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TOPIC: Rock Climbing: Just how many calories does it burn?

 
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March 19, 2011 4:37 PM
Today, for the first time, I wore a Polar HRM while climbing to accurately track how many calories I burned.

I am a 25 year old 5'7" Male who weighs 188 pounds.

In 70 minutes I burned 652 calories.

I spent that time doing a mixture of bouldering and top-roping. I rested often, just long enough for my muscles to recover between problems and climbs, and I completed a total of 2 and a half ascents as well as 6 or so bouldering problems, and numerous aborted/failed attempts at bouldering problems and two failed ascents.

Also, I had a ton of fun the entire time, it was an excellent strength building exercise, and it's a social activity.

Bottom line: if you combine periods of rest with periods of climbing, I burned almost 10 calories per minute.

That's an excellent calorie burn!
March 19, 2011 4:44 PM
That is a great burn! Rock climbing is ridiculous for the body: balance, stamina, strength.

I'm considering buying a rock climbing gym membership with my boyfriend. He used to climb in a friend's garage (they had a pretty nice set up), but friend has since moved and I'm itching to get back to learning. I've only been on a wall three or four times, but I'm addicted! I think I prefer scrambling and bouldering, but I can't wait to get into a controlled environment to figure it out!

Thanks for posting! :]
  3642646
March 19, 2011 4:46 PM
Indeed it is!

I tried rock-climbing, but I've discovered that having a high body weight doesn't make it easy. And I'm scared of heights, so by the time I'm 10 feet up, I'm ready to climb back down.

Bouldering sounds pretty interesting, though.

I want to lose weight FOR these kinds of activities!
  3278051
March 19, 2011 4:49 PM
QUOTE:

I want to lose weight FOR these kinds of activities!


Definitely! I was 190ish when I tried to learn for the first time.... with almost no upper body strength. Horrible idea, but somehow I managed to love it. Now I'm 174 and can't wait to try again soon!!!

Good luck to you and hopefully you'll be climbing sooner than later!
  3642646
March 19, 2011 4:49 PM
I'm excited to try rock climbing this spring, once all of the snow melts. It will be an fun, new challenge to try! :)
  1911202
March 19, 2011 4:54 PM
climbing is where it's at. I was a climbing instructor for a couple of years and I started climbing when I was 4, my dad couldn't keep me off the cliffs. I definitely need to start wearing an HRM to see how many calories I actually burn while I'm out though!
March 19, 2011 4:57 PM
QUOTE:

I'm excited to try rock climbing this spring, once all of the snow melts. It will be an fun, new challenge to try! :)


You can try it now at an indoor gym!

Also, for those of you who feel that you need to drop weight first, you may also want to start climbing or keep climbing now instead of after you drop weight. Given just how great a burn it is, and given that its burn to fun ratio is the highest I've found so far (10 parts fun for every 1 part calorie burn), it's definitely my favorite calorie burning exercise, with biking coming in a close second. Also, if you climb relatively easy (sloping etc) beginner routes, and you're sure to use your whole body and not just your arms, you can get all of the benefits without feeling too inadequate to participate.

It's also a great source of "NSV" (non-scale victory, as I've learned fro this site). For instance, when you 'scend a route with ease that you tried the week before and failed at!

Aside; I'll be posting a lot about my climbing training and progress in my blog, as well as other fitness and health topics:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/ChessRonin

Check it out!
March 19, 2011 5:11 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

I'm excited to try rock climbing this spring, once all of the snow melts. It will be an fun, new challenge to try! :)


You can try it now at an indoor gym!

Also, for those of you who feel that you need to drop weight first, you may also want to start climbing or keep climbing now instead of after you drop weight. Given just how great a burn it is, and given that its burn to fun ratio is the highest I've found so far (10 parts fun for every 1 part calorie burn), it's definitely my favorite calorie burning exercise, with biking coming in a close second. Also, if you climb relatively easy (sloping etc) beginner routes, and you're sure to use your whole body and not just your arms, you can get all of the benefits without feeling too inadequate to participate.

It's also a great source of "NSV" (non-scale victory, as I've learned fro this site). For instance, when you 'scend a route with ease that you tried the week before and failed at!

