Rock climbing is one of the exciting and fun alternatives to visiting a gym.

It gives you a great chance to socialize with a lot of people in that sports industry.

Though it’s a hard skill to master, it’s very interesting and rewarding. 

Whether it is indoor or on real outdoor rock climbing, you will work muscles that you never imagined you had.

It comes as a surprise how fast you break a sweat despite making slow moves. 

Most people ask how many calories do you burn rock climbing and bouldering, you have to keep reading, and you will get to know how bouldering is the solution to your weight loss journey.

Nothing beats the ability to boulder or scale a cliff face. 

How Many Calories Do You Burn Rock Climbing and Bouldering
How Many Calories Do You Burn Rock Climbing and Bouldering?

Does Rock Climbing and Bouldering Burn Calories?

Yes, rock climbing and bouldering burn calories, and rock climbing is good for weight loss in general.

Some data claim that bouldering and rock climbing are the most effective sports that one could use to burn calories and stay fit.

When it comes to the number of calories you can burn while climbing, people give different answers. 

The consensus is that a climber will burn anywhere between 500 to 900 calories per hour, but they ensure to keep rest at a minimum between routes. 

According to research, rock climbing builds power, and strength, and brings anaerobic and aerobic fitness levels to new heights.

So, it’s not only a good exercise but one of the best. For starters, while climbing, you should stay in constant motion. 

It’s a dynamic sport that needs one to shift position and work for various muscle groups routinely.

Its results are so because there are no crags that are equal.

It’s the reason climbing burns some severe calories.

How Do I Calculate the Number of Calories I Burn?

To calculate the number of calories you burn while rock climbing, you need to have a formula.

An equation says how many calories you can burn in a certain number of hours at a given caloric burn rate.

So, first, understand how many calories a climbing trip burns in an hour.

The data on this varies, and it’s like there is no given answer to the question. 

You can start with the Metabolic Equivalent Task value if you don’t know how many calories you burn rock climbing.

If you calculate the MET value accurately, it will become easy to estimate the time it will take to lose weight.

The value varies when you have people with different body weights.

  • A 100lbs individual burns about 340 calories every hour
  • A 150lbs boulderer burns around 510 calories every hour
  • A 200lbs climber burns about 680 calories each hour

However, the numbers fluctuate depending on your climbing intensity during the session, gender, heart rate, age, and V02Max. 

You can consider some other factors also.

The intensity of the climbing also decides the number of calories burned.

Your age and gender determine it also.

You can use a device to monitor your heart rate as calories burned are directly proportional to the heart rate.

Most experts believe that people overestimate the calories burned during a session.

Professionals recommend using digital devices to monitor the heart rate and calories burned.

You will get a better value estimate with heart rate and V02Max value.

You can follow some tips in the list to increase the estimation.

1. Calculated How Many Calories You Burn Rock Climbing/Bouldering Using Your Smart Watch

Most people think that smartwatches can give an accurate value of calories burned.

Experts do not think the same.

Smartwatches can give you an estimate of calories burned, but you should not expect an absolute value using these devices.

Many of these devices give a higher value than the actual one.

Still, many studies prove that smartwatches can obtain better health outcomes.

Every scientific study proves that smartwatches can help you count calories burned.

The smartwatch may show you have burned more than 500 calories for a short session.

You should know that it cannot be accurate.

The only reason experts recommend stopwatches for climbing is their ability to measure heart rate.

You can calculate the calories burned better when you know the heart rate and time you took to climb.

Experts never say that you should throw your smartwatch because it is unuseful.

They recommend not to rely on the smartwatch as much because it can give a false value sometimes.

You may also make your sessions short because the smart watch shows that you reached your calories burning today.

2. Calculated How Many Calories You Burn Rock Climbing/Bouldering Using MET Value to Calculate Calories

MET Value is also known as the Metabolic Equivalent of Task value.

It helps you calculate the calories burned for different activities with varying intensity levels.

Knowing the MET value makes it easy to calculate calories burned.

You can remember three numbers if you want to calculate the MET value for climbing.

