Why Jason Momoa's climbing workout builds functional muscle 6 months ago

Why Jason Momoa's climbing workout builds functional muscle

Climbing builds lean muscle while simultaneously shedding a boatload of calories

It's easy to see why the bulk of Jason Momoa's training is taken up by climbing and bouldering (the indoor version). You won't find a bicep curl in sight, but the benefits are endless.

The Game of Thrones and Aquaman actor credits his strength and functional fitness to consistently scaling a wall. Here is exactly why climbing works, and how you can implement it into your routine.

Functional fitness

It's a term frequently bandied about nowadays, but for functional fitness you'd struggle to find a more suitable workout than climbing.

Climbing both demands and enhances the following skills:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Coordination
  • Endurance

You normally have to train quite differently for each of these goals in a traditional gym setting, but with bouldering and climbing, you get all of these pros rolled into one.


For a climbing workout, you need developed forearms and a strong back to pull your bodyweight up, but many boulders are positioned to be difficult to reach. This calls on flexible, limber hip flexors and strong leg muscles such as the glutes and hamstrings.

In using so many muscle fibres and the entire body as a resistance tool itself, climbing is also particularly good for fat burning.

  • If you're keen on climbing, aim to do it twice or three times a week. Not only is this sufficient volume for the muscle groups used, it's enough frequency to perfect your technique.
  • When you're climbing, aim to complete one full sequence a minute. Rest for the following minute, and repeat over a 30-45 minute workout.
  • By the end of session, you'll be sporting forearms like Popeye - and will have truly earned whichever high-carb meal you feel like feasting on.

Good for variety

You don't necessarily need to train alone in a commercial gym, if that's not what gets you out of bed in the morning. Success depends on being able to stick to a routine with consistency.


Momoa has spoken of how he is often bored by training in a traditional gym.

He told Men's Health: "It's very hard sometimes to just work out. It's monotonous and you can get stuck in a rut.

"I get bored, so I do a lot more boxing, surfing and climbing – I do the things I love to do when I'm not training for a role."

Climbing could also boost your wellbeing. The University of Arizona found some German hospitals were successfully implementing bouldering as a way of combating depression and other mental health issues.

Boosted muscle building

Climbing develops serious muscle mass. Seriously.

Pulling yourself up onto high boulders recruits the back, biceps and forearms, but you also need a lot of pressing strength. This demands strong triceps and shoulders.

Supplementing your usual gym work with bouldering - and vice versa - is a recipe for success.

To build bigger arms while also improving your climbing credentials, perform this routine at the gym.

  • Pull Ups: 3 sets / 10 reps
  • Dips: 3 sets / 10 reps
  • Deficit Press-Ups: 3 sets / 15-20 reps
  • Dead Hand Pull Ups: 3 sets / 45-60 second hangs

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