My Current Weekly Routine

This is what I currently do for my training. My mid-term goal is to be fit for a sport climbing trip in the end of July. My main focus at this time is on improving my finger strength. I will move on to a power phase in about a month and I will do strength endurance after that. The most important tool I currently use in training is the 45° board (also known as a ‘woody’). It is a steep board that is scattered with lots of holds that come in different shapes and sizes. There are no pre-set problems on it and you have to create your own problems to train on it. Climbing on a steep angle really Continue reading “My Current Weekly Routine”

A training week

I thought I’d do something a little bit different today and I’m not going to ramble on about my training in general or my progress. Instead, I’m gonna give you my last week of training, workout by workout, so that you can see how my actual training looks like. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment.

 

This was the last week of my power endurance phase. The next two weeks are a tapering phase before I go on my trip to Siurana, to tackle that 7a.

1. Monday
Rotator Cuff Rehab Program

2. Tuesday
Light bouldering to warm-up.
Steep board climbing (45 degrees) – roughly 20 single moves with ample rest  (max strength), then 3 x 10 moves / 2 minutes rest x 3 (maximal strength endurance)

3. Wednesday
Light bouldering to warm-up.
3 x 60 moves (linking boulders) / 7 minute rest
Spanish workout: Climb one problem three times with no rest, then take a minute rest, then repeat x 20. This was very hard (a lot of moves in a short time).

4. Thursday
Autobelay:
3 routes for a light warm-up.
3 x redpoint burns on a project.
laps – 5 routes with no rest x 2

5. Friday
rest

6. Saturday
PE on a fingerboard:
20 seconds on / 10 seconds off (feet on chair) x 20 x 2

7. Sunday
Bouldering for an hour.
Foot-on campusing:
90 seconds on / 60 seconds off x 6 (larger rungs, open hand)
5 minute rest
45 seconds on / 60 seconds off x 6 (smaller rungs, full crimp)

Rotator Cuff Rehab Program
Elbow rehab

 

So this was my week. It was pretty heavy but still manageable. I’ll now take it a bit easier and hope I’ll be able to reap the benefits of my training once I’m in Spain!

New Methods for Finger Training #4

  • up to 66% gains for individual fingers
  • doesn’t translate that well to deadhanging
  • not as effective as traditional fingeboarding
  • half-crimp stronger than open-hand
  • great for injured climbers

This is the last post on my experiment with a new method for finger strength training. Here is the first, second and third post of the series.

I trained my fingers individually using a pulley system and weights. This means I didn’t hang from the hold but had it at chest height instead. I performed 5 on / 5 off repeaters in an open-hand and a half-crimp position. Four workouts were completed over the course of 2 weeks. Initially, I wanted to perform a fifth workout, but my fingers felt too tweaky. The method feels powerful, albeit potentially a bit dangerous. My example has shown that a quick weight progression is possible, but I think one should err on the side of caution. Quick progressions lead to injury quickly! I think if I’d repeat this finger training (and I will), I’d rather see it as a long term investment than a short term strength boost. I suspect that a lot can be gained in terms of muscle and tendon strength but progressions need to be slow and steady. Alright, enough of this chit chat, here are the results you were all waiting for.

Results & Discussion

Below are two tables showing the weight used for each digit and grip type over the course of the four workouts. As you can see, I increased the weight across all grips and fingers. Some of the increases are quite impressive, going from 7,5 kg to 12,5 kg on the index and ring finger means I improved by 66%. Other fingers have seen equal gains and I’m quite happy about these numbers.

Half-Crimp #1 #2 #3 #4
Index 7,5 8,75 10 13
Middle 10 11,75 13 15
Ring 7,5 8,75 10 13
Pinky 5 5 6,25 7,5

 

Open-hand #1 #2 #3 #4
Index 10 11,75 13 15
Middle 12,5 13,5 15 17,25
Ring 10 11,75 13 15
Pinky 7,5 8 8,75 10

 

As I told you in my first post I did an initial strength test on the hangboard. I wanted to see how and if the strength gains for individual fingers translated to deadhanging with all four fingers. I determined my max for a 10 second  four finger open-handed and a half-crimp hang from a 25mm edge. The weight I could add two weeks ago was 8,75 kg for the open-hand hang and 7,5 kg for the half-crimped position. This was at 80 kg bodyweight, so total weight hung was 87,5 kg and 88,75 kg respectively. I tested again last Saturday and I was able to add 13 kg for the open-hand grip and 15 kg for the half-crimp position. I was quite surprised by the results because I didn’t expect such a jump in added weight without having done any actual deadhanging. The 4,8 % improvement for the open-hand position is not at all bad considering that I achieved this improvement over the course of 4 workouts. The 8,6 % improvement for the half-crimp grip is actually a pretty good score. However, the question remains if I could have gotten a better result using dead-hangs instead. Luckily, I completed a 4-week hangboard cycle in October, which means I’ve got some data for comparisons. I looked up the numbers in my training journal and two weeks into the cycle in October I was at 7,5 kg added weight for half-crimp and 8,75 kg for open-hand. I started at bodyweight which means I improved by 9,4 and 10,1 % respectively. However, this was using a different hanging protocol. I only did 6 second hangs instead of 10 second hangs. A fingerboard session in October looked like this:

