Can Rock Climbing Get You Ripped?

After climbing was involved in the Olympics in 2021, many people looked to the sport because most of the athletes were defined, slim, and had an athletic physique. Questions were then asked by many of my friends such as “can I actually get a good body from climbing?” and “if I go regularly, will rock climbing get me ripped?” Because of these questions, I decided to write a post that would cover all bases so everyone knows the score.

So will rock climbing get you ripped? There is a low chance that rock climbing alone will get you ripped. However, along with a good diet and a proper training schedule, rock climbing has the ability to help along with getting a ripped body or athletic physique. Rock climbers who are looking to get ripped should also incorporate other activities such as using a rowing machine or doing a core workout. These will not only help a climber get ripped but also increase their climbing performance.

Read on to find out more about how to get ripped from rock climbing.

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How Can I Get Shredded from Rock Climbing?

First off, we need to define what ‘shredded’ means. To me shredded means a defined physique, especially that of the core, arm and back muscles. I would hope that the majority of people would agree on that.

Becoming shredded isn’t an easy task, however many people turn to rock climbing because they know the sport is very fun, social, and possibly has the ability to improve their athletic ability and therefore physique. But this isn’t as simple as climbing once or twice a week for an hour or two per session.

While climbing can help you become stronger by increasing the strength of certain muscle groups (check out this article I wrote here for more information on what muscle groups rock climbing targets), it isn’t great for fat loss as it only affects your heart rate and energy expenditure similar to that of running at a pace of 8-11 minutes per mile (Source), and that’s only when you’re on the wall climbing which doesn’t usually last 8-11 minutes. This doesn’t mean you won’t lose weight if you don’t change your diet, but it does mean you probably won’t become shredded unless you change another area, such as your diet and cardio regime.

The best way to become shredded from rock climbing is by setting a rock climbing schedule of 3 or more times a week, along with organised eating habits, and other physical activities such as weight training on the side that are known to help with fat loss and increase muscle mass while not reducing overall performance.

What Diet Helps You Get Ripped with Rock Climbing?

Diet can not only help you get ripped from rock climbing, but it can also help you enjoy your climbing experience more. This is because by losing weight, whether that’s too much muscle mass or fat, you’ll be able to climb higher grades and you’ll be able to do it for a longer time. Heavier climbers find it much harder to climb because they’re pulling up more load. Check out an extensive article here I wrote about why rock climbers are usually skinny.

The question then is, what diet will help you get ripped, whilst also improving your rock climbing experience? I’ve actually got a whole article on a complete 7 day healthy, balanced diet for rock climbing giving you a day by day breakdown from Monday to Sunday, with breakfast, dinner, lunch and snacks. And if you’re on any particular diet such as vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, keto and paleo I’ve done the same, and you can find that list here. I created these diet lists knowing that the average rock climber needs a certain amount of carbohydrates per day due to the fact that “reduced fuel availability could result in declined performance” (Source). 

These diets should not only help improve your rock climbing performance, but in the process help you become shredded. The only thing I would say is that not everyone’s body is the same. Some people have to work really hard at their diet and exercise regime to become even slightly shredded, while others have the gift of a fast metabolism and don’t need to work as hard.

Diet also helps with healing injuries, and if you’ve been rock climbing often, you’ll know that injuries are quite common. A bad diet causes inflammation in your body, whereas a good diet leads to less inflammation and promotes healing of wounds and other injuries (Source). 

Why Rock Climbing On Its Own Probably Won’t Get You Ripped

While rock climbing can work many of your different muscle groups, as mentioned earlier, it has a hard job of increasing your heart rate for a long time unless you’re climbing religiously, numerous days a week without many breaks in between each climb. I also find that bouldering is least likely to help you get shredded, because you’re on the wall for a lot less time.

Now, if you ARE climbing many hours per week, every week without changing your diet, there’s a good chance you’ll start losing weight and increasing muscle mass on your back and forearms especially. This means you will get more ripped than you currently are. However, there are many other, easier ways to achieve a ripped body than rock climbing.

Is Climbing Better than the Gym?

In terms of becoming ripped, going to the gym and performing a specific routine of exercises will help you a lot more than rock climbing. And I say this from experience, having done both many times throughout my life. The reason for this is because the gym offers different machines that are specifically designed to help build muscle, lose fat, and increase cardiorespiratory fitness. Whereas climbing usually targets the same muscle groups and you are generally performing moves at a set pace with many breaks in between. The addition of treadmills and cross-trainers also gives the average gym-goer the option for a higher amount of cardiovascular training, known to contribute to fat loss which in-turn helps you look more shredded.

Going to a weight training gym and going to an indoor climbing gym or an outdoor climbing crag are very different things. Climbers often find weight training boring, and gym goers and body builders may say the same about climbing. Body builders (usually) won’t be very good climbers due to their excessive weight. In most cases, body builders also don’t train the right muscle groups known to be associated with climbers – primarily muscular endurance within the forearms and back. While bodybuilders build muscle for a number of reasons, endurance isn’t usually one of them (check out an article I wrote here about how to increase muscular endurance for climbing). And in most cases, climbers won’t go climbing specifically to become muscly or ripped – they’ll be climbing because they enjoy climbing.

Rock Climbing Related Activities to Increase the Chance You’ll Get Ripped

Core Workouts

Core workouts are not only a good way to help you get ripped but doing them correctly will help with stability, movement, and general transitioning on the climbing wall. It’s a very good idea to incorporate a core workout into your overall climbing routine in terms of improving your climbing ability AND getting shredded.

Take a look at this core workout below which you can do at home.

Rowing Machine

The rowing machine is not only a full body workout, but it’s also using the same sorts of muscles that you’d use in climbing while giving you a cardio workout. Therefore, this should help improve your climbing ability while helping you on the way to getting a ripped body. Rowing is low impact and easy on the joints (unlike bouldering and climbing in many cases!).

One thing you need to make sure of is that you’re actually doing the rowing machine reps correctly. The positioning of your arms and shoulders when coming backwards and going forwards is key to getting the most use out of this exercise. Many people don’t pull back with their arms enough and therefore don’t get as much as they could out of the exercise.


I'm the owner of Rock Climbing Central and I fell in love with climbing about 5 years ago as soon as my feet touched the wall. Since then all I've pretty much done is research about climbing and climb whenever possible.

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