Research

watts-grip
Grip testing at the Department of Health, Physical Education & Recreation, Northern Michigan University. Courtesy: Dr. Phil Watts

Prior to the 1990s climbing boom there was little research extant other that a handful of studies that mainly focused on climbing injuries and anthropometry. Fortunately, an increasing number of academics now view rock climbing as a worthy subject of research.

The past decade has brought a number of excellent papers by Spanish, British, French, German, and American researchers, and most recently by researchers in Eastern Europe. In the U.S., Dr. Phil Watts of Northern Michigan University led the initial push, while others like the U.K.’s Dave Binney added much to the body of knowledge. Several graduate students, both in the US and abroad, are now jumping in with excellent Thesis projects involving climbing—and, in particular, Eva Lopez (Spain) has conducted important studies of hangboard training protocols. Following are links to abstracts and papers published by dedicated researchers who share our passion for rock climbing!

As the clearinghouse for information on climbing performance, T4C invites other researchers to submit papers or links for dissemination to a our global audience. Feel free to reach out to me via the Contact page!


This page is under development…more research posts are coming soon!

  • Podcast #16: The Future of Training for Climbing! Eric describes in detail his vision for improving the effectiveness of training programs via advances in training & testing technologies, nuanced program design, and genetic testing and epigenetics. This is a ...
  • Energy System Training (Hörst Keynote at IRCRA) The International Rock Climbing Researchers Association (IRCRA) held their biennial meeting on Telluride (CO), this past August. I was honored to be asked by this esteemed group to provide a ...
  • Research on Grip Strength and Hangboard Training Protocols I’m a research junkie. I’ve been a student of exercise physiology, sports psychology, and motor learning for more than 25 years. While the science of climbing is still relatively young, ...
  • Behavior Analysis and Sport Climbing This is a paper by Dr. Richard Fleming and Eric Hörst providing a behavioral analysis of performance climbing. Key Points & Practical Application: This paper provides broad insight into the unique behaviors ...
  • Effectiveness of “Dangling Arm” and “G-Tox” Recovery Techniques Key Points and Practical Application: In this study, the “G-tox” active recovery method proved superior to the commonly use dangling-arm shakeout during a 2-minutes mid-climb rest. Using the G-tox recovery method facilitated faster ...
  • Benefits of Active Recovery Between Climbs Key Points & Practical Application: Compared with passive recovery, use of active recovery yielded faster recovery between bouts of high intensity climbing. Lactate concentrations and RPE (rating of perceived exertion) were lower ...
  • The Physiology of Difficult Rock Climbing Key Findings and Practical Applications Elite climbers do not typically possess extremely high aerobic power, nor absolute strength. Elite climbers tend towards possessing low body mass and low body fat percentage. Handgrip endurance decreases ...
  • Rock Climbing Trajectory: A Global Variable of Rock Climbing Performance Rock Climbing Trajectory: A Global Variable of Rock Climbing Performance D.M.Binney (University of Sheffield Centre of Sports Medicine) & T.Cochrane (University of Stafford School of Health) OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study ...