Aside; I'll be posting a lot about my climbing training and progress in my blog, as well as other fitness and health topics:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/blog/ChessRonin

Check it out!


Yeah, I'm actually planning on doing a few sessions before taking it outdoors, but the excitement of it for me is it being another outdoor adventure/activity.
  1911202
August 29, 2013 12:11 PM
Thanks, @ChessRonin for posting this. I go to a bouldering gym regularly and have always wondered how to scale the 'Rock Climbing' calorie burn in MFP to be realistic. I'll use your ~10 cal/min as a sanity check.

For those of you thinking about climbing/bouldering: go for it! It's a great workout, but more importantly, it's just a fun activity. Everyone can go at their own pace so it's really easy to get started. I recommend finding a good bouldering gym since then you can go by yourself whenever you want, and if you are new to climbing, you don't have to learn about ropes and whatnot. You can just go climb.
August 29, 2013 12:15 PM
Hrms do not work for this sort of activity... They work for pure steady state cardio and that's it. And even then they don't work unless you have a model that allows tested hrmax and vo2max inputs.
Edited by phjorg1 On August 29, 2013 12:22 PM
August 29, 2013 12:20 PM
QUOTE:

Hrms do not work for this sort of activity... They work for pure stay state cardio and that's it. And even then they don't work unless you have a model that allows tested hrmax and vo2max inputs.


+1

Rock climbing is a great activity and workout. But a HRM is not gonna give you an accurate measurement.
  46362163
August 29, 2013 12:48 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Hrms do not work for this sort of activity... They work for pure stay state cardio and that's it. And even then they don't work unless you have a model that allows tested hrmax and vo2max inputs.


+1

Rock climbing is a great activity and workout. But a HRM is not gonna give you an accurate measurement.


Totally understandable. Do you guys have any suggestions for how to make a reasonable (if not accurate) estimate? No doubt it will depend on the person, and how strenuous the workout it is. But there must be a way to bound the problem?
August 29, 2013 1:18 PM
Well, if you're just looking for estimates - its listed in the exercise tab here on MFP under cardio.


Rock climbing, ascending rock
Rock climbing, rappelling
Ski jumping (climb up carrying skis)
Hiking, climbing hills (carrying 10-20 lb load)
Hiking, climbing hills (carrying <10 lb load)
August 29, 2013 1:31 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Hrms do not work for this sort of activity... They work for pure stay state cardio and that's it. And even then they don't work unless you have a model that allows tested hrmax and vo2max inputs.


+1

Rock climbing is a great activity and workout. But a HRM is not gonna give you an accurate measurement.


Totally understandable. Do you guys have any suggestions for how to make a reasonable (if not accurate) estimate? No doubt it will depend on the person, and how strenuous the workout it is. But there must be a way to bound the problem?


It is true, the further away you get from a true aerobic event like running, the more off the calorie burn estimate is going to be. For activities like this I use a multiplier of 5-10...with 5 being basically a walk in the park and 10 being a good and consistent 10 minute mile pace.

It would obviously depend on how much you are resting, etc...but I'd put it right up there with a good weight lifting session with a minute or two rest between sets...that's usually about a multiplier of about 6 (strength) or 7 (hypertrophy) for me. It's not by any means perfect...but I do know that it's pretty difficult to burn more than 10-12 calories per minute with sustained activity...to do so requires working at pretty much capacity and you certainly aren't doing that sustained with climbing.

That said, it's a very good exercise beyond just the calorie burn...lots of balance, strength, coordination, etc. I love climbing and wish I could do more of it...just hard to fit in with everything else.
August 29, 2013 1:58 PM
QUOTE:

Indeed it is!

I tried rock-climbing, but I've discovered that having a high body weight doesn't make it easy. And I'm scared of heights, so by the time I'm 10 feet up, I'm ready to climb back down.

Bouldering sounds pretty interesting, though.

I want to lose weight FOR these kinds of activities!


Set up a top rope belay (with a bombproof anchor) on a nice face and go at it! It doesn't matter if it's hard. Doing it will help you lose weight.
Edited by lithezebra On August 29, 2013 2:02 PM
August 29, 2013 2:00 PM
QUOTE:

Well, if you're just looking for estimates - its listed in the exercise tab here on MFP under cardio.


