I'm thinking of doing this for a month to get into a routine and concentrate fully on finger strength and shoulder engagement, then get back to the wall hoping to see an improvement. Sensible idea?
> Sensible idea?
given the skill based nature of climbing, in general the answer would be ‘no’. The general guidance seems to be that 70-80% of climbing training should be actual climbing. But seeing (from your profile) that you’ve been climbing for a decent amount of time, have you identified finger strength as a particular weakness? Will this be best remedied by fingerboarding, rather than short steep board problems? Are you planning to supplement your fingerboarding with outdoor climbing?
> given the skill based nature of climbing, in general the answer would be ‘no’. The general guidance seems to be that 70-80% of climbing training should be actual climbing. But seeing (from your profile) that you’ve been climbing for a decent amount of time,
Indeed, 40 years plus
> have you identified finger strength as a particular weakness?
Yes, they used to be stronger when I was younger (and lighter)
> Will this be best remedied by fingerboarding, rather than short steep board problems?
No idea, hence the question
> Are you planning to supplement your fingerboarding with outdoor climbing?
Not much in late Oct / Nov
What are your aims, routes or boulders? Do you do a lot of bouldering as part of your wall sessions currently? How many sessions do you have time for a week?
my aims are trad and sport routes, I don't boulder outside, usually 3 wall sessions a week, limited by recovery more than spare time, generally alternate between boulder wall circuit board sessions and auto-belay routes at or near my grade limit after good warm up.
If you can, stick with the wall but just boulder, no routes. Try stuff close to your limit. 5mins rests between decent burns, vary the style throughout the session.
I've done loads of fingerboarding, but mainly because there were no good walls near home. It definitely helped, but the biggest gains I had for years were when a friend built a steep woody near my house. Nothing trumps steep fingery bouldering
> If you can, stick with the wall but just boulder, no routes. Try stuff close to your limit. 5mins rests between decent burns, vary the style throughout the session.
> Nothing trumps steep fingery bouldering
indeed, my high point was when I used to train at the Broughton Wall, now demolished. It’s hard to find similar training at modern walls
I agree when what Ged has said here, if you have 3 sessions, maybe 2 concentrating on hard bouldering and one fitness session of your choice. If you’re still not seeing the improvements in finger strength that to think you need after a couple of months of this then maybe consider introducing some fingerboarding.
It's hard to comment without knowing your age, regardless of experience. It also depends on how hard you envisage addressing the fingerboard due to the effects of neural adaptation.
I would, with 20 years plus experience ignore the preset sessions on the BM app. Why? Because you know your strengths and weaknesses, therefore are well placed to know what needs addressing. Maybe use a preset session occasionally as a test base but no more.
As you acknowledge the need for quality recovery time, if doing hard fingerboarding, continue climbing but not hard. Concentrate on movement, technique, footwork etc. Again, the effects of neural adaptation become more important with age.
Forgot to mention, sports science reports that a 6 week cycle is most effective for maximum gains, so perhaps something to swat up on?
Seems a bit reclusive. Best part of climbing is seeing your mates, dry humping a sit start, wobbling up something you wouldn’t have normally managed without the abuse and banter ;-)
I’m 61 so training is arguably managing decline rather than advancement but I would like to get back towards my highpoint of 7b or E4/5. If only to be able to climb routes I haven’t already done at my favourite crags Gogarth, Pembroke, Snowdonia etc. (Alex this is where I enjoy craic with my mates rather than at a wall) I haven’t been climbing much this year due to other commitments but would like to get fit for next year when I will have a lot more time. When training indoors on routes or circuits it is lack of finger strength ( size of holds I can latch and steepness) which stop me. Hence I want to focus on training this aspect to get me off a plateau
I’m 60 next year, so similar vintage and grades. I’ve cut down on going to the wall, and concentrate more on sessions on a Beastmaker and on a 30 degree board I’ve got at home. The board is good for core too, particularly if you fit poor footholds.
Miraculously, at the wall and outside my grades are improving. For me, I think that after a while, you intrinsically know how to climb. Some coaching can always help here, but the biggest gains always come from stronger fingers and core, particularly working contact strength on slopers. Just take it easy building up board training, strengthening tendons to cope with increased loads takes a long time.
Thanks Paul that’s really helpful. I’ll dust the cobwebs off my Beastmaker. A 30 degree board wouldn’t be practical at home but the 30 degree ish circuit boards at Sheffield’s Depot are really good
> but the 30 degree ish circuit boards at Sheffield’s Depot are really good
No circuits, we are concentrating on POWER! I’m assuming Paul has seen improvements from working and completing short hard problems on his board. I reckon there must be a load of options for training boards at Depot Sheffield where you can do similar routines?
If he’s up for it maybe you could train with Paul on his 30 degree board! Sounds like you could be training partners to your mutual benefit. In the same spirit if you fancy popping over to mine one evening I can run through the things I’ve found has worked with fingerboarding.
>" I’ll dust the cobwebs off my Beastmaker."
From cobwebs to 3 times a week sounds like a recipy for disaster.
I think long repeater sessions 3 times a week would likely bugger you. Max hangs might be more sustainable 3x a week but I'd not want to launch into lots of max hang workouts without building up via some repeater sessions. Max hangs don't take long to do so I would always be inclined to combine it with other stuff at least at maintainance effort levels otherwise you are allowing good time to go to watse.
