An Informative Guide to the Muscles Used in Rock Climbing

An Informative Guide to the Muscles Used in Rock Climbing

With news of rock climbing making its debut in the 2020 Olympics, you may be considering trying the sport out. You don’t have to travel to where the rocks are to enjoy this full-body workout; 52% of climbers do so indoors.  

With each climb, you use your entire body to maneuver. The muscles used in rock climbing are also the ones you need to keep strong to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle. 

Here are a few ways rock climbing can replace a day at the gym 


Your back muscles, especially your lats, are necessary to extend your shoulders. These muscles stretch across your back from your lower spine and connect to your humerus under your shoulder. 

The next time you reach up and haul yourself to that next ridge, it’s your lats that are the force that pushes your entire body up. 

Other back muscles are also engaged as you climb, including your trapezius, rhomboids, and anterior deltoids. These are the muscles in your upper back that connect to your neck and go over your shoulder. 


As you make your way up your climb, your hands and fingers grip the rock tight to support your body weight. The muscles responsible for that tight grip are actually located in your forearm. This is going to give you an intense workout for muscles that don’t typically see action in gym exercises or cardio. 

Moving up your arm, your biceps will also get an intense workout as you use those muscles to pull yourself into different directions. A word of caution with these muscles. It’s important to learn the correct way of climbing. 

If you don’t use the proper form or overwork your muscles, you risk developing climber’s elbow. If you experience stiffness, difficulty moving, or pain, then you need to take a rest. 

Rock Climber's muscle


Staying balanced is key while you’re climbing. So your core will get a serious workout while climbing. 

Your abdominals will stay in isometric contraction, so provide strength and support. They also help align your hips and shoulders. This is key to help you carry your body weight and reduce the risk of injury. 


Your leg muscles are going to get a workout as you push yourself up from underneath. Your inner thighs, quads, and calves will work the hardest. 

As more novice climbers develop their technique and gain skill, they begin to depend less on their upper body and more on their lower body. This creates more pushing than pulling. 

There are four major muscles in your thigh that help you straighten your leg when stepping from one foothold to another. Then your calves raise your heel and help you stay on that razor-thin barely noticeable hold. 

Pay Attention to the Muscles Used in Rock Climbing

Whether you’re a hardcore veteran or a newbie, you need to pay attention to the muscles used in rock climbing. Listen to your body to know when you’ve pushed too far, or are starting to fatigue. 

Doing this will let you know when your body needs a break. This will help keep you safe and healthy, so you’re ready for the next climb and not sidelined by an injury. 

Set yourself up for climbing success by getting the perfect pair of shoes

Butora Altura Climbing Shoe