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Fingerboarding vs 'just climbing'

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It would be interesting to know what everyones opinion/experience on this subject is.

Can a solid fingerboard training routine be more effective at progessing at climbing, over picking a route/boulder at least 1 full grade harder and redpointing? 

For example, you want to climb 8a (sport). You live near an 8a. Wouldn't it be better to just jump on the 8a and siege it, over fingerboarding or 'training' for this '8a strength'? Therefore just making the 8a your fingerboard and training rig.

This could apply indoors and out I suppose.

 henwardian 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

The best climbers in the world all use fingerboards - probably not a coincidence!

Personally I don't use one because I find them about as engaging as listening to a party political broadcast.

 deacondeacon 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

It depends what your weakness is, and what is preventing you from climbing a particular route.

If it's finger strength, then yes get on the fingerboard. If it's technique or something else then get on the route.

 halo 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

What was it Jerry Moffat said; "Who would have thought training for climbing!" https://trainingforclimbing.com/tag/jerry-moffatt-mastermind/

 Mick Ward 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

Would check out several 8a routes for factors such as accessibility and conditions. Have a play on each. Find the one that seems to suit you best. If you can do it, great. If you can't (yet), what's stopping you? Devise a training programme. Alternate between visits to the route and the training programme - i.e. is the training programme working?

If the gains aren't coming, then more analysis and adjustment. If they are coming, refine redpoint tactics and play the probability game, i.e. the odds are loaded in your favour, success will likely come (as long as you don't get injured/demotivated). 

Mick 

2
 rachelpearce01 20 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

Imo nothing beats climbing. You see people hanging ridiculous percentage bodyweights but at barely e3 climbers. Climbing is largely a skill based sport. True they are good for warming up but if time isn’t an issue I don’t reckon anything beats mileage on rock. But if you don’t have much time then I see how they’re useful. 

10
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

Why wouldn’t you both climb and train your fingers on a hangboard as well?

1
 Misha 21 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

It partly depends how far off you are. If you’ve done some 7c+s in a similar style, you probably just need to project a suitable 8a. Whereas if you’ve done a few 7b+s and a couple of 7cs, you probably need to do some fingerboarding if finger strength is a limiting factor and generally do some structured training (I’m in that boat but I’m too lazy and disorganised to train properly). Whilst if your best RP is 7a, you’ve a very long way to go and fingerboarding will only be a small part of what you will need. 

 UKB Shark 21 Jun 2022
In reply to afx22:

> Why wouldn’t you both climb and train your fingers on a hangboard as well?

Ridiculous notion

2
In reply to UKB Shark:

He he.  What was I thinking?

 Iamgregp 21 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

I used to be a firm believer in the "the best training for climbing is to just go climbing" and to an extent I still believe this.

But then lock down happened and I started using the fingerboard that had been up in my house for over a year (and had barely touched) and now I'm climbing around a full letter grade harder than I was pre-lockdown.

What really made the difference was getting a training programme (thanks Neil Gresham!), sticking to it, and that it involved long fingerboard sessions every other day - clearly a lot more volume of training than I was getting going climbing!

So yeah maybe if there's an 8a right next to your house that you're able to jump on every other day you won't need a fingerboard.  For the rest of us who live in the real world they're useful. 

 HeMa 21 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

There are many factors to consider. 
 

first ask What it us that you really want (I want to climb that route at grade Y vs I want to get better and climb many routes at grade Y). Also What is your limiting factor to achieve What you just described.

let’s take a couple of hypotechical person.

Johnny Spoiled has all the time in the world, lives underneath a worldclass crag that is in condition year round and wants to climb one (hard) line there. He can be strong, weak and have good technique or not. His best course of action is just start to work said line. Eventually he’ll get the sequences dialed and the needed specific strenght. But If he then want’s to climb a different hard line (of different character), he’ll need to redo all the steps.

