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fingerboarding, add more weight or use smaller holds?

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 climbercool 13 Feb 2022

90% of my fingerboarding is done with feet on the ground but using bad holds, this is my habit and i enjoy this way more.  I keep reading about people adding weight while fingerboarding.  Am i missing some training advantage  by not adding weight?

My understanding is that you would strengthen shoulders more using bigger holds but adding weight and you would strengthen fingers more if you use smaller holds.  I also realise that i very rarely fall from a route if I am on holds big enough for me to hang my whole body from, i always fall off when i have weight on my feet but the holds are so bad that I cant stay on regardless.  My training knowledge is limited so can someone  explain why i should be adding weight?

 AJM 13 Feb 2022
In reply to climbercool:

> My understanding is that you would strengthen shoulders more using bigger holds but adding weight and you would strengthen fingers more if you use smaller holds.

Your fingers will also get stronger if you use slightly larger holds with weight.

Comfort is probably a big factor. Unless you have skin like rhino hide, small crimps are painful to do max hangs on, so at the end of the day you will probably be able to do more cumulative training if it's done on more comfortable edges...

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OP climbercool 13 Feb 2022
In reply to AJM:

> Your fingers will also get stronger if you use slightly larger holds with weight.

sure but they will get stronger, but will they get as strong as if you use smaller holds.

> Comfort is probably a big factor. Unless you have skin like rhino hide, small crimps are painful to do max hangs on, so at the end of the day you will probably be able to do more cumulative training if it's done on more comfortable edges...

really???  I dont think fingerboards make holds small enough to actually hurt your skin.  I have climbed many routes where 1 or 2 tries is all i can make before my skin is gone but I have never had the slightest skin pain from a fingerboard session, and i have spent a lot of time fingerboarding.  Also if you are getting pain from crimps why not use the slopers instead of adding weight?

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In reply to climbercool:

sure but they will get stronger, but will they get as strong as if you use smaller holds.

Not in my experience, especially if your feet are on the floor.

really???  I dont think fingerboards make holds small enough to actually hurt your skin.  I have climbed many routes where 1 or 2 tries is all i can make before my skin is gone but I have never had the slightest skin pain from a fingerboard session, and i have spent a lot of time fingerboarding.  Also if you are getting pain from crimps why not use the slopers instead of adding weight?

It gets more painful if you add weight, larger load through a small surface area, you'd crimp regardless of pain if you are training crimp strength, no benefit of training on slopers unless you're training for slopers. swapping one for the other is a completely different exercise it's like swapping a squat for a deadlift. 

At the end of the day specificity and consistency are key with training, train the grip you are trying to train and by either adding or taking weight out of the system you can ensure each session is of a consistent difficulty and therefore make progressive overloads to ensure development.

 AJM 13 Feb 2022
In reply to climbercool:

> sure but they will get stronger, but will they get as strong as if you use smaller holds.

I've not followed the research on it enough. 

> really???  I dont think fingerboards make holds small enough to actually hurt your skin.  I have climbed many routes where 1 or 2 tries is all i can make before my skin is gone but I have never had the slightest skin pain from a fingerboard session, and i have spent a lot of time fingerboarding. 

What do you define as a small hold? 

Personally, I've got some of the beastmaker micros and I wouldn't want to use the 8mm as an everyday training edge, I'd prefer the 10mm with more weight. I can't hang the 6mm, but I can't imagine many people finding them comfortable. Perhaps you have skin like rhino hide!

> Also if you are getting pain from crimps why not use the slopers instead of adding weight?

Specificity. To get stronger at crimping, you need to crimp. To get stronger open hand you need to open hand.

 RBonney 13 Feb 2022
In reply to climbercool:

I'd add weight rather than go small because supposedly using about a 20mm edge (beastmaker outside on the bottom row) with added weight gives strength benefits that transfer to smaller holds. Plus adding/taking away weight is more adjustable. Also when you get down to 6mm edges you are increasing the likely hood off popping off mid hang, which can cause finger injuries.

 AJM 13 Feb 2022
In reply to RBonney:

> 20mm edge (beastmaker outside on the bottom row)

Beastmaker 1000 outside bottom - the 2000 is different and those outside edges are smaller...

 Siderunner 13 Feb 2022

Weight is evenly distributed in a two hand hang, so 50% bodyweight on each hand. Often one hand takes more load than that in real climbing, for various obvious reasons (movement, hands not at same level, one hand on a shit hold or on a sidepull). Of course mostly some weight is on feet, but perhaps not on dynamic cruxes.

Also, bigger loads should theoretically produce a bigger hormonal response. I used to do a fair bit of single arm/leg weight training, to get more of a stability challenge. I’ve since realised that using a barbell gives bigger gains as you can manage more than twice the weight and this hits your whole system more. Same reason people nowadays prefer the big lifts over a zillion isolation exercises in weight lifting.

Eva Lopez has written a fair bit about this IIRC. One approach suggested is to alternate training cycles between min-edge-size and max-added-weight training: the best of both worlds? Adding weight is easier to incrementally adjust of course, though there is a hangboard with many incremental edge sizes (or you could just sand a millimetre off a strip of wood every month?!).

 Cake 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Siderunner:

 (or you could just sand a millimetre off a strip of wood every month?!).