Rock climbing, ascending rock
Rock climbing, rappelling
Ski jumping (climb up carrying skis)
Hiking, climbing hills (carrying 10-20 lb load)
Hiking, climbing hills (carrying <10 lb load)


It looks like MFP doesn't give an estimate for ascending a fixed rope, which is pretty darn good exercise, comparable to running.
August 29, 2013 2:00 PM
One of the MANY reasons I love being a climber! Best sport of life!
  12045982
August 29, 2013 2:09 PM
Just because HRM isn't accurate doesn't mean the activity doesn't burn ample calories. One can get a sense of how hard you are working with an HRM. If you're resting half the time, I'd turn off the HRM during those times so it doesn't count those the same. My guess is that will reduce the calories burned estimate ~30% give or take. I like to have the HRM think I'm lighter, and with a higher max HR so that it naturally estimates low on everything, but not so much as to be ridiculous.
  32895712
August 29, 2013 2:16 PM
QUOTE:


It is true, the further away you get from a true aerobic event like running, the more off the calorie burn estimate is going to be. For activities like this I use a multiplier of 5-10...with 5 being basically a walk in the park and 10 being a good and consistent 10 minute mile pace.

It would obviously depend on how much you are resting, etc...but I'd put it right up there with a good weight lifting session with a minute or two rest between sets...that's usually about a multiplier of about 6 (strength) or 7 (hypertrophy) for me. It's not by any means perfect...but I do know that it's pretty difficult to burn more than 10-12 calories per minute with sustained activity...to do so requires working at pretty much capacity and you certainly aren't doing that sustained with climbing.

That said, it's a very good exercise beyond just the calorie burn...lots of balance, strength, coordination, etc. I love climbing and wish I could do more of it...just hard to fit in with everything else.


Thanks cwolfman13 (and everyone else). No matter how good my calorie-burn estimation is, i'm definitely climbing tonight, which is really the whole point, i guess. Any Boulder, CO climbers...drop me a line.
August 29, 2013 6:15 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Well, if you're just looking for estimates - its listed in the exercise tab here on MFP under cardio.


Rock climbing, ascending rock
Rock climbing, rappelling
Ski jumping (climb up carrying skis)
Hiking, climbing hills (carrying 10-20 lb load)
Hiking, climbing hills (carrying <10 lb load)


It looks like MFP doesn't give an estimate for ascending a fixed rope, which is pretty darn good exercise, comparable to running.


Ahhh. That's too bad.
Just curious. How long do you ascend a fixed rope for a workout? Like, how many times do you go up/down the rope? Is this exercise done as part of a class or exercise session?
August 29, 2013 7:41 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Well, if you're just looking for estimates - its listed in the exercise tab here on MFP under cardio.


Rock climbing, ascending rock
Rock climbing, rappelling
Ski jumping (climb up carrying skis)
Hiking, climbing hills (carrying 10-20 lb load)
Hiking, climbing hills (carrying <10 lb load)


It looks like MFP doesn't give an estimate for ascending a fixed rope, which is pretty darn good exercise, comparable to running.


Ahhh. That's too bad.
Just curious. How long do you ascend a fixed rope for a workout? Like, how many times do you go up/down the rope? Is this exercise done as part of a class or exercise session?


Now that I really think about it, it would depend on what vertical rope climbing system you use. I use a frog system, which is inefficient on a long climb, but versatile in tight situations, and a great full body workout. With the frog, climbing 200 meters is a very good workout. The most fun way to do it is to be somewhere where you have a pit or canyon to play around in. You can set up rope climbs, in a gymnasium for example, where a partner can let you down periodically and you can climb continuously as long as you want to. You could also change over from ascent to rappel, or vice versa to repeat a climb.

I went on a canyoning trip back in May, and had no idea how to log what I was doing - climbing, stemming, chimneying, swimming, rappelling, and ascending, and lots and lots of hiking in loose sand.
Edited by lithezebra On August 29, 2013 7:59 PM
August 29, 2013 7:54 PM
It really depends on the mtn and the angle of the climb. Do you scale cliffs?

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