- You can get ripped from rock climbing, but it depends on your diet,
- While possible, getting ripped from rock climbing might not be the easiest or best thing to do.
- In reality, anyone can get ripped if they eat, train, and recover correctly.
When it comes to getting ripped, we all see a guy in sweats pounding away at the Stairmaster. But what if you’re not on the Stairmaster? What if you prefer the stairs of nature — sometimes called a mountain?
Technically, you could get ripped from rock climbing, but that might not be the smartest idea. Let me show you why.
What Is Rock Climbing?
For your (and my) educational purposes, we first need to identify all the factors in this equation. This means we need to identify what being ripped means.
But first, what does rock climbing mean?
A simple Google search will tell you rock climbing is “the sport or activity of climbing rock faces, especially with the aid of ropes and special equipment.” Essentially, you get to a rock face or “rock face” indoors, and you, well, climb it.
You can use equipment, but sometimes you don’t. It really all depends on whether or not the tax man is hunting you.
There are a few types of rock climbing, according to the National Park Service, such as:
- Adaptive climbing, which is climbing for those with disabilities
- Aid climbing, the one we all think about when we imagine rock climbing — you have mechanical aids to help you
- Artificial wall climbing is, as the name suggests, artificially made for hands and feet
- Sport climbing is best described as “typically a single pitch, one rope length, fixed anchors (bolts) provide protection on the climb.”
For this article, we’ll be focusing on aid climbers. However, we’ll let you know of any differences that might take place along the way. Obviously, someone doing free climbing will use more energy, which could help them get ripped faster.
What Does It Even Mean To Be Ripped?
The big question, of course, is what does it even mean to be ripped in the first place? Should you look like Team Jacob throwing it back to the 2010s?
Or should you look like Arnie and grunt, “I’ll be back” at the treadmill?
Simply put, you only have to be two things in order to be ripped. However, they are slightly counterintuitive, which can make it hard for people to understand and achieve this goal:
You Have To Be Muscular
An old adage in the fitness world is, “It’s okay if you get a bit fat as long as you get powerful as well.” The reason for this adage is that strength will translate into more muscle mass, making you muscular. Remove the fat, keep the muscles, and you have something to work with.
Now, take someone with no muscle, remove the fat, and all you have is skin and bones. This makes the person appear “skinny fat,” which doesn’t achieve the goal of being strong or ripped!
You Have To Have Low Levels of Fat
Being ripped still means being ripped, no matter how you slice it. And what a coincidence that many people call it being cut or shredded.
You have to lower the amount of adipose tissue in your body with the use of calorie-restrictive diets and extreme workouts to ensure you lose stored body fat.
Other than these two factors, there isn’t anything else you need to be ripped! Sure, other factors like being vascular or looking grainy add to the look, but you certainly don’t need them.
Can You Get Muscular from Rock Climbing?
Back to rock climbing! We need to start breaking down those two factors I just mentioned, namely being muscular and being low on body fat stores.
Is it possible to achieve both with rock climbing?
Muscle tissue is vital to human survival (I hope you knew that). In fact, there are plenty of people who suffer in their old age because of muscle wastage. Muscle growth is — therefore —- vital, as muscle wastage begins around the ages of 30 – 40, and you need to offset this.
The rules or requirements for muscle growth are rather simple, and they’re the same for your 45-year-old mom and your 22-year-old rock-climbing butt:
You Need To Apply Mechanical Tension
Mechanical tension might sound big and scary but fear not. It’s actually really simple.
Mechanical tension is simply tension placed on a muscle through its active range of motion through a resistance profile.
Or, if you failed physics, you need to move something! Something with weight, from point A to point B, and you should move it with your muscles and not momentum.
For kayakers and swimmers, for example, mechanical tension comes from the resistance of the water. For rock climbers, their mechanical tension will come from actually pulling and hoisting themselves up and toward the top.
Unless they use less equipment or add more weight to themselves, their load remains the same. The volume they do refers to how long they climb, while intensity refers to how fast or hard they climb.
You Need To Apply Progressive Overload
Progressive overload can simply be described as more. Muscles need a reason to adopt, a reason to overcome the limitations of being normal.
Thus, if you want abnormal (i.e., muscles), you need to provide a reason. Problem is, the reason you had last month won’t phase the muscles this month.
“Pfft. 3 sets of 10 with 100? Come on! Completed it, mate…”
And so we need to provide more of a reason. How? By using more load, volume, or — in the case of rock climbers — more intensity as well.
You can add more weight to yourself (or use less help) to increase the load. You can climb for longer to increase the volume. Or you can increase how hard/fast you climb to increase the intensity.
