The best rock climbing supplements for performance and recovery

If you want to climb to the next level, supplementation may give you the edge you need to reach new heights. Here are the best rock climbing supplements that science shows may help improve your climbing performance and recovery and give you an arm up on your competition.

Navigating the world of sports supplements can be daunting, especially for climbers seeking to optimize their performance and recovery. With an overwhelming array of performance-enhancing supplements and recovery products available, making informed decisions based on scientific evidence can significantly impact your success. In this guide, we’ll explain why nutrition is so important and look at the science behind the most effective supplements for rock climbers to help you make the right choices to elevate your climbing journey. 

Why is nutrition for climbers important?

Rock climbing is a sport that places high demands on both the body and mind. It requires strength, endurance, agility, and balance, all while maintaining intense concentration. The relentless pulling, pushing, gripping, and balancing movements deplete muscle glycogen (energy) stores and cause microscopic tears in muscle tissue. Simultaneously, sweat depletes fluids and electrolytes, which are essential for temperature regulation, muscle function, and mental alertness [





Strenuous exercise like climbing also triggers an inflammatory response and temporarily suppresses the immune system, making climbers more susceptible to soreness, injury, and illness [




]. The longer, harder, and more frequently you climb, the more vulnerable you are to these effects [





A well-structured nutrition plan and recovery regimen can help you elevate your climbing performance, maintain mental focus, reduce training-related fatigue, and even prevent or overcome injuries—all of which may contribute to improved climbing performance and faster recovery [



Tommy Caldwell and Ari Tulla

Meet Tommy Caldwell, professional rock climber and Elo Health ambassador

Tommy Caldwell is a renowned rock climber who has etched his name among the sport's legends. His groundbreaking ascent of The Dawn Wall on El Capitan, a feat that took three weeks and pushed the boundaries of human endurance, is a testament to his unwavering dedication and exceptional skills.

Caldwell's approach to nutrition mirrors his climbing philosophy, which requires precision, balance, and fueling the body to perform at its peak. By prioritizing good nutrition through his diet,

Smart Protein

, and

Smart Gummies

, Caldwell ensures he has the energy to conquer challenging routes and the proper nutrition to replenish lost nutrients and promote muscle repair after strenuous climbs. 

Learn more about Tommy and how Elo is helping him climb to new heights here.

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Best supplements for climbers

Scaling rock walls and conquering challenging routes demands strength, endurance, and focus. Nourishing your body with the proper nutrition will help you climb to the top. While a balanced diet provides most essential nutrients, certain supplements can help you reach new heights and support your post-climb recovery. 

Here are the best supplements for rock climbers, including how they work and which ones you may want to include in your nutrition plan.



are the primary fuel for working muscles during intense exercise. In fact, carbs are the only macronutrient that can be broken down rapidly enough to provide energy during higher-intensity (anaerobic) exercise. They also play a crucial role in maintaining lean mass and optimizing the use of dietary protein in the body.

Given this, the availability of carbohydrates in the body can profoundly affect your energy levels, endurance, performance, and even recovery. Not having enough carbs on board before a climb can negatively impact your body composition, physical performance, and recovery — whereas increased carbohydrate intake before, during, and after climbing can have significant performance and recovery benefits [



Studies show that consuming 1-1.2 g/kg/h during the first 4-6 hours of recovery is ideal for repleting carbohydrate stores [




]. Climbers should focus on complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release and simple carbohydrates just before or during a strenuous climb. 

Tommy Caldwell holding protein bag

Protein powder with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)

When it comes to climbing recovery, protein intake plays a key role in boosting glycogen synthesis and enhancing muscle repair and recovery [



Experts recommend consuming 20-40 g of high-quality (complete) protein within two hours of exercise, which has been shown to stimulate robust increases in muscle protein synthesis that can benefit both recovery and future performance [



Furthermore, consuming at least 3 grams of the amino acid leucine, a

branched-chain amino acid

(BCAA), before or after a climbing session may further aid performance and muscle recovery by increasing power output, promoting muscle repair and growth, and decreasing muscle soreness [





toan and Elo health

While you can get protein from food sources, high-quality protein supplements for climbers, like

Elo Smart Protein

, can be a convenient and cost-efficient way to level up your nutrition and ensure adequate protein intake after a climb. 



