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Old 04-21-2008, 06:16 AM   #1
Al Bulkley
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grip / forearm training for rock climbing

In the past, I've dabbled lightly in rock climbing from time to time, never doing it enough to really get proficient or develop some of sport-specific fitness attributes of a real climber. This fall however, I hope to finally start climbing regularly and, of course, want to be as prepared, fitness-wise, as possible.

Anyway, when I've climbed before, whether outdoors or indoors, my grip/forearm strength has always been a severely limiting factor. I realize that much of this is due to my poor technique, and that simply climbing more will probably remedy both the strength and tenchnique deficits.

In the meantime, however, I was looking for suggestions on any exercises that I can incorporate that will help build strength and endurance in my hands, wrists, and forearms.

Unfortunately, I don't have anywhere to rope climb, but I am thinking about putting together a campus board to do some of my pullups on.

Any more suggestions on things I can incoporate into my workouts that might help?

Thanks!
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Old 04-21-2008, 06:40 AM   #2
Skylar Cook
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Re: grip / forearm training for rock climbing

You really just need to climb more. Yes, your grip will be a limiting factor when you start off, but it'll quickly improve by just climbing. If you specifically train your grip initially, it'll allow you to get away with a lot of bad techniques that you'll have to overcome later. While you could pay special attention to technique every time you climb in addition to training your grip, most beginners (including myself) are more likely to revert to trying to "bull up" a wall as they fatigue. If you just climb more, you'll be forced to develop better techniques which will benefit you in the long run.
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Old 04-21-2008, 07:14 AM   #3
Lewis Dunn
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Re: grip / forearm training for rock climbing

Skylar’s point about beginners getting away with bad technique by using strength is a valid one, I think, but that is an issue of discipline and not an inevitable outcome. If you have found hand strength to be a “severely limiting factor,” I would strongly recommend extra training (assuming you are not climbing frequently). There’s not a rock climber anywhere, beginner or expert, who would say no to having greater hand/grip/finger strength for fear that it would lead them to bad technique. IF you have the discipline to always focus on improving your technique, then more hand strength in climbing is always a huge plus.

As far as how to train that strength, you’d be better off going to some climbing-specific sites than this one. There are a ton of them . Start with googling something like “grip strength climbing” and go from there. Pay close attention to any warnings about overtraining and finger injuries. Lots of finger training techniques for rock climbers (including those using campus boards and finger boards) can be overdone and result in injuries that will keep you off the walls for quite some time. Don’t rush it, and don’t add much (or any) extra training at all if you are climbing frequently. Especially as a beginner, you’ll be getting enough strength work just from your climbing if you do enough of it.

And having said that training your finger and grip strength would be a good idea for you, I’d agree completely that the best time you can spend right now is actually climbing and improving your technique.
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Old 04-21-2008, 11:48 AM   #4
Scott Ponte
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Re: grip / forearm training for rock climbing

They gave you general and now I'll give you specific!

www.gripboard.com (safe) excellent site for improving grip strength

www.ironmind.com (safe) excellent grip site

Dyna-Flex Powerball is a great forearm/wrist endurence developer and is also good for warming up the hands.

Gripping is a sport all unto its own and there are many different types of "hand health" strengths. Grip, full hand crushing, outward, pinching etc. While it may all seem the same to the average dude, its all different.

I'm also a begining climber and I noticed my forearms really tire out and burn. The Dyna-Flex ball helped alot for that. Grippers for grip strength would help your full hand and finger tip strength and I would also reccomend pinch strength.

A good exercise for pinch strength is taking 2 plates (5's, 10's). Placing them together and pinching them on a smooth portion of the plate. Don't let your fingertips hook onto any protrustions, you want to actively engage your grip. Like so...
http://www.beastskills.com/plate%20pinch.jpg (safe)

Thing to remeber regarding grip "devices". Your hands for the most part get thier power from you forearm muscles, your hands are controlled by tendons and ligaments that are linked to muscles in your forearm, so just keep thatin mind.

Hope this helps!
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:41 PM   #5
Will Armstrong
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Re: grip / forearm training for rock climbing

i use a campus board for both grip and power throws. campus has improved my grip for climbing DRASTICALLY. i train once or twice a week max on the board to prevent finger injury.

http://photos-a.ak.facebook.com/phot...55984_9071.jpg
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:45 PM   #6
Karin Jonczak
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Re: grip / forearm training for rock climbing

Climb more... in my experience its about the only thing that helps with grip strength because the grip required is sooo specific.

That being said, doing more PU's and hanging on the bar at your rest will help... and the worst pump I have felt in a long time was the 21,15,9 touch and go cleans we did a while back (where you could NOT put the bar down within the set).... so multiple things with the bar hanging will probably help too.

best of luck!!

Karin
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:46 PM   #7
Karin Jonczak
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Re: grip / forearm training for rock climbing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Armstrong View Post
i use a campus board for both grip and power throws. campus has improved my grip for climbing DRASTICALLY. i train once or twice a week max on the board to prevent finger injury.
I don't believe ANY beginner should touch a campus board... it is (IMO) MUCH to hard on the tendons for someone who does not have a solid climbing base (and I mean OVER 2 years of solid climbing)... but then I am 'old' and don't like being hurt either ;-)

Karin
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Old 04-21-2008, 02:13 PM   #8
Gregory L. Johnson
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Re: grip / forearm training for rock climbing

More specifically, on the Ironmind site is John Brookfield's Grip Tips. There are enought training tips there to keep you busy for a long time.

You may also want to go buy Crossfit Journal #66 for the article "You Can't Lift What You Can't Hold On To".

If you are doing Crossfit then you are working with barbells and kettlebells which should be helping you out with your grip and building tendon strength.
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:03 PM   #9
Mark E. Wallace
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Re: grip / forearm training for rock climbing

Another thought on this is that grip in climbing doesn't always involve grabbing. Specifically, if you're crack climbing, then you're doing plenty of finger and hand jams, all of which involve forearm and finger strength/endurance.

With that in mind, anything requiring making a hard fist and sustaining it for a prolonged period would seem beneficial to me. Same with individual and paired fingers.

- Mark
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:33 PM   #10
John Milgram
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Re: grip / forearm training for rock climbing

Farmer's Walks. Here's a cheapster's setup:
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