How Indoor Rock Climbing is Better Than HIIT

By method

High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is one way to pack in a full-body workout. You get both cardio and strength training in at once, and you’ll probably feel the burn for days afterward. HIIT isn’t the only way to get an intense, immersive workout though. Rock climbing can earn the same results.

Rock climbing is a full-body workout, it can be intense, and it can take your fitness to the next level. 

Rock Climbing As a Workout

If you think of rock climbing as a casual activity to try here and there on a quiet weekend, you might be missing the value of climbing as a workout. Believe it or not, rock climbing is intense enough to be a serious sport. It’s being added to the Olympics in Summer 2020. 

Rock climbing, in its most basic form, counts as:

  • A full-body workout
  • Cardio
  • Strength training

There are also tons of ways to climb strategically to maximize your burn, focus on strengthening specific muscles, build endurance, and more. Everything from the handholds you choose, your pace, the way you challenge yourself, and especially the grading of your route can make climbing a high-intensity workout. 

Benefits of Climbing 

Even just a simple climb strapped into a harness, grabbing handholds that are basically in reach, will work your heart and all your major muscle groups. You’ll work your core, upper body, lower body, and extremities like fingers. 

When you climb strategically and regularly, the benefits grow as you take fitness to the next level. For example, you can tone and tighten certain muscles, boost your endurance, and improve cardiovascular health to reduce the risk of several diseases. You improve your balance and coordination. If you try higher-graded routes or extra-intense forms of climbing, like bouldering, you also gain the benefits of explosive movements, like increasing flexibility and power. 

Why Bouldering is Your Best Option

Of the different types of rock climbing out there, bouldering is probably the most comparable to a HIIT routine. If you choose, bouldering can be a sprint-workout. Since there is no rope, you have to rely on your body alone, which works your mind and muscles more. Sometimes, dynamic or explosive motions, like jumping, are involved. Many bouldering routes involve rock ceilings, which require supporting your entire body weight from overhead handholds! 

With bouldering, you end up working out in intervals by nature of the climb. It can be super intense if you chose harder problems, or be an attainable challenge for beginners completing lower-grade climbs. Bouldering has its own grading scale, which is similar to roping, but the routes are referred to as “problems” to solve. Since bouldering involves more gymnastic ability and requires your body to be your only tool, the workout tends to result in ultra-strong shoulders and core muscles. 

All You Need for Fitness

To take your fitness to the next level or become a better climber, it’s smart to pair rock climbing (and even bouldering) with some traditional workouts in between your climb days. Weight lifting, cardio machines, and even fitness classes can complement your climbing.
At Method Climbing + Fitness, we recognize the dynamic duo a rock climbing gym and a regular fitness facility make. That’s why we offer both in one place, included in one membership. Get the latest on how to make climbing better than HIIT and more effective and fun than you can imagine. Sign up for our newsletter today if you haven’t yet!