A theory of energy cost and speed of climbing

Paolo Tosi, Leonardo Ricci, Alessandro Rosponi, Federico Schena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Climbing is an interesting form of quadrupedal locomotion on vertical substrates, and also a popular recreational activity. However, a theory of locomotor energetics of climbing has not been devised yet. Here we discuss an analytical model, based on simple physical principles, that gives the energy cost as a function of the vertical speed. We found that the energy cost monotonically decreases with speed, so that to minimize the energy spent to climb one should ascend at the highest possible speed. We propose that the actual climbing speed derives from the requirement of minimizing simultaneously the work per unit time as well as the work per unit length. Our predictions are in excellent agreement with measurements carried out on elite climbers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number032169
JournalAIP Advances
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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