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Finger Strength (lack of) and frustration
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wonderwoman


Jan 28, 2004, 10:57 AM
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Finger Strength (lack of) and frustration
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It's indoor climbing time, and I'm getting so frustrated!

It seems that my fingers run out before my body does. I'm doing pretty tough climbs but I never feel sore after climbing. It's always my fingers that quit and not my body. I feel like I'm hitting a plateau and I'm not making any improvements or enjoying climbing as much. :cry:

It's strange because I NEVER feel sore or tired. I just can't hang on anymore.

Should I be trying harder climbs earlier? or bouldering more? taping my fingers up right away? hanging on my hangboard more? Whatever it takes, I'll do it!

I'm afraid that if I just jump on the tough stuff right away that my fingers will just give out earlier and I'll feel more frustrated.

Any advice would greatly help! It seems I get all worked up every winter when I am forced to climb indoors. I'm getting so bummed out.


nnichols


Jan 28, 2004, 11:01 AM
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Aside from climbing, my finger strength comes from squeezing a stress ball. I have a 30 minute drive to and from work so while driving I will do different grips using the stress ball. It helps dealing with IH-35 traffic, too :) .


daryl314


Jan 28, 2004, 11:17 AM
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I think that fingers typically give out as you push higher and higher grades. Maybe looking at things a little differently would help. Instead of wondering why your back isn't getting sore, be happy that you have enough strength that your fingers are now the weak point in the chain. If they're giving out when you climb, that means you're working them, and that they're probably getting stronger. If you want to last longer, I've found that getting in a really good warmup helps quite a bit. For a while I was starting with 3 climbs 3 number grades below my limit, 2 2 grades below, 1 at one below, and then starting to work on climbs at my limit. Be patient. Building tendon strength takes time. Trying to push your way through with brute force is often a good way to injure yourself. You may also want to try mixing some bouldering in.


noodlearms


Jan 28, 2004, 11:27 AM
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How long have you been climbing, and how consistently?

I've been at it a year, and grip strength has been my main limiting factor almost the entire time.

Be patient. Your grip will get stronger. But it may always be the limiting factor.

I wonder if this is still true for long-time climbers. Do you ever reach a point where grip strength is not your greatest (purely physical) limitation?


daryl314


Jan 28, 2004, 11:32 AM
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In reply to:
I wonder if this is still true for long-time climbers. Do you ever reach a point where grip strength is not your greatest (purely physical) limitation?

I don't remember the source of the information, but I've heard that a climber's ultimate potential is limited by the ratio of grip strength to body weight. I guess I don't see how anything other than grip strength could be the limiting factor once you have sufficient core strength and lockoff power (as must long-time climbers would have). If you had infinite grip strength, everything with handholds would become (more or less) a jug haul.


wonderwoman


Jan 28, 2004, 11:34 AM
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I've been climbing for about 10 years or so and climb about 2 to 3 time a week. This is a depressing plateau for me and might be more linked to missing the outdoors.

I just get frustrated when everyone else can continue climbing tough stuff and and bouldering and I can't seem to hang onto anything anymore.


davidji


Jan 28, 2004, 11:41 AM
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In reply to:
I wonder if this is still true for long-time climbers. Do you ever reach a point where grip strength is not your greatest (purely physical) limitation?

I don't know how good your technique or strength is: there are people who have been climbing a year and boulder V6, do hard sportclimbing etc. (i.e. are better than me), but lot of people I see who haven't been climbing long have poor technique. While they often feel fitness is why they get worn out easily climbing, technique is the more important (and more easily correctable) factor.

For example, I often see someone climbing an overhung gym route, and frog-stepping every move: no back-steps, knee-drops, twist-locks, heel-hooks, etc. All of these put your body in a different position then when you're upright, fully facing the wall, using the inside edges of both feet. You may not need all of those on every route, but it's hard to imagine an overhung route that goes best without using the outside edge of your foot at all.

If your technique is poor, you might take a class. Watching good climbers (closely, and trying to emulate) could help too.


daryl314


Jan 28, 2004, 11:41 AM
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I know a fair amount about training to improve grip strength, but it's hard to give advice without knowing what your ability level is right now, what kind of climbing experience you have, and how you're "stuck" right now. I'm not one to advocate spraying, but I don't want to suggest a heinously difficult workout and have you get hurt. I'd be happy to share the various routines I've dug up if you want to drop me a PM. I see you're from the Boston area, so maybe I've seen you at the BRG.


jt512


Jan 28, 2004, 11:43 AM
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I've been climbing for about 10 years or so and climb about 2 to 3 time a week. This is a depressing plateau for me and might be more linked to missing the outdoors.

I just get frustrated when everyone else can continue climbing tough stuff and and bouldering and I can't seem to hang onto anything anymore.

If you are finding that finger strength is limiting, then why don't you do some specific finger strength training. You'd be amazed at what a few weeks of finger board training can accomplish.

