Finger flexors fatigue in trained rock climbers and untrained sedentary subjects

Int J Sports Med. 2003 Aug;24(6):424-7. doi: 10.1055/s-2003-41174.


The present series of experiments were conducted to access the surface EMG frequency parameters during repeated fingertip isometric contractions to determine if they can be used as a fatigue index under specific grip used in rock climbing. Electromyograms of the finger flexors and extensors were characterised in ten elite climbers and ten non-climbers. The exercise consisted in reaching 80 % of maximal isometric finger force as quickly as possible intermittently with a 5-s contraction followed by 5-s of rest until exhaustion (i. e. when the subject was unable to maintain 80 - 70 % MVC force range for the 5 s). The results clearly indicate that expert climbers performed significantly greater fingertip force than sedentary subjects (420 +/- 46 N vs. 342 +/- 56 N). This force was maintained during twelve repetitions (12.88 +/- 4.96) in sedentary subjects, whereas the climbers maintained the force during nineteen repetitions (19.33 +/- 4.84). The median frequency of both the flexor and extensor EMG power spectra decreased during fatiguing isometric contractions, but at different rates in climbers and non-climbers. In non-climbers, the results replicated previous findings, whereas in climbers the results were novel.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise
  • Fingers*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue*
  • Sports*