  • You will get a MET value of 8 when climbing a mountain or bouldering.
  • Climbing on an ascending rock will give you a MET value of 7.5.
  • You will get a MET value of 7 when climbing transverse rock with medium difficulty.

You need two values to calculate the calories burned in one hour of climbing.

The first parameter is the MET value.

The second parameter is the weight of the climber in Kilograms.

You can multiply the MET value with a person’s weight to get the number of calories burned in one hour of climbing.

You may add another factor to the equation if you want to calculate for less than or more than one hour.

Example – We can take the example of a person with 50 Kg of body weight.

If you climb on a high hardness level wall for one hour, we can use the formula to calculate the calories.

High-intensity climbing has a MET value of 8. You can multiply 8 with 45 to get 360.

The climber will burn 360 calories in one hour in these conditions.

  • You will get a value of 45.35 Kg when you convert hundred pounds to kilograms. At the easy level, he will burn 263 calories. For medium and high hardness values are 340 and 362, respectively.
  • You will get a value of 90.71 Kg when you convert 200 pounds. He will burn 725 calories in one hour in high difficulty climbing. He burns 680 calories in one hour at medium hardness. At an easy hardness climbing, he will burn 526 calories in one hour.

If you do not find it easy to categorize the hardness levels of different walls, you can make some easy rules.

Easy climbing walls will allow you to climb to the top with less effort.

Medium hardness forces people to think that they should practice more as they barely make it to the top.

High hardness means you get exhausted at the center of the climbing wall.

It seems an easy way to calculate the calories burned.

According to scientific research articles, it is also not the most accurate way to calculate calories.

What’s the problem with MET value calculations?

People want evidence to believe that the MET value does not give accurate results.

Experts do not believe in the accuracy of the MET value because it does not consider the climber’s gender.

Height and age also affect the number of calories burned in a person.

This value does not consider these factors also.

You can use some online calculators to check the calorie count.

You may see a reduction of calories burned number up to a hundred numbers. Y

ou may have to change your climbing time to meet your weight loss goals.

MET Value does not give an absolute number because elite climbers face a lower difficulty on the same wall.

Professionals climbers may consider a climb easy that is hard for non-professional people.

3. Calculated How Many Calories You Burn Rock Climbing/Bouldering Using Your Heart Rate to Measure Calories

Most people observe a heart rate increase when they climb.

The opposite can happen in some professional climbers.

Alex Honold and Adam Ondra are prime examples of these athletes.

They observe a reduction in heart rate when they climb on the wall.

It is impossible to keep the heart rate the same when climbing the wall.

Heart rate is an excellent indicator of your hard work.

It is not directly proportional to calories burned in some cases.

Professional climbers have a lower heart rate.

A 50 points increase in heart rate means 100 beats in one minute for athletes.

The same increase gives 130 beats in one minute for an average person.

There is a different formula for males and females to calculate the burned calories.

  • Calories for Male = ((-55.0969 + (0.6309 x Heart Rate) + (0.1988 x Weight in Kg) + (0.2017 x Age))/4.184) x 60 x Time
  • Calories for Female = ((-20.4022 + (0.4472 x Heart Rate) – (0.1263 x Weight) + (0.074 x Age))/4.184) x 60 x Time

If a female has a heart rate of 140, is age 26, and has a weight of 60Kg, she will burn more than 500 calories in one hour according to this formula.

4. Calculated How Many Calories You Burn Rock Climbing/Bouldering Using Your V02Max to Measure Calories

You will get the most accurate calorie reading when you combine the values of heart rate and V02Max values.

V02Max is the volume of oxygen your body use during exercise.

V is the volume, O2 is for oxygen, and Max means maximum.

When combining all factors, you will get this formula.

  • Calories Burned for Male = ((-95.7735 + (0.634 x Heart Rate) + (0.404 x Max Volume of Oxygen use) + (0.394 x Weight in Kg) + (0.271 x Age))/4.184) x 60 x Time
  • Calories Burned for Female =: ((-59.3954 + (0.45 x Heart Rate) + (0.380 x Max Volume of Oxygen use) + (0.103 x Weight in Kg) + (0.274 x Age))/4.184) x 60 x Time

Apple watches do not give you accurate V02Max readings because they use algorithms to calculate it with the heart rate.

