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The goal of the present study was to validate a new ecological power-test on athletes of different levels and to assess rock climbers’ profiles (boulderers vs. route climbers). Thirty-four athletes divided into novice, skilled and elite groups performed the arm-jump board test (AJ). Power, time, velocity, and efficiency index were recorded. Validity was assessed by comparing the distance with the value extracted from the accelerometer (500 Hz) and the reliability of intra- and inter-session scores. Moreover, a principal component analysis (PCA) was used to assess the climbers’ profiles. The AJ test was quite valid, showing a low systematic bias of -0.88 cm (-1.25%) and low limits of agreement (<6%), and reliable ( Intra-class correlation coefficient = 0.98 and CV <5%), and was able to distinguish between the three samples (p<0.0001). There was a good correlation between relative upper-limb power (r=0.70; p<0.01) and the AJ score. Moreover, the PCA revealed an explosive profile for boulderers and either a weak and quick or slow profile for route climbers, revealing a biomechanical signature of the sub-discipline. The AJ test provides excellent absolute and relative reliabilities for climbing, and can effectively distinguish between climbing athletes of different competitive levels. Thus, the AJ may be suitable for field assessment of upper limb strength in climbing practitioners
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G. Laaye, J.-M. Collin, G. Levernier, J. Padulo
Upper-limb Power Test in
Int J Sports Med 2014; 35: 670–675
DOI 10.1055/s-0033-1358473
670 Training & Testing
L a aye G et al. Upper-limb Power Test in Int J Sports Med 2014; 35: 670–675
accepted after revision
September 27 , 2013
Published online:
February 19, 2014
Int J Sports Med 2014; 35:
670–675 © Georg Thieme
Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York
ISSN 0172-4622
Dr. Guillaume La aye
UR CIAMS – Motor Control and
Perception Group
Sport Sciences Department
Université Paris-Sud
bat 335
91405 Orsay
Tel.: + 33/621/706 945
Fax: + 33/169/15 62 22
Key words
eld testing
training and testing
ecological validity
upper-limb test
Upper-limb Power Test in Rock-climbing
assessing power, showing a good reliability. How-
ever, none of them has been validated using an
accelerometer device [ 6 ] . Furthermore, all of
these studies are based on rock climbing, whereas
bouldering has existed since world cup competi-
tion on arti cial walls began (1989) with speci c
competitions in 2006. Literature on bouldering
as a distinct climbing sub-discipline is rare
despite its growing popularity worldwide.
Bouldering is characterized by short movement
sequences that are more powerful and explosive
than classic routes [ 20 ] . Only 3 studies [ 10 , 16 , 20 ]
have investigated the di erence between boul-
derers (BO) and route sport climbers (RO) or non-
climbers. All 3 show comparable anthropometric
characteristics but boulderers have greater hand
strength [ 20 ] or nger strength [ 16 ] . Fanchini et
al. (2013) showed higher values in isometric
maximal voluntary contraction force and the rate
of force of nger exors when comparing BO to
route climbers, but none of them characterized
the pro les of BO [ 10 ] . A recent study on boul-
dering revealed the short time of this exercise
with a prolonged contraction of the forearm
muscles [ 33 ] .
The number of rock climbers has considerably
grown in the last 3 decades, as has the level and
di culty of routes and bouldering as well [ 28 ] .
Climbing performance seems to be related to dif-
ferent parameters [ 17 ] such as mental character-
istic (25 %), anthropometric data and muscle
strength (38 %) and technical strategies (33 %). Fur-
thermore, several studies have sought to de ne
elite climber characteristics, including their physi-
ological [ 11 , 24 , 28 ] , and psychological pro les
[ 23 ] . Several studies have focused on anthropom-
etry [ 19 , 32 ] , muscular strength [ 26 , 30 ] , endur-
ance [ 12 , 15 ] , and physiological with metabolic
responses [ 29 ] . All of these studies focused on
hand, nger or forearm strength or on a battery of
strength tests of the arm and forearm [ 2 ] .
This latter was the rst study which tried to
design a speci c arm explosive strength test by
using one traction [ 2 ] . This study showed that
speci c explosive test was better predictor than
generic force tests in elite climbers [ 2 ] . More
recently, Draper et al. (2011) proposed an upper-
limb power test [ 8 ] with a sport-speci c test for
Authors G. La aye
1 , J.-M. Collin
2 , G. Levernier
2 , J. Padulo
A liations
1 UR CIAMS – Motor Control and Perception Group, Sport Sciences Department, Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France
2 Motor Control and Perception Group, Sport Sciences Department, Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France
3 Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of “Tor Vergata”, Rome, Italy
4 SPO Sport Performance Optimization Lab, CNMSS, Tunis, Tunisia
The goal of the present study was to validate a
new ecological power-test on athletes of di erent
levels and to assess rock climbers’ pro les (boul-
derers vs. route climbers). 34 athletes divided
into novice, skilled and elite groups performed
the arm-jump board test (AJ). Power, time, veloc-
ity, and e ciency index were recorded. Validity
was assessed by comparing the distance with the
value extracted from the accelerometer (500 Hz)
and the reliability of intra- and inter-session
scores. Moreover, a principal component analy-
sis (PCA) was used to assess the climbers’ pro-
les. The AJ test was quite valid, showing a low
systematic bias of 0.88 cm ( 1.25 %) and low
limits of agreement ( < 6 %), and reliable ( Intra-
class correlation coe cient = 0.98 and CV < 5 %),
and was able to distinguish between the 3 sam-
ples (p < 0.0001). There was a good correlation
between relative upper-limb power (r = 0.70;
p < 0.01) and the AJ score. Moreover, the PCA
revealed an explosive pro le for boulderers and
either a weak and quick or slow pro le for route
climbers, revealing a biomechanical signature of
the sub-discipline. The AJ test provides excellent
absolute and relative reliabilities for climbing,
and can e ectively distinguish between climbing
athletes of di erent competitive levels. Thus, the
AJ may be suitable for eld assessment of upper
limb strength in climbing practitioners.
