Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Fingerboarding for first timers - Effective and simple advice with workouts to get you started....

With the huge amount of training information out there for fingerboarding... hang times vs rest, set numbers, cycles, half crimp, full crimp, max hangs etc etc..   It is easy to be overwhelmed and not really know the best approach to get started.

Here are some basic 'rules', a simple target and a tried and tested routine that will work for climbers at any level. A quick start into the world of finger strength training and a basis to work from to develop and tweak your fingerboard training..

The routine is essentially based on a long time served weight lifters strength program, aimed at new lifters but also a go to routine for experienced lifters wanting to continue good base level strength.

The principles when 'tweaked' transfers very well to fingerboard strength training.
This is a routine I have used for years, every year at the start of a winter training season..

Open Handed hangs on the Crusher Matrix

The Rules

1. Warm Up - 10 minutes

 - 5 Second Hang (both hands all fingers in Open Handed position) with 10 Seconds Rest between Hangs for a duration of 3 minutes. Performed on holds you can easily hold.

 - 1 Pull Up (flat hold or jug) with 10 Seconds Rest between for a duration of 2 minutes. Use a foot stool for assistance if you require.

 - 5 Second Hang (both hands all fingers in Half Crimp postion) with 10 Seconds Rest between Hangs for a duration of 3 minutes. Performed on an edge you can easily hold.

 - 1 Pull Up (flat hold or jug) with 10 Seconds Rest between for a duration of 2 minutes. Use a foot stool for assistance if you require.

2. Hangs Must be performed with shoulders and elbows engaged, no slouching straight armed and hanging on the joints - feels as if you are about to pull into a pull up.

Half Crimp hang on the Crusher Matrix

The Targets

4 Finger Open handed Hangs (see top picture)

3 Finger Half Crimped Hangs (above picture)

why?....   they are some of the most commonly used, they are the most stable positions, they translates well into other hangs that you are going to save for training in the future! ... see two finger pockets and monos training blog coming soon...

The Routine (protocol) - 5 on 5 Training

Total Duration - 6 weeks 
Week Duration - 2 times a week

Hang Duration - 5 seconds
Hang Repitions - 5 times
Rest between Hangs - 5 seconds
Number of Sets - 5 times
Rest between Sets - 5 minutes

Total - 24 minutes 10 seconds (See tabatatimer at the bottom of this post for routine protocol)

Perform the 4 Finger Open Handed hangs for the first fingerboard session in the week, then the 3 Finger Half Crimp for the second session in the week.

The hangs should be performed on a full first digit edge, that is an edge that approximately 20-25mm deep.. the outside bottom edge on the Crusher Matrix for example.

The Appropriate Loading - 80 to 90% of your single repetition maximum.

This is the maximum weight of yourself plus or minus extra weight for you to perform a hang on the edge in use for 4 seconds before failing.

It is very important to get this correct, it is the ideal level of stimulus for the muscle to develop pure strength gains.

You will need to work this out for both 4 finger and 3 finger hangs. 

So before you start the routine... use a rucksack, weight belt or pulley system to add or subtract weight until you find you are failing at 4 seconds.
Add your body weight & this extra amount together and multiply by 0.8. This is your appropriate loading.

e.g. Jimbob weighs 80kg, he adds 40kgs to his rucksack to achieve a 4 second hang.  

80 + 40 = 120kg x 0.8 = 96kgs 
96 - 80 = 16kgs total extra

As a 'rule of thumb' the appropriate load will mean you begin to fail on the last hangs on the last couple of sets. This is ideal! 
If you make it through the whole work out... add more weight.
If you fail in the middle of the routine... add less weight. 


This will get you started and you should see gains after a 6 week cycle of this. Take a rest from fingerboarding for a week after this. You can then go into a second 6 week cycle try and try to increase the weight added and increase your loading stimulus.

The alternative would be to incorporate a Max hang session or three into the 6 week cycle, plus moving onto training a different more 'stressful' hang... this I will cover in another blog..

Incorporating these into a normal climbing week by doing them after a rest day or before you have a climbing session. 


tabatatimer.com is a very useful tool for fingerboard session timing....

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a really good article. You make this information interesting and engaging. You give readers a lot to think about and I appreciate that kind of writing.
    Climbing Training Board