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Exercise grip strength to failure
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praenato


Mar 28, 2013, 8:13 PM
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Exercise grip strength to failure
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I've been climbing for about a month and a half now training 2-3x/week and I am noticing now that I can do 2-3 hours of climbing and wear myself out to where most of the 5.8s are very difficult to complete, but the 5.7s don't work my grip that much any more.

The issue now is, when I started climbing, I would go to the wall and leave having totally maxed out my grip strength, but now I get tired, but I am not totally maxed like before. I want to continue to max these muscles to keep the rate of my fitness improvements up.

Are there any post-climb exercises I could do at home or on a bouldering wall to max out my forearms for various types of grips (especially open hand)? I'm still not at the strength level of being able to support my whole body weight by my fingers from a door frame, either open hand or crimp, but I would like to focus on that so I can get there quicker as finger strength seems to be the first step to making progress in climbing so that I can start focusing on other areas of weakness (core/arm strength, flexibility, etc).

I realize this will take a long time. It took me 1.5 years to become competitive in swimming and the same for cycling and triathlons, so I understand the concept of putting in a lot of work over a long period of time to see some return. All the same, I say, the sooner I can start climbing 5.10+ routes or spend 8 hours on the wall without being confined to the easy routes, the better!


jeepnphreak


Mar 29, 2013, 11:08 AM
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Re: [praenato] Exercise grip strength to failure [In reply to]
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A word of caution before I go more in depth; you have only been climbing for a VERY short time. Finger strength increases quite quickly; however your finger tendons do not, they take much more time to gain strength. So before you go off and start one handed stuff, you are getting in to that area where finger injury is going to happen.

So my advice is to cool you jets, instead of finding exercises that may or may not help. Climbing 2-3X a week is plenty for gaining finger strength and becoming better at climbing. Just go jump on those 5.8 and work them until your fingers are stronger and you technique is better. Then move up to 5.9s for a while then 5.10s and such. There are plenty of pro climbers that say that the best training for climbing is climbing.


shimanilami


Mar 29, 2013, 11:48 AM
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T0.


zchandran


Mar 29, 2013, 12:44 PM
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Re: [praenato] Exercise grip strength to failure [In reply to]
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Are you sure that you're articulating your training goals clearly? "Feeling more pump" is not a viable goal per se. If you're trying to improve your stamina, one of the safe things you can do is to incorporate some down climbing into your session. On the 5.7's, down climb as much as possible - this has the added benefit of improving your footwork.

Ditto to the previous advice on not overdoing it. Your muscles adapt much faster than your tendons. For your first year you'll get a lot more bang for the buck by ignoring upper body strength, and working on footwork and balance.


praenato


Mar 29, 2013, 2:40 PM
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I guess I wasn't totally clear. I don't necessarily want to feel 'pump', but just that my grip is spent. I guess I sort of felt that if don't have trouble opening a pickle jar after my climbing session, that I didn't work my grip as much as I could have in a 3-4 hour climbing session. Maybe that is an incorrect assumption to make once my muscles start getting accustomed to climbing.

I will take your advice and start down-climbing more, that sounds like a good idea. As for the tendons, I will be extra careful, as I saw other threads on similar topics pointed out finger stress injuries are common. I have trouble staying off the wall as it is when I need to rest - an injury would be horrible.


camhead


Mar 29, 2013, 5:44 PM
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Re: [praenato] Exercise grip strength to failure [In reply to]
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There are definitely benefits to working your grip strength to failure ("not being able to open a pickle jar," as you say).

However, as others have said here, 5.7-5.8 are in no way the levels at which you should start working on grip strength. Work on your technique, and your strength will follow along with it, at least into the 5.10 range if not more.


praenato


Mar 30, 2013, 9:04 PM
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zchandran wrote:
If you're trying to improve your stamina, one of the safe things you can do is to incorporate some down climbing into your session. On the 5.7's, down climb as much as possible - this has the added benefit of improving your footwork.

Ditto to the previous advice on not overdoing it. Your muscles adapt much faster than your tendons. For your first year you'll get a lot more bang for the buck by ignoring upper body strength, and working on footwork and balance.

