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Watts, P. B. FACSM; Daggett, M.; Gallagher, P.; Wilkins, B.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 1997 - Volume 29 - Issue 5 - p 223
Annual Meeting Abstracts

Northern Michigan Univ., Marquette, MI.

(Sponsor: P.B. Watts, FACSM)

Supported by NMU Faculty Grant 5-54632 and the Boulder Rock Club.

    Previous studies have reported descriptive physiological data for rock climbing, however, these studies have employed limited sample sizes, single interval data, or used simulated climbing. The purpose of this study was to obtain continuous data using portable instrumentation. Eleven expert rock climbers signed informed consent and attempted to lead a difficult route(5.12b; YDS scale) set on a competition-type indoor climbing wall. Expired air was analyzed continuously by a light weight (<2 kg) open circuit system(AeroSport KBl-C). Oxygen uptake (VO2) was measured over 20-second intervals. Heart rate (HR) was recorded via Polar XL monitor and averaged over 20 seconds. These data were expressed as averages over the entire climb(VO2avg & HRavg) and as peak values. Blood samples were obtained via fingerprick prior to and immediately after climbing and analyzed for whole blood lactate (YSI 1500). Expired air was also analyzed through 10 minutes of resting recovery in seven subjects. An estimated resting VO2 of 250 ml·min-1 was subtracted from the interval VO2 values to provide net VO2 data which was subsequently converted to absolute VO2 in liters for climbing (C-VO2net) and recovery(R-VO2net). Total net VO2 was calculated as the sum of C-VO2net and R-VO2net. Mean climbing time was 2.57±0.41 min. During climbing, VO2avg and HRavg means were 1.66±0.34 l·min-1 and 148±16 b·min-1 respectively with mean peaks of 2.15±0.41 l·min-1 and 162±17 b·min-1. Relative VO2avg was 24.73±4.34 ml·kg-1·min-1 with a mean peak value of 31.95±5.31 ml·kg-1·min-1. The change in blood lactate from pre- to post-climb was +3.2±0.8 mmol·l-1. Mean values for C-VO2net and R-VO2ne were 4.12±1.03 1 and 5.41±3.38 I respectively with mean total net VO2 at 9.53±4.02 1. The observed accumulation of lactate in the blood and elevated recovery VO2 indicate a higher overall energy demand than that indicated via the recorded VO2 during climbing.

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