671Training & Testing
L a aye G et al. Upper-limb Power Test in Int J Sports Med 2014; 35: 670–675
This theoretical background reveals the lack of knowledge on
the di erences in physical qualities in climbing sub-disciplines
and the need for a more upper-limb-speci c test to distinguish
climbing ability. Therefore, the goal of this study is (i) to validate
a new ecological speci c-power test on athletes of di erent lev-
els (arm jump test); and (ii) to assess rock climbers’ pro les
(boulderers vs. route climbers) by analysing recorded variables
during the test. For the rst hypothesis, we assessed the sample
based on climbing ability (including novices). For the second, the
sample was reduced by removing the novices and dividing up
the sample based on their climbing style.
Material and Methods
34 subjects were recruited for this study, and separated into 3
groups based on their climbing ability (
Table 1 ). Each subject
completed all of the trials in the same time period of test days in
order to eliminate any in uence of circadian variation [ 1 ] . Each
volunteer signed a written informed consent statement prior to
the investigation after receiving an oral and written description
of the procedures in accordance with guidelines established by
the University Human Subject Review Board. They were
informed of the risks and bene ts of participation in this study.
The study procedure was also approved by the University Paris-
Sud’s research ethics committee, which followed the ethical
standards of the International Journal of Sports Medicine [ 13 ] .
Experimental setting
Climbing ability (CA) was de ned according to the most di cult
route ever created 5a to 9b + on the French scale. The French
scale was then transformed into a linear scale (5a = 1, 5a + = 2…
9b + = 28) to allow statistical calculation (Univariate regression).
To be included in the skilled sample, the climbers had to train at
least twice a week. They were categorized as novice ( < 6a),
skilled (6c–7b) or elite ( 8a). Moreover, to characterize the
climbers’ pro les, the 24 climbers were separated into 2 sam-
ples, either as bouldering specialists (BO) or as route specialists
(RO), using the higher level in each category as a criterion. To be
included as a specialist in one of the 2 sub-disciplines, we added
a criterion of 2 levels of di erence and the climbers had to
undergo at least 2 speci c training sessions per week and per-
form this sub-discipline exclusively in competition. Based on
these criteria: 15 climbers were categorized as route specialists
and 9 were categorized as bouldering specialists.
Anthropometric measurement
We followed the standardized techniques recommended by the
International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropomet-
ric [ 18 ] . Body height and arm span were measured using an
anthropometer, with 0.1 cm accuracy. Body mass, percentage of
body fat ( %BF) and muscle mass ( %MM) were measured using
bio-electric impedance scales (Weinberger model DJ-156; Wein-
berger GmbH & Co, Germany), with 0.1 % accuracy. Moreover,
the body mass index (BMI) was calculated as the ratio of the
mass (kg) over height (m) squared. The Ape index was calculated
by dividing arm span by height.
Upper-limb power test
During the power test, the subjects were equipped with an iso-
inertial accelerometer (Myotest SA [ 5 ] , Switzerland, length ×
width × depth: 9.5 × 5 × 1 cm, mass: 60 g), consisting of a trans-
portable 3D accelerometer system (AS) with a frequency of
500 Hz. The device was attached to a belt and a xed vertically to
the middle of the lower back. Vertical velocity (v
v ) was inte-
grated from vertical acceleration and vertical displacement (AJa)
through double integration of acceleration. Power was calcu-
lated by multiplying vertical velocity by vertical force and then
normalizing it to body mass (R-POWER).
The arm-jump board test was performed using a board (
Fig. 1 )
with a scale in centimetres and a pair of climbing holds with an
easy “jug” grip. The jug is a large hold where all the ngers can
be curled over the lip of the hold, allowing an easy and positive
grip [ 8 ] and minimizing the e ect of the grip on hand abilities.
The holds were spaced 55 cm apart, which is an optimal spacing,
within the range of upper-limb optimal strength [ 27 ] for all sub-
jects (165–200 % of biacromial width). Each subject performed a
complete and speci c climbing warm-up with 5-min of jogging
following by mobilizing exercises and light climbing exercises.
Then, the subject performed 3 trials with a 3-min rest. The best
test was kept as nal result. To determine test reliability, each
subject participated in 2 separate sessions 7 days apart at the
same time of day in order to avoid any circadian uctuation.
From a standing and motionless position with chalked hands
hanging at full elbow extension from the holds, the climber per-
formed an explosive pull-up movement releasing both hands to
slap the scaled board above as high as he could. Test perform-
ance was measured using 2 methods: a direct measurement
using the magnesia mark left by the subject’s lower hand on the
board; and an indirect measurement recorded at 50 Hz by a dig-
ital movie camera in front of the board to avoid parallax error
and con rm the direct measurement. The highest point touched
by the lower hand during this test was called AJ
b .
During the test, the climbers were equipped with an accelerom-
eter which recorded the acceleration of the centre of mass dur-
ing the movement. The values recorded by the accelerometer
were called AJ
a and were used to assess the validity of the arm
jump board test. 5 variables were extracted from the accelerom-
eter data,: the total duration of the arm jump (TIME), maximal
velocity, peak power (in absolute value “POWER” and relative to
body weight “R-POWER”) and an index of e ciency (IE) by
dividing the AJ score by the total duration of the arm jump.
Table 1 Anthropometric pro le for 3 climbing ability group (Mean ± SD).
Level n Age (y) Weight (kg) Height (m) Body mass index % of body fat % of muscle mass Arm span (m) Ape index
novice 10 21.5 ± 7 73.7 ± 13.0 1.83 ± 0.05 b,c 21.9 ± 2.7 12.2 ± 4.0 45.9 ± 3.8 1.85 ± 0.07 1.01 ± 0.02 b,c
skilled 11 25.4 ± 7 68.7 ± 2.2 1.74 ± 0.07 a 22.6 ± 1.6 12.9 ± 1.7 45.3 ± 1.7 1.78 ± 0.09 1.02 ± 0.02 a
elite 13 24.8 ± 6 67.2 ± 5.2 1.77 ± 0.05 a 21.7 ± 1.4 11.9 ± 1.6 46.2 ± 2.1 1.82 ± 0.06 1.04 ± 0.01 a
a signi cantly di erent than novices,
b signi cantly di erent than skilled (p < 0.05),
c signi cantly di erent than elite (p < 0.05)
672 Training & Testing
L a aye G et al. Upper-limb Power Test in Int J Sports Med 2014; 35: 670–675
Statistical analysis
All descriptive statistics were used to verify whether the basic
assumption of normality of all of the studied variables was met.
