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5 Reasons Why Gymnasts Make Great Rock Climbers

Updated: Apr 28

Gymnastics and rock climbing may seem like two vastly different sports, but there are many similarities between the two. Both require immense physical and mental strength, as well as the ability to move with precision and control. In fact, gymnastics can be an excellent foundation for rock climbing, as many of the skills and attributes needed in one sport can be applied to the other.

Here are five reasons gymnasts make fantastic climbers:

1. Strength and Power

One of the immediate advantages gymnasts have at the climbing gym is their impressive force and already well-chiseled muscles. Whether you're talking beam, bars, vault or floor, all areas of gymnastics take incredible strength to execute skillfully. This strength serves as a huge advantage when getting into climbing, as many skills and techniques require climbers to spend time building strength first. Gymnasts are likely to find that their strength allows them to jump in on more challenging climbs without much trouble.

Part of this advantage of movement has to do with the power gymnasts are used to packing in their skills. In climbing, powerful movement can give you that extra edge. Whether you're relying on the force of your legs to push up to a just out of reach hold, or summoning all your body’s strength to launch into a big dynamic move, climbers need all the power, and gymnasts have it!

2. Precision and Movement

A vital part of climbing technique is precision and intentional, well balanced movement. With each move a climber makes, the goal is to maintain balance and place hands and feet intentionally, rather than needing to repeatedly grab a hold or shift positions. Similarly, gymnasts must orient their bodies with extreme control and execute skills with laser focus to be successful in their routines. Gymnasts are used to working with their bodies in unique and challenging ways, which gives them an advantage when navigating difficult routes and holds.

Both in climbing and gymnastics, this precision and controlled, conscious movement takes plenty of practice. One wrong move, one altered position of the body, or one moment lacking in precision is all it takes for a skill or climb to be unsuccessful, or even worse, result in some serious injuries. Gymnasts who enter into climbing with an understanding for the importance of these skills and who have plenty of practice with them hold a major advantage over those learning to control their movements for the first time.

3. Technique

Technique is an essential skill in both gymnastics and rock climbing. In gymnastics, athletes must have proper technique to execute their routines correctly and safely. This skill is just as necessary in rock climbing, where having proper technique is crucial for success and avoiding injuries. Climbers who use proper technique can climb more efficiently and with less effort, making it easier to navigate difficult routes and holds! Additionally, proper technique reduces the risk of injury, as climbers are less likely to strain or pull a muscle when using the correct form.

4. Endurance

Another huge attribute gymnasts have is their endurance. Gymnastics is a demanding sport that requires a lot of physical and mental stamina. Gymnasts must be able to perform their routines flawlessly, which means they need to have the endurance to do so without getting tired or fatigued. This skill is transferable to rock climbing, where endurance can be the difference between successful yet challenging climbs and the grueling, discouraging process of attempting a route again and again without success.

Climbing and gymnastics are both highly physically demanding, but both sports also require well-tuned mental focus. For the successful and safe execution of skills, gymnasts have to be locked in mentally. These athletes have plenty of experience in mental endurance, having to face intense training sessions and overcome fears from the earliest days or their gymnastic careers. Gymnasts who have developed endurance and fearlessness through years of training can use these skills to climb for extended periods without getting tired, losing focus, or succumbing to the reasonable fears climbing provokes in many of us!

5. Flexibility

Finally, flexibility is a skill that gives gymnasts a huge advantage in rock climbing. Flexibility skills transfer directly to rock climbing, where being able to reach a hold from an awkward position or move your body into a challenging shape to get to the next hold can be advantageous. Even when it comes to climbing technique, increased flexibility allows climbers to keep their bodies close to the wall and remain more balanced through smooth, fluid movements. Additionally, gymnasts who have developed their flexibility have a lower risk of injury when climbing, as they are less likely to strain or pull a muscle.

For all these reasons and more, gymnasts tend to absolutely crush as climbers. If you are a gymnast looking for a new challenge or a rock climber looking to improve your skills, consider trying the other sport. You’ll experience new ways to stretch your muscles and build skills, plus it’s likely that your experience in one sport will give you an advantage in the other! If you try both out, tell us how these sports connect for you.


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