Overall training plan for 2010 - fingerboarding


My current half-assed version of a one-armer on a 2-finger pocket. Used to be able to do these (fully, and easily) about 3 years ago - wonder why I never applied it to routes properly :) - I considered not posting this but what the hell!

Following on from the last two posts, I thought about talking about variation and strategy first but thought that Paul might get impatient ;) so decided against it!

So, finger strength training. At the end of the day, if you can't hold the holds you can't climb the route. (too many people have stated this over the years for me to give credit :) And if every hold feels huge, you've less reasons to fall off! Dave alluded to this recently on one of his own posts (keep them coming!) about the psychological benefits from feeling strong on a one-arm hold.
I can’t see how that amount of power could fail to improve my climbing and the psychological barrier it would smash would be immense aswell!
And even on HVS's you'll get holds that are only one-joint every once in a while so make the holds pretty small!

A lot of people keep asking me what exactly I'm doing. In short, I unwittingly started training in my first year of climbing by setting a goal, and attempting to do 10 doorframe pull-ups (apologies to my parent's door by the way :) and climbing lots - by lots, I climbed most days of the week in my first few years of uni. So in short, you just have to be motivated! Just trying and trying and trying lots of hard(er problems for your level) will see massive improvements. So many people I see at the Walls just stay within their boundaries and only try stuff that doesn't test them. Believe, keep trying, and you will see gains, it just takes time :)

O.k. after that it's a case of using a bit mote strategy and thought. Fingerboards, campusing, etc.

For a fingerboard, Ive been using one on and off for a few years bit it's becoming much more common now as I start to focus training and after asking advice from some full-time climbers.

How do I use it (note, this is based on my original training experiences on a fingerboard when I used it regularly in 2007-ish)?
7 seconds on, 3 off for 6 repetitions mainly for the past while. I have a list of about 8 hold types I'll use (middle 2-finger pocket, front 2-finger pocket, crimp, sloper, etc) that I'll work through over an hour. I've found by keeping it to an hour, I could do more sessions per week and saw quicker gains than a few long sessions. If you can hang the holds, I then moved on by adding weight. I used to dive so my scuba weight belt got a new use :)
Like on the routes setup, keep adding weight incrementally until you can't finish a full 6 reps. Then keep doing it that weight until you can, and repeat! Sound familiar? Also, for variation, try locking off at different angles - I use almost-straight-arm, 30-degree, 60-degree and almost fully locked (careful at this point with weight, elbow pains ensue if you fully pull in from my own experience).
Note: yes, there is definitely some endurance-based work in this sort of training (as you'll notice you get really really pumped from it too) but I've found it's a pretty good compromise for route fitness. If you're looking for just raw gains, you need to take pure power training methods - hang the hold with maximum intensity (using weight, etc.) - for maybe 3-10 seconds, but then rest for another 40-80 seconds. Remember this is absolute max intensity so be careful as you're pushing tendons/muscles to limits.......I'm not liable (but will be using a bit of this myself for crimp strength soon)!


After a certain point, you'll be able to think about one-arm. Think about it, most moves you do on rock you will pull part of the way using both holds, but really part of every move involves at the least locking on one arm, or pulling on one arm.

To help with this, I use a towel (over a bar below the board) and use that to do offset hangs. I also do them at different angles to simulate different lock-offs. After you can do that, then start dropping fingers on the arm on the towel....see where I'm going with this?

If you don't have access to a fingerboard with a bar below it, you can do this on a steep bouldering wall - just use a hold below the primary one and start to drop fingers as you get stronger. Some people from UCD might remember me doing this a few years ago at the wall - it works brilliantly, you just have to have confidence in the gains you'll get so you can forget about feeling daft about doing this at the wall. I myself currently do this by using holds on the woodie below my fingerboard right now (I just start with four fingers on the lower hold, then work down as I gain the ability to hang the hold) - see the photo below of the wall setup.



As for what strength you'll get from this, how about stuff like the video at the start? It's not full as I'm only back training properly a couple of months but it's not far off it. Note, Dave alluded to this in his post about fingerboarding, there's a huge psychological benefit to knowing you can hang one-arm off a hold - I can vouch for this on a few routes where the supposed crux move is actually a shake-out for me as it's a beautiful sinker pocket with terrible feet.....

On top of that, I always did a few pull-up sets with weight also, lots of weight. Think 50% of bodyweight. And yes, I built up to this. Again think about it, the stronger you are, the less difficult a move will feel which will mean you'll feel more confident in your ability.....

As for campusing, keep the sessions short and aim for steady progress also - don't expect 1-5-9 within a few months :) Dave can vouch for some gammy elbows from these if I remember correctly, although I do remember him being stupidly strong on it too! I also find alternating at least a few weeks on, then a week or two off works with these. I don't do much campusing (and am currently paying for it on some projects!) so won't go on anymore. It is something I need to spend more time at though and is a focus until the Summer.

Note, I'm missing some other strengths that you could work on for power also. Triceps, some other shoulder-y work, but feel others could write more on those than me.

Any questions, feel free to ask. This is a very jumbled post, so I'll aim to break it up properly in the coming week or two.....