Conventional wisdom says there are no one month shortcuts with fingerboarding; it's a long game.
I'd suggest you first blow off the cobwebs with bodyweight reapeaters once a week for six weeks then move on to the 3x a week max hangs for six weeks.
> No circuits, we are concentrating on POWER! I’m assuming Paul has seen improvements from working and completing short hard problems on his board. I reckon there must be a load of options for training boards at Depot Sheffield where you can do similar routines?
Depending on where you're at strengthwise the boards at the Depot (Manchester anyway) are pretty unforgiving and possible a bit demoralising. I find you can use the circuit boards (particularly the steep one) pretty effectively for 'board style training' either by working short sections of the hard circuits or by making up problems.
I've had some improvement from fitting in some fingerboard sessions plus some 'conditioning' type work (weighted pull ups, dips , raised feet press-up etc). Though I am 9 years younger than Kev and am still well on the weak for your sports grade side of things.
I would reiterate what Ian said regarding conditioning. The benefits of being in general good shape, not just climbing fit become more important as we are able to get away with less than the youths.
Also, spend £10-20 on therabands, resistance bands. If you consider fingerboarding and board work as taking money out of the bank then a few repair sessions (can be done in front of TV etc) are like paying the bill's. Again, with age related performance, this will get you further down the road and make you feel better physically and psychologically.
It's great to know there's some old farts still pushing it with training etc.
From a relativel nipper in his 50's
Can only comment from personal, anecdotal experience so take this as you will. Have been finding it impossible to get to the wall for work and family related reasons. Put up a Beastmaker in the garage, started using their app for repeater sessions (7 seconds on, 2 off x 7 with a couple of minutes rest between 6 reps, 2 sets) and then came across MacLeod’s vlog on using for max finger strength hangs (7-10 second maximal hang with a minute rest or so x 15 tops) and have been alternating between them.
Was wary of overloading at first but if you’re careful and respect that you are training hard I think you are less likely to injure yourself in this environment as it is controlled loading. Much more likely to hurt yourself on snatchy, dynamic moves on crap holds.
I have seen a measurable increase in finger strength (based on added weight I can hang with on the same hold type) and this has translated into a good summer/ autumn. Felt strong and was surprised to climb what would have been the upper end of my grade range before (7A+) in short order. Managed to climb a 7B, which has been a long term goal too. Very happy with outcomes, although I do miss the wall and repeater training is definitely less fun and probably less effective than circuits on a board. Also means you can put in some quality strength training in short sessions (45 minutes tops) which is beneficial.
some tips -
warm up properly, especially doing a fair amount of easy hangs and allowing your connective tissue to stretch out
take your time to work up to figuring out what a max strength hang is: better to be conservative and add up rather than overload
put up some inspirational posters and put together some good playlists!
Watch the Macleod fingerboarding video on YouTube
Thanks Tom, that’s interesting. How many days rest do you have between sessions?
Thanks Simon that’s generous! I think you’re much stronger than me so what works for you may not for me?
One or two: if i’m feeling up for it then I know i’m rested and if I’m not up for it then I know i’m tired and to do something else! Generally I think your body will tell you pretty quickly if you’re over training. Any sign of a tweak (e.g. once my wrist felt a bit weird and locked up slightly - I put this down to not allowing joint stretching sufficiently during a warm up) and I back off. If your general strength is declining as you complete sessions over weeks then you are not allowing time for adaptation. Listen to your body would be my advice.
> Thanks Simon that’s generous! I think you’re much stronger than me so what works for you may not for me?
Not sure why not and also I had very weak fingers - not so bad now. Offer is open. PM me if you want to come over.
> can I just ask on your comment re. Not using beastmaker sessions as you know your strengths/weaknesses. I wonder if the prescribed sessions would be good as they'd take you out of the training comfort zone that experience 'teaches' us?
> From a relativel nipper in his 50's
Hey, don't wish my life away, you have a year on me ;)
I think presets are ok if you're finding your way into fingerboarding and have much less actual climbing experience than someone like Kevin.
I think JLS mentioned above, use repeaters to get your body familiar with hanging in general before advancing to 1RM work, so yes, using a preset is just as good a method of doing that as anything else.
My point was that as Kevin obviously has a wealth of climbing experience in that he has used many different hold shapes over the years, he knows what his strengths and weaknesses are. The best way to improve your overall finger strength is to spend more time getting your weaknesses on a par with your strengths. With presets it's unlikely that you wouldn't waste time maintaining the strengths (which possibly far outstrip the weaknesses) when that time could be better spent.
Example: my current trip in Font was delayed, so to keep in there I did my second ever preset to maintain. I did multiples on the 4 finger edge and 2 finger pockets without fuss, but the back 2 shut me down very quickly. If I was looking to advance, the preset only offered 1 hang that would help achieve that. Specificity is key.
I hope that makes sense and apologies if reply is long winded.
> warm up properly, especially doing a fair amount of easy hangs and allowing your connective tissue to stretch out
> take your time to work up to figuring out what a max strength hang is: better to be conservative....
I second that advice 100%
Alizee Dufraisse has climbed Proa con fin mas hulk extension (9a) in the Ali Baba Cave at Rodellar. It was her 3rd 9a after ticking La Reina Mora in 2012 and Estado Critico in 2017, both at Siurana.