The statistical tests were processed using SPSS
® (version 16.0,
Chicago, IL). Concurrent validity was assessed by comparing the
value of AJ
a measured from the displacement calculated with
the accelerometer compared to AJ
b measured on the board, rst
by using a t- test and the Bland-Altman [ 4 ] method to determine
systematic bias between the 2 methods and the lower and upper
LoA. The coe cients of correlation (R) of the intra-method dif-
ferences were also plotted.
Test-retest reliability of AJ
b was assessed using the intra-class
correlation coe cient (ICC) [ 3 ] . Coe cients of variation (CV %)
were also calculated to measure the dispersion of the test and
retest scores. The di erence between the 3 samples was assessed
by a one-way ANOVA with Fisher post-hoc comparison (p < 0.05).
Moreover, a principal component analysis (PCA) was performed
on the data obtained from the 24 climbers (the 3 arm jumps
were averaged for each subject and only climbers were kept for
this analysis) in order to identify the principal components sum-
marising the 5 variables, using the procedure described by Kol-
lias et al. [ 14 ] . The number of principal components in the
pattern matrix extracted by the PCA was chosen with an Eigen
value greater than one (Kaiser criterion). The original matrix
was rotated to extract the appropriate variables, using a normal-
ized VARIMAX rotation (orthogonal rotation).
Considering validity, the paired t -test shows insigni cant di er-
ences (T(33) = 1.07; n. s.) despite a slightly higher value recorded
by the accelerometer (70.4 ± 18.2 vs. 69.16 ± 17.2 cm). The coef-
cient of correlation between the 2 methods is r = 0.98
(p < 0.0001). Moreover, the Bland-Altman (
Fig. 2 ) shows good
agreement with a low systematic bias ( 0.88 cm or 1.25 %) and
low con dence interval ( 4.61 cm < 95 % CI < 2.70 cm). Consider-
ing reliability, the ICC of AJ
b shows excellent agreement [ 7 ] for
intra-session reliability (ICC = 0.976) and for inter-session relia-
bility (ICC = 0.984). Moreover, the coe cient of variation is
4.89 %, which is lower than 10 % and consequently shows an
insigni cant di erence between test and retest.
Fig. 1 The arm jump test from the starting to the nishing position. a = starting position, b = pull o motion, c = release and d = nishing position.
Fig. 2 Bland-Altman plotting with limits of agree-
ment between performance from board and from
accelerometer for all subjects.
30 40 50 60 70
averaged score values of AJ [cm]
80 90 100
Mean – 2SD
Mean + 2SD
difference between AJ score from board
and from accelerometer [cm]
673Training & Testing
L a aye G et al. Upper-limb Power Test in Int J Sports Med 2014; 35: 670–675
Considering anthropometry, only height and age show signi -
cant di erences (
Table 1 ). The post-hoc shows a di erence
between novices and the other 2 groups. There is a signi cant
e ect of climbing ability (
Fig. 3 ) on the AJ score [F
(2,30) = 13.78,
p < 0.0001] with signi cant di erences between all samples.
Relative power shows a signi cant e ect [F
(2,30) = 4.9, p < 0.01]
with values ranging from 18.1 ± 5.2 W/kg for novices to
25.2 ± 5.8 W/kg for experts, with signi cant e ects only between
the novices and the other 2 groups.
Few di erences were observed between RO and BO when focus-
ing on the climbing sub-disciplines (
Table 2 ). Only velocity
during the AJ test showed a signi cant di erence.
AJ shows a good correlation with relative power (
Fig. 4 ). The
model found explained 78.3 % of the total variance and revealed
2 principal components (
Table 3 , 4 and
Fig. 5 ). The rst
component ( x -axis) linked power output (0.920) and velocity
with moderate loading (0.508), meaning that an arm jump per-
formed with high power is associated with a high peak of veloc-
ity. The second component ( y -axis) linked the e ciency index
(0.897) to time ( 0.945), showing that a high e ciency index is
linked to short motion duration. When plotting individual
climbers in this model, we found 4 kinds of behaviour. The right
side of the gure indicates a powerful arm jump done in an
explosive manner, and the left side a weak arm jump. The top of
the gure corresponds to AJ with a long time and low e ciency
whereas the bottom revealed e cient climbers with a short
time. Finally, we found 4 di erent motor signature pro les:
weak and slow (A), powerful and slow (B), weak and quick (C)
and powerful and quick (D). Bouldering specialists are charac-
terized by a D-pro le (individual loading between 0 and + 4.5 on
the power component and between 1.5 and + 0.5 on the time
component except for one subject), whereas route specialists are
characterized by a C or A pro le (individual loading between 3
and + 0.8 on the power component and between 2 and + 2.5 on
the time component).
The goal of this study was (i) to validate a new ecological-speci c
power test for climbing and (ii) to assess rock climbers’ pro les
(boulderers vs. route climbers). These 2 goals were independent,
and consequently the way we chose the climber for the samples
was also di erent. For the rst hypothesis, the sample was
assessed using climbing ability (including novices). For the sec-
ond, the sample was reduced by eliminating the novices and by
dividing the sample based on their climbing style.
Validation of a new ecological-speci c power test
Considering study validity, our results show a high level of intra-
and inter-session reliability (all ICCs > 0.95) and validity when
Table 2 Anthropometric characteristics and physical performance during
the arm jump test (Mean ± SD).
Variables Bouldering Climbers Routes Climbers
weight (kg) 67.5 (5.7) 68.1 (3.07)
height (m) 1.77 (0.04) 1.74 (0.06)
body mass index 21.3 (1.13) 22.6 (1.51)
% of body fat 11.5 (1.36) 12.8 (1.68)
% of muscle mass 46.4 (2.27) 45.5 (1.74)
arm span (m) 1.84 (0.05) 1.78 (0.08)
ape index 1.04 (0.01) 1.03 (0.02)
velocity (m · s 1 ) 1.81 (0.28) 1.63 (0.59)*
Time (ms) 743 (12) 788 (13)
e ciency index 2.48 (0.52) 2.13 (0.87)
relative power (W/kg) 28.4 (7.55) 23.4 (3.7)
arm jump score (cm) 76.98 (11.3) 61.27 (10.44)
“*” signi cant di erence with p < 0.05
Fig. 3 Arm jump score di erence between novices, skilled and elite
climbers. “*” signi cant di erence with p < 0.05.
