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jakomait


Nov 19, 2013, 4:55 PM
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Training gadgets for traveling?
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Do any of those finger training gadgets (Gstring, squeeze rings, finger spring things, etc.) help at all?

I'm a seasonal climber (6 months centered over winter) just getting back up to my range of hard 11's and really soft 12's after not touching the rock for 5 months in the summer but have to travel for 3 weeks shortly. My power to weight is great and cardio is not an issue but I need everything I can get when it comes to finger strength and open grip improvements. Since Iíve only been back at it for 5 weeks now I donít think I need any sort of rest, at least not for 3 weeks. Anyone have any experience with a training device that they can recommend that would work good traveling for business? I did a search here and couldn't narrow it down.


kenr


Nov 21, 2013, 9:09 PM
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I'm guessing you must be traveling to some remote location if you can't find an indoor climbing wall within driving distance.

* "heavy finger rolls" with dumbbell or barbell (requires fairly heavy weights and the ability to vary them). Buy a day-session at a fitness center with free weights (or perhaps your remote work location has another serious athlete long-term resident with her/his own set of dumb-bells you can use). I'd say need dumbbell weights to well above 10 kg / 22 pounds. I might guess up to 20kg / 45 pounds to get into 5.12 territory.

* "finger curls" -- use nylon sling loops which can be looped around end of fingers and attached to weights with hang below the loop(s). Iron Mind sells a set of 4 loops (so can load all four fingers simultaneously) -- and also a special spike or pin that makes it easy to load barbell weight plates onto the sling. Or if have the time to train individual fingers, a Fifi hook with pre-attached sling (e.g. BD model) is handy.

* metal-spring separated-finger grip trainers (e.g. by ProHands.net) are surprisingly versatile to train for climbing (though no hint of this on the website): I've found 4 Open grip positions, 2 half-Crimp grip positions (and of course several Pinch grip configurations). Can use to train either concentric/eccentric or in isometric contractions.

Pressing with _less_ than four fingers is likely necessary to achieve sufficient force-resistance intensity for 5.12 level strength with some of the easier Open grips ... it's fairly obvious how to train "two finger" teams (but for isolating a single finger, likely want to figure out some way to attach together the middle two finger pads). To get precisely repeatable resistance, make up a set of shims of different thicknesses, and put them in the space of the palm-side springs.

Which resistance version: With four fingers in an obvious grip position using the full first knuckle "pad" of all four fingers, I can fully compress both sides of the springs in the "Extra Heavy" version of the Pro (and my climbing ability is significantly under 5.12).

My belief is that any of those methods _if_ used ... at an intensity of 3 sets of 6-12 reps getting close to failure -- and with a gripping configuration near the tipe of the fingers -- say twice a week -- should result in significant Hypertrophy of finger muscles specific for climbing (or at least prevent loss of strength).

Ken


kenr


Nov 21, 2013, 9:25 PM
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Whatever gadget you choose, try to start using it well in advance of your trip, so you can discover the problems you'll have with it, and make modifications while you still have good tools and a wide selection of fasteners available.

Like isually a key limiter for finger-strength for climbing (out near the tips) is _skin_. Might want to start playing around with taping and full-finger gloves, find out what really works for you -- before you depart.

"Heavy Finger Rolls" seems to be best for avoiding skin problems, but I'm concerned that it does not offer sufficient engagement of the tips of the fingers with the FDP muscles - (too much focus on FDS and MCP-driver muscles).

"finger curls" -- Even if have the time to isolate individual fingers, you're likely need access to a fitness center weight room in order to have sufficient resistance (say 18kg / 40lb) to get somewhere near 5.12 level strength. Unless you or your employer is going to arrange or pay to haul or ship that much barbell plates to your remote work location.
(For one of my non-home locations, I actually have 20kg of barbell plates in a storage locker).

Ken


kenr


Nov 21, 2013, 9:42 PM
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Re: [jakomait] Training gadgets for traveling? [In reply to]
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jakomait wrote:
Do any of those finger training gadgets (Gstring, squeeze rings, finger spring things, etc.) help at all?
No.
Likely they don't help much for most climbers.
Because ...
* people don't use them with sufficient intensity (3 sets of 6-12 reps to near failure)

* not enough rest time, or insufficiently serious rest, between intense training sections -- (i.e. just "squeezing away" every day, or several times a day).