4 finger open-hand: 3 x 6s hang /w 60s rest
3 min rest
front 2: 3 x 6s hang /w 60s rest
3 min rest
half-crimp: 3 x 6s hang /w 60s rest
3 min rest
middle 2: 3 x 6s hang /w 60s rest

This means there are quite a few differences in the training protocols I used. The first cycle was more of a max-hang protocol while the second cycle was based on a repeater style workout. I don’t know what kind of protocol is more effective and I could have used max-“hangs” for the pulley system cycle as well. This makes a comparison of the two methods more difficult. Another thing that comes into play here is that the gains likely slowed down after the first cycle because my fingers got used to the stress of fingeboarding. However, all these additional explanations can’t hide the fact that traditional fingerboarding was more effective than the new training method. Interestingly the new method seems to be more effective at increasing half-crimp strength than open-hand strength. This is something one has to consider if thinking about implementing the new program. Half-crimp improvement at 8,6 % is only one percent shy of the 9,4 % gain achieved through the previous fingerboard cycle. This means that the new method might be a viable option for training half-crimp. If such gains are replicable this method might be especially interesting for climbers sustaining a shoulder or elbow injury. The pulley system method reduces stress on the elbows and allows you to train with an injured shoulder. Therefore, I will continue to experiment with this method in another cycle and I might post up more results in the future.

New Methods for Finger Training #3

I completed my fourth finger strength workout with the new Macke style pulley setup on Monday and I’m back with some more results and a few bits of advice. If you’re wondering what this is about, here’s the first and the second part of this series.

I have to admit that I’m quite impressed with the results this training approach is delivering so far. I’ve increased the weight up to 66% for some fingers and even my weakest finger has seen a 33% increase (pinky). That’s a lot for only four workouts. With higher weights some imbalances in finger strength started to appear. Interestingly, my ring fingers are stronger than my index fingers when openhanding but weaker in a half-crimp position. My left hand is also slightly stronger than my right hand (I’m left handed). This hasn’t translated into actual differences in weight used on these fingers, I just feel more solid on one finger/hand or the other. With the rapid weight increase I have to say that the potential for injury also feels quite high. My fingers are not used to being loaded that way and some sets seem to be more of an exercise in pain tolerance than in strength training. After doing the workout on Monday, I bouldered on Tuesday and went climbing outside on Wednesday. I had pain in different fingers while bouldering and also some pain while climbing. While I think that I didn’t break anything, I’d still say that I have to be really careful now. I would advise against increasing weight every session and would suggest a slower, more substantial progression. Perhaps one should use the same weight for 2 or 3 workouts before making a slight increase.

Prehab & Recovery

With a training protocol that intense it’s important to take good care of your fingers. I found 3 things that seem to help recovery and sort out minor pains and niggles. I’m using rubber bands to train my finger extensors about twice a week. This seems to help my fingers and my elbows and it doesn’t take up much time or effort.

wpid-dsc_0578.jpg

Another thing I do is that I stretch my fingers regularly (whenever I feel like it). I generally perform two different stretches and I hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. I repeat each stretch 2 or 3 times depending on how much time and nerve I have. The stretches are described in Volker Schoeffel’s and Thomas Hochholzer’s One Move too Many and you can see pictures of them below:

wpid-dsc_0544.jpgwpid-dsc_0545.jpg

I also perform finger massage using BOKOMA massage rings. They’re really cheap and you generally get a larger and a smaller ring. I use both rings on all of my fingers and just massage away until I can’t be bothered to continue. This gets the blood flowing and it feels quite nice. I like to think that it also helps recovery.

I might perform one more workout this week but this depends entirely on the condition of my fingers. If I perform another workout I’ll probably do it on Saturday and then I’d retest my max-hang ability on Monday. So this makes it slightly longer than the two weeks I’d originally planned but that’s ok.  I’ll post again when I have final results.

New Methods for Finger Training #2

This is the first update on my finger strength training experiment. For anyone who has missed the first post, you can find it hereI’m one week into the Macke style finger training now and I did 3 sessions so far (including the initial testing session). I can tell you right now that this method feels like it’s really powerful. Loading fingers individually, especially in the half-crimp position, taking the back and the shoulders out of the equation feels quite different from actual fingerboarding. The first thing I noticed is that I get really bad DOMS in my fingers after a training session. My fingers feel a lot more sore than after fingerboarding and I have to admit that I like the feeling 😉 . Another thing is that it’s quite hard to sort out the positioning of the other fingers that you are not using. I struggled a bit with this and some “hangs” felt a bit uncomfortable when I positioned my other fingers in a weird way. Some of you might fear that this type of workout can be quite time consuming but I can assure you that it is not. It only takes me about 30 minutes to do a full session.