Arm Jump Score [cm]
Skilled Elite
Fig. 4 Single regression analysis between relative peak power and arm
jump score for all subjects.
y = 1.746x + 20.56
R2 = 0.49
Arm Jump score [cm]
Relative Peak Power [W/kg]
30 40 50
Velocity Time Index of
E ciency
Arm Jump
velocity 1.00
time 0.02 1.00
e ciency index 0.35 0.57 1.00
relative power 0.51 0.11 0.61 1.00
absolute power 0.46 0.12 0.61 0.94 1.00
arm jump score 0.43 0.12 0.87 0.70 0.68 1.00
Table 3 Correlation matrix be-
tween variables extracted during
the arm jump test (subject).
674 Training & Testing
L a aye G et al. Upper-limb Power Test in Int J Sports Med 2014; 35: 670–675
compared to the distance calculated by the accelerometer. Sys-
tematic bias is low ( 0.88 cm) as were the limits of agreement
(LOA) (from 4.61 cm to 2.70 cm). This is the rst test to validate
the score of such a speci c climbing test when compared with a
reliable device (accelerometer [ 6 ] ). The previous one [ 8 ] was
only able to reveal good relative reliability, despite a large LOA,
without investigating validity. Moreover, the AJ test is able to
distinguish between the 3 samples (p < 0.0001), with a di er-
ence of 23 % between novices and skilled and of 17.8 % between
skilled and elite. When expressed in a linear regression, the AJ
test is correlated signi cantly with climbing ability (r = 0.69),
which is close to the correlation found during the power slap test
(r = 0.70). This means that the higher the score during the AJ test,
the greater the climbing ability. Further, the AJ test is the rst to
assess upper-limb power in a direct calculation with good accu-
racy (r = 0.70). The power slap test [ 8 ] assesses power with Lewis
formulae, which has never been validated for the upper limbs.
Upper-limb power is di erent between novices and the other 2
categories showing that minimal power is required to rise to a
skilled level, but is not a key variable within a population of
experts. Crossing this result with the fact that the AJ score is dif-
ferent between skilled and elite climbers revealed that AJ is a
test that not only requires power but also a speci c ability to
synchronize the motion and perhaps use speci c strength power
for using the jug.
Anthropometric and climbing ability
Few di erences were noted between the 3 studied samples.
While it appears that good climbers have a lower percentage of
body fat than the non-athletic population [ 24 ] , it did not di er
from other trained athletic groups. Indeed, our novice sample
was composed of athletic men who were actually taller ( + 8 cm)
than the climbers but had a comparable body mass index (21.7
–22.6 BMI), percentage of body fat (11.9–12.9 %) and muscle
mass (45.3–46.2 kg). These values are quite comparable to the
literature [ 9 , 19 ] . The only di erence found is on Ape index, with
values signi cantly higher in climbers (1.04 ± 0.01 in elite,
1.02 ± 0.02 in skilled climbers) than in novices (1.01 ± 0.02), with
values slightly higher than in the literature, which is generally
about 1.0 [ 17 , 19 , 31 ] ). This di erence con rms a previous study
[ 31 ] which compared climbers (Ape = 1.01) to non-climbers
(Ape = 0.95) and suggests that having a high arm span to height
ratio is advantageous in climbing.
Climbing sub-discipline characteristics
Considering the characteristics of the climbing sub-disciplines,
the results show similar anthropometric pro les. The anthropo-
metric variables for boulderers are quite comparable with previ-
ous studies with highly accomplished boulderers [ 16 ] in terms
of BMI (22.3 ± 2 vs. 21.3 ± 1.1), percentage of body fat (12.1 ± 4 vs.
11.5 ± 1.3) and height (1.77 ± 0.05 vs. 1.77 ± 0.04) and di ers
slightly when compared to world-class boulderers [ 20 ] who are
slightly smaller (1.75 ± 0.05), leaner (5.8 ± 1.8 % of body fat) but
with comparable BMI (22 ± 1.4), suggesting that anthropometric
variables did not play a crucial role in reaching top levels. Moreo-
ver, the major nding of this part of the study is that the speci -
city of climbing ability a ects the way the AJ test is performed
Fig. 5 ) .
Bouldering climbers revealed an explosive pro le (powerful and
quick motion). This is in agreement with a recent study [ 10 ] ,
which found a higher rate of force development produced in
“crimp” and “open-crimp” positions. The rate of force develop-
ment reveals the ability to produce a high level of force in a short
time. This ability seems to be a characteristic of this climbing
style, since our study revealed the same explosiveness pro le.
This result completes the little knowledge on this topic which
found that elite BO have greater hand strength than RO [ 20 ] . This
new knowledge revealed a signature of this climbing sub-disci-
pline which requires quick displacements in an explosive man-
ner [ 16 ] , as shown by the exercise-to-recovery ratio of 1:4 for
attempting a problem and of 13:1 for forearm muscle activity
[ 33 ] . The route climbers revealed 2 di erent pro les, either a
Table 4 Principal component analysis: factor loadings, commonalities,
eigenvalue for each variables and percentage of variance for each rotated
Variables Factor loadings Commonalities
1 2
velocity 0.508 0.132
time 0.945 0.674
e ciency index 0.897 0.734
relative power 0.952 0.954
absolute power 0.920 0.954
eigenvalue 2.49 1.45
% of variance 42.4 36.1
Fig. 5 Principal component analysis illustration.
The left and bottom part represents the variables
scores on the 2 rotated principal components. The
right and upper part represents the individual
scores for each subject (bold circles for boulderers
and grey diamonds for routes climbers).
Individual scores on Power-component
Individual scores on Time-component
Veloc it y
–3 –2 –1 0 1 2 3 4 53
Variables scores on Power-component
Variables Scores on Time-component
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L a aye G et al. Upper-limb Power Test in Int J Sports Med 2014; 35: 670–675
weak and quick pro le or a weak and slow pro le. This is prob-
ably due to the di erent physiological pro les of these 2 styles
and mechanical speci city, which is the appropriate movement
pattern, force application and the velocity of movement result-
ing in a greater transfer of training [ 25 ] . Moreover, this result
shows that speci c training can help develop speci c force
(more isometric for routes climbers and more explosive for
boulderers). In fact, the adaptations induced by the speed of
movement [ 21 ] result from the performance technique [ 22 ] .