To obtain better results, you can pay for a professional V02Max reading during your climbing session.

If a climber has a V02Max value of 34, weight 66Kgs, Age 26, and heart rate of 140, she will burn more than 430 calories in one hour of climbing.

What Factors Determine the Number of Calories You Burn while Rock Climbing and Bouldering?


People who have put on a lot of weight will use up many calories and energy to get over a hard section while climbing.

On the other side, climbers with little weight will have an easy time ascending the rock. 

According to research, weight is a critical factor since you will need a lot of energy if you have extra weight, and you might encounter dramatic caloric burn during climbing trips. 

For this reason, people usually lose weight while putting effort into making the sessions easier and taking maximum breaks to rest. 


Boulderers or climbers who climb wearing heavier or more gear might as well burn a huge number of calories. 

The extra weight will call for more effort that, in turn, burns down extra calories. 


The difficulty level of the route also plays a major role in burning calories.

The hard route forces one to use more effort and strength while you make every pull-up move. 

Here, you get to burn a bigger number of calories than on the easy climb.

Keep in mind that effort equals calorie expenditure.

Experts familiar with specific routes will find that they expend little energy since they already know the holds.

Their bodies have the natural ability to ascend due to the experience they have. 

On the other hand, beginners on a new router will need to put in more effort for every pull-up, burning more calories in each climb. 

The type of rock 

The type of rock you climb or boulder matters a lot.

A very steep rock will need you to maximize the strength of your upper body. 

It’s a great way to help build the lean muscle mass in your shoulders and arms, which assists in weight loss.

Route length

The length of the routes is another factor to consider.

A person who does shorter routes while climbing in succession without even resting will burn fewer calories. 

But if a boulder is climbing longer, routes will burn many calories since much energy and effort are involved in completing the trips. 

So, you will be better off taking longer routes which makes you take a long break between the climbs to make sure you cut an equal amount of calories after a long, difficult route.

Number of times you climb 

If you are looking to increase your calorie expenditure, you could take more frequent breaks and climb for a longer time. 

Those who climb for a few days in a row or several times a week have a great chance of building more lean muscle mass and burning down stored fats. 

With the above factors to consider, keep in mind that the number of calories you lose while bouldering or rock climbing is hugely an estimate unless you can access the lab data. For this reason, always leave room for error while doing the math to help you satisfy your fitness goal. 

Every person looks forward to losing calories.

Fortunately, rock climbing offers the best chance to burn calories like you never expected.

It’s an intensive sport that activates a few muscle groups all over the body and offers one an overall body workout for bouldering.

If you are a beginner or an experienced boulderer seeking to track down your weight in a fun and exciting way to cut down calories, rock climbing is for you. 

The activity provides you with the potential to leverage caloric burn and begin to slash off those pounds.

So, if you prefer exercise combined with adrenaline and adventure, then get ready for rock climbing.

It’s a workout with a full package.

Can You Burn Calories While Belaying?

You cannot burn several calories while belaying because your body is not doing heavy work.

Many ask how many calories do you burn rock climbing and belaying.

They want to know if you should count the time while belaying.

Belaying is giving rope to the person going down the hill below you.

You can do it by changing the position of the belay device.

There is no need for extensive muscle use while belaying.

Many think they are burning the same number of calories while belaying.

Experts suggest you do not include the belaying time in the climbing time because you do not burn significant calories in this phase.

The number of calories burned in belaying is low.

It is better to count only the time during climbing because it will help you manage burned calorie count.

Can You Burn Calories While Bouldering?

Most experts compare bouldering with sprint running as it burns several calories.

Traditional rock climbing is similar to marathon running, as your body burns average calories.

Bouldering helps you burn insane calories because your body uses intense muscle force to climb the boulders.

The other reason for burning a high number of calories is the usage of many muscles at once.

Most experts believe you burn an average of 500 to 900 calories in one session of Boulder climbing.

Some find it hard to count the time bouldering.

You can take help from a stopwatch or mobile device.

Using these devices may also have some issues, but you will get a more accurate estimation of your calories burned during boulder climbing.

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