Workout structure

For my warm-up I’m doing a few “hangs” with less weight. I start by using all four fingers, then three, then two and then I target individual fingers. About 5 kg seems to be a good warm up weight for me. When my fingers feel ready (after about 10 minutes) I start my actual workout. As you might remember, I’m doing 5 on / 5 off repeaters for 6 repetitions. This means that I need a minute for every finger. I’m alternating hands and I rest about 10 to 30 seconds between sets (switching weights and stuff). This allows one hand to rest for about 1.10 to 1.30 while I’m completing a set with the other hand. After I did one set for a certain finger with each hand I move to the next finger. So it looks like this:

pinky hang right hand – 10 – 30 seconds – pinky hang left hand

ring finger right hand – 10 – 30 seconds – ring finger left hand

I do the first round in a half-crimp position and when I cycled through all fingers on both hands I take a 2 to 3 minute rest. Then I do the same for a second round but I switch to an open-hand grip. As of now, I’m only doing two rounds, I feel like more volume would be too strenuous for my fingers.

Results

Here is a table with my starting weights and the weights for the two subsequent workouts:

Progress:

Workout #1

Workout #2 Workout #3
Grip

HC

 

OH HC OH HC OH
Pointer 7,5 kg

10 kg

8,75 kg 11,75 kg 10 kg 13 kg
Middle

10 kg

12,5 kg 11,75 kg 13,5 kg 13 kg 15 kg
Ring

7,5 kg

10 kg 8,75 kg 11,75 kg 10 kg 13 kg
Pinky

5 kg

7,5 kg 5 kg 8 kg 6,25 kg 8,75 kg

I’ll post more results next week!

New Methods for Finger Training #1

As I told you in my previous post, I’m going to experiment with a new method for training finger strength. I was kinda forced into this experiment because my left shoulder is slightly tweaky but I didn’t want to lay-off strength phase. Deadhanging seems to aggravate my shoulder problems so I decided to do no fingerboarding for at least 2 weeks. I mostly rested during the last week and didn’t perform any additional strength training. I also climbed about 50% less than I usually do. Luckily, I just heard about a new method for training finger strength in a trainingbeta podcast with climbing trainer Adam Macke. He uses a pulley system or cable machine and weights to target fingers individually. This means that you don’t have to do any overhead work to strengthen your fingers. You can have a hold at chest height and you won’t have to stress your shoulders through deadhanging. Perfect! I did some more research and I found a training AMA with Macke on reddit, where he gets in a little more detail on training your fingers with his method. He also posted some pictures on his facebook, which show his finger strength training with weight plates and with a cable machine.

My setup

Looking at the pictures Macke posted on facebook, I figured that you could make the exercise a bit more climbing specific by actually using some sort of climbing hold. Some time ago, I built myself wooden rock rings, which are perfect to use for this workout.

wooden holdhold attached to pulley systemweights

For the pulley system I’m using a piece of rope and a pulley which I attach to an eyebolt that I have set-up for fingerboarding anyways. I’m attaching the hold to one side of the rope and I put weights on the other side. This allows me to have the hold at about chest height. The hold has 3 different rungs. The largest rung is 35 mm, the second rung is 25 mm and the smallest rung is 15 mm.

The Testing

As I want this to be an experiment I have to have different data points against which I can actually measure my progress. I performed an initial strength test and I’ll perform another test after two weeks of training. After the second test I’ll decide if I continue with this type of training or if I resume normal fingerboarding. I performed three tests last week. This was after a heavy week of climbing, so the numbers could have been a bit higher if I was fully rested. I tested deadhangs in a 4-finger half-crimp and an open-hand grip position. I could perform a half-crimp deadhang for 10 seconds with 7,5 kg of added weight and I could add 8,75 kg for the open-hand grip. This was both on a 25mm rung. I also tested individual fingers with the pulley system. I didn’t perform 10 second “max-hangs” with the pulley system and opted for 5 seconds on / 5 seconds off repeaters instead. I chose this method because I want to use repeaters for my actual workouts and I wanted the test to be as specific as possible. I’ll train my fingers both in a half-crimp and in an open-hand position.

wpid-dsc_0533.jpgwpid-dsc_0535.jpg

For the half-crimp sets I’m using the 15mm rung and for the open-handed grips it’s gonna be the 25mm rung. I opted for the larger hold because my finger tended to slip when using the 15mm hold for open-handing. See the weights I could initially use for one repeater set (5 on/5 off x 6) below:

Half-Crimp
Pointer and ring: 7,5 kg
Middle: 10 kg
Pinky: 5 kg

Open-Hand
Pointer and ring: 10 kg
Middle: 12,5 kg
Pinky: 7,5 kg

I was rather conservative because I didn’t want to injure myself, so my baseline might be a bit higher than these numbers indicate.

The Experiment

I will perform 2 repeater workouts per week. I’ll use the same structure as in the testing session (5 on/5 off) and I’ll try to add weight every session. After two weeks of training I’ll repeat the initial tests and this will show me if the isolated finger training method is effective for increasing deadhang performance. I’d like to measure the progress against climbing achievements but that’s rather hard because there might be other limiting factors than finger strength. I’m aware of the fact that this is in no way a scientific experiment and I am performing this experiment solely out of personal interest and to try something new for a while. I’ll keep you updated on how the experiment is going and what experiences I make during the process of training my fingers in this isolated fashion.