Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Maureen Dunn, Kinesiology

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Rock climbing is an up and coming sport that was recently added to the Summer Olympics. There are different variations of rock climbing and this study focused on the comparison between lead rope and top rope. Previous research has compared the physiological demands while climbing routes at different inclines. Additionally, many studies have observed changes in heart rate while climbing, but few have studied breathing rate and caloric expenditure. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the physiological responses (heart rate, respiratory rate and caloric expenditure) and rate of perceived exertion of experienced rock climbers when climbing top rope vs. lead rope. Ten experienced climbers were recruited from Scrapyard Climbing Collective LLC. A preliminary testing session was held at DeVos Fieldhouse where the participants were fitted for a Hexoskin smart shirt and had bodily measurements taken. The Hexoskin Smart Shirt has been validated to measure physiological changes during exercise. Participants then met at the Scrapyard Climbing Collective LLC and completed a climbing sequence using two different routes while wearing the Hexoskin shirt. The order of climbing was as follows: Route 1: top rope, lead rope, Route 2: top rope, lead rope. Participants rested for eight minutes between each climb. It was hypothesized that the lead rope courses would elicit a higher heart rate, breathing rate, caloric expenditure, and rate of perceived exertion than the top rope climbs. Results will allow experienced climbers to have a better understanding of the demands that are required with lead rope and top rope climbs which can benefit their training and climbing technique. The study is ongoing, and the results will be available during the college-wide research celebration.


This study was supported by the Department of Kinesiology.

Title on poster differs from abstract booklet. Poster title: Physiological Demands of Experienced Climbers When Climbing Top Rope Compared to Lead Rope

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Kinesiology Commons