Does Bouldering Burn Calories

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Does Bouldering Burn Calories

Does Bouldering Burn Calories? Can bouldering, a popular form of rock climbing, really help you shed that excess fat and burn calories?

Over the years, it’s been proven that rock climbing and its other forms, such as bouldering, provide an excellent full-body workout, burning between 500 to 900 calories per hour.

This article discusses how effective bouldering is in burning calories. We’ll also provide tips on increasing your calorie burn during a climb. 

Ready to burn more calories? Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Bouldering is a highly effective form of exercise for burning calories, with estimates suggesting that it can burn between 500 to 900 calories per hour.
  • Factors such as weight, climbing intensity, duration, route grade, and technique can impact the number of calories burned during bouldering sessions.
  • Bouldering engages multiple muscle groups and provides a full-body workout. It also challenges the mind through problem-solving and strategic thinking.


Understanding Calories and Metabolic Rate

Calories are units of energy that our bodies use to fuel various functions, such as breathing, digestion, and physical activity. Your metabolic rate refers to the speed at which your body uses calories for these processes.

What’s a Calorie?

A calorie is a measure of energy or heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. We often refer to the calories in our food intake and caloric expenditure when discussing fitness and nutrition.

The food you eat contains nutritional calories or kilocalories (Kcal), which provide your body with the necessary fuel for physical actions such as bouldering or rock climbing.

As you engage in these activities, your body burns through this energy stockpile, leading to weight loss if you create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than your body uses during workouts like rock climbing sessions.

Importance of Metabolic Rate

Does Bouldering Burn Calories - Importance of Metabolic Rate

Your metabolic rate holds significant importance for burning calories while bouldering

It’s a measure of how fast your body uses energy. Factors like gender, age, weight and height influence your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is essentially the amount of energy expended in a sedentary state. 

For climbers aiming to maximize their caloric burn, understanding their metabolic rate is a crucial first step towards creating an effective fitness program.

High-intensity exercise like bouldering can effectively boost your metabolic rate. The higher the intensity of the activity, the more calories burned. This caloric burning process continues even if you’re already on the ground, resting, due to your increased oxygen consumption.

Manipulating factors like activity intensity, caloric intake, and rest periods based on your metabolic rate is vital to reaching your personal fitness goals quicker than expected.

Bouldering as a Fitness Activity

Bouldering is a highly physical and mentally engaging fitness activity that offers an intense full-body workout, making it an excellent choice for those looking to burn calories and get in shape.

The Physicality of Bouldering

Bouldering is physically taxing on your body. This form of rock climbing, done without ropes or harnesses, requires constant movement and active engagement from various muscle groups.

You’ll get an intense full body workout that elevates heart rate and maximizes calorie burn as you use your arms and legs during challenging routes. Bouldering isn’t just limited to strength; flexibility, endurance, and balance are also put to the test with each climb.

It’s estimated that bouldering can burn around 100 calories per ten minutes of activity, making it a highly intense form of exercise. Bouldering focuses on short but extremely difficult climbs with every move contributing significantly towards caloric expenditure. 

One ten-minute climb with moderate difficulty is the equivalent of a 60-minute jog at 5 km/h. You burn calories faster through a more efficient manner with bouldering.

The Mental Aspect

Bouldering is not just a physical workout; it also challenges the mind in unique ways. As climbers navigate different routes and problems, they must think strategically, problem-solve, and make split-second decisions.

The mental aspect of bouldering involves analyzing the best handholds and footholds, visualizing movements before executing them, and staying focused amidst physical exertion. 

This mental engagement adds an exciting dimension to the sport and keeps climbers mentally sharp while burning calories.

Bouldering isn’t just a physical workout, it also stimulates the mind, making it a holistic activity for both the mind and body.

Calorie Burning in Bouldering

Bouldering burns a significant amount of calories due to its intense physicality and constant motion.

Factors Affecting Calorie Burn

  • Weight: The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn while bouldering. This is because your body has to work harder to move and support all the extra weight.
  • Climbing Intensity: The intensity of your climbing session plays a significant role in calorie burn. High-intensity climbing, where you are constantly moving and challenging yourself, will burn more calories compared to low-intensity climbs.
  • Climbing Duration: The longer you spend bouldering, the more calories you burn. Longer sessions provide more opportunities for continuous movement and exertion.
  • Route Grade: The difficulty level of the routes you climb affects calorie burn. More challenging routes require greater effort and engage different muscle groups, leading to increased calorie expenditure.
  • Rest Periods: Taking frequent or extended rest periods during your bouldering session will reduce overall calorie burn. Continuous movement without prolonged breaks keeps your heart rate elevated and maximizes energy expenditure.
  • Climbing Technique: Proper climbing technique can contribute to higher calorie burn by efficiently using your muscles and engaging multiple muscle groups at once.
  • Fitness Level: Your individual fitness level affects how many calories you burn while bouldering. Physically fit people may have a higher metabolic rate, allowing them to burn more calories during exercise.
  • Gender: Men generally tend to have a higher muscle mass and lower body fat percentage than women, which can result in a higher calorie burn during bouldering activities.
  • Age: Younger individuals typically have a faster metabolism than older individuals, potentially resulting in a higher calorie burn rate during bouldering sessions.
  • Oxygen Consumption: Increased oxygen consumption during intense climbing leads to greater energy expenditure and subsequent calorie burn.

Climbers can burn between 8 to 10 calories per minute while climbing.

Estimating Calories Burned in Bouldering

Estimating the number of calories burned during bouldering varies depending on several factors such as weight, intensity, and session duration. 

Research suggests that bouldering burns between 500 to 900 calories per hour, making it an excellent workout option for those looking to lose weight. 

