Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Performance and Health Education

First Advisor

Dr. Timothy J. Michael

Second Advisor

Dr. Carol Weideman

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Hanson


Rock-Climbing, fitness, performance, health, training

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The purpose of this study was to assess changes in physical fitness and performance by rock climbing twice a week over a 7-week time period. Rock climbing is on the rise in popularity as seen in the rise of indoor climbing gyms and the increase in rock climbing competitions (Wall, C. B., Starek, J. E., Fleck, S. J., & Byrnes, W. C., 2004). Notably, the International Federation of Sport Climbing has held the Climbing World Championships biennially since the first event in 1991 (Schoffl, Burtscher, & Coscia, 2013), which emphasizes the importance of this research to apply to training programs.

To better understand the sport of rock climbing a variety of tests were used to assess physical fitness and performance. The tests included grip strength (kg), grip endurance (seconds), pinch strength (kg), the sum of 7-site skinfold thicknesses (mm), percent body fat, upper body aerobic power (mlkg-1min-1), and time to complete a graded route on the climbing wall (seconds). 16 subjects, 3 females and 13 males, who were enrolled in a 7-week rock climbing course at Western Michigan University participated in the study.

Significant improvements were observed in right hand grip endurance (pre 33.52±9.5, post 40.61±12.57, p = .034), left hand grip endurance (pre 29.86±7.31, post 42.74±16.91, p = .001), right hand pinch strength (pre 9.93±1.87, post 11.1±2.6, p=.001), pinch strength average (pre 9.89±1.81, post 10.62±2.18, p=.002), and timed climb, or time to the top of a graded route (pre 116.89±68.02, post 55.73±43.24, p=.001). It was concluded that 7-weeks of rock climbing twice a week showed improvements in some physical fitness and performance variables.