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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2009 March;49(1):19-24

language: English

Heart rate and blood lactate evaluation in bouldering elite athletes

La Torre A. 1,2, Crespi D. 2, Serpiello F. R. 1, Merati G. 1,2

1 Institute of Physical Exercise Health and Sport Activity (IEFSAS) University of Milan, Milan, Italy
2 Centre of Sports Medicine don G. Gnocchi Foundation, Milan, Italy


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Aim. Bouldering contests consist of a series of short routes, called “problems”, which shall be climbed without ropes. The purpose of this study was to determine blood lactate [Lac] concentration and heart rate (HR) adaptations both during an official bouldering competition and a simulated contest.
Methods. Eleven Italian elite climbers (6 males, 5 females) were tested from two bouldering national competitions (BNC). [Lac] assessments were done before and 2, 4, 6, 8 min after the contest. On a separate occasion, 9 different elite climbers (6 males, 3 females), matched for anthropometric features and ranking, were assessed in a simulated bouldering contest (SBC), under conditions and difficulties comparable to BNC. HR was measured through the whole performance; [Lac] was assessed before and 3 min after the achievement of each problem.
Results. The ascending time in both BNC and SBC was 391±85 s and 551±96 s (P<0.001), respectively. During SBC the mean HR peak of each problem was 93±8% of the subjects’ age-predicted maximal HR (HRmax), and HR showed a full recovery after each problem, but in males only. Peak [Lac] after last problem was 6.6±1.1 mmol/L and 5.6±1.1 mmol/L during BNC and SBC, respectively. A regression analysis showed that temporal changes in [Lac] depend on the attempts duration, with a critical cut-off time of 20 s.
Conclusion. Bouldering contest requires an intense intermittent effort. The high HR may be due to the repeated isometric contractions, particularly of arm and forearm muscles. The net lactate production may depend on the attempts duration.

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