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yellowlab03

Hand/forearm/finger strength

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Looking for advice on how to strengthen my fingers, hands and forearms, specifically for climbing. I have been going to climbing gyms to do some bouldering and such and am severely lacking in the forearms, fingers and grip strength. Can anyone recommend some excercises/training aids? Are finger boards worth a try?

 

Thanks!

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Riding dirt bikes made my hands stronger than anything else I've ever done. Holding on for dear life will do that in a hurry. Weight lifting is super good for hand strength too. Palms up Tricep pulldowns on a pulley machine is a quick fix to a weak grip.

 

I'm sure campus boards help but I always end up getting sore finger joints instead. Squeeze handles or balls would probably help but they get boaring. Try doing them in the car when your driving to pass the time.

 

I think climbing more would be a good fix too.

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specificity and SAID says that climbing would be the best option.

 

hangboards and rock rings would be second best.

 

there is a lot of specific things you can do in a gym to work on forearms and grip. Slap on some fatgripz on a bar and db to make regular weight work into grip work. Do pullups on rock rings to work the more typical hand strength needed for rock climbing. Barbell finger curls. expand the hand with rubber bands for balance in the forearm, think preventing overuse injuries by strengthening the antagonistic muscles.

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Bouldering and Hangboarding.

 

Short quality workouts as often as your body will allow.

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Agree with Sol and Gene. Your post suggests you're just starting out. If so, ramp up gradually to avoid tendonitis and other maladies and avoid a hangboard for a couple of years. Stay healthy and you should have many years of good climbing ahead of you.

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I've found that squeeze balls/rings don't really do much for strength, but they seem to work well for increasing my hand and forearm endurance. Helps me get through painfully boring lectures too!

 

Ease into it. I had a "climbers elbow" issue for a while. Tennis elbow is when the tendon to bone attachment weakens, it was my tendon to muscle attachment that didn't keep up with my muscles getting stronger. Stayed off the overhanging problems and did high rep low weight (hundred+ controlled reps with a 5lb weight) exercises like the chainsaws to remedy that, but it would help anyone getting into it as well I presume. Been great since.

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Recently I asked a trainer how to increase my forearm/grip strength and he told me the following:

 

Goto the dumbbell rack at the gym. Start with 60 lb dumbbells, grab them and hold them at your side. Squeeze them tightly for 1 min. Go to the next weight, doing the same. Go till failure. I have yet to put this into practice, but logically it seems to make sense.

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Captain of Crush. If you can close a #3, you're there.

 

you and the other 300 some odd others worldwide who managed to close it in the last 20 years. #3 is a BEAST.

 

unfortunately CoC does not follow the SAID principal as it pretains to rock climbing

.

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Mr John Brookfield is the MAN when it comes to all things grip. (maybe the 2 or 3rd guy to close the #4 coc) He has some good grip specific books and that webpage has sh-loads of exercises. If you could do all of his exercises, you would have a serious popeye forearms. But not really sure it would pay off for climbing. A lot of the time, the grip stuff is thumb intensive which is not that critical to climbing.

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Sol and Rad, I would be interested to hear about your hangboard protocols (If and when you do use them) for forearm strength and endurance. I understand that you both have probably been training a bit, so your volume and intensity are going to be much higher than the beginner. Even still I'm curious.

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Part 0

 

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

I'll do a 3-4 week hangboard phase and then a 2-3 week bouldering/campusing phase. Then 2 weeks of power endurance and i'll start over. I try not to get too sidetracked performing at the crags boulders inbetween peaks but I do what I have to do to stay psyched.

 

My hangboard routinue involves 7 grips in this order: Small Campus Rung Open Handed Crimp, Wide Pinch, Sloper, Index/Middle 2-Finger Pocket, Small Slopey Crimp, Middle/Ring, Ring Pinky. I do 1-2 sets of each for 10-14 sets total. First set 7 sec on 3 sec off x6, Second rep 6 sec on 4 sec off x6. Rest 2-3 minutes in between sets and 3 minutes in between grips.

 

I'd be game for 3 sets of each but often i'm squeezing these workouts in-between daddy duties and heading off to the night shift so I do what I can with the time i have aiming for at least 10 sets. 3rd set would be 5 sec on 5 sec off.

 

The key to these workouts is consistency and continually pushing your fingers each workout. Success is failing at 5 seconds on he 6th rep. Also key is a simple pulley system to take off weight. I take off 40-50 lbs for my ring/pinky 2 finger pocket grip (though not for long, going for -35 today).

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I picked up some rock rings and have been doing the dumbell hold/carry thing. I am finding that my lack of hand and finger strength isn't really as big of an issue as I thought. I think the real problem is the 205lbs of yellowlab that is the issue.

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Very intersting Sol, I hadn't considered the offloading idea for the smaller/weaker digits.

