European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 116, Issue 8, pp 1479–1484 | Cite as

Forearm muscle oxidative capacity index predicts sport rock-climbing performance

  • Simon FryerEmail author
  • Lee Stoner
  • K. Stone
  • D. Giles
  • Joakim Sveen
  • Inma Garrido
  • Vanesa España-Romero
Original Article


Rock-climbing performance is largely dependent on the endurance of the forearm flexors. Recently, it was reported that forearm flexor endurance in elite climbers is independent of the ability to regulate conduit artery (brachial) blood flow, suggesting that endurance is not primarily dependent on the ability of the brachial artery to deliver oxygen, but rather the ability of the muscle to perfuse and use oxygen, i.e., skeletal muscle oxidative capacity.


The aim of the study was to determine whether an index of oxidative capacity in the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) predicts the best sport climbing red-point grade within the last 6 months. Participants consisted of 46 sport climbers with a range of abilities.


Using near-infrared spectroscopy, the oxidative capacity index of the FDP was assessed by calculating the half-time for tissue oxygen resaturation (O2HTR) following 3–5 min of ischemia.


Linear regression, adjusted for age, sex, BMI, and training experience, revealed a 1-s decrease in O2HTR was associated with an increase in red-point grade by 0.65 (95 % CI 0.35–0.94, Adj R 2  = 0.53).


Considering a grade of 0.4 separated the top four competitors in the 2015 International Federation Sport Climbing World Cup, this finding suggests that forearm flexor oxidative capacity index is an important determinant of rock-climbing performance.


Oxidative capacity Microvascular adaptation Near-infrared spectroscopy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Fryer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lee Stoner
    • 2
  • K. Stone
    • 1
  • D. Giles
    • 3
  • Joakim Sveen
    • 4
  • Inma Garrido
    • 5
  • Vanesa España-Romero
    • 5
  1. 1.Faculty of Applied Sciences, School of Sport and ExerciseUniversity of GloucestershireGloucesterUK
  2. 2.School of Sport and ExerciseMassey UniversityWellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Sport Performance and Outdoor LeadershipUniversity of DerbyBuxtonUK
  4. 4.School of Sport and ExerciseEdinburgh Napier UniversityEdinburghUK
  5. 5.Department of Physical EducationSchool of EducationCádizSpain

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