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J Sports Sci. 2001 Jul;19(7):499-505.

A comparison of the anthropometric, strength, endurance and flexibility characteristics of female elite and recreational climbers and non-climbers.

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Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK.


There is limited information on the anthropometry, strength, endurance and flexibility of female rock climbers. The aim of this study was to compare these characteristics in three groups of females: Group 1 comprised 10 elite climbers aged 31.3 +/- 5.0 years (mean +/- s) who had led to a standard of 'hard very severe'; Group 2 consisted of 10 recreational climbers aged 24.1 +/- 4.0 years who had led to a standard of 'severe'; and Group 3 comprised 10 physically active individuals aged 28.5 +/- 5.0 years who had not previously rock-climbed. The tests included finger strength (grip strength, finger strength measured on climbing-specific apparatus), flexibility, bent arm hang and pull-ups. Regression procedures (analysis of covariance) were used to examine the influence of body mass, leg length, height and age. For finger strength, the elite climbers recorded significantly higher values (P < 0.05) than the recreational climbers and non-climbers (four fingers, right hand: elite 321 +/- 18 N, recreational 251 +/- 14 N, non-climbers 256 +/- 15 N; four fingers, left hand: elite 307 +/- 14 N, recreational 248 +/- 12 N, non-climbers 243 +/- 11 N). For grip strength of the right hand, the elite climbers recorded significantly higher values than the recreational climbers only (elite 338 +/- 12 N, recreational 289 +/- 10 N, non-climbers 307 +/- 11 N). The results suggest that elite climbers have greater finger strength than recreational climbers and non-climbers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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