Conference Paper

Muscle fatigue induced by rock climbing lead competition and simulation

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.


Introduction Climbers show high levels of strength compared to non-climbers suggesting that strength may be a determinant of performance and muscle fatigue (MF) a limiting factor (1). However, studies have found contradictory results and no investigations have examined muscle fatigue during real competitions. The main aims were to examine the correlation between performance and the muscle strength and to assess the MF quantified as the decline after exercise of specific isometric maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and peak of rate of force development (pRFD) of the finger flexors. A secondary aim was to examine the differences in MF between competitive (CC) and well-trained but not competitive climbers (NC) completing the same route. Methods Twenty-six male climbers (age, 29±11 yrs; height, 175±6 cm; weight, 66±9 kg) were tested before and immediately after a route (grade 7b+). Twelve CC were assessed during Regional Championships (Italy) and fourteen NC were evaluated on a separate session on the same route. MVC and pRFD (in “open grip” position) were measured before and after the route using a specific device. Results Performance (n° of hold reached) was moderately correlated to MVC (r=0.42, p=0.03) but not pRFD (r=0.17, p=0.39). Group (CC vs NC) x time (pre vs post) interaction was not significant for MVC (p=0.11, η2=0.10). MVC declined after the route: 7.09±1.18 vs 6.71±1.41 N/kg; mean difference, -0.38 N/kg (95%CI 0.03 to 0.72), p=0.02, η2=0.19. Group x time interaction was close to significance for pRFD (p=0.07, η2=0.13). pRFD decreased after the route: 20.2±5.2 vs 16.6±4.3 N/s/kg; difference, -3.6 N/s/kg (95%CI 2.11 to 5.01), p<0.0001, η2=0.54. Discussion Previous studies have examined the MF after climbing but using nonspecific dynamometers and effort longer than competitions (1). In our study, the positive and significant correlation between MVC and performance suggests that high levels of strength are important to excel during lead climbing. The decline in MVC and pRFD (-6% and -19% respectively) confirms the occurrence of MF. However, the moderate correlation with performance (12% of variance explained) and the moderate decline in MVC indicates that factors other than maximal strength are important determinants. The greater decline in pRFD underlines the importance of rapidly exerting strength during climbing. Furthermore, the decline in pRFD tended to be higher in NC (-22%) than CC (-10%) although the climbing duration was lower for NC than CC (113±56 vs 166±65 s, respectively; p=0.03). Our results suggest that RFD is a relevant but usually overlooked parameter for the assessment of climbers. 1. Watts PB. Eur J Appl Physiol 2004, 91, 361-72.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.