no longer just restricted to gyms. People experimented with different forms of working out and tried out more rigorous yet fun activities to stay fit. Rock climbing became one of the few new routines that people started adding to their exercise regimen.

Rock climbing became popular in the 1980s as a leisure sport. While it used to attract only a very niche crowd earlier, today it is a huge phenomenon worldwide. In 2021, sport climbing debuted at the Tokyo Summer Olympics as well. It featured three disciplines: bouldering (performed on lower walls without ropes), speed climbing (the fastest person to the top), and lead climbing (climbing as high as possible within a time limit).

The sport involves clambering the side of a cliff or a simulated rock wall. Not many know that this sport offers a wide variety of physical and mental health benefits, some of which may not even be found in other sports. Rock climbing is an excellent exercise that also calms and sharpens the mind. Let’s talk about why rock climbing is a good exercise, how it works, the area it targets and more.

Why rock climbing will give you the best exercise of your life

Intensity of rock climbing
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The benefits of rock climbing go far beyond the obvious. To get better at doing rock climbing exercises, you will have to have a strong core and strength. To excel at rock climbing, you will need intense training and exercise. Both leg strength and upper body strength are important for acing this activity. Let’s see what exercises you need to do to prep your body.

Best exercises for rock climbing

Here are some exercises that you can perform for better core strength and muscle building.


Doing push-ups will help in targeting the pushing muscles like the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Perform as many reps as you can for 1–3 sets.


This exercise for rock climbing training will help in strengthening the back, forearm, and grip strength. The muscles that you work on are the latissimus dorsi, biceps, core, and upper back. You may do as many reps as you can for 1–3 sets.

Kettlebell swings

For explosive power and strength, you may want to include this exercise in your routine. Not only will this activity get your heart rate up, but it will also strengthen your grip. The muscle that this workout targets include the glutes, hamstrings, calves, trapezius, rhomboids, erector spinae, and core. Perform 10–20 reps for 2–3 sets.

Monkey bars

Work on your core, forearms, and trapezius by working out on a monkey bar. This will do wonders for your upper body, forearm, and grip strength. Work out for 10-15 mins for better strength.

Front dumbbell raises

Front dumbbell raises are an ideal exercise for working your deltoids, which are part of your shoulder. It is a really good exercise for rock climbing as it improves shoulder flexion. You also work on your anterior deltoids, lateral deltoids, serratus anterior, and the upper part of the pectoralis major which will help you while moving up a wall. Perform 1–3 sets of 8–12 reps.

The intensity of rock climbing exercise and the area it targets

Benefits of rock climbing
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Whether you are climbing in an indoor setting or out in the great outdoors, you will be working on different muscles at the same time. This exercise targets body parts that you never knew you could work on. This sport is the fastest way to break a sweat even when you’re moving slowly. The intensity of your climb may decide what areas you are working on. However, there is no such thing as ‘light intensity level’ rock climbing as each session would require a whole-body effort and extreme engagement.

Working out in this manner assures that areas like your core, arms, legs, glutes, and back are being targeted. You will feel the intensity in these areas in a great manner. Rock climbing is a good exercise as it improves flexibility and strength. It is a great aerobic exercise and a very low-impact sport.

What are some of the benefits of rock climbing

Exercise for rock climbing
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Climbing works on your body from head to toe and has both mental and physical benefits.

It boosts cardiorespiratory fitness

The rigorous routine of rock climbing ensures that your heart rate goes up. As it involves a lot of pulling, pushing and lifting, your heart rate shoots up really quickly. This ensures that your heart is feeling healthy and the cardiorespiratory function runs smoothly.

It improves muscle strength

Ascending your body up a wall aids muscle building. It is a full-body exercise that helps in building the biceps, triceps and deltoids. It also works on the abdominals, obliques, glutes, thighs, and calves and targets each area equally.

It enhances flexibility and balance

While climbing, you get very aware of how your body moves. You are compelled to move your body in unusual positions which requires balance. This exercise helps in improving your flexibility, balance and coordination. The more you get involved, the better the results.

It improves memory and problem-solving

You need a lot of determination and good memory to climb up a wall. Problem-solving skills also come in handy when doing this exercise. This sport is very cognitive and it helps in jogging your mind. Interestingly, women are better climbers than men as they are familiar with solving physical problems with their brains.

It combats depression

Research suggests that rock climbing is an amazing form of psychotherapy for adults dealing with depression. If you are working out in a natural setting, being in nature works as a natural antidepressant. When doing it inside, your brain is engaged in a physical activity which teaches you how to navigate fear and how to deal with disappointment and success in a better manner.

Is rock climbing a good exercise?

To conclude, rock climbing is an excellent workout, but it needs a lot of prep to be able to perform it perfectly. It can help you reach the peak of your fitness in a fun and adventurous manner. The joint-jarring consequences of jogging and plyometrics can also be avoided if you indulge yourself in this sport. There are several rock climbing hot spots popping up in India, and you may want to rush to them quickly if you want to change how you feel about your body.

Hero Image: Courtesy Sabrina Wendl/Unsplash; Feature Image: Courtesy Petr Slováček/Unsplash

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Is rock climbing a good form of exercise?

Answer: Yes, it is very beneficial.

Question: What exercises should I do for rock climbing?

Answer: Push-ups, pull ups, wide grip lat pulldowns, lying triceps extension, resistance band pull-apart and more.

Question: Which muscles does rock climbing work on?

Answer: Rock climbing targets the whole body and works on every muscle in your body.

Question: What are the fitness benefits of rock climbing?

Answer: It helps in improving memory, builds strength, combats depression