Rock climbing needs strength and puts stress on the fingers and arms. Whether it is on natural rock formations or in the gym on artificial rock walls, sending a route requires you to be in very good shape with your whole body. You need to use arms and legs to balance each other while you find new holds and move upwards. Ideally, you would do this without ever losing balance – ideally! In reality, you will have to make up for lost balance by muscle strength, holding your body in position when shear forces try to drag you off the wall. And this is why rock climbing endurance is essential for good climbing.+
There are two types of climbers: the power climbers and the endurance climbers. Power climbers use dynamic power to climb quickly while enduring climbers take their time and have enough endurance to hold their position longer. Elite climbers are good at both, using endurance and power when needed. If you aim to increase your endurance, here are some vital tips that will improve your agility, mentality, and strength.
Keep in mind, these exercises are for climbers who already have a certain level of skill and endurance, so don’t do them if you’re brand new to climbing, and always make sure to do them fully rested. Never practice endurance when being fatigued – it’s a surefire way for finger injuries!
• Fingerboard Stretches
The finger stretch is one of the top most effective practices in training for climbers because it is very important to have a balanced finger strength-to-bodyweight ratio. To take your climbing to the next level you need to increase the force on your fingers. Fingerboard exercises build greater finger strength, pump up your arm strength and also decrease your body mass
Start with a full body warm-up by doing a few jumping jacks and stretches. Depending on the type of fingerboard you are using, practice several hanging grips. They should include jug/bucket, crimp, pinch, slopers, pockets, underlying, etc. Hold each grip for 10 seconds.
Depending on how long you hold each grip, rest for the same amount of time. Continue a set of 5 each, three times a week.
• Minimum Edge Protocol
Excessive finger stretches can be harmful to the finger tendons. Make sure to follow a routine that will sustain your motivation and push you at a stable pace and not injuring you. For this routine, you will need to use a smooth wooden or resin boards to prevent injuries. You will also require a mount or foot jibs for support if you are a beginner. To start, do 10-seconds hang and hold with maximum effort. Rest for 2 minutes and flex your arms while doing so. Continue the 10 seconds hand and 2 minutes flex for a set of 10 grips in 30 minutes. Focus on training open-crimp grip and half-crimp grip. Once you have mastered this routine and it starts to feel easy after a week or two, increase the 10 to 15 seconds. But always remember to rest and flex during the break.
• Moving Hang Protocol
Moving hang exercises means hanging and working around the fingerboard. The goal is to help you increase your arm strength plus increase finger endurance. Make sure that you have a full hand grip on the board. Then create a pattern by moving side to side or up and down, using one hand at a time. This routine also helps training to navigate a route with ease as it builds up endurance while resting – sounds silly, but often times even your rest in a route is using up the energy of the hanging arm. Follow the same cycle for several minutes and rest for 3 minutes between each pattern set. While doing so, explore different grips such as pinches and slopers. Doing several sets of this exercise for 15 minutes will not only help you build greater endurance, but also improve your movements through different terrains of climbing.
Repeaters are one of the most common and effective ways to build endurance for climbers. It mimics the relax-grip sequence of climbing boulders. You can practice the following exercise can by adding weight and limiting each set to one minute. Pick about four to seven grip types to train. They include half-crimp, open-crimp, open hand, two-finger pocket, wide or narrow pinch. Each set should comprise of 5 relax-grip intervals where you hang for 7 seconds and rest for 3 seconds. If you are practicing for maximum weight, you can also add extra weight to challenge yourself further. However, you should not add to much weight to prevent you from completing a set. Rest for 3 minutes between each set for the different grips and repeat for at least three days every week for the maximum result.
• Maximum Weight “10-13 seconds” Protocol
This exercise mostly focuses on the open-crimp and half-crimp grips. It involves hanging on a broader and more comfortable hold with an added weight that varies from 25 to 100 pounds. You will also need to invest in a good weight belt, plates, and vest. Start with a 10 to 13-second hang with maximum effort. Rest for 3 minutes and repeat set of 5 hangs. In the beginning, focus one set for the open crimp and another pack for half crimp. Once you have mastered the complete set, you can also target two-pocket or pinch grip. Make sure that the weights meet your capacity to keep the energy going.
Frenchie are one of the most common exercises often recommended for any endurance training. But unlike other endurance training drills, climbers use a large hold fingerboard instead of the conventional pull-up bar. To start, position your hand on the fingerboard at shoulder-width, a few inches above your head.
Step 1. Pull up using your best grip to your neck level and hold for five seconds.
Step 2. Slowly lower yourself with arms at a 90 degrees position and hold for 5 seconds.
Step 3. Further, lower yourself with your arms at 120 degrees and hold for another 5 seconds.
Repeat step 1 to 3 without dismounting or stopping to rest. Continue the cycle as long as you can pull up and hold the lock-in for five seconds.
Rest 5 minutes after each set and aim for five sets per workout at least three times a week.
A full-pad, flat fingerboard would be most effective in gaining maximum result for endurance climbing. But if you are a beginner, start these routines with a pull-up bar or Olympic rings. Rock climbing endurance training is not always easy, but by blending these few exercises on your daily drill with dedication, it will improve your longevity and agility to maintain a stable performance in climbing.
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Work on your rock climbing endurance and let me know if you have any other tips and protocols to follow! Also check out why you should probably spend more time in the bouldering gym.