Physiological and psychological differences between novices and advanced boulderers
Introduction: Rock climbing, especially bouldering, has increasingly become a mainstream sport. However, there has been little research comparing physiological and psychological traits of advanced and novice climbers. Methods: Thirty-two climbers (14 advanced (ADV), 18 novice (NOV) took part in this study. Anthropometric, body composition, flexibility, force, and psychological measurements were performed. MANOVA and post-hoc t-tests were used to compare between groups. Results: ADV climbed harder than NOV (V scale – 7.5 ± 1.6 vs 4.4 ± 1.2, p < 0.05). ADV were found to have significantly lower body fat percentage (12.3 ± 6.7 vs 17.5 ± 6.8%, p < 0.05), and higher grip strength relative to body weight (normal grip relative to body weight – 76.2 ± 14.1 vs. 63.1 ± 16.8% right hand, 74.7 ± 13.9 vs 58.9 ± 12.2% left hand, p < 0.05, Pinch grip relative to body weight – 0.4 ± .09 vs 0.3 ± .05%, p < 0.05), and maximum rate of force development as a percentage of body weight during a pull-up (.86 ± .38 vs .37 ± .30%, p < 0.01). Discussion: Advanced climbers have a significantly better power to weight ratio, giving them a better ability to generate explosive movements. It may be beneficial for novice climbers to train to increase their power to weight ratio, whether by increasing upper body power, decreasing fat mass, or increasing the grip to weight ratio.