Movement demands of elite female and male athletes in competitive bouldering

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Problem: Competitive bouldering (CB) is a discipline of sport climbing that has recently been added to the program of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Although CB is increasingly popular and competitive, scientific investigations remain sparse and little is known on how to maximize individual performance. Statement: The aim of this study was to investigate the movement demands of elite female (24.2 ± 1.9 yrs; 160.6 ± 5.1 cm; 52.7 ± 4.8 kg) and male athletes (25.1 ± 3.5 yrs; 175.7 ± 7.6 cm; 63.6 ± 6.8 kg) in competitive bouldering (CB). Purpose: The investigation of the movement demands could help to establish evidence-based and gender-specific recommendations for strength and conditioning training regimens in elite CB. Approach: Data collection included (a) the number of attempts per boulder (NAB), (b) the attempt duration per boulder (ADB), (c) the bouldering time to ascent a boulder (BTB), (d) the total bouldering time per boulder (TBB), (e) the rest time between attempts (RTA), and (f) the gripping time (AGT) of the top 20 ranked female and male competitors during the qualification round of the bouldering world-cup in 2014 in Munich, Germany. Results: The NAB and RTA were significantly higher in women (5.1 ± 1.9; 33.4 ± 15.5 s) compared with men (4.3 ± 2.2; 27.2 ± 13.7 s). In contrast, a significantly higher ADB, TBB, and AGT were found for men (23.8 ± 15.2 s; 79.6 s ± 15.7 s; 6.1 ± 2.3 s) compared with women (15.2 ± 8.8 s; 63.9 ± 19.9 s; 4.1 ± 2.7 s). Conclusions: These findings suggest that grip endurance can be considered a key factor in CB due to multiple attempts, relatively long bouldering times, and a short rest time between attempts. Moreover, the results emphasize the importance of a gender-specific training regimen in CB.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Education and Sport (JPES)
Issue number 3
Pages (from-to)836-840
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 26.09.2016