* many devices do not allow _measuring_ the resistance intensity (or at least relative intensity in a repeatable way, such as putting shims into the metal-spring space). Accurate measuring and/or precise Repeatability are key for getting near to failure (but without going too far into injury).

* not keeping written records of incremental progress.

* not allowing at least one month afterward for mental integration into tyhe full context of real climbing.

My best guesses.

Ken


kenr


Nov 21, 2013, 9:59 PM
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Why gripper toys don't help ...

* Many of the popular grip-strength devices are designed mainly for contacting at the second joint in from the tip of the finger (the PIP joint, which is in between the second and third pads/links of the finger counting in from the tip). Instead it focuses on the muscles driving the MCP joint and Thumb and wrist joints.

Problem is that this gripping configuration does not much engage the FDP and FDS muscles and tendons, which are critical for gripping the smaller holds that we need to use for climbing harder than say 5.4.

Interesting that this "second joint" configuration is also the standard meaure of grip strength used by Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists. So in the initial PT Evaluation session, just after the PT measures your "standard" grip strength, comes the comment, "But I thought you would have a stronger grip because you're a Climber".

Turns out that climbing grip strength is very specific for climbing. Not for winning "grip strengh" competitions.

Ken


5.samadhi


Nov 25, 2013, 12:57 PM
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Re: [kenr] Training gadgets for traveling? [In reply to]
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dude.

finger rolls? Finger curls? Those won't do shit for you.

What you want to do is sets of 10 second hangs on a doorframe. If you dont have a door frame that works bring a scrap of 1x4 and screw/nail it on to the wall.

You can add weight for single rep hangs (max hangs) or use bodyweight or a bit less weight in order to do repeaters (multiple reps).

Anything else other than climbing or campusing is going to be a waste of time.


MED


Nov 26, 2013, 2:09 AM
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Re: [kenr] Training gadgets for traveling? [In reply to]
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kenr wrote:
Why gripper toys don't help ...

Turns out that climbing grip strength is very specific for climbing. Ken

I think most everyone agrees with this statement.

So Ken, why do you keep advocating finger rolls and similar concentric exercises for climbing training?

To the OPs question- some kind of hangboard will help you maintain your finger strength. If you cannot mount a board at your temporary home, the gstring looks like a fair substitute and would be easier to hang. It is a little expensive. I have examined but not used one. The grip options are much better than those found on rock rings.


kenr


Nov 27, 2013, 9:11 PM
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Re: [MED] Training gadgets for traveling? [In reply to]
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MED wrote:
So Ken, why do you keep advocating finger rolls and similar concentric exercises for climbing training?
Not just me. Eric Horst in two of his books also says he achieved good results wtih Heavy Finger Rolls.

Why? Because Concentric contractions are well-demonstrated to produce HYPertrophy. The problem with many gripper toys is that they produce hypertrophy of the wrong (or anyway non-critical) muscles. Second best for hypertropny are Eccentric contractions. Worst for hypertrophy are Isometric contractions.

For long-term improvement of climbing, my theory is that a good strategy is to (a) grow bigger and perhaps more numberous muscle fibers; (b) transform those fibers into the types (Fast Oxidative / IIa + Fast Glycolytive II b) most approprotiate for the desired form of climbing; (c) integrate the increased strength into overall neural-coordination and mental-perception context of actual climbing movement.

So the point of the HYPertrophy phase is mainly to target the correct muscles (e.g. FDP + FDS finger/forearm tendons + muscles). My theory is that the fundamental flaw with using Isometric contractions (e.g. dead hangs from a fingerboard) for the HYPertrophy phase is that Isometric is long-known to be inferior for hypertrophy. I further suspect that it tends to produce growth in much too high a percentage Slow Oxidative (Type I) fibers, which are not much useful for modern dynamic climbing -- so the Transforming phase (b) takes longer since more fibers must be converted to FO / Type IIa and FG / Type IIb.

I think the type of Finger contraction which is critical for dynamic climbing moves (like launching and catching long deadpoint lunges) is Eccentric -- since the Concentric contractions of the stronger upper arm and shouder muscles must by accompanied by Eccentric contractions in both the launch and the catch phases of a dynamic lunge move.