Steve Strong is a Beast of a boulder machine and crusher hard problems for breakfast. He’s strong enough already, but might need to work on his stamina and efficiency (and tactics). Fingerboarding will not really help (except stamina ones), Most bang for buck comes from doing a lot of roped climbing to work on efficiency and stamina. After tickin’ that one hard route, Steve goes on a route sending spree, but once fall comes he’ll feel a tad weak on hard boulder problems. Steve might benefit from some intermediate fingerboard sessions to keep the powerlevels up.

Gustav Gecko is actually a weakling, but with stellar technique he can simply milk out every rest and cheat he’s way up Most lines. However, this line he’s After has a stopper move that he simply can’t do. Adding fingerboarding (or other training for strenght) will prolly get good results and Gustav will continue up floating lines, also more powerful ones.

In summary, If you want to climb one line. Practice on it until you get it. However this might not translate as good performance on other lines. If you have already identified that the limiting factor is fingerstrentgh (really, as in you are considerably weaker than others at given grade), then fingerboarding will get you results that will allow you to climb that line, and many others. And If you are actually stronger than your peers, but can’t get up the line… well you’ll need to get better (stamina, tactics etc.) not stronger and thus fingerboarding will not be beneficial.

1
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

Ben….’you can talk all you want about technique and the subtleties of climbing, but for me, in the end, the next hard problem comes down to how hard I can pull..sorry!" 
and

Jerry (I think) ‘Technique is no substitute for power’

both quotes from two people who already had technique in bucket loads. So the answer is do both. What the balance is, depends on the individual. My technique seems to go up of its own accord when I’m hitting the fingerboard hard though.

In reply to afx22:

> Why wouldn’t you both climb and train your fingers on a hangboard as well?

I find it overworks the fingers doing both. If you climb 4 tines a week, will it benefit or just hinder?

1
In reply to deacondeacon:

> It depends what your weakness is, and what is preventing you from climbing a particular route.

> If it's finger strength, then yes get on the fingerboard. If it's technique or something else then get on the route.

I totally get this but is it not more effective to just train finger strength on routes/boulders?

For example, most of the climbing I am doing at the minute is mid range sport at 6b+ to 7a and a bit harder. All of it works my fingers out every single time. When 6a sport was my limit, my fingers were worked etc... 

In reply to henwardian:

> The best climbers in the world all use fingerboards - probably not a coincidence!

> Personally I don't use one because I find them about as engaging as listening to a party political broadcast.

Years ago I used to be big into weightlifting/powerlifting. I found in that scene a similar attitude of 'the pros do it, so should I...' but honestly speaking, most of us out there are amateurs not pros. 

Thats why I ask the question. Everybody always talks of fingerboarding but does it really help better than just redpointing/climbing?

In reply to Misha:

> It partly depends how far off you are. If you’ve done some 7c+s in a similar style, you probably just need to project a suitable 8a. Whereas if you’ve done a few 7b+s and a couple of 7cs, you probably need to do some fingerboarding if finger strength is a limiting factor and generally do some structured training (I’m in that boat but I’m too lazy and disorganised to train properly). Whilst if your best RP is 7a, you’ve a very long way to go and fingerboarding will only be a small part of what you will need. 

I suppose there is always gonna be a limit to how hard someone can climb without really pushing the training. 8a is pretty much up near top end IMO for mortals. You are talking from experience by the sounds of it, so thats interesting.

Okay so from another angle. What would be better for you to get that 8a? A season of climbing as you normally would, with added fingerboarding etc OR a season of climbing as normal with added 7b/7b+ boulder problems to train your fingers? How would you go about it?

Cheers

In reply to Iamgregp:

> I used to be a firm believer in the "the best training for climbing is to just go climbing" and to an extent I still believe this.

> But then lock down happened and I started using the fingerboard that had been up in my house for over a year (and had barely touched) and now I'm climbing around a full letter grade harder than I was pre-lockdown.

> What really made the difference was getting a training programme (thanks Neil Gresham!), sticking to it, and that it involved long fingerboard sessions every other day - clearly a lot more volume of training than I was getting going climbing!