I thought this post over several times during my climb today, and I did mean to focus more on technique, until I realized, sure, I get the concept of smooth, controlled movements and turning the hips in close to the wall to save strength, but at the same time, I don't really know how to achieve better technique or how to recognize good/bad technique in myself very well.

Given the above, maybe my question should have been...
"Are there any drills or techniques anyone can give me that would make me a better, more controlled and efficient climber?"

I realized today, the mantra in software programming "work smarter, not harder" also would seem to apply to climbing.


zchandran


Mar 31, 2013, 1:38 AM
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Re: [praenato] Exercise grip strength to failure [In reply to]
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praenato wrote:
zchandran wrote:
If you're trying to improve your stamina, one of the safe things you can do is to incorporate some down climbing into your session. On the 5.7's, down climb as much as possible - this has the added benefit of improving your footwork.

Ditto to the previous advice on not overdoing it. Your muscles adapt much faster than your tendons. For your first year you'll get a lot more bang for the buck by ignoring upper body strength, and working on footwork and balance.

I thought this post over several times during my climb today, and I did mean to focus more on technique, until I realized, sure, I get the concept of smooth, controlled movements and turning the hips in close to the wall to save strength, but at the same time, I don't really know how to achieve better technique or how to recognize good/bad technique in myself very well.

Given the above, maybe my question should have been...
"Are there any drills or techniques anyone can give me that would make me a better, more controlled and efficient climber?"

I realized today, the mantra in software programming "work smarter, not harder" also would seem to apply to climbing.

I would highly recommend the drills from "Self-Coached Climber". You can't go wrong with that book, and it's been mentioned on this site over and over.

One drill that really helped me when I was starting, was to climb something easy such as 5.6/7, but without ever bringing my hands above my shoulders. That really forces you to use balance rather than reach and strength. I also did easy routes using just one arm, again, that really makes you think about your balance and footwork. On the parts of routes where you feel like you're sloppy and flailing, carefully analyze your move sequence to see how you can make it smoother, and then work that particular sequence a few times in a row.

"Self-Coached Climber" goes into many different drills in detail. It's not feasible to give a good description of them in a few dozen words. Also, it goes over traversing drills before transferring those skills to TR routes. That makes a lot of sense since you're not using as much energy traversing, and can focus on the technique.

Hope this helps,

Z.


shotwell


Mar 31, 2013, 8:15 AM
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Re: [zchandran] Exercise grip strength to failure [In reply to]
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The self coached climber is great, an actual climbing coach is even better.

Even if you work with the self coached climber, external feedback can be quite helpful. If you can't work with a real coach ask your partners to give you feedback on your movement once they understand what you're looking for!


praenato


Mar 31, 2013, 9:04 AM
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Re: [zchandran] Exercise grip strength to failure [In reply to]
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zchandran wrote:
I would highly recommend the drills from "Self-Coached Climber". You can't go wrong with that book, and it's been mentioned on this site over and over.


It looks like this book has been uploaded to Google Books for free reading, so I can get started on that right away.

shotwell wrote:
The self coached climber is great, an actual climbing coach is even better.

Even if you work with the self coached climber, external feedback can be quite helpful. If you can't work with a real coach ask your partners to give you feedback on your movement once they understand what you're looking for!


In the absence of a known good climbing coach in the area, I guess I should see if one of my partners is willing to get as into this sport as I am.


(This post was edited by praenato on Mar 31, 2013, 9:08 AM)


fskie


Apr 3, 2013, 11:51 AM
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Re: [praenato] Exercise grip strength to failure [In reply to]
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You definitely are climbing hard enough, your muscles are simply stronger than your tendons at this point. CAUTION: This is 100% okay. Do not over train. Your tendons get stronger only with long periods of time of practice. This does not mean go to the gym for 10 hours a day, it means that you just have to be patient and content with the spot you're in right now and keep climbing. By keeping on climbing, you will build up tendon strength (fingers are what always get me to stop climbing during a session first) and technique (so climbing becomes "easier" [not easy, but you get my point]). So don't worry about it. You just have to keep climbing and over time you will see great results. Don't push too hard or you'll knock yourself out for a long time, and recovery is never easy. It's better to patiently work over time than overwork and have to recover.


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