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Climbing for Fitness

October 06, 2013

Did you know, rock climbing is becoming a mainstream form of getting and maintaining fitness levels?

Rock climbing can be a whole body workout. Most beginner rock climbers try to use mainly upper-body strength, this leaves them with super sore arms and backs the next day. Over time, repeated rock climbing teaches climbers how to utilize other muscles in their bodies to keep climbing higher.

Speaking of climbing higher, rock climbing as a recreational sport is commonly misconstrued. Many people believe rock climbing is a timed sport. While this is true in some events around the world, many rock climbers climb routes based upon difficulty. The most commonly used route grading system in the United States is called the Yosemite Decimal System. Routes range from 5.4 (beginner) to 5.15 (advanced), but most intermediate rock climbers follow routes graded around 5.8 to 5.11. Routes are typically designated by a specific color or pattern of specialty tape.

What differentiates a beginner route from an advanced climb, is a couple of factors. First, are the holds big and easy to hold on to, or can you barely fit your fingers around it? Next, is the pattern that you are supposed to follow (a.k.a. “sequence”) easy to interpret, or is there some guessing involved?

Not only can rock climbing be a physically demanding workout, but it can also be mentally taxing. Trying to figure out your next moves while dangling twenty feet in the air can be quite exhilarating. Also, having to trust your climbing partner and developing a deeper knowledge of rock climbing taps other aspects of holistic fitness.

Outdoor Adventures boasts 11 ropes with two to three routes per rope on the climbing tower alone. Additionally, the bouldering wall provides over thirty routes providing a different and unique rock climbing experience. If this wasn’t enough, our student staff put up fresh routes every Friday. Participation in the rock climbing gym is no additional cost for ASU students and Faculty/Staff with UREC Passes.

Come check out this modern approach to fitness and start training for our Annual Rock Climbing Competition in the Spring!


The video below is a quick snapshot of rock climbing for fitness. Taken from a blog at