Normal gym-goers have it easier because they can physically just add weights to the bar. Rock climbers have to be smarter, and the only ones they can somewhat safely overload are the volume and intensity.
With all that said, yes, you can get muscular from rock climbing. Of course, there are negatives but also positives to this endeavor.
The Pros & Cons of Using Rock Climbing to Get Muscular
|Rock Climbing to get Muscular|
|Positives NegativesYou don’t need a gym membership.||You can fall and die.|
|It’s a full-body workout.||There are more injuries than in a normal gym.|
|Technically, it’s cardio as well.||You’ll struggle to progressively overload.|
|Being light is better, meaning you’ll keep fat levels low.||While building muscles while remaining lean is possible, it’s not optimal.|
Okay, so it certainly is possible, but the biggest limitation is the fact that the only way you can make it harder is by climbing for longer (takes up time) or climbing faster (increases the danger factor).
If you’re willing to do those two things, then you only need one or two more things to build muscle:
- You need to eat the correct type of diet.
- You need to rest and recover.
Rock Climbing Hypertrophy
Did you find the answer to the very last question a bit lackluster? Me too… Here’s what I meant by what you need to build muscle (hypertrophy) from rock climbing:
- You need to train with progressive overload.
- Your diet should be rich in protein and calories.
- You should rest enough for the muscles to recover.
We’ve discussed the training extensively, and you can only climb longer or harder. You could add weight to yourself, but that could be quite dangerous.
We’ll give you more tips in a moment.
The diet to build muscle is rather simple.
First, you need to calculate your maintenance calories and simply add 200 – 300 calories to that. Eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, and you’re good! Sure, we could have a discussion about carb and fat splits, but the basics only require you to follow those two guidelines.
Rest and recovery encompass everything you do apart from exercise — sleep, stress management, etc. If you fail to sleep enough or if you stress too much, you might end up restricting the amount of muscle you can build, which is massively counterintuitive.
Your body weight should increase 0.5 – 1.0% of total body weight per week, and if weight gain stops, you simply add 200 calories to your diet until weight loss stops again. Then, repeat.
How Long Does It Take to Get Ripped from Rock Climbing?
The second point to getting ripped is, of course, removing fat tissue — granted, you have the muscle, to begin with. How do you do it, and how long will it take?
The two go hand-in-hand, and one will dictate the other:
Option 1 – Cut Hard
This means you cut aggressively and hard. You risk losing muscle mass, and life will be less enjoyable.
Remove 400 – 500 calories from your maintenance, and keep protein to at least 1.2 grams per pound of body weight. Weight loss should be 0.75 – 1.0% of total body weight per week, and you shouldn’t do this for longer than 8 – 10 weeks.
Option 2 – Cut Responsibly
As the name suggests, this would mean you cut slower, but you’ll run a smaller risk of muscle loss.
Remove only 200 – 300 calories from maintenance, and keep protein at 1.0 grams per pound of body weight. This diet can be followed for up to 16 weeks, and you should lose 0.5 – 0.75% of your total body weight per week.
The amount of time it’ll take for you to get ripped depends entirely on how much fat you have to begin with. Someone who’s 300 lbs at 45% body fat will take longer to get ripped compared to a 200 lbs person with 20%. Thus, use the weight loss per week as a reference to calculate how long it could take you to lose weight.
* Note: If you have a history of eating disorders or have a super stressful life, cutting slower and more steadily will be far better for your longevity. Also, keep in mind that if you run too low on energy while climbing, you run the risk of injury.
When cutting as a rock climber, you might also want to have little calorie-dense snacks as an emergency unit of energy while climbing. After all, it isn’t uncommon for extreme dieters to experience hypoglycemia, especially when exercising.
Can You Really Get Ripped from Rock Climbing?
It certainly is possible, yes. Optimal, though?… That really depends on how long you want to spend doing this.
You could have the best of both worlds by doing the following:
- One or two cardio sessions per week, preferably low-intensity
- Two to three resistance training sessions
- If you climb a lot, massages and more sleep than normal people will also help
This would be the ideal scenario to help you get ripped, and if you remove the cardio, it puts you in the ideal situation to build muscle as a rock climber.
It might not be the most conventional way to build muscle or get ripped, but it certainly can work!
All you need to focus on is actually staying consistent and making sure you follow your diet. Regardless of how active you are, you can never out-train a bad diet.
Lastly, make sure you practice safety. Being too heavy to climb because of your thunder thighs — not safe. Being too tired to climb because of your calorie deficit — not safe.
Make adult choices.