/ Fingerboard training regime advice/suggestions please

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geebus - on 03 Feb 2013
I've been googling, searching on here etc and just ended up more confused if anything as there's so much different information out there!

Looking for recommendations for a finger board training plan to improve my finger strength.
Also interested in thoughts on how regularly to do it, when considering climbing and gym and whether to do it on non-climbing days - generally prefer to make use of the time at the wall to climb, so it'd be at home after.

I plan to make my own 'board at home as I've got loads of wood and a variety of climbing holds.

I've been bouldering for about six months now. Generally up to around a V3/V4 kind of level, but find myself really lacking on holds that require decent finger strength - be it 2/3 finger pockets or needing a good pinch.
If the holds are larger I'm generally ok - it's rare that it's my biceps that are lacking.
I appreciate that general technique does help too - but I think this mostly isn't a problem - as even following good people giving me advice on technique, it's the fingers that are limiting.

After having lost weight, now put some back on which needs to come off again (about a stone and a half from two months ago, so a decent difference) which will help.

I generally do 3x weight lifting a week (just 'the big three'), go bouldering 3x a week, but might cut that back to 2, as I'm finding there's less problems at my local place left that I have a hope of doing.

A last thought - I presume dead hanging will improve pinching some, but should I try and set up some pinch-specific holds to practice with too?
David Kay - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus: I'd be weary about using a fingerboard after 6 months of climbing. I've not bothered with one yet and I'm still making improvements just climbing on a wall. There is the potential to do some damage on relativity new climbing hands. Are there any steep walls (around 30 degrees) or a project board at your local gym? I found that training on steeper walls has improved my finger strength.

The beastmaker and metolius websites have some information on training plans which you could follow for the finger-boarding.

geebus - on 03 Feb 2013
That's the thing, I seem to have stalled making improvements for a while and it always comes back to finger strength it seems.

Putting weight on won't have helped, but I've stayed constant over the last 3 weeks at least and have generally found the climbing a little frustrating.

No project board, but there are some steep walls - however, I tend to find that's it's all or nothing - I can either get up the problems ok, or just don't have a chance on the harder holds - and worse can it seems sometimes 'feel' my tendons straining when I do try hard.

Actually, there is an overhanging circuit board - I suppose I could ignore the circuit (as the lower one is fairly nice holds and the next up is beyond me I think) and try and use it more like a project board.

I've got space at my work unit to put up some climbing stuff and a good number of holds, as well as nuts and bolts - am just lacking the money to buy wood to put them on right now. I do have a couple of bits I was thinking to make in to a bit of a 'project board'.
dirty crimper - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus: I would be very careful using a finger board at the for the amount of time and the levels you are climbing.I have been climbing 9 years and am pushing v11 and have only just started using one. One of the the things I have found that has helped me push my grade is try to open hand holds (ie.dont use your thumb) on climbs you find moderately hard, this will make the climb much more taxing and greatly increases finger strength.
The other thing you can do is work on your core so that more weight goes onto your feet. Having very strong fingers is only benaficial if you can use your feet well.
Hope this helps and you don't end up hurting your fingers, if there is pain in the joints desist and work on other aspects like technique.
geebus - on 04 Feb 2013
I rarely crimp - from my looking around I've realised I should practice that more too.

Cheers for the open-hand suggestion, I'll give that a go.
(Presuming it meant generally, not just "don't crimp".)

I think my core isn't too bad now - I was doing a 'weider 6' program (core-specific exercise) and got noticeable improvements; now am doing squats and deadlifts 3x a week, which should also be keeping the core strong.

If I can get weight on my feet I'm generally ok; and if I've got the grip with my hands I'm generally not bad at controlling my body and placing my feet where they should be.

The issues come when there's something that needs a bit of a pinch on a vertical say, but it's lower down too - and I just haven't got the strength to hold myself in to the wall when I take my other hand off; or just holding on to small holds on overhanging walls - again using 'good technique' as suggested by people that know what they're doing, so hopefully that shouldn't be an issue (though it may well be in many cases for me, I appreciate ).
Kemics - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus:

I've been climbing for 3/4 years and just started finger boarding to try and bust a plateau.

