Efficiency/Fluency Strategic Concept: Climbing Efficiency Can Be Measured and Manipulated

Research > Experimental Training > Converting Research to Practice > Efficiency/Fluency Strategic Concept: Climbing Efficiency Can Be Measured and Manipulated

Researchers measure efficiency in different ways, and those measurements help them learn about climbing. For example, researchers use an “inertial measurement unit” to help them track spatial and time-based indicators of climbing efficiency. [i] Some of the most popular indicators of efficiency are:

  • “jerk” or smooth functioning of the hips;
  • the length and direction of the “path” of the climber up the wall which leads to a calculation for “entropy”, and;
  • the ratio of immobility-to-mobility during a climb.

No single indicator works well in isolation since the indicators all have drawbacks[ii] and/or can be interpreted differently based on the “states” of a climber. Each of the indicators becomes better through additional practice on a route, but eventually they plateau. This plateau occurs quicker for better climbers.  Suggestions:

  1. Self-Organization (SO) Repeaters: Encourage athletes to work routes multiple times. Recommend ~3-4 for more advanced climbers and up to ~10-12 for more beginner climbers. Injury note: be careful of repetitive overuse, and consider breaking up the repeats across different days.
  2. Hip Path and Jerkiness Repeats: use video analysis to make 1-3 suggestions about movement “complexity” such as excessive hip traveling, and up/down hip jerkiness.
  3. What is Success: Make success about increasing efficiency rather than topping out.
  4. Pre-Fatiguing:[iii] Promote efficiency while fatigued but be cognizant of how fatigue can degrade movement.
  5. Chain It: “Chain” one move into a second move, either by attempting to maintain quality while speeding up the postural regulation phase (see “Phases“), or “pre-positioning” into a move to require minimal movement between the two positions.

See other practical options:

Safety note: As with all experimental training, attempt to implement these ideas at your own risk.


[i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5635808/

[ii] Measuring Fluidity in Climbing by JL Croft, SM Vial, A. Walsh, and L. Seifert

[iii] https://lafabriqueverticale.com/en/body-mass-center-optimization-climbing/