Bouldering competitions are held up to International level and governed by the International Federation of Sport Climbing. Bouldering has been selected to feature at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, however, physiological qualities and nutritional requirements to optimize performance remain inadequately defined due to large gaps in the literature. The primary goals of training include optimizing the capacity of the anaerobic energy systems and developing sport-specific strength, with emphasis on the isometric function of the forearm flexors responsible for grip. Bouldering athletes typically possess a lean physique, similar to the characteristics of sport climbers with reported body fat values of 6–12%. Athletes strive for a low body weight to improve power to weight ratio and limit the load on the extremities. Specialized nutritional support is uncommon and poor nutritional practices such as chronic carbohydrate restriction are prevalent, compromising the health of the athletes. The high intensity nature of bouldering demands a focus on adequate carbohydrate availability. Protein intake and timing should be structured to maximize muscle protein synthesis and recovery, with the literature suggesting 0.25–0.3 g/kg in 3–4 hr intervals. Supplementing with creatine and b-alanine may provide some benefit by augmenting the capacity of the anaerobic systems. Boulderers are encouraged to seek advice from nutrition experts to enhance performance, particularly important when weight loss is the desired outcome. Further research is warranted across all nutritional aspects of bouldering which is summarized in this review.
Smith is with BUPA Wellness, Bristol, UK. Storey is with the Sheffield City Council, Sheffield, UK. Ranchordas is with the Sheffield Hallam University, Academy of Sport & Physical Activity, Collegiate Crescent Campus, Sheffield, UK.