Finally, the present study shows that a threshold of minimal
power is necessary to be skilled climbers. This power could be
assessed by the arm jump test, which identi es climbing experts.
Moreover, the way the test is performed depends more on the
climbing sub-discipline than on the level of expertise.
Authors want to thank Mr Ludovic LAURENCE for these valuable
advices during the elaboration of the test design. There is no
con ict of interest in the manuscript, including nancial, con-
sultant, institutional and other relationships that might lead to
bias or a con ict of interest.
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... Finally, dynamic tests focusing more on the upper-body strength than the fingers have been applied (Draper et al., 2011;Laffaye et al., 2014;Ozimek et al., 2016;Levernier et al., 2020;Stien et al., 2021b). For example, Levernier et al. (2020) measured force and velocity during dynamic pull-ups on a gym bar with external loads (0-70% of body mass) and concluded that the test was reliable (CV = 1.0-6.6%) ...
... Examining 1-RM pull-up on a gym bar, Ozimek et al. (2016) also demonstrated acceptable reliability (CV = 7.7%), but noted that the test may lack specificity to climbing. Furthermore, Laffaye et al. (2014) analyzed power output during an arm-jump test from deep jug holds. This test displayed high reliability (CV = 4.89%) and could differentiate between intermediate-to-elite climbers. ...
... For example, some of the smallest CV-values reported for power and isometric strength (1.0-6.6%) have been collected from tests that used either jug holds (Laffaye et al., 2014;Stien et al., 2021b) or a gym bar (Levernier et al., 2020). For maximal strength, Stien et al. (2021b) reported a 1.1% CV using jug holds, compared to 4.7% using a 23 mm rung. ...
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The interest in climbing is rapidly growing among professional and recreational athletes and will for the first time be included in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The sport has also gained increased scientific attention in the past decades. Still, recommendations for testing procedures to predict climbing performance and measure training effects are limited. Therefore, the aim of this mini-review is to provide an overview of the climbing-specific tests, procedures and outcomes used to examine climbing performance. The available literature presents a variety of tests and procedures. While the reliability of some tests has been examined, measures of validity are scarce, especially for climbing-specific endurance tests. Moreover, considering the possible combinations of climbing performance levels, disciplines, and tests, substantial gaps in the literature exist. Vague descriptions of the participants in many studies (e.g., not specifying preferred discipline, performance level, experience, and regular climbing and training volume) further limit the current knowledge and challenge comparisons across studies. Regarding contraction types, dynamic strength-and power-tests are underrepresented in the literature compared to isometric tests. Studies exploring and reporting the validity and reliability of climbing-specific tests are warranted, and researchers should strive to provide a detailed description of the study populations in future research.
... As shown, grip strength is a reliable indicator of the population's physical function and health status [4,6]. Indeed, upper extremity muscle power has been assessed through bench press [11], rock climbing [12], or seated ball throwing, both for older [13] and trained individuals [14]. However, the tests that evaluate the muscular power of the upper extremities consider global body movements [11,12,14] and not specific segments such as the hand-finger segment. ...
... Indeed, upper extremity muscle power has been assessed through bench press [11], rock climbing [12], or seated ball throwing, both for older [13] and trained individuals [14]. However, the tests that evaluate the muscular power of the upper extremities consider global body movements [11,12,14] and not specific segments such as the hand-finger segment. This situation conditions that the power of the hand-finger segment is determined through the non-specific relation of one of its components (power of the upper extremities) [15]. ...
... Likewise, the Grip W test explicitly evaluates the muscle power of the hand-finger joint segment of both the right and left extremities. In this sense, most of the tests to assess the power of the handfinger segment involve other joint segments, such as the shoulder, elbow, and wrist, and even the lower extremities; this last segment is used as an accessory movement to boost the mobility of the upper extremities [12,27]. In research developed by Dhahbi et al. [27], upper extremity power was evaluated through a climbing test in adults of the special military command; this protocol considers climbing a 5-meter rope as fast as possible. ...
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The assessment of the strength and muscle mass of the hand-finger segment are reliable indicators of health and predictors of cardiometabolic risk in the adult population. However, there are no valid and reliable tests to assess the muscle power of this segment in healthy adolescents. The objective of this study was to determine the validity and inter-day reliability of a grip power test (Grip W test) in healthy adolescents. Twenty-one adolescents (15.61 ± 2.20 years old) were part of the study. All participants were instructed to perform a grip with incremental load sets from 1-10 kg as fast as possible. The validity of the Grip W test was determined with the load-power curve and linear regression equation. Inter-day reliability considered the coefficient of variation (CV), intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC), and standard error of the mean (SEM). The significance level for all statistical analyses was p < 0.05. The parabola in the load-power curve for both hands showed normality for the Grip W test. In addition, the analysis showed a CV = 4.63% and ICC = 1.00 for the right hand, while the left hand showed a CV = 3.23% and ICC = 1.00. The Grip W test proved to be valid and reliable for assessing gripping muscle power functionally and unilaterally in healthy adolescents.
... Previous assessments of athletes specializing in either bouldering or lead climbing have found distinctive physiological differences between disciplines (Fanchini et al., 2013;Laffaye et al., 2014;Fryer et al., 2017;Stien et al., 2019;Levernier et al., 2020). Likely due to the different physiological demands of the two disciplines (White and Olsen, 2010), boulderers have performed better than lead climbers in isometric [maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) and rate of force development (RFD)] and dynamic tests (pull-up velocity and power output), with RFD being the most discriminatory factor (Fanchini et al., 2013;Laffaye et al., 2014;Stien et al., 2019). ...
... Previous assessments of athletes specializing in either bouldering or lead climbing have found distinctive physiological differences between disciplines (Fanchini et al., 2013;Laffaye et al., 2014;Fryer et al., 2017;Stien et al., 2019;Levernier et al., 2020). Likely due to the different physiological demands of the two disciplines (White and Olsen, 2010), boulderers have performed better than lead climbers in isometric [maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) and rate of force development (RFD)] and dynamic tests (pull-up velocity and power output), with RFD being the most discriminatory factor (Fanchini et al., 2013;Laffaye et al., 2014;Stien et al., 2019). Conversely, no difference in forearm endurance or oxidative capacity has yet been detected between disciplines (Fryer et al., 2017;Stien et al., 2019). ...