 

I have been reading a little bit of literature on the forearm strength/endurance subject (Trying to come up with a thesis) and apparantly the traditional measure of strenght to weight isn't as great a yard stick for rock climbers as it is in other, more traditional sports. However I have read that the handgrip strength to weight ration is the "new" yardstick for elite/competative/serious rock climbers. Still, it can't hurt to have a high strength to weight ratio.

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Looking for advice on how to strengthen my fingers, hands and forearms, specifically for climbing. I have been going to climbing gyms to do some bouldering and such and am severely lacking in the forearms, fingers and grip strength. Can anyone recommend some excercises/training aids? Are finger boards worth a try?

 

Thanks!

 

What they said for for strength.

 

That said, it's been my experience that usually when my forearm's a cooked it's because I was climbing inefficiently, not because I wasn't strong enough. IMHO until you're pushing into mid to high 11's or better (or working on Godzilla), then pumping out is a symptom of needing better footwork, body positioning, and consciously resting/conserving strength, and not a symptom of inadequate strength.

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I recently did a cycle following the routine listed here:http://www.climbingstrong.com/2012/09/09/effects-of-two-maximum-grip-strength-training-methods/

 

One of the first regimens that I have seen that has some rigorous science behind it.

 

My maximum ADDED weight on a 19mm edge increased from 20 lbs to 45 lbs for a 10 second hang. I weigh ~175lbs, so this translates to roughly 12% increase in absolute weight held for 10 seconds. How this translates to climbing has yet be seen. For reference my hardest climbing outdoors are a few V8's and V9's mostly V7's.

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Something else to consider when hangboarding: hanging straight down with fully relaxed shoulders is not the best position for your shoulders. It seems more pronounced for me, but that position can act to put a prying force on your shoulder socket. I largely blame my prior hangboarding technique for my shoulder injuries. I ended up cutting my board in half and spreading them further apart, so my hands are not straight above my shoulders, and I keep my shoulders slightly tensed. Anyway, it's important to keep your arms and shoulders slightly tensed when doing that type of exercise repeatedly, especially weighted hangs. of course, ymmv. cheers!

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Not to be a downer but tendon overuse has to be carefully montitored. The zeal of training can turn into months of downtime and elbow/forearm tendons are very vulnerable. Be careful with repetitive training and become one with your tendons, which heal much more slowly than muscles.

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I agree wholeheartedly. The KEY to a successful training program is to remain injury free. Often, high-intensity training is riding that fine line between hard training and injury, but it is a very fine line and one must build up their tendon strength over many years to do the exercises at the intensity that we are detailing here.

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Yup. Tendons are slow at getting stronger and slow to recover. For a while I had decided that I couldn't work too hard or try too hard and ended up with at least a year off.

 

And don't forget that grip strength, even with individual digits, is really about forearm strength involving tendons extending to the elbow.

Edited by matt_warfield

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An important but usually overlooked principle of training is that YOU GROW WHEN YOU REST, NOT WHEN YOU TRAIN. This can be really hard to get across to people, especially younger climbers.

 

You have to allow adequate recovery time between workouts to avoid overuse syndrome. Also, since white tissue--tendon and ligament-- are not as well supplied with oxygenated blood, to lift or train heavy for strength(usually low reps and heavy weights) will not sufficiently perfuse the white tissue with blood. So, it tends to lag behind in development to muscle tissue. Therefore it's necessary to alternate heavy weight, low rep days for muscle strength, with lighter weight (about 40 to 50% of heavy day weight), high rep days to bring along the white tissue.

 

If this kind of regime is not used, then it can become easy for muscle strength to get ahead of tendon and ligament strength, and cause injury or inflammation at the attachments to the bone. There's also some evidence in recent research that in some cases the combined strength of muscle and tendon had caused microscopic lifting, or separation, of the peritoneum, the tissue covering the bone, from the bone itself. In this case the body tries to compensate, trying to heal the separation, by the process of inflammation, flooding the area with white blood cells.

 

If the area isn't allowed to recover, under continued overuse the body will also tend to concentrate calcium at the point of injury, trying to reinforce the damaged attachment, causing osteophytes, or bony roughness or projections at the point of irritation. At this point, inflammation can become chronic. Not the situation you ever want to get into; if it goes far enough, surgery is often the only solution.

 

Finally, as per your self-description of the 205 lbs. of adipose tissue, that can be a major factor in holding you back. If it's excess, it has to go if you want to improve and up your ability for harder climbing. So a combination of resistance training and cardio, with the right nutrition and supplementation, is in order. And, the great thing about some added cardio is that it helps increase overall circulatory efficiency throughout the body. So that will add greatly, over time, to the health and strength of tendon and ligament. Training has to have overall, total body, balance.

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