Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Movement Sciences

Committee Director

David Swain

Committee Member

Hunter Bennett

Committee Member

Jon Oliver

Committee Member

Patrick Wilson


Muscular strength and muscular endurance are integral physical components of rock climbing. The hypothesis of this study was that a climbing-specific training program would improve physical fitness specific to climbing and improve performance on a relevant indoor rock-climbing test in novice climbers.

Twenty-one novice recreational climbers were matched for sex and climbing performance and randomly assigned. The experimental (EXP, n = 11) group was provided a climbing-specific, six-week training program. The control (CON, n = 10) group continued training as usual. Pre- and post-tests involved anthropometric tests, the ape-index test (arm span to height ratio), a weighted pull-up test, a bench press test, the arm jump, hand dynamometer grip strength test, and an indoor rock route of graduated difficulty for climbing performance. Testing for both groups occurred prior to the commencement of training and immediately after. A comparison group of advanced climbers (ADV, n = 14) was tested as a benchmark for change in performance in the CON and EXP groups.

Data were analyzed through one-way and two-way ANOVAs followed by Student t post-hoc tests. The ADV group was significantly better than either novice group; left hand grip strength (EXP p = 0.010, CON p = 0.003), right hand grip strength (EXP p = 0.014, CON p = 0.005), arm jump velocity (EXP p = 0.003, CON p < 0.001), arm jump power (EXP p = 0.009, CON p = 0.003), arm jump distance (EXP and CON p < 0.001), weighted pull-ups (EXP and CON p < 0.001), body weight bench press (EXP p = 0.039, CON p = 0.022), and climbing grade (EXP and CON p < 0.001). Following the post-test, only the EXP group had significant improvements in the arm jump velocity (p = 0.024), arm jump power (p = 0.019), arm jump distance (p = 0.028), and weighted pull-ups (p = 0.039). Both the EXP group and the CON group significantly improved their climbing performance over their pre-test (EXP p = 0.016, CON p = 0.018). In conclusion, while both groups improved climbing ability, the experimental training program successfully improved upper body pulling strength and power.


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