There are many styles of climbing including traditional rock climbing, mountaineering and alpine. Rock climbing divides into three disciplines; traditional, sport climbing and bouldering.
Climbers face a number of challenges both physically and mentally when participating. Physically, climbing is one of the most extreme endurance events and subsequently good fitness is paramount. Aerobic training is crucial to survive many of the environmental aspects of outdoor climbing, whilst strength training (particularly upper body) is vital, as the climber must continue to move their body weight against gravity.
Nutrition is a vital component of climbing performance. It is paramount that climbers consume a diet that provides enough energy to fuel and maintain performance, without unwanted discomfort, distress or weight.
It is important that climbers have the strength to hold their weight through their arms, fingers or legs. For this reason a high power – weight ratio is desired by many climbers. Most strive for low body fat levels yet lean muscle mass for strength, so the climber is lighter, yet is also able to pull their body weight up the rock face. A carbohydrate ‘clever’ diet, i.e. carbohydrates from low glycaemic choices will help maintain body composition, whilst protein is an important component with all meals and snacks, and particularly post training to facilitate recovery.
A lower percentage of body fat in élite climbers has been positively correlated with their level of performance. Consequently, climbers may minimise their food intake to achieve a desired power-weight ratio. In certain circumstances, weight loss may be necessary; however it is important that this is done sensibly to avoid unwanted losses in muscle mass or harm to the climber’s health.
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