Bouldering Vs Rock Climbing: What’s The Difference?

Bouldering Vs Rock Climbing: What’s The Difference?

There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush you get when you do some kind of physical activity and you surpass all your expectations. This is especially true for rock climbers or those who go bouldering when they get higher than they’ve ever climbed before!

If you’re new to climbing, you might assume that there isn’t any difference between boulder climbing and rock climbing, but you’d be wrong. While the two activities are quite similar, they are two different beasts.

Today, we’re going to explain the differences between bouldering vs. rock climbing, and maybe you’ll be interested in trying one or the other… or even both! But before we get into how these two activities differ, let’s go over what is done for each activity.

Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing can be done outdoors or in a gym and it requires the climbers to traverse up different types of rock formations. The climbers use climbing gear that includes harnesses, ropes, cords, and webbing to keep them from falling.

Generally, the goal of rock climbing is to reach the top of the rock formation (or a predetermined spot on said formation). Rock climbing is an excellent workout because it combines endurance, stamina and strength training into one activity.

Keep in mind that there are many different climbing routes which will require more or less strength, stamina and endurance.


Woman Climbing

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing but the difference is that the climber doesn’t use any safety equipment like ropes or harnesses. Usually when a person is boulder climbing, they will have climbing shoes to give them good footing and chalk for their hands so that they are able to get a good grip.

Those who enjoy outdoor bouldering will generally climb a path that is less than 20 feet high. Of course, you can Google “boulder rock climbing gym near me” to train indoors with some kind of supervision and coaching.

Bouldering Vs Rock Climbing: What’s The Difference?

There’s no denying that both activities are a great workout, but they different from one another in more ways than you may think.


Rock Climbing will increase your heart rate and improve your cardio-respiratory wellness while also improving muscular endurance and stamina. These benefits will increase as the route difficulty increases.

Bouldering is closer to the ground and the climber will scale a problem, as these shorter routes are often called. Even though the problems are shorter, the climber’s endurance will still be tested as they push their bodies to their max.

Adrenaline Rush

Man Rock Climbing And Bouldering

Rock Climbing is a sport where you have to overcome your fear of climbing higher and higher. That adrenaline you feel will only increase as you learn where your equipment needs to go in the rock so that your weight is supported instead of being flipped around.

Bouldering is a sport where the climber doesn’t usually climb higher than four or five meters. With that said, that height is still pretty intimidating and you’ll still feel a rush because you’re relying solely on your grip strength and your footing.


Rock Climbing will develop lean muscle throughout the entire body. When you begin, you’ll feel it most in your arms, back and shoulders. However as you improve your technique, you will stop relying so much on your arms and shoulders to pull you up and allow your legs to push your body up.

Bouldering does use the same muscle groups but it is going to force you to focus and use powerful dynamic moves that’ll engage your upper body and strengthen it quickly.

Puzzle Solving

Rock Climbing is like a puzzle with many different possibilities. As you attempt more challenging routes, you’re going to be using your brain more to strategize where your next move will be.

Bouldering has shorter problems, but that doesn’t mean you can breeze through them. This is because bouldering often features complex problems that’ll force you to focus on your movements while sharpening your problem-solving skills.


Climbing Injury

​​​Rock Climbing requires the use of padded mats, spotters, ropes, and harnesses to keep the climber safe. However you can still experience sprains and strains if you land incorrectly after falling or jumping. Also, your shoulders, arms, wrists and fingers can also get sprains and strains due to overuse.

Bouldering doesn’t use safety equipment, therefore you would expect the injuries to be more severe. That’s not necessarily the case. Boulder climbers will still experience similar problems in the upper body as rock climbers, but they can also experience cuts and bruises if you’re not careful.

Which Type Of Climbing Is Right For You?

If you’re trying to decide if you should do one or the other, you’ll want to consider your age, your fitness level, and skill level. It’s also a good idea to consider where you’re going to be training.

If you’re going to be training at a gym, almost anyone can participate. However, if you’re new to both activities and you want to start climbing outdoors right away, we highly recommend against it. Even if you have experienced climbers with you, it can still be dangerous.


Climbers On The Top

Both of these activities are going to be a great workout and they’re going to provide you with a lot of excitement. The trick of choosing which activity is best for you solely lies on what you’re comfortable with.

We recommend starting off slow. Go to a boulder rock climbing gym so that you can get a feel for both activities and learn the proper technique needed to master both. It’s going to be hard work, but with practice and perseverance, you’ll feel rewarded when you accomplish (and exceed) your goals!


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