> So yeah maybe if there's an 8a right next to your house that you're able to jump on every other day you won't need a fingerboard.  For the rest of us who live in the real world they're useful. 

Fair play, sounds like it worked for you! 1 full grade! Thats crazy. Glad hear it! and I'm thinking along the same lines, if you can climb then just climb but also interested to hear about how other people have experienced it.

In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

Just to say I had a near identical experience to Greg P. Its unlikely I'll ever repeat the this though as its mind bogglingly tedious.

In reply to HeMa:

> There are many factors to consider. 

>  

> first ask What it us that you really want (I want to climb that route at grade Y vs I want to get better and climb many routes at grade Y). Also What is your limiting factor to achieve What you just described.

> let’s take a couple of hypotechical person.

> Johnny Spoiled has all the time in the world, lives underneath a worldclass crag that is in condition year round and wants to climb one (hard) line there. He can be strong, weak and have good technique or not. His best course of action is just start to work said line. Eventually he’ll get the sequences dialed and the needed specific strenght. But If he then want’s to climb a different hard line (of different character), he’ll need to redo all the steps.

> Steve Strong is a Beast of a boulder machine and crusher hard problems for breakfast. He’s strong enough already, but might need to work on his stamina and efficiency (and tactics). Fingerboarding will not really help (except stamina ones), Most bang for buck comes from doing a lot of roped climbing to work on efficiency and stamina. After tickin’ that one hard route, Steve goes on a route sending spree, but once fall comes he’ll feel a tad weak on hard boulder problems. Steve might benefit from some intermediate fingerboard sessions to keep the powerlevels up.

> Gustav Gecko is actually a weakling, but with stellar technique he can simply milk out every rest and cheat he’s way up Most lines. However, this line he’s After has a stopper move that he simply can’t do. Adding fingerboarding (or other training for strenght) will prolly get good results and Gustav will continue up floating lines, also more powerful ones.

> In summary, If you want to climb one line. Practice on it until you get it. However this might not translate as good performance on other lines. If you have already identified that the limiting factor is fingerstrentgh (really, as in you are considerably weaker than others at given grade), then fingerboarding will get you results that will allow you to climb that line, and many others. And If you are actually stronger than your peers, but can’t get up the line… well you’ll need to get better (stamina, tactics etc.) not stronger and thus fingerboarding will not be beneficial.

Great explanation, thanks for that. Make total sense for those scenarios. I like the names 😀

It's still got me wondering though whether Gustav could just go do some hard bouldering and Steve just needs routes (as you said) and then boulders in winter. Jonny would get super strong climbing that hard line, working his fingers, stamina, head game, the lot. It aint gonna make him good at climbing trad cracks but then he could just go out and get good at that. 

Do you know what I mean? 

In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> Ben….’you can talk all you want about technique and the subtleties of climbing, but for me, in the end, the next hard problem comes down to how hard I can pull..sorry!" 

> and

> Jerry (I think) ‘Technique is no substitute for power’

> both quotes from two people who already had technique in bucket loads. So the answer is do both. What the balance is, depends on the individual. My technique seems to go up of its own accord when I’m hitting the fingerboard hard though.

Cant argue with them two!

 Iamgregp 21 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

*Letter grade!

 Iamgregp 21 Jun 2022
In reply to ebdon:

Yes it was very boring indeed!

Luckily I had a friend who was up for doing the same programme at the same time so we each sent of for our courses, and did them together on a zoom call with plenty of chit chat in the rests.  It got us through lockdown, but like you say, barring another pandemic not something I can see myself repeating!

Genuinely worked though, so I'm really pleased.

In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

> I find it overworks the fingers doing both. If you climb 4 tines a week, will it benefit or just hinder?

This is definitely a consideration.  Climbing and/r training hard on consecutive days is something I keep to a minimum.

