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jbro_135


Dec 1, 2010, 12:20 PM
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Heavy Finger Rolls
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Does anyone have experience with this exercise? I'm wondering how effective it is in gaining forearm/grip strength. I have access to a hangboard and climbing gym so I'm not looking for an alternative to those types of training, just wondering if I will gain anything from trying it.


kovacs69


Dec 1, 2010, 12:30 PM
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jbro_135 wrote:
Does anyone have experience with this exercise? I'm wondering how effective it is in gaining forearm/grip strength. I have access to a hangboard and climbing gym so I'm not looking for an alternative to those types of training, just wondering if I will gain anything from trying it.

Is this what you are talking about?

http://www.nicros.com/archive/archive02.cfm

JB


shimanilami


Dec 1, 2010, 1:25 PM
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I tried it and got nothing out of it. I may not have been doing it with enough weight, though.

Interestingly, I also tried "reverse" finger rolls to work my forearm extensor muscles. This seemed to help my grip more than anything else I tried (besides climbing, of course).


gblauer
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Dec 1, 2010, 2:11 PM
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Interestingly, I did this when I could not climb for 6 months. (double foot surgery). I am a light weight, so I only used 35Lb weights. I think it really helped me maintain the strength in my fingers/forearms. Once I could climb, I headed straight to the outdoor season and was very quickly lleading and following at my limits.

I honestly believe that finger rolls help rather than hurt.


jdgilberg


Dec 1, 2010, 4:08 PM
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I've done these with noticeable gains. Make sure that they are truly 'heavy' though. After a warm up set of about my body weight, I would do 5 sets of 6 reps at about 130-140% with lightweight (15lbs) sets of 30 reverse wrist curls during the rest time.


rhei


Dec 1, 2010, 5:04 PM
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"Noticeable gains" is pretty non-specific. Do you have increased endurance? Are you more comfortable with power or dynamic moves? I'm really not clear about what the objective or benefit of finger rolls is and and am curious about how you've found them helpful.


DouglasHunter


Dec 1, 2010, 7:02 PM
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Heavy finger rolls are exactly the kind of thing I would hope climbers would avoid. They are non-sport specific training so it does not make much sense to do finger rolls in place of, or in addition to actual climbing, or system board / finger board. In the first case because it would be less effective, in the second case because it would be unnecessary. Further, it would be very difficult to quantify if something like heavy finger rolls is actually doing anything for you.

Keep in mind we want to be able to directly quantify progress, or lack there of, in terms that relate to performance. That's one reason the article linked to in the second post is problematic. In typical fashion Eric recommends an activity without providing any way of relating the activity to climbing performance. He just says that the gains translate "fairly well" to climbing. That alone should be a huge red flag.


jsb279


Dec 1, 2010, 7:03 PM
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When I was in Iraq I obviously had limited resources for climbing-specific training. I made due with Rock Rings and augmented a free weight routine with heavy finger rolls and reverse wrist curls. With the finger rolls I warmed up with 135 lbs on a barbell. I increased the weight in 20 lb increments with the rep range between 6 to 10 reps for 10 sets. When I climbed on mid-tour leave and after the deployment I noticed an increase in my grip and contact strength. The reverse wrist curls were to prevent muscle imbalance and to avoid the dreaded medial epicondylitis so many climbers experience. It worked for me but it is worth noting that once I got home I stopped doing them. I just climbed a lot. I do still do the reverse wrist curls and haven't had any elbow since I've been back. Just my 2 cents...


jbro_135


Dec 1, 2010, 7:54 PM
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DouglasHunter wrote:
Heavy finger rolls are exactly the kind of thing I would hope climbers would avoid. They are non-sport specific training so it does not make much sense to do finger rolls in place of, or in addition to actual climbing, or system board / finger board. In the first case because it would be less effective, in the second case because it would be unnecessary. Further, it would be very difficult to quantify if something like heavy finger rolls is actually doing anything for you.

Keep in mind we want to be able to directly quantify progress, or lack there of, in terms that relate to performance. That's one reason the article linked to in the second post is problematic. In typical fashion Eric recommends an activity without providing any way of relating the activity to climbing performance. He just says that the gains translate "fairly well" to climbing. That alone should be a huge red flag.

The article posted above is what got me onto the idea when considering what type of training I want to take on for the winter.

