Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this study was to determine which muscle groups are most important for rock climbing. Eleven skilled male climbers were familiarized with an indoor climbing route before five separate days of testing. On testing days, subjects were randomly assigned a pre-fatiguing exercise designed to specifically target the digit flexors (DF), shoulder adductors (SA), elbow flexors (EF), or lumbar flexors (LF) or control climb with no pre-fatigue. Immediately after the pre-fatiguing exercise the subject climbed the route as far as possible without rest and until failure. The number of climbing moves was recorded for each climb. Surface electromyography of the target muscle was recoded during the pre-fatiguing exercises. Time was recorded from the start of pre-fatigue to the end of the climbing bout. Significantly fewer climbing moves compared to the control climb were completed after pre-fatigue of the DF and EF (50% ± 18% and 78% ± 22% of control) (p < 0.05). Fewer moves were completed following pre-fatigue of the LF and SA (89% ± 17% and 92% ± 19% of control), but these results were not significant (p > 0.05). EMG median frequency for each muscle was reduced from beginning to end of each pre-fatiguing exercise. No significant differences were found among transit times (between end of pre-fatigue and start of route) (p > 0.5). These results suggest that among the muscle groups studied in men, the order of importance from most to least for rock climbing 400 overhanging terrain is DF, EF, LF, and SA.


Sport Climbing, Rock Climbing, Fatigue, Electromyograpy, Muscle Physiology, Muscle fatigue


University of New Mexico Graduate Professional Student Association Student Research Grant

Document Type




Degree Name

Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Burke, Gurney