Recruiting Participants for Study On Strength Training with Recreational Climbers

Effects of a Supplemental Strength Training Intervention on Climbing Performance in Recreational Climbers

Chad Palmer, graduate student in Kinesiology (719-298-6337,


Rock climbing is a young sport on the competitive scene. Due to the youth of the sport, there is insufficient research on the strength training needs for climbers, and researchers are calling for more research to be performed on the topic. The present study aims to implement a strength training program that focuses on the specific energy needs and muscles used during rock climbing performance.

The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of a sport specific supplemental strength training program on rock climbing performance in recreational climbers. A secondary purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between climbing performance factors and actual climbing performance. The factors that will be examined are grip strength and body composition, specifically lean mass, and strength to mass ratio.

This study will be examining recreational rock climbers defined as climbers with a minimal climbing age of six months and who climb a minimum of one to two times a week.

Pre-testing and post-testing will be conducted through three appointments. The first appointment will be used for the climbing assessment, the second will be used for the 1RM pull-up test and measuring grip strength using hand grip dynamometry, and a third appointment will be used to measure body composition using a hydrostatic weighing tank.

Participants in the present study will be encouraged to maintain their current level of climbing in addition to performing an eight week strength training intervention. The strength training intervention will require two sessions per week of supervised strength training exercises. The experimental group will be given sport specific strength training exercises while the control group will receive general strength training exercises. The experimental and control groups will be randomly selected.

In addition to receiving supervised strength training session, participants in this study will experience other benefits. Through participation in this study, participants will have their body composition measured which will allow them to know their body fat percentage and strength to mass ratio in relation to the strength tests that participants will undergo as well. Participants may experience an increase in their climbing performance as a result of participation in this study. Participation in this study will assist the researcher in examining the strength training needs of rock climbers, and help with the development of standardized strength training protocols.



Students Present at and Attend Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (RMACSM) Conference

The Adams State University Human Performance and Physical Education (HPPE) department travelled to Denver, amidst a snowy forecast in early March for the regional exercise science annual conference.  The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (RMACSM) conference was held at Metro State University of Denver March 1st and 2nd.   The conference was attended by universities across Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico to showcase recent research with a handful of keynote speakers discussing all things exercise science and human performance related.

There were great speaker presentations on both days including Dr. Dave Hydock, an ASU alumni, who talked about the future of cancer drug treatment research related to the benefits of exercise which is ongoing at the University of Northern Colorado.  For now, this research is being conducted on rats with the hopes to move to human subjects.  The keynote speaker was Dr. Len Kravitz from the University of New Mexico.  Dr. Kravitz talked about a hot topic in the fitness industry, high intensity interval training, aka HIIT, and the different methods that have been studied which are being utilized by world-class athletes everywhere to improve fitness.  Another speaker in attendance was Max Schmarzo who works for a Denver training facility called Strong by Science.  His talk had a science base, but he moved into how he works every day to make what is learned in the classroom very applicable to athletes.  As a certified strength and conditioning coach working with some of the amazing professional and college athletes across Colorado, Max expressed in his talk how proud he was to utilize science and the newest research in order to get the best training possible for those athletes.

Led by professors of HPPE, Dr. Tracey Robinson and Maria Martinez, a group of 25 ASU students from HPPE attended the conference together.  Ten of the 25 students were in the HPPE graduate program, and five were first-year undergraduate students.  This was the largest group from the department to attend the RMACSM conference in years and the students represented ASU well.

Four graduate students were able to present their research while at the conference.  The presented research from the universities in attendance showcased the variety of work in this field ranging from police officer strength training programs to the effect of a chemotherapy drug during exercise on rats.  Each presenter created a poster that was judged by either members of the RMACSM board or professors from the different universities.

HPPE graduate students presented three posters: David Sheppard presented his thesis research titled “Variations on Wingate load to optimize peak power output in NCAA II collegiate athletes”.  Danielle Smith was also able to present her thesis research, “Effect of an 8-week supervised, physical activity program on cancer survivor’s health, fitness, and QOL”. Alexis Colwell and Shelby McBain presented research from an ongoing study in the HPPE department, “Effect of a physical activity intervention on fitness and quality of life in cancer survivors”.  All the ASU posters generated questions from the conference attendees and were well received.

SLV Special Olympics Bowling Practices







Click on the link below for pdf of the flyer



Author: Neal Palles, MSW, LCSW, Applied Sport Psychology graduate student Twitter: @NealPalles

Growing high in the mountains of the western United States is the bristlecone pine (pictured). The tree looks gnarled and old, often growing out of a small crevice in the rock, in a place that is harsh, winds can be high, and snow accumulates through the fall, winter, and spring, and doesn’t melt until mid-summer- on a good year. Here, a growing season is just a few short months, if that. These trees have been known to live upwards 5000 years.

They are resilient.

