How Many Calories Does Rock Climbing Burn

So you’re thinking about taking up a new challenge, but you want to make sure it’s beneficial to your health as well as being fun, right? Maybe you’ve been thinking about rock climbing for a while, but you’re just not sure how many calories you can burn doing it, so you’ve been putting it off? Well, if that sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place because this article will take you through everything you need to know about calorie burning whilst rock climbing!

Rock climbing is one of the best ways to burn calories for several reasons. First, you’re constantly on the move – there’s no sitting down and taking a rest when you’re halfway up a rock face or the rock climbing wall in your local gym. Second, it engages every muscle group at some point because you’re constantly having to move your body into new positions to progress. And finally, research suggests you can burn anywhere from 500 to 900 calories per hour whilst rock-climbing (but that depends on several factors that we’ll cover a little later in the article).

In this article, we’ll explain how you burn calories whilst rock climbing, look at ways to maximize the amount of calories you burn, and consider other related information such as finding the best rock climbing routine and whether you get the same results from bouldering.

Ready to find out all the info you need to get the most calories burned whilst rock climbing? Then lets go!

How Does Rock Climbing Help You Burn Calories?

We’ve already spoken a little about how rock climbing helps you to burn so many calories, but lets break it down some more so you understand exactly what elements of rock climbing helps burn calories so you know what areas to focus on when you go out climbing.


This is the key to any exercise, but especially so when rock climbing. Yes, there’s nothing you can do when you’re belaying for your partner and helping them descend safely. But when it’s your turn to climb, do your best to keep moving constantly.

Of course, you’ll need to stop sometimes to think about positions if it’s a challenging climb, but for the most part, you should and will be on the move. Whenever your body is moving, it’s burning calories, so make the most of this whilst rock climbing.


As well as keeping on the move, just take note of which parts of your body feel like they’ve had a workout after each climb. We bet it’ll be every part! That’s because rock climbing is one of those sports that puts the most demand on our bodies.

We have to constantly change position, stretch further than we thought, and engage every muscle group just to stay stuck to the rock face. Whilst we use every muscle, here are the most used ones, so if these are problem areas for you, they’ll be whipped into shape pretty quickly once you hit the crags:

– Lats (back muscle)

– Core (chest/stomach muscles)

– Biceps and Forearms (arm muscles)

– Calves (leg muscle)


The more difficult the crag or rock climbing wall, the more calories you will burn. Why? Because you’ll be engaging all the above muscle groups much more.

As you stretch for your next position, or engage your core to hold on to your current one, you’ll be pushing your body far more when the difficulty rises. We’re not saying to push yourself too far too soon, but if you’re able to up the difficulty a little, then doing so will help you burn even more calories.

How Many Calories Per Hour Will I Actually Burn?

There are different estimates. Researchers say anywhere between 500 and 900 calories per hour will be burned whilst rock climbing. A more conservative (and probably more accurate) estimate is that you burn around 10 calories a minute, or 600 calories per hour.

Of course, you burn roughly 600 calories per hour when you’re moving, non-stop, for an hour. But we all know that much of rock climbing involves supporting your partner whilst belaying and whilst this burns some calories, you don’t burn nearly as much as when you’re climbing.

How To Maximize The Amount Of Calories You Burn

But don’t worry, there are ways to maximize the amount of calories you burn when you are climbing, so you don’t need to worry about not burning as many calories when you aren’t.

Set An Amount You’d Like To Burn And Measure The Results Accurately

Most people workout with calorie burning in mind. They set a target, hit the treadmill, and then stop when they’ve reached it. But we don’t tend to in rock climbing, and we’re not sure why. The best way to maximize calorie burn is by first setting a goal.

The second is then by measuring the amount of calories you’ve burned accurately. To do this, you need to focus on the time you’ve spent climbing. Have your partner bring a stopwatch and only turn it on when you move, and turn it off again when you reach the top. You know that a good estimate is 600 calories per hour, so make sure you climb for long enough to meet your specific target, whatever that may be.

Push Yourself

Fear can often grip you when rock climbing. There’s nothing natural for us humans about hanging off the side of a cliff face. But to get the most out of climbing, you really need to push yourself through the mental barrier you’re facing. Why?

Because fear will hold you back and slow you down. The more you move, and the more you move quickly, despite how scared you are in the moment, the more calories you’ll burn. You know what you’re going out to do when you head out rock climbing, so just make sure you’re mentally prepared for that beforehand so you can start strongly when you make your ascent.