... In accordance with the prioritized discipline (Fanchini et al., 2013;Stien et al., 2019), only the LCT group increased intermittent forearm endurance, whereas only the BCT group improved isolated finger-grip strength. In disagreement with the hypotheses and acute studies that have identified differences in climbing-specific strength and endurance between athletes specializing in lead-or boulder climbing (Fanchini et al., 2013;Laffaye et al., 2014;Fryer et al., 2017;Stien et al., 2019;Levernier et al., 2020), the changes in the tested variables were not statistically different between the two groups. The findings could be attributed to the relatively short training period, low intensity, or the small changes to the subjects' regular training volume. ...
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This study compared the effects of prioritizing lead climbing or boulder climbing on climbing-specific strength and endurance, as well as climbing performance. Fourteen active climbers were randomized to a boulder climbing training group (BCT: age = 27.2 ± 4.4 years, body mass = 65.8 ± 5.5 kg, height = 173.3 ± 3.8 cm) or a lead-climbing training group (LCT: age = 27.7 ± 6.1 years, body mass = 70.2 ± 4.4 kg, height = 177.7 ± 4.4 cm). The groups participated in a 5-week training period consisting of 15 sessions, performing either two weekly bouldering sessions and one maintenance-session of lead-climbing (BCT) or two weekly lead-climbing sessions and one maintenance-session of bouldering (LCT). Pre-and post-training, maximal force and rate of force development (RFD) were measured during isometric pull-ups performed on a jug hold and a shallow rung, and during an isolated finger-strength test. Lead-climbing and bouldering performance were also measured, along with an intermittent forearm endurance test. The pre-to-post changes were not significantly different between the groups for any of the parameters (P = 0.062-0.710). However, both the BCT (ES = 0.30, P = 0.049) and LCT (ES = 0.41, P = 0.046) groups improved strength in the isometric pull-up performed using the jug, whereas neither group improved force in the rung condition (P = 0.054 and P = 0.084) or RFD (P = 0.060 and P = 0.070). Furthermore, climbing and bouldering performance remained unchanged in both groups (P = 0.210-0.895). The LCT group improved forearm endurance (ES = 0.55, P = 0.007), while the BCT group improved isolated finger strength (ES = 0.35, P = 0.015). In addition to isometric pull-up strength, bouldering can increase isolated finger strength while lead-climbing may improve forearm endurance. A 5-week period prioritizing one discipline can be safely implemented for advanced to intermediate climbers without risking declined performance in the non-prioritized discipline.
... Anthropometric parameters like body mass, height, arm span, forearm diameter, and body fat percent are essential determinants of climbing success (Laffaye, Collin, et al., 2014). Specifically, according to MacKenzie et al. (2020), low body fat percentage is the anthropometric parameter that correlates with success the most. ...
... In a study by Laffaye et al. (2016), better climbers had higher ape index (arm span to height ratio). However, general fitness tests (Countermovement jump, isometric Sorensen test, Bench press test) showed no connection to climbing performance, associated with success or gender (Laffaye, Collin, et al., 2014). Nevertheless, handgrip strength to body mass ratio is the only general fitness predictor of sport climbing success (Laffaye et al., 2016;Assmann et al., 2020). ...
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Sport climbers should possess specific anthropometric characteristics and conditioning capacities to reach a top level in this sport. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine gender differences in the fitness status of the top-level youth sport climbers. METHODS: The study was conducted on 20 elite Croatian youth sport climbers (all members of the national team, ten females; 13-18 years of age). The variables included anthropometric status (mass, height, arm span, and body fat percentage), generic-(countermovement-and squat-jump, grip strength), and specific-fitness tests (power slap test and Draga foot lift). RESULTS: Boys were taller than girls (t-test=2.51, p=0.02, moderate effect size (ES)), and had lower body fat percentage (t=-5.66, p=0.001, very large ES). Boys achieved better results in countermovement-(t=5.39, p=0.001, very large ES) and squat-jump (t=2.19, p=0.04, moderate ES), while there were no gender differences in the specific fitness tests. CONCLUSION: Gender differences were observed in generic but not in specific fitness, which may indicate that climbing is a specific sport that requires and develops specific abilities in a similar way in boys and girls.
... The upper limb power test was based on Laffaye et al. (2014). Two jug holds (Hard Wood Holds, SHlargejug, UK) were used and spaced 55 cm apart. ...
... The anthropometric tests conducted within this study aligned with a recent publication from the International Rock Climbing Research Association (Draper et al. 2020). The upper limb power test conducted in this study is based on Laffaye et al. (2014) and Levernier, Samozino and Laffaye (2020) and has some resemblance to the powerslap test outlined in the IRCRA test manual (Draper et al. 2020;IRCRA 2015). Currently, it does not seem worthwhile to perform the upper limb power test in a recreational sample, except for distinguishing ability and potentially experience level. ...
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Speed Climbing is a discipline of sport climbing that has not thoroughly been researched. The introduction of sport climbing and the speed discipline into the Olympics is likely to boost its popularity and require further research in the speed climb area in order to enhance athlete performance. It may also be plausible to recruit existing recreational climbers to compete in the speed discipline. This study investigates the anthropometric and physiological demands of speed climbing in a sample of 8 recreational male climbers (20.4 ± 1.19 years). This sample of climbers were determined ‘Intermediate’, based on Draper et al. (2015), with ability level ranging between French/Sport Grades 5+ and 7a. The isometric mid-thigh pull test (IMTP), upper limb power test and countermovement jump were performed alongside a test of speed climb ability. In this study, the upper limb power test was determined unsuitable due to the lack of standardisation across literature, complexity and failure to produce any applicable or meaningful results(r < ± 0.500). The primary finding of this study, is that the isometric mid� thigh pull and climbing experience (measured as maximum flash top rope grade and lead grade) demonstrated noteworthy correlations with speed climb ability r = -0.587, -0.900, -0.969, respectively. The IMTP and climbing ability in combination may be able to predict speed climb ability more accurately. This would allow existing recreational climbers to be recruited to compete in the speed climb discipline for events such as the Paris 2024 Olympics.
... The sessions took place on a half-speed track. The same dynamic warm-up as in (Laffaye et al., 2014) study was carried out. ...
