Should You Go Rock Climbing When You’re Overweight?

Rock climbing can be an exhilarating hobby and it has become a growing past time across the globe.

But due to its nature, you may be wondering if it’s okay to rock climb if you’re overweight.

The answer, like most things in life, isn’t quite so clear-cut.

Though it’s possible to rock climb safely and effectively while overweight, obese individuals will face an additional set of challenges.

While these challenges don’t necessarily make rock climbing a bad idea, they do require additional preparation and work on behalf of the climber.

The good news?

With routine rock climbing, obese individuals can start shedding weight and improving their overall quality of life.

If you’re wondering if rock climbing while overweight is for you, join us as we take a look at some of the pros and cons of the practice. While our stance is that interested individuals should take the leap and go for it, feel free to reach your own conclusion after reviewing the relevant evidence with us.

climbing when overweight


Why Aren’t There a Lot of Overweight Climbers?

As you may have guessed, there aren’t a lot of overweight rock climbers.

The reason for this, however, isn’t quite as predictable.

The truth is that there are several reasons overweight individuals may decide not to go rock climbing, and the majority of them are mental in nature.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the main reasons why there aren’t many overweight climbers:

  1. Lack of Self-Confidence—Many overweight individuals lack the confidence needed to go out and try rock climbing. Because they feel as if they will be judged, they don’t believe it’s a worthwhile effort.
  2. Misconceptions—A lot of overweight people may even believe that there’s no way they could rock climb because of their weight. Maybe they feel as if it’s too dangerous or that equipment won’t be able to protect them.
  3. Fear of Failure—Though this is a big reason many people don’t get into rock climbing, it’s especially true among overweight people because they don’t have the confidence that they will be able to pull it off. This is coupled with the fact that they are having to “compete” with healthier and more-able bodied individuals. Because rock climbing is often perceived as a more extreme sport, this can help further the image that it’s too difficult for people who aren’t fit to attempt.
  4. Lack of Motivation—Many overweight people are obese because they don’t have a desire to be physically fit. At the very least, they don’t make a point of being involved in any sport—much less rock climbing. And even for those interested in being active, they might not believe it will actually be effective for them in their weight-loss battle. This is true with rock climbing, as well, as many individuals may see it as a waste of time.


Health Benefits and Concerns

The number one consideration you should make when determining if climbing while overweight is right for you is your health.

Making sure that you’re physically fit enough to handle the task is a must before you start your rock climbing journey.

If your obesity is causing you any type of health problem, first consult with your doctor to get a professional opinion. It may be the case that you have a limiting factor that will keep you from being able to participate in rock climbing.

You don’t want to find out that you have a health condition once you’ve started your climb, so be sure to find out ahead of time by talking to your doctor.

This all depends in large part on just how overweight you are. Those who are only slightly overweight likely have no reason to worry—in fact, you might have reason to celebrate!

Rock climbing while slightly-to-moderately overweight shouldn’t be much of an issue, and it’s likely that you’ll start to shed some unwanted pounds with enough practice.

In order to be a successful rock climber, you’ll have to be great at cardio—and as you train your body for this, you’re guaranteed to lose some pounds. Great as a full-body workout, rock climbing is especially strong as a targeted cardio exercise—meaning that you can now lose weight the fun way! (We’re guessing you never knew there was a fun way to lose weight—but now you do!)

That being said, rock climbing is an incredibly-active sport that will allow you to get much-needed exercise. In addition to losing weight, you’ll be able to build your upper body strength for a better physique.

Also, with regular exercise, you’ll even be able to get back into shape, and you may find that you’re encouraged to take part in other sports and activities as well.

In this way, rock climbing can be a springboard to changing your life by helping you get back into shape.

Additionally, because you’re always going to be with a partner, rock climbing is an effective way to get out and meet new individuals who are interested in personal fitness and recreation. By surrounding yourself with company that cares about fitness, you’ll find it easier to continue your own weight-loss journey.

And because there are so many passionate rock climbers who are willing to share their knowledge with you, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect rock climbing buddy.

As you begin to climb and lose weight, you’ll notice that your feelings of self-worth and confidence are being restored, and you may even begin to feel more comfortable in your own body.

Because exercise is positively correlated to better moods and reduced depression, you can start taking control of your life again through the power of rock climbing.

If you’re worried that you may be too big or out-of-shape to do rock climbing, take baby steps. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

You may find that you aren’t physically fit to go rock climbing, but if your doctor believes it’s a good idea and you’re interested in it, don’t give up without trying.