Carry More Gear

People who carry more weight burn more calories. If you’ve been working out for a while and you’re in pretty good physical shape, then carry more gear with you to recreate the extra weight. Doing so will make you burn more calories.

If you’re new to rock climbing, then leave the extra gear at home until you get used to the sport, but once you do, bring along the extra weight by all means. As you get fitter through rock climbing, you’ll notice yourself performing better and stronger anyway, and you’ll know you need to do more to bump up the amount of calories you’ll burn per rock climbing session.

Head For The Crags Not Your Gym

Don’t get us wrong, the rock climbing wall in your local gym is a great way to get started. You’ll learn everything you need to know before heading out into the wilderness to explore. And it still helps burn calories, but just not as much as when you start climbing crags.

That’s just because a rock climbing wall is basically a simulation of the real thing, and you never get the same results with a simulation as you do by trying the real thing out for yourself. That’s why you ought to head for the crags as soon as you feel able to.

Don’t dive right in if you’ve never rock climbed before, because it’s good to learn the basics and get your body used to these movements before heading out in the relative safety of a gym, but just don’t become too comfortable on the wall either, because the crags will always give you better results.

The Best Rock Climbing Routine For Burning More Calories

When you head rock climbing, there are really only two things you need to get the most out of the experience: a partner with similar fitness goals, and a smartwatch. Seriously. That’s it. If you have these two things and take all of our tips about maximizing the number of calories you can burn whilst rock climbing into account, then you’ll probably burn even more than 600 calories per hour.

Find A Partner With Similar Fitness Goals

This is probably the most important of the two. Realistically, you can get by without the smartwatch if you just keep track of the amount of time you spend moving whilst climbing with a stopwatch, as we suggested before. But a partner with similar fitness goals to you is imperative!

That’s because a partner who is physically in better shape than you will probably push you too hard. The last thing you want to do when rock climbing is a stretch too far beyond your personal limitations and cause yourself an injury that’ll take you out of the sport for a week or two because then you’ve lost an awful lot of time to injury that could have been spent burning calories and improving your fitness.

A partner that isn’t taking the sport as seriously as you are is also a problem. They’ll slow you down, ask that you take more rests, and probably try to turn it into a social gathering as opposed to a serious sport. And whilst the social aspect is amazing, it’s also not why you’re here right now. Sure, head for a coffee after the climb, but try to keep the climbing part more about the workout side of things.

To find a partner with similar fitness goals to you, all you have to do is ask. There’s plenty of online and in-person groups out there dedicated to rock climbing, so get yourself involved and speak to people about what they hope to get out of the sport. If they align with your personal goals, then join up with them. That way, you can both get the most out of each session and push each other to work harder and become stronger!

Always Wear A Smart Watch

This one isn’t as important, but if you have one, it can be a very accurate way to make sure you know how many calories you’re burning. Most smartwatches will come with a fitness feature nowadays, and rock climbing is often an option to choose as your workout. This means that the watch will be able to accurately record your movement and the number of calories you burn.

The reason we say this is so important is that knowing how much you’ve done in terms of the calories you burn is crucial to know how much more you have left to do. You don’t want to come away from a session exhausted because you’ve unknowingly overexerted yourself, because then you’re less likely to get back up there in the future.

Likewise, coming away feeling as though you’ve conquered the world and achieved your fitness goals when you really haven’t can be crushing because you’ll think that rock climbing isn’t as good at helping you burn lots of calories as you thought it would be.

By investing in a smartwatch, you take all the guesswork out of the situation, and it helps you reach your fitness goals much quicker!

Does Bouldering Yield The Same Results?

Yes! Bouldering works out to be roughly equal to rock climbing in terms of the calories you burn, and that’s because they are so similar in that they keep you moving constantly and put a lot of demand on every muscle group in your body.

If you’re looking for full-body workouts that will help you burn calories, lose weight, and improve your fitness in the best way possible, then you can’t go wrong with either rock climbing or bouldering. Just choose the sport you prefer, and get out there!

Final Thoughts

Rock climbing will help you burn plenty of calories. By sticking to the lower estimate of around 10 calories per minute, you get a rough idea about the amount you can burn in each session. But remember, belaying will not burn as many calories as climbing, and eventually you will need to work harder to burn the same amount of calories as your body gets used to it and your weight drops.

Add additional weight through gear, push yourself to move faster and more, head for the more difficult crags when you’re able to, and accurately record the number of calories you burn, and you’ll be able to get the most of this intense full-body workout sport! So, hit the crags soon, and you’ll notice the improvements in your physical health rapidly. Happy climbing, and best of luck!

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