Cardiovascular and metabolic responses during indoor climbing and laboratory cycling exercise in advanced and élite climbers

Eloisa Limonta, Alfredo Brighenti, Susanna Rampichini, Emiliano Cè, Federico Schena, Fabio Esposito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To validate heart rate (fH) as an effective indicator of the aerobic demands of climbing, the fH vs oxygen uptake ((Formula presented.)) relationship determined during cycling exercise and climbing on a circular climbing treadwall was compared. Possible differences in maximum aerobic characteristics between advanced and élite climbers were also assessed. Methods: Seven advanced and six élite climbers performed a discontinuous incremental test on a cycle ergometer and a similar test on a climbing treadwall. Cardiorespiratory and gas exchange parameters were collected at rest and during exercise. Results: The fH vs (Formula presented.) relationship was steeper during cycling than climbing at submaximal exercise for both groups and during climbing in the élite climbers as compared to the advanced. At peak exercise, (Formula presented.) was similar during both cycling and climbing (3332 ± 115 and 3193 ± 129 ml/min, respectively). Despite similar (Formula presented.), the élite climbers had a higher peak workload during climbing (11.8 ± 0.8 vs 9.2 ± 0.3 m/min in élite and advanced climbers, respectively; P = .024) but not during cycling (291 ± 13 and 270 ± 12 W in élite and advanced climbers, respectively). Conclusions: Our findings indicate that care should be taken when energy expenditure during climbing is estimated from the fH vs (Formula presented.) relationship determined in the laboratory. The level of climbing experience significantly affects the energy cost of exercise. Last, the similar aerobic demands of cycling and climbing at peak exercise, suggest that maximum (Formula presented.)may play an important role in climbing performance. Specific training methodologies should be implemented to improve aerobic power in climbers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 12 2017


  • Heart rate
  • Indoor climbing
  • Lactate
  • Oxygen uptake
  • RPE
  • Treadwall

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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