Douglas, I appreciate you taking the time to reply. Do you think there is any merit at all to this statement:

"heavy finger rolls produce measurable gains in forearm circumference (a sign of muscle hypertrophy), whereas strength gains from fingerboard or campus training are primarily the result of neurological adaptations. This statement seems reasonable since the heavy finger rolls cause repeated, high-intensity eccentric and concentric contractions of the forearm muscles."

My thinking is that if I do a few weeks of heavy finger rolls and weighted pull-ups I can increase muscle mass, then train that muscle with fingerboard exercises such as repeaters and through campus board training. As a fairly thin climber, 6' 145-150lbs, I feel that gaining some muscle mass could be useful.


dancottle


Dec 1, 2010, 8:16 PM
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I have not been able to climb very often maybe one-two times per month recently. So I have been training grip at the gym. I have done no fingerboard/campus board so no real climbing specific exercises. I do thick bar holds hub lifts pinching plates grippers weighted deadhangs on a ledge as well as regular lifting exercises. Each time I go back to climb I feel stronger.. However I dont have quite as much endurance as I did but i can boulder harder. I have never tried finger rolls and everything i do is static except the grippers which prob dont help anyway i just find them fun.


aerili


Dec 1, 2010, 8:32 PM
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jbro_135 wrote:
As a fairly thin climber, 6' 145-150lbs, I feel that gaining some muscle mass could be useful.

Any mass you gain in your forearms will be inconsequential as those muscles groups are some of the smallest in the body (excluding things like postural muscles and so forth).

I agree with Douglas, finger rolls are very non-specific to climbing. Climbing grip strength is not dependent on concentric and eccentric muscle contractions; it is all essentially isometric. Stick with that.


jt512


Dec 1, 2010, 9:49 PM
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"I did this when I could not climb for 6 months. . . . I think it really helped me maintain the strength in my fingers/forearms. Once I could climb, I . . . was very quickly lleading and following at my limits."

"I've done these with 'noticeable gains'."

"I noticed an increase in my grip and contact strength."

"Each time I go back to climb I feel stronger."

Notice that not a single person claiming a benefit from heavy finger rolls has claimed that it has actually led to an increase in their onsight or redpoint grade. Compare with a claim like, "I spent six months completing overlapping redpoint pyramids, during which time I increased my redpoint grade by two letter grades and my onsight grade by one letter grade.

Jay


jbroom


Dec 2, 2010, 1:18 AM
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i've read that a pretty strong feller by the name of todd skinner used to swear by them


Rufsen


Dec 2, 2010, 4:36 AM
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aerili wrote:
I agree with Douglas, finger rolls are very non-specific to climbing. Climbing grip strength is not dependent on concentric and eccentric muscle contractions; it is all essentially isometric. Stick with that.

Science.
http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/...002&context=ijes

I kinda understand people who want these things to be effective. I like them for the same reasons i like weighted pullups, they just seem like badass exercises . But i dont do them since i realize my time is better spent bouldering.


jbro_135


Dec 2, 2010, 7:59 AM
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Rufsen wrote:
aerili wrote:
I agree with Douglas, finger rolls are very non-specific to climbing. Climbing grip strength is not dependent on concentric and eccentric muscle contractions; it is all essentially isometric. Stick with that.

Science.
http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/...002&context=ijes

I kinda understand people who want these things to be effective. I like them for the same reasons i like weighted pullups, they just seem like badass exercises . But i dont do them since i realize my time is better spent bouldering.

Thanks for posting that article, interesting stuff.


shimanilami


Dec 2, 2010, 8:53 AM
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If you're an athlete, it's better to be fit. Period. So whenever I see a question like, "Will running/swimming/bodybuilding/yoga/crossfit/pullups/hangboards/wrist curls/etc./etc ... help my climbing?", my answer is, "It can't hurt. And it certainly beats sitting on your ass playing video games all day."

This presumes, of course, that it won't come at the expense of climbing time. For instance, if you have the option of squeezing in a couple sets of 4x4's, but instead you choose to do some wrist curls, then you are a jackass. Similarly, if you tear a bicep going for you bench curl PR, and then can't climb for 2 months, you are also a jackass. If, on the other hand, you're on a business trip and have no access to climbing, then using your hotel's workout facilities to do some wrist curls and pull-ups is probably going to better for you then sitting in your room whacking off to Euro-porn.


areyoumydude


Dec 2, 2010, 10:31 AM
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jbro_135 wrote:
Does anyone have experience with this exercise? I'm wondering how effective it is in gaining forearm/grip strength. I have access to a hangboard and climbing gym so I'm not looking for an alternative to those types of training, just wondering if I will gain anything from trying it.

