Why is climbing such a good workout

Why is climbing such a good workout



Climbing creates our most fundamental movement pattern: Contra-lateral movement – your left arm and right leg raise together and vice versa. This ‘cross-crawl’ movement pattern recruits more muscles than any other activity (we learn it as babies, when we crawl and continue as adults when we walk or run). Climbing engages all of your limbs and torso in one seamless movement and has the following neurological effects:

  1. Stabilizes your walking gait coordination – builds core strength

  2. Energizes your body and calms your mind – releases tension and stress

  3. Improves your eye-teaming skills – essential for focus, reading, and writing

  4. Enhances whole-brain thinking – your left and right hemispheres work together

  5. Develops proprioception – your spatial and kinesthetic awareness


Climbing at different speeds and incorporating resistance will improve both conditioning and strength. Many coaches incorporate climbing into the training programmes of their athletes. Short, fast intervals of sprinting and slower (resisted) climbing will improve overall athletic performance.


Climbing burns more calories in less time than ANY other cardio activity (treadmill, spin, rower). Studies by Men’s Health have shown climbing classes to burn 22.3 calories per minute, while popular cycling, treadmill and rowing classes burn between 13 – 14 calories per minute. Also, studies have shown that climbing elicits a higher VO2max than rowing or running.


Posture is important in any training no matter what your goal, be it athletic, performance, weight loss, injury recovery or stress relief. Better posture always brings better / safer results. The upright position when climbing instantly combats slouching and engages the core. The ideal posture for climbing should include a straight spine, from which only the limbs are pushing and pulling.


Because climbing works the muscles so hard and elicits a swift cardio response, you don’t need to spend hours climbing to achieve a great, full-body workout. 30 minutes climbing per day will burn around 500 calories (20 – 25% of your required daily food intake). Combined with a sensible diet, a 30 minute per day climbing routine will inevitably and quickly lead to fat loss and muscle development.


Climbing is VERY low impact. Since you’re not actually landing on and pushing off a surface, like you would on a Treadmill, there is almost zero repetitive percussive force on the hips, knees and ankles. This allows you to maintain and improve cardio fitness without putting additional pressure on weak joints or risking further damage to existing injuries. This makes climbing very valuable for Physiotherapists and Sports Coaches.