response during sport rock climbing and the effects of active versus passive recovery
Journal of Sports Medicine. 21(3):185-90, 2000 Apr.
Authors: Watts PB. Daggett M. Gallagher P. Wilkins B.
Institution: HPER Department, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, USA
OBJECTIVES: The objectives
of this study were to 1) continuously assess oxygen uptake during and after
difficult sport rock climbing and 2) to evaluate the effects of active versus
passive recovery on post-climbing blood lactate and hand grip strength.
METHODS: Fifteen expert
rock climbers attempted to climb (i.e., red point lead) a 20 m difficult route
(5.12 b, YDS scale) set on an indoor climbing wall. Subjects were assigned to
either active recovery (AR; n = 8), consisting of recumbent cycling at 25 Watts,
or passive recovery (PR; n = 7).
Expired air was analyzed
during climbing and through a 10-minute recovery period by a lightweight battery-powered
open circuit system. Oxygen uptake (VO2) and heart rate (HR) were measured continuously
and averaged over 20-second intervals. These data were expressed as averages
over the entire climb (VO2avg and HRavg) and as peak values.
An estimated resting VO2
of 250 ml x min(-1) was subtracted from the interval VO2 values to provide net
VO2 data which were subsequently converted to absolute VO2 values in liters
for climbing (C - VO2net) and recovery (R - VO2net). Total net VO2 was calculated
as the sum of C - VO2net plus R - VO2net.
Blood samples were obtained
via fingerprick at pre-climb and at 1-, 10-, 20-, and 30-minutes post-climb
and analyzed for whole blood lactate.
Handgrip strength was measured
via dynamometry at pre-climb and at 1-, 10-, 20-, and 30-minutes post-climb.
RESULTS: Mean climbing time
was 2.57 +/- 0.41 min. During climbing, VO2avg and HRavg means were 1660 +/-
340 ml x min(-1) and 148 +/- 16 b x min(-1) respectively with mean peaks of
2147 +/- 413 ml x min(-1) and 162 +/- 17 b x min(-1). Relative VO2avg was 24.7
+/- 4.3 ml x kg(-1) x min(-1) with a mean peak value of 31.9 +/- 5.3 ml x kg(-1)
Mean values for C - VO2net
and R - VO2net were 4.009 +/- 0.929 L and 2.809 +/- 0.518 L respectively for
the PR group with mean total net VO2 at 6.818 +/- 1.291 L.
For the AR group mean values
for C - VO2net and R - VO2net were 4.216 +/- 1.174 L and 7.691 +/- 3.154 L respectively
with a mean total net VO2 of 11.906 +/- 4.172 L.
There was no difference
between the groups for C - VO2net, however R - VO2net and total net VO2 were
significantly different (p < 0.05) between PR and AR.
Blood lactate increased
significantly with climbing in both AR and PR groups. Lactate remained elevated
in the PR group until 30 minutes post-climb, but had returned to pre-climb level
by 20 minutes in the AR group.
Handgrip strength was significantly
decreased at 1-minute post-climb for the AR group, but was not significantly
changed for the PR group.
CONCLUSIONS: Although climbers
may be able to attain a plateau in VO2, the observed accumulation of lactate
in the blood combined with the elevated recovery VO2 indicate a higher overall
energy demand than indicated via the recorded VO2 during climbing.
Low intensity active recovery appears to significantly reduce accumulated blood
lactate within 20 minutes following difficult climbing, however further research
is required to establish whether this strategy is advantageous for subsequent