in handgrip strength, endurance, and blood lactate with sustained sport rock climbing
Source: Journal of Sports
Medicine & Physical Fitness. 36(4):255-60, 1996 Dec.
Authors: Watts P. Newbury V. Sulentic J.
Institution: Exercise Science Laboratory, Northern Michigan University, Marquette,
BACKGROUND: Modern rock
climbers stress the importance of hand-to-rock contact strength as a factor
for success in competitive sport climbing events, however, the degree of handgrip
fatigue that occurs during difficult climbing and the time course of recovery
from fatigue have not been previously described. The purpose of this study was
to characterize the nature of handgrip fatigue that results from difficult continuous
climbing until a fall occurs.
METHODS: Eleven expert-level
rock climbers (age = 28.7 +/- 4.5 years) volunteered to climb continuous laps
over a pre-set competition-type route on an indoor modular climbing wall until
a fall occurred.
The route difficulty (YDS
rating of 5.12 a) was near the limit of each subject's "on-sight"
lead climbing ability and placed an emphasis on physically difficult movements.
"On-sight" refers to a climbing style where the climber ascends the
route on the first try without falls and without prior viewing or information
about the route.
Practice was allowed to
enable each subject to master the individual technical movements of the route.
Fingertip blood samples were obtained 10 min pre-climb, at post-climb, and at
5-, 10-, and 20-min recovery and analyzed for lactate.
Maximum handgrip force in
Newtons was determined via dynamometry for each hand and averaged for pre-climb,
post-climb, and 5-, 10-, and 20-min recovery periods. Right handgrip endurance,
defined as the time that the dominant hand handgrip force could be sustained
above 70 percent of handgrip strength, was determined pre-climb, post-climb,
and at 20-min recovery.
RESULTS: Mean climbing time
during testing was 12.9 +/- 8.5 min for 2.8 +/- 2.2 laps over the route. Data
among measurement times were analyzed using a repeated measures ANOVA with Newman-Keuls
post hoc tests.
Handgrip strength decreased
by 22 percent and handgrip endurance decreased by 57 percent from pre-climb
to post-climb and both remained depressed after 20 minutes of resting recovery.
The pre-climb blood lactate
of 1.4 +/- 0.8 mmol.l-1 significantly increased to 6.1 +/- 1.4 mmol.l-1 at post-climb
and remained elevated (2.3 +/- 0.8 mmol.l-1) at 20-min recovery.
in handgrip strength were significantly correlated with climbing time (R = 0.70),
number of laps completed (R = 0.70), and blood lactate (R = 0.76). Percent decreases
in handgrip endurance were significantly correlated with climbing time (R =
0.70) and number of laps completed (R = 0.80), but not with blood lactate (R
CONCLUSIONS: It was concluded
that handgrip strength and handgrip endurance decrease with continuous difficult
rock climbing and remain depressed after 20 minutes of resting recovery. It
also appears that handgrip strength recovers at a faster rate than handgrip