Hormone responses to a continuous bout of rock climbing in men

Vanessa D. Sherk, Kyle A. Sherk, Sojung Kim, Kaelin C. Young, Debra A. Bemben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Rock climbing is rapidly increasing in popularity as a recreational activity and as a competitive sport. Few studies have tested acute physiological responses to climbing, and no studies to date have tested hormone responses to a climbing-based workout. This study aimed to measure testosterone (T), growth hormone (GH), and cortisol (C) responses to continuous vertical climbing in young male rock climbers. Ten male rock climbers, aged between 21 and 30 years, climbed laps on a submaximal 55′ climbing route for 30 min, or until exhaustion, whichever came first. Heart rate (HR) was recorded after every lap. Blood samples were collected by venipuncture before (Pre), immediately post (IP), and 15 min after the climbing exercise (P15) to assess blood lactate and plasma GH, T, and C. Subjects climbed 24.9 ± 1.9 min and 507.5 ± 82.5 feet. Peak HR was 182.1 ± 2.3 bpm, and lactate (Pre: 2.9 ± 0.6 mmol/dL, IP: 11.1 ± 1.0 mmol/dL) significantly (P < 0.05) increased from Pre to IP. T concentrations significantly (P < 0.05) increased from Pre (6.04 ± 0.31 ng/mL) to IP (7.39 ± 0.40 ng/mL) and returned to baseline at P15 (6.23 ± 0.33 ng/mL). Cortisol levels did not significantly change during the protocol. GH significantly (P < 0.01) increased from Pre (0.63 ± 0.17 ng/mL) to IP (19.89 ± 4.53 ng/mL) and remained elevated at P15 (15.03 ± 3.89 ng/mL). An acute, short-term bout of high-intensity continuous climbing was an effective exercise stimulus for elevating plasma testosterone and growth hormone levels in young males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-693
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Hormone responses to a continuous bout of rock climbing in men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this