A very common subject among climbers is their ape index. Ape index is basically the same as reach. The ape index can be measured in two ways, either it is the difference or the ratio of your arm span and your height. So basically if your height is 70.8inches/ 180cm and your arm span is 70.8inches/180cm then your ape index difference is 0 and your ape index ratio is 1. To measure your arms span (or wingspan) you need to point your arms to the sides and measure the distance between your fingertips.
1.Calculation for ape index difference: Arm span – height
2. Calculation for ape index ratio: Arm span / height
The vitruvian man by Leonardo Da Vinci was considered the be the perfect symmetrical size for a person at that time. The vitruvian man was then with an ape index difference 0 or in other words a neutral ape index. A lot of great climbers like Alex Megos and Lynn Hill have a neutral ape index.
To simplify ape index:
What does a +2 ape index mean? A +2 ape index means that the arm span is 2 inches or 2 centimeters longer than the height
What does a 1,05 ape index mean? A 1,05 ape index means that the ratio of arm span to height is 1,05.
so for an example if the arm span is 78in and height is 74in, then 78/74= 1,05. These are the measurements and the ape index of German climber Jan Hojer.
Or if the height is 193cm and arm span is 203cm 203/193= 1.05. These are actually the ape index and measurements of swimmer Michael Phelps.
So Does Ape Index Matter?
Ape index climbing
For climbing ape index does matter, but not as much as it made out to mean and people definitely use it as an excuse way too much. There are professional climbers that have neutral ape index and also climbers that have very positive measurements. The most of the studies on the subject have shown that there aren’t many climbers who have benefits because of their negative ape indices. We also haven’t heard of any professionals that have a negative ape index. Do you know any, let us know?
There are also differences between routes and some routes definitely favor a longer climber or especially a climber with a larger ape index. On the other hand matching your foot to a hand hold or heels hooks above your head are usually harder for people with larger ape indices.
What is a good index? A good ape index is a neutral or positive ape index.
Famous climbers’ ape indices:
Adam Ondra ape index: +0,4″ /+1cm
alex Honnold ape index: +8cm
Daniel woods ape index +4″
Nalle Hukkataival ape index: +0,5″
Sasha DiGiulian ape index: +2″
Shauna Coxey ape index: +8,5cm
Ape index basketball and Swimming
For many other sports Ape index has a big meaning.
In the NBA the average ape index ratio is 1,06. Only a few players have ever played in the NBA with a negative ape index.
Like we mentioned before Michael Phelps has an ape index of 1,05.
Another sport where a large ape index helps is MMA or basically any striking sport like boxing or kickboxing. Jon Jones the MMA fighter has a +8,5″ ape index and the legendary boxer Sony Liston had a whopping ape index of +11″.