Conference Paper
INTRODUCTION: Compression garments are a common intervention to improve exercise performance, but evidence on the effect on sports climbing performance is lacking. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate effects of compression forearm-sleeves on muscular strength and endurance of finger flexor muscles. METHODS: In a randomized crossover design, twenty-four sports climbers (12 male, 12 female; 29.1 ± 6.6 years; climbing level: 14.8 ± 1.4 IRCRA) performed one familiarization trial and three test trials either with compression forearm-sleeves (COMP), non-compressive forearm-sleeves (PLAC), or without forearm-sleeves (CON). Test trials consisted of three performance measurements (hand grip strength (HG), finger hang, and lap climbing). Near-infrared spectroscopy was used to assess the tissue saturation index (TSI). Additionally, maximum blood lactate, rate of perceived exertion, and forearm muscle pain were determined. RESULTS: COMP significantly affected TSI in mean deoxygenation (p = 0.049, ηp 2 = 0.194) and reoxygenation (p = 0.028, ηp 2 = 0.225) phases of HG measurements compared to CON. No differences occurred between conditions for any of the performance parameters (p ≤ 0.05). DISCUSSION: Compression forearm-sleeves resulted in more pronounced changes of TSI during HG measurements indicating increased blood circulation and venous return, but did neither enhance muscular strength nor endurance of finger flexor muscles.
... Although technical and mental factors certainly contribute to climbing outcomes (Baláš et al., 2014;Watts, 2004), it is widely accepted that strength and endurance of the upper-body is the primary predictor for climbing performance (Baláš et al., 2012;Mermier, 2000;Philippe et al., 2012;Quaine et al., 2003;Saul et al., 2019;Vigouroux and Quaine, 2006). Specifically, high levels of maximal and explosive strength of the fingers and forearms, elbow flexors, and shoulder-and back muscles (pulling apparatus) have been identified as significant attributes of highly accomplished climbers (Deyhle et al., 2015;Grant et al., 2001;Laffaye et al., 2014;Levernier and Laffaye, 2019b;Vigouroux et al., 2018). ...
This study examined the effects of two or four weekly campus board training sessions among highly accomplished lead climbers. Sixteen advanced-to-elite climbers were randomly allocated to two (TG2), or four weekly campus board training sessions (TG4), or a control group (CG). All groups continued their normal climbing routines. Pre- and post-intervention measures included bouldering performance, maximal isometric pull-up strength using a shallow rung and a large hold (jug), and maximal reach and moves to failure. Rate of force development (RFD; absolute and 100ms) was calculated in the rung condition. TG4 improved maximal force in the jug condition (effect size (ES) = 0.40, p = 0.043), and absolute RFD more than CG (ES = 2.92, p = 0.025), whereas TG2 improved bouldering performance (ES = 2.59, p = 0.016) and maximal moves to failure on the campus board more than CG (ES = 1.65, p = 0.008). No differences between the training groups were found (p = 0.107–1.000). When merging the training groups, the training improved strength in the rung condition (ES = 0.87, p = 0.002), bouldering performance (ES = 2.37, p = 0.006), maximal reach (ES = 1.66, p = 0.006) and moves to failure (ES = 1.43, p = 0.040) more than CG. In conclusion, a five-week campus board training-block is sufficient for improving climbing-specific attributes among advanced-to-elite climbers. Sessions should be divided over four days to improve RFD or divided over two days to improve bouldering performance, compared to regular climbing training.
... Although the strength of relationships suggest other factors not analysed in this study may contribute to performance of the CLF (e.g. climbing technique) [55], the new data from this study indicate that in addition to upper-body strength [12], and upper-and lower-body power could be important for CLF performance. The implications for these findings is that academy training staff should incorporate exercises within their physical training programs to specifically develop upper-and lower-body power in recruits. ...
Background: Fitness could influence task performance in police officers. Limited research details relationships between different fitness characteristics and police-specific tasks. Objective: Determine relationships between anaerobic and aerobic capacity with police-specific task performance. Methods: Data for 308 recruits was analysed. Fitness tests included: push-ups, sit-ups, and mountain climbers (muscular endurance); pull-ups (strength); vertical jump (VJ) and 2 kg medicine ball throw (MBT; power); 75-yard pursuit run (75PR; change-of-direction speed); 201 m run (anaerobic capacity); 2.4 km run and multistage fitness test (aerobic capacity). Police tasks included: 99-yard obstacle course (99OC); 74.84 kg body drag (BD); chain link fence (CLF) and solid wall (SW) climbs; and 500-yard run (500R). Partial correlations controlling for sex and linear regression calculated relationships between fitness and job tasks. Results: 99OC correlated with all assessments; BD only with 75PR. CLF related to the power and aerobic capacity tests, pull-ups, and 201 m run. SW related to VJ, 75PR, pull-ups, sit-ups, 201 m run, and aerobic capacity. 500R related to all except the MBT and 2.4 km run. 75PR and VJ predicted 4/5 tasks. Conclusions: Police research has shown the importance of muscular endurance and aerobic capacity. Specific to this studies' correlations, the value of power and change-of-direction speed development for task performance was indicated.
Successful performance in rock climbing is physically demanding and involves the integration of many factors associated with production of the work required to ascend over specific terrain. Recreational climbers may find success through maintenance of a high level of general physical fitness; however, performance at the highest levels likely requires physiological adaptations likened to that of high-performance athletes. This chapter will explore the more notable physiological aspects of high-level rock climbing. The objective is to provide a brief historical overview of the development of a theoretical physiological model for high-level climbing performance. The chapter is not intended as a comprehensive review of research to date. For a more complete exploration, the reader is referred to the published reviews of Watts (Watts, Eur J Appl Physiol. 91(4):361–72, 2004) and Saul et al. (Saul et al., J Exerc Sci Fit. 17:91–100, 2019).
This study aimed to compare the acute effects of performing two kinds of pull-ups: traditional, pronated grip pull-ups performed with two arms and additional weight with loading intensity of 5RM and one-arm pull-ups, on specific upper body climbing power. Twenty-four advanced climbers participated in the study. The International Rock Climbing Research Association (IRCRA) Power Slap Test was chosen to assess specific upper body climbing power. All athletes performed the test under three conditions: control (without a conditioning activity) and both kinds of pull-ups as conditioning activities. Results revealed significant improvements in the Power Slap's distance, power, velocity, and force in 5RM weighted pull-ups, but not in one-arm pull-ups. In the latter case, participants reached higher power values after the conditioning stimulus, but the effect size was small. Also, the differences with the remaining variables (power, speed, and force) were non-significant. The results suggest that weighted pull-ups with a 5RM intensity and not one arm pull-ups seem to be an effective PAPE stimulus. Therefore, the former can be used as a conditioning activity before an explosive climbing exercise such as the Power Slap on a campus board.
