Metabolic responses during rock climbing in expert sport rock climbers

Wilkins, B.W.; Warts, P.; Wilcox, A.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 28(5 Suppl.): S159


A few recent studies have described metabolic and physiologic responses during the popular sport of rock climbing, however the volume of available information remains low. Many sport rock climbers have started specific training regimens, without an adequate explanation of the metabolic and physiologic responses to the sport. The purpose of the present study was to describe the metabolic and physiologic responses to sport rock climbing. Seven expert climbers volunteered for the study. Mean±SD age, experience. VO2max, and %fat were 28.1±4.7 yrs, 11.9±4.6 yrs. 55.2±3.6 ml/kg/min, 8.5±1.6% respectively. Subjects were asked to perform a difficult 27 move boulder problem (Cl), rated 5.12a on the YDS scale, where the use of specific holds was required (time=135.1±14.8 sec). The second situation (C2) involved an easier ten minute bouldering session, where all available holds were allowed. Expired air was analyzed continuously during Cl and C2 via a portable metabolic system (AeroSport). Blood samples were collected via fingerprick before and immediately after each climb, and at 2-, 5-, and 10-min of recovery, and analyzed (YSI 1500) for blood lactate (BLA). Heart rate (HR) was measured by telemetry (Polar) throughout each climb. Although average and peak VO2 means represented 33-38% and 43-50% of VO2max for these subjects, lactate production was significant(P<0.05). This lactate is likely a result of the small muscle group activity of the upper body during climbing.