supports tendon and ligament health and recovery, which is particularly relevant for the stresses that climbing puts on these tissues. Experts hypothesize that supplemental collagen may accumulate in joints and stimulate tissues to synthesize new collagen, potentially reducing pain and inflammation, improving joint health, and reducing the risk of joint deterioration in certain high-risk groups [





Research shows that taking 2.5–15 g of hydrolyzed collagen peptides/day may be safe and effective. For joint health, 10 g/day of hydrolyzed collagen or 10-40 mg/day of undenatured type II collagen may benefit climbing-related joint pain in active adults [






]. In other studies, larger daily doses of 15 g of collagen peptides have improved muscle mass and body composition [





Electrolyte-enhanced fluids

Adequate fluid and electrolyte intake is critical for nutrient transport, joint lubrication, muscle function, fluid balance, cognition, and alertness. Consuming sufficient fluid before, during, and after a climb will also help regulate your body temperature, reduce cardiovascular strain, and improve your post-climb recovery [



Climbers commonly use sports drinks during and after longer climbs as they contain a combination of water for hydration, carbohydrates (glucose) for quick-burning fuel, and electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat. 


While it may seem basic, adding a


to your nutrition regimen can benefit all climbers. Because multivitamins provide up to 100% of the daily value for many vitamins and minerals, they can be a convenient way to bridge nutritional gaps in your diet. Here are some key nutrients most daily multivitamins provide and why they’re important for climbers:

  • Vitamin D: Essential for indoor climbers who may need more sun exposure.

    Vitamin D

    is crucial for bone health as it helps with calcium absorption and muscle function.

  • Magnesium: Can aid muscle function and prevent cramping, a common issue for climbers.


    also supports bone health by assisting vitamin D absorption.

  • Calcium:

    Essential for bone strength

    , which is critical given the impact and stress placed on bones during climbing, especially considering the risk of falls and the pressure put on bones during climbing.

  • Choline: Contributes to cognitive function, including memory, mood, and muscle control. This is particularly important in climbing, where focus, decision-making, and problem-solving are key.

  • B vitamins: The B vitamins, which include Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6, Biotin, and

    Vitamin B12

    , are essential for energy production and nerve health to sustain mental clarity.

  • Vitamin E: Supports skin health and may be beneficial for climbers to help repair and maintain tough skin on the hands.

  • Vitamin C and Zinc:

    Support the immune system


    tissue repair

    , including skin and tendons.

Functional mushrooms

Functional or

medicinal mushrooms

, including Lion's Mane, Chaga, Reishi, and Cordyceps, may have several benefits for climbers, from enhancing cognitive function and reducing inflammation to improving circulation and energy production. 

For example, Lion’s mane may be beneficial for mental clarity with its positive impact on cognition, memory, and concentration [




]. Chaga mushrooms are packed with antioxidants that can help with oxidative stress and inflammation [





Cordyceps sinensis (also known as Cordyceps) may boost energy, help enhance blood and oxygen flow, increase ATP (energy) production, and improve post-climb recovery [




]. It may also help improve endurance, lung function, and oxygen utilization [




]. These benefits can be especially valuable for climbers as they ascend to higher altitudes or engage in extended climbing sessions.

Turmeric (Curcumin) 


is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It contains a compound called curcumin, known for its potential to reduce inflammation and support joint health and recovery [


]. Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric may also help mental clarity and cognitive function [



Research indicates that 150-1,500 mg of turmeric daily may improve post-exercise recovery and reduce muscle soreness. One study found that ingestion before exercise could attenuate acute inflammation, and after exercise, it could reduce muscle damage and facilitate faster recovery  [







Combining turmeric with black pepper or taking supplements that contain a form of black pepper (such as the form found in

Elo Smart Gummies

) can enhance the absorption of curcumin by up to 2,000% and increase its effectiveness [



Coenzyme Q10

CoQ10 is involved in cell energy production and can support muscle function and endurance. It may also benefit recovery by reducing inflammation and fatigue [




]. Climbers require high energy levels, making CoQ10 a valuable nutrient for enhancing power and stamina.

