How to Improve Grip Strength for Rock Climbing

How to Improve Grip Strength for Rock Climbing

During the early days of rock climbing as a sport/hobby, training was essentially non-existent. Climbers would simply climb…

However, as the sport progressed, competition stiffened, and challenges became more difficult, the prevalence of training became more commonplace.

Grip strength in rock climbing differs greatly from general grip strength. In rock climbing, athletes rely greatly on their finger strength. The margin for error is so small, often times their grip is being held onto by the tips of their fingers! It’s an incredible feat…

You can imagine then, that improving one’s grip strength in preparation for climbing is not only important for the betterment of performance, but for their safety in general.

If you’re a rock climber and you’re looking to find ways to improve your grip strength, OR you’re just someone generally interested in the subject, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll review how to improve grip strength for rock climbing, rock climbing grip strength tools, and what a typical training regimen looks like for these athletes.

Let’s “climb” right into it.

The Importance of Training Grip

If you’ve seen the documentary “Free Solo”, you should have a general understanding of the importance of being prepared for any and all climbing endeavors. The circumstances are unpredictable and the consequences can be fatal.

If you haven’t seen the documentary and you’re curious as to the importance of grip strength in rock climbing, here are a few things to consider:

• The margins of error are so small, finger strength is essential
• Depending on the length of endeavor, grip strength can translate into endurance.
• Recovery. Well-trained fingers and strong grip bold well for a fast recovery.

In rock climbing, you can never be over-prepared. The stronger the grip, the more equipped you are for dealing with unforeseen circumstances. The stronger the grip, the more reliable you can be on your abilities. The stronger the grip, the more confidence you’ll have up on the rocks.

All of these physical and psychological advantages are key to a successful climb.

Rock Climbing Grip Strength Tools

The tools used to train grip strength for rock climbing will highly depend on your talent, skill, ability, and experience levels.

If you’re a beginner to the sport, simply training at rock climbing gyms to practice form and general strength is likely your best option. This method is called “bouldering”. It’s generally safe, it provides a means to practice rock climbing, and will indirectly improve your starting grip strength.

If you’re looking for tools and training methods to improve your grip strength outside of rock climbing itself, below are a few tools that could help.

• Hang Board
• The Block
• PowerFingers & Hand Grippers

Hang Boards

Rock climbing training boards, also known as hangboards, are a fantastic way to improve your grip strength.

Hang boards are essentially next-level pull up bars. Unlike pull up bars, however, hang boards consist of a number of small holes and ledges that only the tips of your fingers can grip.

Hang board training for rock climbing is largely exercising the finger-flexor muscles in your forearms. Simply mount a hang board to a wall in your home, and get to work! It’s super convenient, and it’s extremely effective.

If you’re new to the utilization of a hang board, start slow. Jumping into an intensive hang board regimen can result in injured tendons and battered fingers.

Begin with a regimen consisting of a warm-up, and 3-5 sets of a comfortable rep scheme of timed-hangs AND pull-up variations. Progress accordingly by adding difficulty and volume over time.

The Block

The block is an effective grip-strength tool with a similar construction to the hang board. It consists of several finger holes and ledges, and is connected by a pulley.

Simply connect the pulley to the weight of your choice and lift away! The idea here is to pick up weights and hold the tension for as long as possible. Progressively add weight and duration in order to gradually improve finger strength.

The results are impressive!

PowerFingers

While rock climbing is highly complex and unpredictable, the act itself is largely repetitive. You work the same muscles and use the same movement patterns.

This can result in under-working opposing muscles that may not get enough attention. The PowerFingers fixes this.

This tool is a simple band that wraps around your fingers. Simply spread your fingers wide and flex the antagonistic musculature in a rep-scheme of your choice. This allows you to not only exercise the gripping muscles, but also the opposing muscles so that you’re a more well-rounded climber.


Sources

https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a25834296/alex-honnold-free-solo-grip-strength/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527913/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5260593/

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