Outdoor Federation

Bouldering Vs Rock Climbing: Any Differences

The adrenaline that comes with physical activity cannot be compared to anything else, and this goes doubly for those that enjoy rock climbing. The higher you go, the bigger the rush!

bouldering vs rock climbing

Both are fitness regimens that have gained a lot of popularity in the last decade or so, and that means that more people are interested in incorporating it into their lives to stay fit.

For those that are getting into climbing, you may not be aware that there is some differences between climbing and bouldering, yet there are some that you may not be aware of.

Once you get to a certain point and really get excited about climbing, you will want to get the finer details before taking the plunge to pick up bouldering or to rock climb. They are similar in many areas, but they really are different beasts in many ways. In this article, we will break down bouldering vs rock climbing, so at the end you can decide which one is best for you.

Fun Outdoor Quiz

What is Rock Climbing

You have the option of rock climbing in a fitness center or outdoors, and it simply requires you to scale up rock formations. Climbers use gear which includes climbing ropes, cords, harnesses, and webbing that keeps you from falling. Your goal is to climb to the peak of the formation, making this a great workout as it adds upper body endurance, strength training, and stamina all in one. Bear in mind that climbing routes can be changed that target more strength, endurance, or stamina depending on your fitness level.

What is Bouldering

With bouldering, no safety equipment is used and it requires great footing plus chalk for your hands for good gripping ability. Bouldering typically involves climbing a trail that is under 25 feet high.

Difference Between Bouldering vs Rock climbing

Although both climbing and bouldering are both great workouts and can be loads of fun, we can break down the differences here.


Rock climbing will improve your cardiovascular health, increase the heart rate, plus increase muscular stamina and endurance. As you increase the difficulty of the climb, your fitness levels will rise in tandem.

With bouldering, you are not as far off the ground and your endurance will be tested more as you push your body to the max.

The Rush of Adrenaline

With rock climbing, you definitely must overcome any climbing fear you may have as you go higher. Adrenaline increases the higher you go and the more you are able to manage the equipment you need to climb up.

Bouldering doesn’t typically involve climbing more than 5 meters in height, but it can get fairly intimidating the higher up you go but the adrenaline rush is going to be more intense as you rely only on your footing and grip strength.

Increasing Your Strength

Rock climbing increases your lean muscle mass all over your body, in particular your arms, shoulders, and back. The more your technique improves, you will be able to pull yourself up easier. Bouldering will provide the same conditioning, but your focus becomes more intense and this will help in engaging the upper body, plus strengthening it rapidly.

Puzzle Solving

When you are rock climbing like sport climbs, you will quickly realize that it is like solving a puzzle in many ways. The more challenging the climbing route, the more you will use your brain to strategize the next move. The problem solving with bouldering is much shorter but they involve complex problems that require laser focus as you coordinate your movements.


Rock climbers will need to invest in climbing helmet, rock climbing shoes, harnesses, and ropes for safety. Even with all this rock climbing equipment, strains and sprains are likely to happen as a result of jumping or falling. Also, you are likely to experience sharp pain at times in your wrists, arms, shoulders, and fingers because of overuse.

You won’t need any safety equipment with bouldering, but that doesn’t mean you are not susceptible to injuries, with many boulder climbers experiencing similar problems to rock climbers. The boulder enthusiasts will have more cruises and cuts.


Now that you know the difference between bouldering and rock climbing, now you can take up one or both!

And with that, we officially end this blog post. But before you go, can you do us a solid and spread the love (or laughter) by sharing this on your social media? Who knows, maybe we might even find someone who can relate to our content and benefit from it... Wink