Does climbing take a lot of upper body strength?

Giving tours around the gym, certain questions repeatedly come up. Those new to climbing often ask “does climbing take a lot of upper body strength?” Frequently, people are concerned that without Popeye-like power, they won’t get very far up the wall. This is a bit of a misconception. In fact, anyone can learn to rock climb, and people of all body types can become successful climbers.

Rock climbing is a combination of technique, tenacity, problem-solving ability, strength, and flexibility. The complexity of putting together these mental and physical pieces is why so many people get hooked. One of the most interesting things about watching climbers is seeing how people of different body types and abilities climb the same routes successfully. Some people will lean more heavily on strength, while others have developed techniques that can help them get through cruxes without the same amount of power. There are many ways to climb the same route.

Upper body strength does help, as does core strength and finger strength, but being able to do a pull-up is by no means a pre-requisite for climbing. In fact, most women can’t do a pull-up and women tend to be naturally gifted rock climbers. We try to stay away from gender stereotypes, but it is nonetheless an observation many have made. Finally, Salt Pump has routes to meet all ability and strength levels, so while our most expert terrain does require a good amount of upper body strength and advanced technique, we also make sure we also have enough thoughtfully set beginner terrain so that anyone can learn to rock climb at our facility.