And don’t just try it once. You may find that it takes you a few times to get into the habit and swing of things, but that’s okay. Once you get started, you’ll be on your way to having a better body and life in no time.


Other Benefits to Climbing While Overweight

In addition to the obvious health benefits of climbing while overweight, there are several other reasons to consider rock climbing.

Check out a few of these reasons below:

  1. Staying More Active—By taking up rock climbing, you’ll be able to stay active with a social group of individuals who share your passions and interests. Rock climbing is a great way to get away from the stress of everyday life with a fun and thrilling “adventure.” By being able to go out with your friends and share a relaxing day, you can get a break from your usual routine. And because you’re doing it while staying active, you don’t have to worry about feeling bad about yourself.
  2. Feeling Happier—Studies have shown that the more active you are—and the more sunshine you get—the better you feel. By taking up rock climbing, you’ll have a powerful and natural stress reliever that will help alleviate your daily burdens while putting you in touch with a group of friends who can support you. And, importantly, if you plan on taking your rock climbing outdoors, you can surround yourself with nature in all its majesty and conquer it like you never before dreamed of. The thrill of conquering a certain mountain cannot be explained, and as you start making impressive climbs of your own, you’re bound to see your confidence levels boost. In fact, rock climbing is so fun and rewarding that it’s hard to imagine ever feeling bad about yourself—or anything—while out on a climb. Because you’ll be so locked into making your climb in a safe manner, you won’t have time to worry about anything else. This gives you the break and the retreat you need in order to sort out any complicated emotions you may be feeling.
  3. Healthy Competition—Though you don’t ever have to compete with anyone but yourself, rock climbing offers a great way to challenge yourself to meet certain goals. As you become better at your rock climbing, you can challenge yourself to tackle increasingly-difficult mountains or walls so that you can constantly improve yourself. As you do, you’ll notice that both your mental and your physical strength improve, giving you the fortitude to make the tough decisions you have to in life. And by being able to stick to your goals, you’ll become a more responsible, motivated, and successful person.
  4. Allows You to Conquer Fears—Afraid of heights? Don’t let that stop you from becoming a great rock climber. Instead, use it as motivation to tackle your fears head on. By being able to look your fears dead in the face, you’ll be able to be more successful in life—as you’ll have the gumption to not back away from any challenge. As you rock climb and learn to trust your harness and your belayer below, you’ll be able to overcome any mental hang-ups you may have about trying new things or leaving your comfort zone—and remember, the only way to grow is if you expose yourself to stuff that makes you uncomfortable. Start your personal revolution by getting into rock climbing and getting the strength of mind you need to say no to your bad habits—such as overeating—and to confront the issues that have allowed you to become overweight.

As you can see, there are several benefits to climbing when overweight, so don’t let your fears hold you back! Your investment into the rock climbing process may be the jump-start you need to live a happier, healthier, and fitter life.


Disadvantages While Climbing Overweight

Nothing is perfect—not even rock climbing.

If you’re looking to go climbing or even bouldering when overweight, keep in mind the following drawbacks:

  • It’s Too Much for You—Depending on your weight, you may not be able to take on the strain of such high-level activity. If you fear this may be the cause for you, talk to your doctor first to make sure. But most of all, listen to your body. No one knows better than you do just what you can and can’t do, so if you’re feeling unsure, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

That being said, if you’re really interested in rock climbing, you may be able to find alternative exercises to do until you’re in good enough shape to start climbing—so don’t give up on your rock climbing passions just yet.

  • It’s A Lot to Take In—While rock climbing is often a fun and rewarding process, be aware that if you have self-esteem or body issues, you may want to deal with them before you get started. Most people who will be rock climbing alongside you will likely be in much better physical shape—so if this makes you feel uncomfortable or self-conscience, make sure that you take care of your insecurities ahead of time. Rock climbing isn’t a sport or a hobby that you should pick up if you’re unable to focus on the task at hand, so if you feel as if you may be too distracted to dedicate your attention solely to climbing and your technique, this may not be for you.
  • Finding Equipment May Be Hard—Some climbers who are overweight have reported difficulty in finding equipment that is suitable for their size. Some gear—such as helmets and harnesses, for example—may be hard to find in your size depending on how large you are. You may have to check into purchasing specialty equipment that runs at a higher cost in order to safely participate.
  • Easier to Get Injured—If you’re overweight and not used to physical exercise, you’re at a higher risk of injury than those who routinely rock climb. You’ll have to be extra careful not to harm your muscles or slip and fall, as your body won’t be as accustomed to doing such intense exercise. You’re also likely going to be a lot sorer than your slimmer counterparts, so you should expect to live with a few aches and pains for your first few weeks.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you should overlook any injury that you get while climbing. If you tear a muscle or receive any other serious injury, don’t blow it off, as it might make your future climbs extremely dangerous. Make sure that you take things slow and steady until your body is ready to do more. By listening to your body, you can push yourself to and challenge your limits without ever breaking them and injuring yourself.