My routine is 3 grips. Openhand, half crimp and sloper

I do 5-6 second hangs on each grip. With a 1 min rest where I do leg stretches. Repeat 5 times.

Only being doing it for a month so too soon to see any real improvements. I've got a mini herc from TCA, it's only restriction is that it has very few holds (nice an unobtrusive ...why I bought it) but it means it's a little tricky to find the appropriate difficulty hang. Either too easy/too hard.
lumu_tit - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus: At your level finger strength can be gained with what should really be your priority, technique. Concentrate on problems with smaller holds; slabs and vertical walls at your level. Break the climb down and climb the bits you can then work the move you can't do, then try linking all the bits. Train lock off and good positioning by re climbing the easier problems but hovering your hand over a hold for 3 seconds before taking the hold. Also climb problems you are unable to do but use everything for your feet, this will teach you what feet and positions work for you as well as training the ability to hold smaller holds.
moorsy88 - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus: Have you considered reading '9 out of 10 climbers' By Dave McLeod. Pointed out some key points for me and helped focus on certain areas aside strength and finger training.
@ndyM@rsh@ll - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus: How often do you try something before you decide you can't do it?
geebus - on 04 Feb 2013
I think if I went to a bigger wall I might find myself less frustrated - the depot is the next nearest and I can find more doable stuff at my level or just a little past there. But at my local, there's less of a variety as it's a fair bit smaller.

Need to get some bouldering pad(s) and head outdoors too, as there's loads around here to offer some variety.

If I can't do a climb I generally will break it down going for the bits I can't do. Will just focus on that bit - if it's proving troublesome I'll usually 'cheat' that bit and do the rest, then come back to the bit I made easier.
Some problems I never start, but can do the rest after the first move.
Have tried the three second thing too; though should do it more, no doubt.

It depends, if it's obviously a v10, I'll look at it and go 'nah'.
But there's two problems that I must have tried the move I have an issue with at least 50 times now and still going - probably more like 100 for one! (And yes, I've tried all sorts of techniques and watched various other people do it.)
The only one of the colour labelled as V6+ I've done took me a good number of sessions with each more taking a large number of tries to get right.
geebus - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to moorsy88:
I do have a climbing training book, which I've had a read through, though not that one; will have a look, ta (bit broke at the mo unfortunately so may have to wait a bit, or I'll have to dig out some relevant ID to register for the local library if that works.)
@ndyM@rsh@ll - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus: Fair enough, sounds about right. Be careful if you do decide to fingerboard, you can get very strong very fast, a lot stronger than your connective tissues.
Siderunner - on 06 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus:

I'm new-ish to fingerboarding (12 months), and boulder about your level. I do have 10 years of fairly regular climbing under my belt/fingers, albeit without training in a structured way. It would be fair to say I'm a total punter so don't know what I'm talking about; on the other hand I can probably relate to your level better than the heroes, and I've had a lot of finger problems in my time (mainly from bouldering).

So far I feel pretty safe on the fingerboard, it seems a LOT safer than when I'm trying V4 - V6 dynamic problems, as it's so controlled. I think a mature and slow approach to adding volume and difficulty will keep you out of trouble. I am wary, and I prefer to fingerboard alone as I don't think it's the time to be egged on by mates. Whenever I feel at all tired or low motivation or any finger pains I skip the fingerboard, which means I actually only get 1 or 2 sessions in a week (+ 3-4 climbing/bouldering).

I started off doing repeaters as on the Beastmaker site = ( 7s on / 3s off ) x 6 then rest 2 mins then next grip. This seems a fine way to go, and a good way to start. Why not try this twice a week for 6 weeks and see how you go?

For me the Beastmaker regime was too hard to use my full bodyweight for crimps even on good holds, and that meant I left them out: big mistake! I should have done them, with some assistance (obvious in hindsight). So if you find something harder, make sure you do it!! but with a toe on a chair, or one hand on a better hold/easier grip, or use a pulley or bungee to support some weight. All covered in the articles of course, but not the same as experiencing it.