Two points?




DouglasHunter


Dec 2, 2010, 10:37 AM
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Jbro,

Thanks for quoting that paragraph, I don't think there is a lot of merit to it for climbers, and I'm not sure why he says that strength gains from campusing and fingerboards are primarily a result of neurological adaptations. If one is interested in sport-specific hypertrophy training for the forearms, then weighted hangs on a finger board are a reasonable way to go.

The main issues in the paragraph that people are picking up on is the distinction between eccentric / concentric contractions and the isometric contractions that are found in climbing. An interesting note in the history of climbing research is that Watts, (who authored the study linked to by Rufsen) in his very first study of forearm strength in climbers used a measurment of concentric contractions and found that climbers scored no better than the general public in his study of forearm strength. In a subsequent study Watts changed his methodology to test the intensity of isometirc contractions, and that is when he could quantify the difference in forearm strength between climbers and non-climbers.

You also mention the idea of using finger rolls (non-sport specific training) first and then using more sport specific methods after hypertrophy is gained. This is essentially what I think Eric is getting at in his article. Personally I see a lot of problems with the thinking behind this approach. On a very basic level I don't think anyone has any idea of what the relationship between forearm hypertrophy and climbing performance is. But to keep things simple lets say its really important, then why not do hypertrophy through sport specific means? In the article Eric is essentially trying to argue that sport specific methods of hypertrophy training for climbing are not effective. But do we even need to go there?

Finally, don't get too caught up in body size / body image issues. They tell us next to nothing about a climber's ability or potential. Climbing performance is a result of many factors. we need to focus on our performance level, not how muscular we look, or how strong we feel. From my perspective saying that you are 6 foot, and weigh 150, doesn't tell us much other than your body size poses no hinderance to your kicking ass.


noahfor


Dec 3, 2010, 12:36 AM
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DouglasHunter wrote:
But to keep things simple lets say its really important, then why not do hypertrophy through sport specific means?

Because those means might not be as good as other means.

The Science and Practice of Strength Training states:

"accommodation to isometric exercises occurs very quickly...strength gains peak out in about 6 to 8 weeks."

"because of rapid accommodation the strength gain from isometric exercise is generally less than from dynamic exercises."

It then gives an example of how a gymnast training for the iron cross maneuver - an isometric feat - should use dynamic exercises, which according to you would be non sports specific, to train for strength and then add in isometric training to improve "specific coordination pattern."

This sounds almost exactly like what is being suggested in that article.


Tipton


Dec 3, 2010, 5:13 AM
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jt512 wrote:
"I did this when I could not climb for 6 months. . . . I think it really helped me maintain the strength in my fingers/forearms. Once I could climb, I . . . was very quickly lleading and following at my limits."

"I've done these with 'noticeable gains'."

"I noticed an increase in my grip and contact strength."

"Each time I go back to climb I feel stronger."

Notice that not a single person claiming a benefit from heavy finger rolls has claimed that it has actually led to an increase in their onsight or redpoint grade. Compare with a claim like, "I spent six months completing overlapping redpoint pyramids, during which time I increased my redpoint grade by two letter grades and my onsight grade by one letter grade.

Jay

I'll add one more to Jay's list of fact-less remarks:

When I was training with heavy finger rolls, I noticed a rapid increase in the total weight I could use. Whether this helped my climbing or not is questionable at best. I do know it hurt my elbows, so I removed them from my training schedule.

In my opinion, a training that is more sport specific will have better results. When I started doing 4x4s and ARC training, it made a noticeable improvement in my climbing ability. Doing a total of four 4x4s a week over the last month and half has already made a noticeable impact on my climbing. First, I've had to increase the intensity of the 4x4s in order to be exhausted at the end of the set. Second, I have improved my highest redpoint by two letter grades on steep, sustained climbing. After learning the moves of the route, it literally felt effortless and I attribute that very much to the 4x4 training.


jbro_135


Dec 3, 2010, 5:38 AM
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Tipton wrote:
jt512 wrote:
"I did this when I could not climb for 6 months. . . . I think it really helped me maintain the strength in my fingers/forearms. Once I could climb, I . . . was very quickly lleading and following at my limits."