I’d maintain that fingerboarding absolutely helps, especially if you’ve not done it before. Gains are usually pretty quick at first.  I went up a few Font grades in the first year I started (having climbed for many years previously).  I’ve plateaued now though!

 Misha 21 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

Adding finger boarding or indeed any structured training would make more sense for me as I don’t live near climbing areas, so adding outdoor bouldering to the climbing I already do isn’t really feasible. If I lived in Sheffield, adding outdoor bouldering might make more sense. So again, it depends on the circumstances I think. In fact just switching to 100% sport climbing would probably get me fairly close over a year or two.

I don’t think most people need finger boarding to improve from 6a to 7a. If you’re still improving, you don’t need it yet. However you’ll eventually get to a level where you do need it or at least you need some kind of structured training. 

2
 HeMa 22 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

To a certain level, training by climbing (Steve Strong, more routes| Gustav Gecko, boulders and physical ones|Johnny Spoiled, well he would actually benefit most by simply climbing a lot.... by laying siege on that one route... he got strong and good climbing that routed , but not good at climbing ) would get them better. And with structured training, they would also get stronger... But the only one that would benefit the most from structured training is Gustav... Johnny just needs to climb.

As has been mentioned earlier, climbing is not just about power. Technique (so how to rest or advance with minimal effort or power required) will actually get you really far (mid to high 7s... sport or boulder). Obviously if such a climber get's more power, he/she will most likely start doing 8th grade stuff. And they would get that with either a lot of climbing and number of years... or if they add structured physical training, most likely in a year or two.

In order to get better at climbing, you need to work on your weaknesses... quite often the n00b grade hunters operating at mid to high 6s and aspirations for 7s think they need to get stronger and start doing structured training. Will they get stronger, likely. Are they actually working on their weaknesses, unlikely (they are new to the sport, being a n00b) and most probably their issue is indeed technique... So now they will compensate technique with power, most likely get a rewards (the 7th grade tick) on a powerline and thus the cycle is born... and they still don't work on their technique ('cause they can't get up a 6a+ slab... and that is a whole number below their grade nowadays, so makes no sense to project a warmup)...

IMHO structured training is great for getting stronger, and for some it is needed... but it should not come with the cost of technique. I recall there is actually a proverb or something that states that getting strong takes a few years, getting good takes decades .

 UKB Shark 22 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

> I find it overworks the fingers doing both. If you climb 4 tines a week, will it benefit or just hinder?

A happy compromise I’ve found works is to do a home fingerboard session each time before going out climbing which recruits your fingers for the day’s climbing ahead and helps maintain or strengthen your fingers. I’m happy with maintenance and do a bit of progressive loading then a few recruitment and speed pulls* before going out. Others do more. You can also adjust things according to the type of climbing you are likely to do that day. 

*info here: www.trainingbeta.com/the-simplest-finger-training-program/ He (Tyler Nelson) recommends doing a cycle of recruitment pulls before incorporating speed pulls IIRC 

 Alun 27 Jun 2022
In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

It depends entirely on the route and grade you’re trying to reach. A 6b/c climber trying to reach 7a probably won’t see so much benefit from a fingerboard, as it is likely that something other than finger strength is holding them back.

However, I attribute ticking 8a, after nearly two decades of bumbling around at 7a/b level, to making a commitment to a solid yet simple fingerboard routine. 

In reply to Dont Trust. Verify:

How did "the best training for climbing is climbing" get changed to "the only training for climbing is climbing" in some people's heads? 

Why not spend a high proportion of time climbing and supplement it with other things (like fingerboard or yoga or jogging or... etc ... etc).

What next? Are we going to tell boxers they're wasting their time doing sit ups, speedball, or HIIT cardio or whatever, because all they need is sparring?

You can use accessories (supplementary training techniques or drills) to work on specific weaknesses to compliment practicing the main skill. Fingerboard is one such useful tool, especially for higher grade climbers

Edit, isn't the security maxim (originally coined by Ronald Reagan) "Trust... but verify"

Post edited at 20:00

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