With that number in mind, you can plan what type of activity you’re going to engage in to maximize caloric burn and energy expenditure. Whether you’re climbing up vertical walls or tackling difficult problems on shorter routes, as long as you keep moving, you’ll keep burning calories.

Comparing Burning Calories From Bouldering to Other Forms of Climbing

Does Bouldering Burn Calories - Comparing Burning Calories From Bouldering to Other Forms of Climbing

The tables below are a  comparison between bouldering and rock climbing to see which one burns more calories. We also made another chart detailing the caloric burn difference between bouldering versus traditional climbing.

Bouldering Vs Rock Climbing: What Burns More Calories?

This a frequently asked question within the fitness community. Though similar, these two climbing styles bring unique challenges and benefits to the climber.

AspectBoulderingRock Climbing
Calories Burned500 to 900 calories per hour.500 to 900 calories per hour.
IntensityBouldering is a high-intensity, short-duration activity, quickly increasing heart rate and metabolic rate.Rock climbing is a moderate to high intensity activity, maintaining a steady heart rate and metabolic rate over a longer duration.
Muscle EngagementBouldering engages the entire body, particularly the core and upper body muscles.Rock climbing works out different muscle groups including the legs, back, and arms.
Rest TimesBouldering involves short, intense bursts of climbing with frequent rest periods.Rock climbing tends to have less frequent rest periods, with a more continuous physical demand.

The table above provides an overview of bouldering and rock climbing regarding calorie burn. Both activities burn similar calories per hour, but the intensity, muscle engagement, and rest times differ. 

Therefore, bouldering and rock climbing largely depends on your fitness goals and preferences.

Bouldering Vs Traditional Climbing: What Burns More Calories?

The exact number of calories burned between bouldering versus traditional climbing depends heavily on a range of factors such as body weight, intensity level, and duration. It’s worth mentioning that both activities are excellent calorie burners.

BoulderingTraditional Climbing
Calories Burned per HourApproximately 500 to 900 calories per hour depending on the intensity and individual physique. Heavier climbers might experience a more significant caloric burn due to the increased energy required.A typical one-hour pitch climb may burn around 600 calories. Calorie burn might amplify if the climber is heavier or carries more gear.
Muscle Groups ActivatedBouldering offers a full-body workout, activating multiple muscle groups just like traditional climbing.Traditional climbing also provides a comprehensive body workout. The intensity can impact the number of calories burned.
Training Methods for Enhanced Calorie BurnThe 4 x 4’s training method can be incorporated into bouldering sessions to maximize calorie burn.Although there’s no specific training method mentioned for traditional climbing, increasing the climb’s difficulty and carrying heavier gear can help burn more calories.

In conclusion, bouldering and traditional climbing can be efficient forms of exercise to burn calories. However, bouldering might edge out traditional climbing in terms of caloric burn due to its high-intensity nature and the potentially increased energy required.

How to Enhance Calorie Burn While Bouldering

How to Enhance Calorie Burn While Bouldering

To enhance calorie burn while bouldering, incorporate high-intensity intervals and focus on problem-solving.

Incorporating High-Intensity Intervals

To enhance calorie burn while bouldering, incorporating high-intensity intervals can be highly effective. Here’s how:

  1. Mix up your climbing pace: Alternate between periods of intense climbing and recovery. This can involve challenging yourself with difficult routes or problems for a short burst of time, followed by a slower-paced climb to catch your breath.
  2. Utilize circuit training: Create a circuit of different bouldering routes or problems that target different muscle groups. Perform each route or problem one after the other without resting in between, creating a continuous flow of high-intensity movements.
  3. Add resistance: Incorporate weighted vests or ankle weights during certain climbs to increase the intensity and resistance, thus boosting calorie burn.
  4. Implement timed challenges: Set specific time limits for completing routes or solving problems, pushing yourself to complete them as quickly as possible. This adds an element of competition and urgency, increasing the intensity of your workout.
  5. Combine strength exercises with climbing: Integrate bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and lunges into your climbing session. Perform these exercises in between climbs to keep your heart rate elevated and optimize calorie burn.

Focus on Problem Solving

Problem-solving is a key aspect of bouldering. Climbers have to navigate their way up challenging routes, and they are constantly faced with obstacles to overcome and problems to solve.

Figuring out the best sequence of moves, hand and foot placement, and way to overcome tricky sections all require mental focus and problem-solving skills.

This mental engagement keeps climbers mentally sharp and increases their workout intensity. To that effect, bouldering becomes a holistic exercise that actively engages the mind and body.

Burn Those Calories and Lose Weight With Bouldering

Bouldering is an excellent way to burn calories and stay fit. It is estimated to burn between 500 to 900 calories per hour. This intense activity also engages multiple muscle groups and provides a full-body workout.

Simple modifications like adding more weight or increasing the difficulty of the routes can help you burn those calories faster. If you’re looking for a fun and challenging form of exercise that also helps with weight loss, give bouldering a try!


1. Does bouldering burn calories?

Yes, bouldering is a demanding, highly physical activity that can burn a significant amount of calories. The exact number of calories burned during bouldering depends on factors such as body weight, intensity of the climb, and duration of the session.

2. How many calories can I expect to burn while bouldering?

On average, an individual weighing around 150 pounds can expect to burn approximately 320-480 calories per hour of bouldering. However, this number may vary depending on individual factors.

3. Is bouldering an effective way to lose weight?

Bouldering can be an effective component of a weight loss regimen when combined with a balanced diet and other forms of exercise. It engages multiple muscle groups and increases cardiovascular endurance, making it a great choice for burning calories and building strength.

4. Can beginners benefit from calorie burning during bouldering?

Absolutely! Beginners in bouldering often experience rapid improvements in physical fitness due to the high-intensity nature of the activity. Even short sessions can provide substantial calorie-burning benefits for individuals new to the sport.

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