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This study is a contribution to the discussion about the structure of performance of sport rock climbers. Because of the complex and multifaceted nature of this sport, multivariate statistics were applied in the study. The subjects included thirty experienced sport climbers. Forty three variables were scrutinised, namely somatic characteristics, specific physical fitness, coordination abilities, aerobic and anaerobic power, technical and tactical skills, mental characteristics, as well as 2 variables describing the climber's performance in the OS (Max OS) and RP style (Max RP). The results show that for training effectiveness of advanced climbers to be thoroughly analysed and examined, tests assessing their physical, technical and mental characteristics are necessary. The three sets of variables used in this study explained the structure of performance similarly, but not identically (in 38, 33 and 25%, respectively). They were also complementary to around 30% of the variance. The overall performance capacity of a sport rock climber (Max OS and Max RP) was also evaluated in the study. The canonical weights of the dominant first canonical root were 0.554 and 0.512 for Max OS and Max RP, respectively. Despite the differences between the two styles of climbing, seven variables - the maximal relative strength of the fingers (canonical weight = 0.490), mental endurance (one of scales : The Formal Characteristics of Behaviour-Temperament Inventory (FCB-TI; Strelau and Zawadzki, 1995)) (-0.410), climbing technique (0.370), isometric endurance of the fingers (0.340), the number of errors in the complex reaction time test (-0.319), the ape index (-0.319) and oxygen uptake during arm work at the anaerobic threshold (0.254) were found to explain 77% of performance capacity common to the two styles.
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The purpose of this study was to compare maximal muscle strength and rapid force capacity of finger flexors between boulder and lead climbers of national-international level. Ten boulder (mean ± SD, age 27 ± 8 yrs) and 10 lead climbers (age 27 ± 6 yrs) volunteered for the study. Ten non-climbers (age 25 ± 4 yrs) were also tested. Isometric maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) force and rate of force development (RFD) produced in "crimp" and "open-crimp" hand positions were evaluated on an instrumented hold. Climbers were stronger than non-climbers. More interestingly, MVC force and RFD were significantly greater in boulder compared to lead climbers (p < 0.05), in both crimp and open-crimp positions. RFD was the most discriminatory outcome, as the largest difference between boulder and lead climbers (34-38%) was observed for this variable. RFD may reflect the specific requirements of bouldering and seems to be more appropriate than pure maximal strength for investigating muscle function in rock climbers.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect on muscular strength after a 3-week training with the bench-press at a fixed pushing of 80-100% maximal speed (FPS) and self-selected pushing speed (SPS). 20 resistance-trained subjects were divided at random in 2 groups differing only regarding the pushing speed: in the FPS group (n=10) it was equal to 80-100% of the maximal speed while in the SPS group (n=10) the pushing speed was self-selected. Both groups were trained twice a week for 3 weeks with a load equal to 85% of 1RM and monitored with the encoder. Before and after the training we measured pushing speed and maximum load. Significant differences between and within the 2 groups were pointed out using a 2-way ANOVA for repeated measures. After 3 weeks a significant improvement was shown especially in the FPS group: the maximum load improved by 10.20% and the maximal speed by 2.22%, while in the SPS group the effect was <1%. This study shows that a high velocity training is required to increase the muscle strength further in subjects with a long training experience and this is possible by measuring the individual performance speed for each load.
The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of grip width, chest depth, limb lengths, and bar path on the performance of a maximal bench press. Subjects were 24 experienced male weight trainers. Bench press performance was assessed at six different grip widths (G1–G6). Repeated-measures ANOVA with Tukey post hoc comparisons revealed that bench press strength values at the two moderate grip widths (G3 and G4) were significantly greater than either the narrow or wide grip widths. First-order partial correlations showed no significant relationship between strength values and anthropometric variables when adjusted for differences in body weight. Standard two-dimensional cinematographic procedures were used to film a subsample (n = 6) while bench pressing using G1, G3, and G6. The results of the statistical comparisons of bar path indicated that as grip width increased, the horizontal and vertical distance from the bar to the shoulder decreased.
Current information and evidence indicate that for most activities free weight training can produce superior results compared to training with machines, particularly when the free weight training involves complex, multi‐joint exercises. A number of reasons can account for the superiority of free weights; the major factor deals with mechanical specificity. Mechanical specificity is concerned with appropriate movement patterns, force application and velocity of movement. Considering the available evidence that adherence to the concept of specificity of exercise and training can result in a greater transfer of training effect then free weights should produce a more effective training transfer. Therefore, the majority of resistance exercises making up a training programme should include of free weight exercises with emphasis on mechanical specificity (i.e. large muscle mass exercises, appropriate velocity, contraction type etc.). Generally, machines should be used as an adjunct to free weight training and, depending upon the sport, can be used to a greater or lesser extent during various phases of the training period (preparation, pre‐competition, competition).
This paper provides exact power contours to guide the planning of reliability studies, where the parameter of interest is the coefficient of intraclass correlation p derived from a one-way analysis of variance model. The contours display the required numbers of subjects k and number of repeated measurements n that provide 80 per cent power for testing Ho:ρ ⩽ ρo versus H1: ρ > ρo at the 5 per cent level of significance for selected values of po. We discuss the design considerations of these results.
The aim of this study is to explain the relation between the specific strength of the sport climber and his/her sport level measured as a best chained degree. Both in our experience and also in the scientific literature there are some measurements of strength manifest in climbers of different climbing levels. We have designed and developed 3 strength different tests for independent measurement of the arm and forearm strength in eight very high level climbers (from 9a+ to 8c in French scale). All tests have been measured with dynamometers, computer-designed torque transducers and accelerometers. The results of this study suggest that there is statistic relation between sport climbing level, measured like a chained degree, and different types of specific strength efforts in laboratory in high level climbers. This relation may be closer in the more specific test than in the generic force test. It’s also important to remember the influence of sport climber mass in their force performances expressing their force in relative units.