Or, more cheaply, stick small removable things at the back of the holds

 Inhambane 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Cake:

lollypop sticks tapped together 

 Randy 13 Feb 2022
In reply to climbercool:

> 90% of my fingerboarding is done with feet on the ground but using bad holds, this is my habit and i enjoy this way more.  I keep reading about people adding weight while fingerboarding.  Am i missing some training advantage  by not adding weight?

Is your current approach working, i.e. are you still progressing? If yes, i would stick with your approach. But if you hitting a plateau it might be worth it to try out a different stimulus and switch to a bigger hold and add weigth.

In case you are interested in the scientific reasearch of hang boarding, here is a podcast where they discuss an Eva Lopez paper where she compared the minimum egde with added weigth approach:

https://www.powercompanyclimbing.com/blog/breakingbeta/best-hangboard-protocol

 UKB Shark 13 Feb 2022
In reply to climbercool:

Most of the finger strength gains I’ve made have been by max hangs with added weight at my limit on medium sized edges (18-22mm) mainly half crimped with a couple of drags and full crimps thrown in too. The early Eva Lopez studies seemed to show that this elicited a better finger strength gains than non weighted hangs on smaller edges.

The main issue with max hangs from my point of view is that to get the most out of them you have to be fresh enough to do them and allow enough recovery time which inevitably means compromising climbing or climbing training that I might otherwise want to do. If you feel this is the area that’s holding you back then focussing on them could be well worth it and I’m glad I did.

Currently most of my fingerboard work is a pre-climb recruitment warm up doing recruitment and speed pulls (google Tyler Nelson) as it still seems to elicit gains (or maintain a level) and doesn’t require compromising climbing sessions which typically are pretty finger intensive anyway. Also I think I’ve reached a level with max finger strength where it’s no longer holding my climbing back. 

 UKB Shark 13 Feb 2022
In reply to climbercool:

>I also realise that i very rarely fall from a route if I am on holds big enough for me to hang my whole body from, i always fall off when i have weight on my feet but the holds are so bad that I cant stay on regardless.  

 

Just picking up on the above its worth questioning whether you literally can’t hang those holds or you are pumping out trying to use them or even that you aren’t making the most out of the feet due to technique/core/shoe choice. A bit of fingerboard benchmarking to compare where you are in relation to others at your grade might be useful

 Misha 13 Feb 2022
In reply to climbercool:

This is discussed in Beastmaking. The answer is broadly a bit of both but there are various considerations around that. Recommend getting a copy, it’s a good book. 

In reply to climbercool:

I don’t really see how you can be getting the maximum benefits from hangboarding if your feet are on the floor tbh. That is making the hangs dramatically easier, and just having a smaller edge isn’t going to offset that sufficiently. I’d say until you can hang a 20mm edge for 8 seconds unassisted and relatively comfortably you shouldn’t be adding more weight OR going down to smaller edges. Once you can do that, start adding weight, maybe also mixing it up with a 10mm edge with no weight. If you can’t hang a 20mm edge unassisted use a pulley system to take weight off - but feet need to be off the floor. 

Post edited at 20:30
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 UKB Shark 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Paul Sagar:

> I don’t really see how you can be getting the maximum benefits from hangboarding if your feet are on the floor tbh. That is making the hangs dramatically easier, and just having a smaller edge isn’t going to offset that sufficiently. 

It looks weird and it isn’t visually obvious that you are trying super hard when you bear down on an edge while standing on the floor but if you stand on a set of scales or use a fancy load gauge it becomes obvious that you are. Personally I still  think that you can eke out the best scores  by adding weight but others disagree.

In reply to UKB Shark:

Fair enough I guess there are many routes to getting results - I just wonder if the OP is really using scales or a fancy gauge as you suggest. If not, I’m pretty sure letting gravity and time dictate the pain is the more fail safe method for getting stronger fingers!

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 UKB Shark 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Paul Sagar:

You don’t need to measure - just bear down  as hard as you can. 

https://www.trainingbeta.com/the-simplest-finger-training-program/

 Siderunner 14 Feb 2022
In reply to UKB Shark: “The main issue with max hangs from my point of view is that to get the most out of them you have to be fresh enough to do them and allow enough recovery time which inevitably means compromising climbing or climbing training that I might otherwise want to do. If you feel this is the area that’s holding you back then focussing on them could be well worth it and I’m glad I did.”

Great point Shark. In the online articles I have read this issue doesn’t get enough weight.

Motivated by RCTM I have been doing a phase of pure hangboarding (+ supplemental strength work). Previously I’ve often tweaked my fingers climbing when combining max hang sessions with climbing in the following days … which immediately curtails the max hang progress. Better progress this time round, and since I feel finger strength is a limiting factor for me, I’m hoping it will pay off later on the rock.

 RBonney 14 Feb 2022
In reply to AJM:

Yep, my bad. The 1000

 flaneur 14 Feb 2022

In reply to Shani:

> Using Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) can be heavily influenced by mood/arousal and other non physical factors that occlude how hard you're actually working.

Interested to know what your reference is for this. My understanding was that RPE is surprisingly valid in resistance exercise. Isometric exercise, which is what we're talking about here, showed some of the most valid results. Meta analysis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8742800/

In any case, if you're not feeling fully up for it then not trying quite so hard might be a useful protective mechanism rather than striving to achieve a particular number. 

In reply to the OP:

You've redpointed 8a+, shouldn't you be giving us advice?

In reply to flaneur:

Crikey I didn’t spot that - 8a+ is well beyond me so I’ll get back in my box now! 


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