A standard dose for CoQ10 ranges from 90-200 mg, taken once daily with a meal for optimal absorption [



Tart cherry

Tart cherry

contains compounds like anthocyanins and antioxidants that can help improve performance, reduce pain, soreness, and inflammation, and accelerate strength recovery after strength and endurance exercises [





Moreover, tart cherries can be a helpful addition to a sleep-promoting regimen as they are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle [



While the timing and dosage can vary widely, most studies have found that consuming 8-12 oz of tart cherry juice extract twice daily can promote recovery [



Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng)

Eleuthero, also known as Siberian Ginseng or Eleutherococcus senticosus, may benefit climbers by enhancing endurance, reducing fatigue, and promoting mental focus during climbs.

While study results are mixed, some evidence suggests that Eleuthero can improve physical performance during periods of high-intensity exercise [


]. This adaptogenic herb may also help manage stress, support the immune system, and aid post-climb recovery [



A standard dose for Eleuthero ranges from 300-1,200 mg/day, though dosages in the 2-4 g/day range and more have been traditionally recommended [




Climbers rely heavily on their tendons and ligaments for support during climbs, and silica may help reduce the risk of injuries by enhancing connective tissue strength, promoting joint health, and contributing to stronger bones [



Additionally, silica's role in collagen formation can support recovery from climbing-related injuries and reduce inflammation, aiding overall performance. 

Climb to new heights with Elo 

toan post workout

Elo Smart Protein

Elo Smart Protein

is the world’s most personalized recovery product, offering a combination of high-quality protein (made from whey protein isolate or plant-powered pea protein), functional nutrient boosts, and real-time dosing guidance for every tracked workout. 

Some nutrient boosts that can help level up your climbing performance include: 

  • Carbohydrates: Choose between Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin, a rapid carb for glycogen replenishment and sustained endurance, or Oat starch, a slow carb for sustained energy during muscle recovery.

  • Electrolytes: Add sodium, magnesium, and potassium to your

    Smart Protein

    blend to help replenish lost electrolytes after a climb

  • Collagen: To support joint health and aid recovery

  • Functional mushroom blend: To offset inflammation, improve circulation and energy production, and support cognitive function

  • Turmeric: To reduce inflammation and support joint health and recovery

Learn more

about how

Smart Protein

can enhance your climbing performance and recovery.

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Elo Smart Gummies for Climbers


Smart Gummies

are the tastiest way to achieve the efficacy of several supplement pills in one gummy. Each gummy is built for you from 389 million combinations tailored to your needs and goals. 


Elo Smart Gummy

tailored for a rock climber with no nutritional deficiencies and a nutritious diet might include: 

  • Coenzyme Q10: To reduce inflammation, alleviate fatigue, and support energy production and recovery

  • Turmeric (HydroCurc & Black Pepper Extract): To reduce inflammation and support joint health and recovery

  • Tart cherry: To support performance, reduce pain, soreness, and inflammation, and accelerate strength recovery after climbing

  • Eleuthero: To support endurance, reduce fatigue, and promote mental focus

  • Vitamin D: For bone health, muscle function, and immunity

  • Cordyceps: To support energy production, oxygen utilization, and improve post-climb recovery.

  • Silica: May enhance connective tissue strength, promoting joint health, and contributing to stronger bones

Why carbs are important (especially for athletes)

The ultimate guide to post-workout nutrition

Elo Smart Gummies: How it works


If you’re a rock climber looking to level up your performance, your nutrition must be as solid as the next rock you’re reaching for. In addition to eating a balanced, nutritious diet, certain supplements can help you reach new heights. Elo’s

Smart Protein


Smart Gummies

can help you optimize and simplify your supplement regimen to ensure you get just the nutrients you need at the right time. 

Disclaimer: The text, images, videos, and other media on this page are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to treat, diagnose, or replace personalized medical care. 

Key takeaways

  • Protein powder and collagen can help aid in muscle repair and recovery, while carbohydrates provide essential energy during intense climbing sessions. 

  • Electrolyte-enhanced fluids help maintain hydration and electrolyte balance, while a multivitamin can help bridge nutritional gaps in your diet. 

  • Additional supplements, such as turmeric, tart cherry, Eleuthero, silica, and omega-3s, can provide specific benefits for climbers, such as reducing inflammation, enhancing endurance, and promoting joint health. 

  • Elo Health

    can help you optimize your climbing nutrition with

    Smart Protein


    Smart Gummies

    , and 1:1 dietitian support.


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