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Ask Men's Fitness: Is indoor rock climbing a good workout?

Hauling yourself up a wall will challenge your whole body—and what guy couldn't use a few Spider-Man moves in his repertoire?
Ask Men's Fitness: Is indoor rock climbing a good workout?

“Indoor climbing is a great full-body workout for both strength and cardio,” says 5.14 (extreme-grade) climber Seth Lytton of

“You’ll work your shoulders—especially your delts—and build your bi’s and tri’s; plus, complex climbing movements use both the arms and legs, and that triggers your core.”

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Hitting an indoor wall is also the best way to get ready to climb outdoors, Lytton says. If that’s your goal, he suggests following these three steps.


Hit the wall at least two or three days a week, Lytton advises, and have a goal each time, like climbing more routes or tougher grades—the cardio will pay off outside.

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“Don’t just let your buddy who’s been climbing for a year take you out and show you the ropes,” says Lytton (pun intended). “Climb with someone who’s been doing it for a long time, so you learn good habits.”

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Practice essential climbing skills, like belaying (securing a rope), tying into a rope, and checking your partner’s knot. Most gyms offer classes for learners. When spring comes, you’ll be ready to get the f*&k out and climb some big damn rocks.

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