Resilience in humans has been described as the ability to use personal qualities to withstand pressure (Fletcher & Sarkar, 2016).

As athletes we have the capability of fostering resilience to overcome adversity, physical and mental challenges, and find success.

Like many athletic endeavors ultra-marathons provide the individual with plenty of opportunity for resilience to show. Conditions can often be harsh. Rain, snow, heat, lightning, hail and altitude are some of the environmental challenges. The physical challenge of moving your body through these conditions running and walking for hours, sometimes days on end requires the individual to be resilient. A recent race in Steamboat Springs, Run Rabbit Run, provided many examples. One woman, Courtney Dauwalter, the eventual winner, slowly lost her sight through the race, stumbling and tripping, hitting her head, struggling to stay on the trail, but persevered finishing 6th overall and winning the woman’s division.

How do athletes do it? How do you keep moving forward after getting hit again, and again? After you’ve fallen. In near blindness? How do you go on to win a game after both of your quarterbacks, your Heisman candidate running back, a receiver and a safety have all left the game like the Oregon Ducks did last night?

Researchers have identified a number of traits in resilient people that may be the keys to their success. These include: Strong social connections, an ability to set long-term and short-term goals, a focus on mastering skills, optimism, positive self-talk, a growth mindset, and strong belief in the self are some of those traits. These have to be combined in a cauldron of adversity. Small challenges a long the way help to build resilience. In order to build resilience you have to be willing to accept the challenge and most of all, learn from it.

Taking a closer look:

Positive social connections means that you have an ability to rely on others. It’s OK to ask for help. Create a network of positive people supporting you. Connect with others. Recent research into well-being recognizes that focusing on the other through kindness and gratitude can have tremendous benefits towards thriving.

Setting long-term and short-term goals allows you to be focused on the future, take for example an ultra-runner, focusing on the short-term, getting to the next tree, the next aid station. One foot in front of the other, gets them down the trail and too the finish line.

The author, Neal Palles, in the early miles of the Silver Rush 50

Mastering skills, may not seem as obvious but provides the athlete a way of improving – by letting go of their ego. You are mastering skills – not people. The better ultra-runner is able maintain a fast pace without getting sick, they know how to contend with problems that appear because they’ve learned the skills to contend with the problem.

You can’t go into an event not being optimistic, “well I have a 50/50 chance of making it.” Is not going to cut it. Optimism has to be realistic, but you have to remind yourself that our mind plays tricks on us.

This is where positive self-talk comes in. You have to be able to manage your self-talk and this takes practice, it’s a skill that has to be learned and practiced. Mental performance coaches can assist athletes in developing techniques to examine and restructure automatic thoughts and beliefs so they become rational, realistic and more positive. The biggest challenge is re-wiring them in the moment when you’re exhausted, and your energy is shot. This is why practicing these mental skills is so important.

Above all, developing a growth mindset is a key component in developing resilience. A growth mindset, discussed in Mindset by Carol Dweck,  is a way of thinking and approaching our goals that recognizes we grow and learn from our failures.

Our failures are temporary, while they may set us back. It’s what we take away and learn from in those failures that allows us to grow. This article in the New Yorker by Maria Konnikova highlights that the growth mindset is a central element of resilience, allowing us to look at how we can grow from a situation as opposed to remaining stagnant.

Here is an example of the growth mindset at work: If an individual starts out in a running program and the first day they’ve gone too far and too fast, they’ll likely be hurting and may not run the next day, or the next. They may think to themselves I am no good at this, my body isn’t built for running, and they don’t run ever again. This is a fixed mindset. The approach from the growth mindset will examine how they ran, and approach it differently the next day, maybe they read a book, or decided to get a coach or talked to a friend that runs, and they keep running, and slowly, keep getting better.

How you believe you have control over a situation is known as self-efficacy. The knowledge that you have control over the situation is another factor allowing you to be  be resilient. Taking ownership for what you can control gives you power. Placing it on outside sources – takes that power away from you.

Psychologist, and researcher on Grit, Angela Duckworth cites it best at 2:40 in this interview: “Angela Duckworth Talks Grit”   Animals are put into challenging situations, where they were have the power to do something about the situation, eventually become resilient.

Creating a cauldron of adversity, and placing yourself into progressively challenging situations, allows you to practice and learn these skills. This is why a football coach will take out their best players for a time during practice. This is why running in all sorts of elements prepares you for a race.  Accepting challenge is how you learn to become resilient. You leave with the experience that you can reflect and grow from.

Resilience isn’t something that comes overnight. It takes practice – and it takes mastery. Put your mind to work as well as your body to build that protective layer called resilience.


Fletcher, D. and Sarkar, M. (2016) Mental fortitude training: An evidence based approach to developing psychological resilience for sustained success, Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 7 (3), 135-157, DOI: 10.1080/21520704.2016.1255496