How Many Calories Are Burned During Rock Climbing?

Are you curious to know how many calories are burned during rock climbing? Or are you wondering how many calories you can burn in just one rock climbing session? This guide tells you all you need to know.

Rock Climbing: The Best Choice to Burn Your Calories

Rock climbing is an intense activity that involves ascending across vertical terrains.

When rock climbing, the muscles of your legs, arms, upper body, hip, and fingers are engaged for a prolonged period; burning serious calories. This is why it’s regarded as a full-body workout.

A sport this interesting and yet, super intense, only begs the question. How many calories does it burn?

An average climber burns about 380 to 550 calories per hour at low to moderate difficulty. And for a higher difficulty, burns 575 to 775 calories every hour.

Your ability to burn calories heavily depends on the level of difficulty of the climbing routes and your body weight. So you have to climb higher difficult routes to intensify your calories burned per minute.

Let’s examine how many calories rock climbing burns so we can create a good diet plan and train efficiently.

Use Of MET Value To Calculate Calories Burned Rock Climbing

Metabolic Equivalent of Task, MET Value, is majorly used to calculate the number of oxygen you consume and the number of calories burned for various exercises. MET value can help determine the rate of our caloric expenditure when we rock climb.

1 MET stands for the number of oxygen you consume just sitting down and being at rest.

2 MET means using double energy as your body would if you were sitting down and at rest. 6 MET simply implies that you’re burning 6 times as many calories and consuming 6 times more oxygen than your body at rest.

There are tons of sporting activities with their various MET values. Rock climbing as a sport has its MET Value. Below are their values according to the compendium of physical activities.

ActivityMET value
Rock or Mountain Climbing8.0
Rock Climbing, Ascending Rock, high difficulty7.5
Rock Climbing, Ascending or traversing Rock, low-to-moderate difficulty5.8

One thing to note is that 1 MET is equivalent to 3.5ml/kg/min.

To figure out the number of calories you burn, you make use of this MET value equation:

(MET × 3.5 × B.W)/200


B.W = your body weight in kilograms (Kg)

MET = value of the intensity of sporting activity which in this case, is rock climbing.

The result gotten from this equation gives you precise information on the number of calories you burn. The unit is in Cal/min.

For example, let’s say Ellen rock climbs at a normal rate, her body weight is recorded to be 140lb (64kg). To calculate the number of calories she burns per minute for every climbing session, we use the equation above.

This means we find the multiplication of 8MET (the MET value of Rock climbing according to the table), 3.5, and 64. Then divide the outcome by 200. The result gotten is 9Cal/min

Fixing the variables to the equation, it looks like this:

(8MET × 3.5 × 64)/200 = 9Cal/min

What this means for Ellen is that for every minute that passes while rock climbing, she burns 9 calories.

So if Ellen climbs for about 30mins straight, this simply implies that she’d burn roughly 270 calories rock climbing.

Another way to count calories is to multiply only the top variables MET × 3.5 × BW(kg)

For example,

8 × 3.5 × 64 = 1800ml of O2 per min.

That is, 1.8L of O2 per min.

According to research, for every liter of oxygen consumed, we burn roughly 5 calories.

So if Ellen is consuming 1.8L of oxygen and we multiply that by 5kCal/L, you’d arrive at the same 9Cal/min value gotten in the previous method.

So from this equation, it’s easy to see that the higher your body weight is, the higher the number of calories you burn while rock climbing. Likewise, if it’s smaller.

However, the first drawback of this experiment is that it doesn’t take into account your gender, age, height, or physical and environmental condition in which the activity was performed. These are super important and play a significant role to get a more accurate result of how many calories your burn when rock climbing. This, therefore, counts for the causes of variations in individual energy expenditure.

The second is that the values are derived from elite athletes. There’s a high chance as an average climber, you may burn more or fewer calories than one who is an elite climber. Making it contradict the values stated in the compendium.

Rock Climbing Calculators For Calories Burned

Technology has made things a lot easier. There are several online rock climbing calculators which you can use to calculate how many calories you burn. One of which you can try out is this.

These calculators use your MET Value of rock climbing to estimate the number of calories burned per minute. All you need do is fill out your data and it calculates the total calories burned per minute for you.

Although, it also has its limitations. It doesn’t account for the environmental and physical condition in which you performed the workout – making them less accurate.

Only use the MET value and rock climbing calculators to get a close idea of how many calories you burn per climbing session.

Regardless, for more accurate data, going to see your doctor remains the best option.

Factors Affecting Caloric Expenditure In Rock Climbing

Various factors can come into play and influence one’s caloric expenditure. They are:

  • Gender: When it comes to climbing, your gender affects your caloric expenditure. A 2019 study showed that men happen to burn more calories than women when rock climbing.
  • Age
  • Body physiology

The Bottom Line

Rock climbing is one exhilarating workout with a mix of adrenaline and a dash of adventure. Besides burning calories, rock climbing builds the muscles of your upper body and forearms. The physically and mentally challenging aspect of the sport makes it a great way to have fun while boosting your health and fitness.

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