profiles of elite male and female competitive sport rock climbers
Source: Journal of Sports
Sciences. 11(2):113-7, 1993 Apr.
Authors: Watts PB. Martin DT. Durtschi S.
Institution: Exercise Science Laboratory, Northern Michigan University, Marquette
OBJECTIVES: Over the past
few years, competitive rock climbing--for a long time a popular sport in Europe--has
increased in popularity in North America. An annual international World Cup
competition circuit was started in 1988 which has shown growing success and
a definite elite group of athletes has emerged.
profiles of elite climbers have been unavailable. In order to fill this information
void, 39 world-class climbers (21 males, 18 females) were assessed immediately
prior to competition at an international World Cup sport climbing championship.
METHODS: All of the subjects
tested were competition semi-finalists and, among these, seven males and six
females advanced to the finals. The variables measured included age, years of
climbing experience, height, body mass, height-weight ratio, sum of seven skinfolds,
% body fat, fat-free mass, hand and arm volumes via plethysmography, average
of right and left grip strengths, grip strength to body mass ratio (SMR), and
climbing ability defined as the most difficult route climbed on lead.
RESULTS: The results indicated
that elite sport climbers are of small to moderate stature and exhibit very
low % fat, moderate grip strength and high SMR when compared with other athletic
Values for the height-weight
ratio and sum of seven skinfolds in the female finalists were very near those
of the male finalists, which may indicate that reduction of body mass and %
fat are primary adaptations in these female athletes.
CONCLUSIONS: Climbing ability
was predictable from SMR and % fat, though the R2 was low.