The Summer Olympic Series: Sport Climbing


The 202One Olympics are right around the corner. And while we tune in to watch the strongest, fastest, and most agile humans on the planet run, jump, flip, dive, leap, shimmy, and shake—there is one thought that will inevitably creep through the crevices of all our minds:

Okay, but just how hard is that? 

Sure—we know we can’t run 100 meters in 9.63 seconds or land a double-double dismount off the vault. But what can we do? 

As an incredibly average athlete with no particular specialty—I decided to find out. I will spend the next few weeks trying my hand at various summer Olympic sports and reporting my findings. 

First up—a brand new addition to the Olympic lineup: Sport Climbing. 

What is Sport Climbing?

There are three disciplines making their debut in Tokyo early next month: lead (climbing as high as possible in an allotted time), speed (racing another climber), and bouldering (scaling as many fixed routes as possible in an allotted time). Athletes compete in all three disciplines, with scores added together to determine the medalists. 

The Prep Work

Before I stepped foot in the gym, I scoured the internet for a good climbing workout. The results came down to a whopping:

Step 1: Go to a climbing gym.
Step 2: Climb.

So, I mixed my Pre-Sweat into my blender bottle, threw my yoga mat and cleaning spray into my gym bag (many climbing gyms also have yoga studios!)—and set out to climb. 

A Novice Workout

At the climbing gym, I rented a pair of shoes and decided to focus my attention on the bouldering discipline. It’s the easiest to pick up—requiring limited equipment and offering several routes varying in difficulty. It also attracts a community of other friendly climbers excited to help you solve a problem. 

I warmed up on a V0 (the easiest bouldering grade) and moved up through a V1 and V2 somewhat comfortably. However, after climbing only three or four routes—my arms began to shake. I thanked my lucky stars I drank my Pre-Sweat beforehand—since even my climber friend was gassed by just the second route. 

All along the boulder, climbers were taking breaks— stretching their fingers, rubbing their forearms, scanning the wall for the most efficient way up. I quickly followed suit, having spent about 45 minutes trying to reach a point about three feet off the ground. 

It can be frustrating with the quick drop off in energy from this workout—the harder you try, the faster you fall. With this in mind—climbing is not for those who lack self-motivation. It’s easy to sit (and stay) on the mat and watch in awe as others monkey their way to the top. Nonetheless, this is an incredibly fun workout—which makes getting back up so much easier!

Overall Ratings

Difficulty to learn: 4/10

Intensity: 6.5/10

Fun: 9/10

Would I recommend to a friend: Absolutely!

P.S. It’s been three days, and my forearms are still sore. 


This article was written by Melissa Pelowski.