Myself I much prefer campusing for Hypertrophy (done at an intensity appropriate for 3 sets of 6-12 reps) -- more fun than Heavy Finger Rolls or finger curls -- and more fun and climbing-specific than isometric fingerboard Repeaters (which I see as mainly for Endurance training).

Now repeaters performed with dynamic initiation (dropping) for Eccentric contraction, and at a higher frequency (like 1-second hand with 1-second rest) -- that would be different. Maybe Eccentric trainning of finger strength is the best compromise between optimal HYPertrophy and optimal climbing-specific.

Why I advocate Concentric (or Eccentric, or both):
(1) multi-phase training
(2) scientifically demonstrated better for HYPertrophy phase.

The burden of proof lies with those who advocate (1) single-phase training; (2) unscientific Isometric for hypertrophy.

Ken


kenr


Nov 27, 2013, 10:00 PM
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Re: [MED] Training gadgets for traveling? [In reply to]
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in response to:
"climbing grip strength is very specific for climbing."
MED wrote:
I think most everyone agrees with this statement.
Why standard hanging off a fingerboard is not specific:

* because actual modern climbing (except Trad) has little of staticly hanging off two holds with No feet. The point of modern red-point strategy is to move quick-quick into the next move -- avoid static hangs.

* because static hanging is not the critical part of modern sport climbing or bouldering. When I watch lots of videos of hard sport climbing and hard bouldering, the point where the climber falls is while tryiing a difficult move, either on the launch or more often on the catch. Almost nobody almost never falls off because they run out of hanging strength.

Further observation: I see lots of strong climbers, way way better than me, on the Comp teams at my local gym. The piece of apparatus there that gets used least is the fingerboard. The activity I see practiced least is static two-arm hanging.

Ken


kenr


Nov 28, 2013, 12:08 AM
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5.samadhi wrote:
What you want to do is sets of 10 second hangs on a doorframe.
I have never heard of any scientific justification for this approach. Leading Euro authorities general advocate max-single-rep hangs, not these "repeaters".

Some quotes from leading Americans who did enough careful research to write a book:
Dan Hague + Douglas Hunter: The Self-Coached Climber --
* page 157: "To increase the size of the targeted fast-twitch fibers, you must ... recruit and fatigue the Type IIa and Type IIb fibers.

* pages 159-161 -- four methods of Hypertrophic Training -- no mention of static hanging as any reasonable option. All their recommended methods are obviously dynamic.
_______________________________________
Eric Horst: Training for Climbing --
* page 140: "It's a good climbing tactic ... to get on and off difficult holds ... as quickly as possible.

Eric Horst: Conditioning for Climbing --
* page 90: Using a fingerboard ... "is invaluable if you are unable to regularly boulder or climb".
* pages 87-102: Seven specific methods for building finger strength for climbing, but only one of those focuses on static hanging: All the others are dynamic.


MED


Nov 28, 2013, 1:00 AM
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Re: [kenr] Training gadgets for traveling? [In reply to]
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kenr wrote:
in response to:
"climbing grip strength is very specific for climbing."
MED wrote:
I think most everyone agrees with this statement.
Why standard hanging off a fingerboard is not specific:

* because actual modern climbing (except Trad) has little of staticly hanging off two holds with No feet. The point of modern red-point strategy is to move quick-quick into the next move -- avoid static hangs.

* because static hanging is not the critical part of modern sport climbing or bouldering. When I watch lots of videos of hard sport climbing and hard bouldering, the point where the climber falls is while tryiing a difficult move, either on the launch or more often on the catch. Almost nobody almost never falls off because they run out of hanging strength.

Further observation: I see lots of strong climbers, way way better than me, on the Comp teams at my local gym. The piece of apparatus there that gets used least is the fingerboard. The activity I see practiced least is static two-arm hanging.

Ken

Now I remember why I bowed out of the 'altitude training' discussion with you on MP last year.

Sometimes theory is helpful, sometimes you just need to look at what works. With all respect to Eric Horst, he is the only training guru who advocates finger rolls, as far as I know. And he is also in favor of hangboards.

I appreciate your iconoclasm, but you often present your opinions as if they were the generally accepted wisdom, which bothers me, perhaps more than it should.

Do you have any personal experience training folks to a moderately high climbing standard? Say 5.13 or even 5.12?

Please don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading your theories. I just think a little practical experience would be useful.


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