"I've done these with 'noticeable gains'."

"I noticed an increase in my grip and contact strength."

"Each time I go back to climb I feel stronger."

Notice that not a single person claiming a benefit from heavy finger rolls has claimed that it has actually led to an increase in their onsight or redpoint grade. Compare with a claim like, "I spent six months completing overlapping redpoint pyramids, during which time I increased my redpoint grade by two letter grades and my onsight grade by one letter grade.

Jay

I'll add one more to Jay's list of fact-less remarks:

When I was training with heavy finger rolls, I noticed a rapid increase in the total weight I could use. Whether this helped my climbing or not is questionable at best. I do know it hurt my elbows, so I removed them from my training schedule.

In my opinion, a training that is more sport specific will have better results. When I started doing 4x4s and ARC training, it made a noticeable improvement in my climbing ability. Doing a total of four 4x4s a week over the last month and half has already made a noticeable impact on my climbing. First, I've had to increase the intensity of the 4x4s in order to be exhausted at the end of the set. Second, I have improved my highest redpoint by two letter grades on steep, sustained climbing. After learning the moves of the route, it literally felt effortless and I attribute that very much to the 4x4 training.

I already do 4x4s and ARC training, I'm trying to gain finger strength right now though so I'm not currently using them...


DouglasHunter


Dec 3, 2010, 8:13 AM
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noahfor wrote:
DouglasHunter wrote:
But to keep things simple lets say its really important, then why not do hypertrophy through sport specific means?

Because those means might not be as good as other means.

The Science and Practice of Strength Training states:

"accommodation to isometric exercises occurs very quickly...strength gains peak out in about 6 to 8 weeks."

Thanks for mentioning this. Applying this to climbing, we want to look at the maximum duration a climber using periodized training cycles would spend in a hypertrophy phase. Even elite climbers who periodize tend not to go for periods longer than 4 -6 weeks. So based on the quotes you provided couldn't it be the case that isometric hypertrophy would be better in the climbing context, unless a climber is going for a significantly longer hypertrophy period say 10 weeks?


In reply to:
It then gives an example of how a gymnast training for the iron cross maneuver - an isometric feat - should use dynamic exercises, which according to you would be non sports specific, to train for strength and then add in isometric training to improve "specific coordination pattern."

I think you are confused about my use of the terms sport specific and non-sport specific. Training activities that use dynamic contractions of the forearm muscles are not sport specific in climbing. Its a specific case, not a general principal. Also note your inclusion of the idea of specific coordination pattern. That's an important element. Do you want to say that grabbing a crimper or a sloper is of the same motor complexity, or requires the same type of motor skills as an iron cross? I think you can see why this might be of interest. (As an aside, the iron cross does have a dynamic element to it as the gymnast lowers themselves into the cross position.)

In reply to:
This sounds almost exactly like what is being suggested in that article.

I agree, and said the same thing previously.

As always I should make clear that I approach such issues from a fairly narrow perspective. I encourage climbers to use sport specific training methods the results of which can be directly measured in terms of climbing performance.

There are a number of reasons for this but a big one is that in the 30 years I've been climbing the emphasis in the climbing community has *always* been on non-sport specific training methods, in addition the effectiveness of such methods is rarely if ever measured or measurable.

Sport specific training provides known gains in acutal performance levels which, in and of itself, makes discussions of weight lifting and other topics academic. What climbers should be doing is learning how to be most effective with their sport specific training.

Also keep in mind that such discussions here on RC.com are always occuring in the context of intermediate / beginner climbers. The OP of this thread is a 5.11 climber, improving his climbing level through sport specific means is simple. There is no need for anything more than creating specific goals and adding strucutre to the climbing he is already doing.


spikeddem


Dec 3, 2010, 8:23 AM
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Wink


(This post was edited by spikeddem on Dec 3, 2010, 8:23 AM)


jbro_135


Dec 3, 2010, 9:24 AM
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DouglasHunter wrote:
The OP of this thread is a 5.11 climber

Frown
I prefer "v7 boulderer who tried sport climbing a couple times and sent an 11c second go"

I don't really climb routes, that's why most of my focus is on strength training


DouglasHunter


Dec 3, 2010, 9:38 AM
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jbro_135 wrote:
"v7 boulderer who tried sport climbing a couple times and sent an 11c second go"

Noted :-)

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