The bottom line? Just don’t overdo it. Everything needs to be done in moderation—even good things like rock climbing. And no matter how excited you are about it, make sure that you’re not doing too much, too soon.

By keeping the above disadvantages in mind, you can better prepare and decide if rock climbing is right for you. As you can tell, however, most of these disadvantages can be overcome in one way or another with appropriate preparation, so if you’re dedicated to starting to rock climb, make sure to give it a try.


Things to Keep in Mind If You Plan to Climb

In addition to these advantages and disadvantages, there are other considerations you should make if you plan to start up rock climbing when overweight.

Importantly, make sure that you’re buying equipment that can support your weight. You’re going to want your carabiner to be able to support you as you climb and in the event that you fall. A general rule of thumb, according to some climbers, is that your gear should be able to support 10% more than your body weight—you want to go over because you have to account for the force that will be applied by gravity.

Additionally, when you select your rock climbing partner, make sure that you have someone who is heavy or experienced enough to work with a person of your size. If you completely mismatch your belayer, you could cause injury to both of you if you fall, as they will be upended and tossed into the rock wall if not anchored down.

This can have negative consequences for you, too, as your belayer won’t be able to catch your fall if they’re in the air.

Now, it’s important to note that this only happens with extreme size mismatches, so you don’t have to find someone who matches your weight exactly. Just make sure that they are in the right ballpark so that you can be protected in the case of an emergency.


Will Others Judge You?

For many who are overweight, fear of being judged keeps them from starting rock climbing.

It’s the same fear many have of going to the gym—and the answer to this “problem” is the same.

No one is going to judge you.

For the most part, rock climbers are an inclusive group and will be happy to help show you the ropes. No one is going to judge you for taking up a new activity—especially when it’s one that can help you lose weight.

As noted, you may feel uncomfortable being around so many physically-fit and exercise-oriented individuals, but don’t let this deter you from starting rock climbing if it’s something you’re really into.

These fears are mostly in your head, so don’t let them take control and prevent you from doing something that you really want to do—especially now that you know all the incredible benefits rock climbing could have in your life.

If you’re still worried about your appearance during your first few rock climbing sessions, don’t worry. Just focus on getting the training and education you need to start rock climbing. Soon, as you start to make friends and partners, you’ll realize that not only were you being overly self-conscience about your weight, you’ll find that you’re starting to lose it, too.


Making the Decision That’s Right for You

At the end of the day, you’re going to have to make your call based on what feels right for you. It’s important that when you make your decision, you do so by separating your actual limitations from ones that you are setting for yourself.

If you can’t physically handle it, for instance, that’s one thing. But if you’re holding off from starting rock climbing because you’re afraid of what others may think or are worried that you’re going to be out of place because you’re so big, then it’s time to take the next step.

Rock climbing when overweight has several key benefits that can help you get your life pointed in the right direction. This fast-growing hobby and sport can help you transform your life by allowing you to shed pounds and build physical and mental strength.

Don’t underestimate the power of rock climbing in helping you deal with some of the mental and emotional triggers that have led you to overeat and become overweight.

A great exercise routine, rock climbing will get you back in the game by helping you shed pounds and by instilling in you the confidence and the determination needed to confront your problems and turn your dreams into a reality.

So, should you go rock climbing if you’re overweight?

We say yes!—provided you can.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to build the body of your dreams while enjoying one of the hottest sports in the world.

Once you open the door to rock climbing, you’ll get started on a great new fitness journey that can help improve your appearance and your overall quality of life.

So our advice is this:

If you’re capable and interested in rock climbing, there’s no time to waste. Get started today!

Climbing Blogger

Zealous boulderer, gear geek and editor. Typically has more flappers than fingers on his hands. Occasionally enjoys the feeling of being scared of heights. Mostly prevents looking down too much, though, and cheers at the invention of climbing chalk.

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