I switched lately to max hangs as I wanted to focus on strength; for me that's 4-8 second hangs with 15-60s rest between them, repeated about 4-6 times for that grip. I picked up somewhere that if the hang is over 8s you should make it harder, and I now add 10kg for the 3 & 4 finger open-handed grips (seems ok though I was nervous about injuries with this). I stop as soon as the hang times are below my first hang time for 2 hangs in a row. Then I move onto the next grip.

I'd say I can definitely notice the difference in my climbing now, and in fact I noticed the difference within a month. I think this is largely due to recruitment improvement, and it will probably slow down. V5 feels like it will become a regular occurrence very soon, from feeling almost untouchable 6 months ago - I'm happy with that.

Warm up is very very important AFAIK. Never less than 30 minutes of bouldering for me. I've started doing a sub-maximal set of pullups on jugs and a couple of easy 10 second hangs on holds I find easy too. I think this is the single biggest problem with fingerboarding at home. If I was doing this I'd either do 15-20 minutes of running (light sweat) or circuits (press ups, burpees, bodyweight squats, core work like situps).

I'd say don't worry about pinches to start, focus on 4 fingers open, 3 fingers open, sloper, half crimp. Like weight-lifting, it seems if you concentrate on the big few and do quality work, then the other stuff just comes along a bit too - at least at the starter level.

Lastly, I'd echo what others have said: get Dave Mac's book "9/10 climbers" - it's worth every penny.
Paul Crusher R - on 06 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus: Have a read of this... there are some ideas and suggestion for using a finger board. 6 months is quite soon but it depends on your age really... over 18 and youre just as well building strength on a board than thrashing around on holds in a wall..
Kieran_John - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus:

Do you climb with anyone better than you? I've levelled off now but I found massive improvements when I climbed with someone a bit better than me. It pushed me to try things, it also gave me hints on how to get up something best.

Even just climbing with someone different and watching how they move can help.

You're in my area it seems and judging by your grades I'm certainly not a better climber than you (I'd say I climb v4 usually indoor, pushing to the occasion v5 and about v0 outdoor!!), however just climbing with someone different can really help.

I generally climb at City Bloc a few times a week on my own and then The Leeds Wall on a Monday night with friends. You're more than welcome to come along at any time if you like?

I'm happy to change it up and boulder at The Depot/Rokt, etc too.

And if it's nice there's plenty out and about now the nights are getting brighter.
Kieran_John - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to Kieran_John:

::quick edit:: About 9 out of 10 climbers, I've a copy you can borrow if you like? I've read through it and enjoyed it but likely won't be leafing through it again any time soon.
geebus - on 08 Feb 2013
Cheers for the thoughts all.

Climbing on Wednesday I made an effort to concentrate on technique more - when I've made the effort to get over there and pay, somehow it feels like I SHOULD be doing new climbs.

I tried climbing easier climbs with just the middle three fingers (thought I'd read that on here, seems not), as well as a bit harder using open hand but all four fingers - and practising 'quiet feet'.
Could 'feel it' more the day after, so hopefully has helped.

I'll drop you a message Kieran, cheers.
But yes, do generally climb with people better than me - and happy to talk to random people I see doing a problem better too. Annoyingly in some cases I 'work out' a problem, but can't actually do it - while someone else will try the technique I suggest and send it!
geebus - on 09 Feb 2013
After yesterday's session, I think I've decided that more training isn't the answer this second - and maybe a bit of rest is needed.
Going to give it a good few days rest, rather than the usual maximum of two.

Have been hitting my body reasonably hard, doing squats/bench/dead light/weighted pulls ups* three times a week too.

*Only just started them, so only on 8kg.
mick.h on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to geebus:

My recommendation is don't. I used to train regularly on a fingerboard, resulting in increased finger strength, and climbing at least one full trad grade harder..... also elbow tendonitis on both sides, cortisone injection, and next month an arthroscopy on my arthritic left elbow joint which will mean weeks off exercising it hard.

I also used to do pull ups with 20kg and one-armers which have doubtlessly
contributed to the damage.

I'd say that technique and flexibilty are way more important than strength. I know female climbers who are much, much better than me, i doubt that they bench or deadlift ever.

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