Exercises to keep you climbing fit at home

Exercises to keep you climbing fit at home

Your guide to Finger Strength Training at Home 

Lockdown is still amongst us but our motivation to climb hopefully remains?! This post aims to assist climbers who have invested in their own fingerboard to share safe and optimal training techniques. With or without access to a training wall, the fingerboard is a brilliant tool for strength training. 

With fingerboard training - you are training hanging, pulling, grip strength and specific holds.  The types of holds target your ability to load your finger tendons as well the muscles of the shoulder, forearm and hand. Since a targeted workout places far greater demands on the fingers and tendons, the volume and duration of these sessions are decreased. Increasing tendon strength in particular requires dedication and patience as tendons take longer to respond to training than muscles do. 

What to target

Your hangboard warm up should have both general and specific components. 

General - gets your whole body warm and mind focused for the workout ahead. 

Specific - continue to warm up and activate the muscles to meet the demands of the holds you will practice. 

The holds place high demands on the entire body and not just the finger muscles, tendons and pulleys that you will target.  

Sample Strengthening Programme:

Start with active hanging, shoulder shrugs and pull ups (assisted if necessary)

Then select 5-10 types of holds and should be sequenced from the hardest to easiest exercise (For you!) For example you can sequence the following exercises and establish your own workout. Open Crimp, Half Crimp, Shoulder Shrugs, Three Finger Pocket, Pinch Grip.

Know your crimps

It’s important to really be familiar with the crimp positions. Crimp grips are required for smaller holds and should only be used when necessary in order to prevent overuse and fatigue. When used only as required and with appropriate body mechanics, the open and half crimp can be used safely. The closed crimp position is seldom used but may be required for the smallest holds. It is harder to execute and places extreme load on the fingers and tendons.  

Injury Prevention

In order to prevent injury, it is important to set a realistic training plan that you can adhere to. The plan should incorporate fingerboard training, which is highly specific, in addition to major muscle group training. The latter should include both the agonist muscles - these are the muscles used for flexing, grabbing and pulling, in addition to the antagonist muscles - extending, lifting and pressing. The focus on opposite actions will keep the entire body strong and reduce the likelihood of overuse and repetitive injuries.

Hopefully the exercises shared in this article will  encourage your training at home and help you maintain strength until we can climb the walls again.

Ann-Marie Brennan is a climbing enthusiast and a physiotherapy student. She is in the final year of her studies and is currently completing her internship at USC fysiotherapie, location Science park. More information? Contact is via info@uscfysiotherapie.nl