-Jay


blueeyedclimber


Jan 28, 2004, 12:02 PM
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Hi baby, I know we have talked about this privately, but maybe if I say a couple things out loud, people can chime in and give their opinion about. First of all, WW is a strong female climber. She has good technique, strength, and endurance, but just like any of us, has limitations. I feel her biggest limitation is her self-confidence. She often gets frustrated on climbs that are not her strength, when i feel that these are the climbs she should be working on. She doesn't like an audience, so bouldering is not always her cup of tea. BUT, bouldering is a great way to build up her fingerstrength on short cruxes. I want her to try these "tough" climbs without her getting frustrated, and to realize success does not mean getting to the top. For example, i was working on a tough climb the other day and was especially having trouble with one particular hold, I was ecstatic when I was able to match hands on it by turning my right hip in (which was a suggestion by wonderwoman). I fell soon thereafter, but it was a success in my mind. I don't feel WW thinks like this, and I think she would be kicka$$ if she didn't hold herself back.

Anyways, I love and cant' wait to climb with you tonight.

Josh


noodlearms


Jan 28, 2004, 12:22 PM
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In reply to:
While they often feel fitness is why they get worn out easily climbing, technique is the more important (and more easily correctable) factor.

Well, I've only been climbing for a year, so I can hardly claim my technique is flawless. But I have had the advantage of climbing 3x/week with two people who are much more experienced than I. For me, I eventually does come down to strength. Maybe the first few times I attempt a given route, it's a technique issue. I don't climb everything in frog position! But I'm not as good as my partners at figuring out the most efficient moves right away. Nevertheless there have been many climbs that I've attempted repeatedly, and that I've watched VERY CAREFULLY to see how my climbing partners do it... and I just can't pull the moves.

My question was really about physical limitations: do experienced climbers reach a point where their grip is so strong, some other body part becomes the weak link? I can't imagine that right now.


wonderwoman


Jan 28, 2004, 12:28 PM
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Aw, Josh! That's the confidence builder I needed! thank you!

The reason that I feel that it's the 'fingers' and not necessarily technique is because I feel I have pretty good form. If I were using brute strength to pull myself up the climbs then I would probably have sore muscles and lost of injuries, but I don't. I'm knee dropping, hip turning and even doing the roof at our gym.

I'll also take jt512's advice and start utilizing the hangboard that blueeyedclimber bought me for christmas! Thank you for that!


noodlearms


Jan 28, 2004, 12:33 PM
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In reply to:
self-confidence

As WW has 10x my climbing experience, I have little to offer specifically regarding climbing.

On the general self-confidence issue though... has anyone read The Inner Game of Tennis? It's a classic little book on the psychology of sport, relaxed concentration on the task at hand, and being in the moment as opposed to thinking about the outcome. It uses tennis only as an example.

I highly recommend it for anyone getting hung up on confidence issues in any sport. I learned about it from a professional pool player.


jt512


Jan 28, 2004, 2:09 PM
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In reply to:
On the general self-confidence issue though... has anyone read The Inner Game of Tennis? It's a classic little book on the psychology of sport, relaxed concentration on the task at hand, and being in the moment as opposed to thinking about the outcome. It uses tennis only as an example.

I highly recommend it for anyone getting hung up on confidence issues in any sport. I learned about it from a professional pool player.

Along the same line, I would recommend The Rock Warrior's Way by Arno Ilgner.

-Jay


daryl314


Jan 28, 2004, 2:12 PM
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First of all, WW is a strong female climber. She has good technique, strength, and endurance, but just like any of us, has limitations. I feel her biggest limitation is her self-confidence. She often gets frustrated on climbs that are not her strength, when i feel that these are the climbs she should be working on. She doesn't like an audience, so bouldering is not always her cup of tea. BUT, bouldering is a great way to build up her fingerstrength on short cruxes.

How about bouldering outside then? Grab a pad and work some cruxes on a boulder with no one around. If you say she's a strong female climber, perhaps campusing or hanging some weight off her harness and doing some fingerboard work would help. I've found weighted openhanded hangs to be very useful, as well as working the individual pairs of fingers on the fingerboard with a shallow pocket. Toss enough weight on yourself so you can only hang on for 5-10 seconds. You also might want to consider some of the suggestions that Eric Horst mentions in his books, such as heavy finger rolls or HIT training. If your tendons are ready for it, I've found gradually jacking up the weight you use on the fingerboard is a great way to build up grip strength. Although be careful. It's also a great way to destroy your tendons.


artiesibs


Jan 28, 2004, 2:22 PM
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I just know that Nike put out a new hand strengthener. It let's you do many finger exercises that many models do not. It does more that just strengthening your grip. YOu can work out individual fingers and that is what has helped me the best. It comes in three modes; easy, medium, and hard. I found it at Oshman's in Tulsa so where you may find it is unknown to me......


marks


Feb 2, 2004, 11:56 AM
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try indoor bouldering on a overhanging wall using first joint size holds.this should sort it out.ive spent the last month indoors 3 times aweek.i have got a lot stronger,but my fingers hurt a bit now.but its only a bit of r and r needed.
try a few problems where you max is 2 moves then 3 or 4 ,then find a longish problem on small holds you run out of pwer towards the end and try it a couple of times each session.


mtnbkrxtrordnair


Feb 2, 2004, 12:08 PM
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If your fingers are sore, concentrate on the footwork. I really felt that my climbing improved when my legs were more sore than my forearms at the end of the day. Also, is it possible you may be overgripping?


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