Research > Research Inventory > Biomechanics: Finger Strength

An Innovative Hangboard Design to Improve Finger Strength in Rock Climbers

Authors: ML Anderson, ML Anderson, A. Sanders | Year: 2016
Summary/Results: The creators of the Rock Prodigy Training Center (RPTC) developed a new dual-mounted hangboard (RP Forge) and collected performance data in the form of an online survey.  The authors describe the introduction of three novel features, including the creation through a CAD/CAM engineering process to improve the design process, drafted pockets to improve ergonomics, and novel grip designs in order to reduce injury and create a more challenging hangboard.  Climbers who participated in the survey reported that they could push themselves harder compared to other training methods (91%) and other hangboards (86%), and had fewer overuse injuries compared to other training methods (68%) and other hangboards (70%).
Reference: Procedia Engineering, Vol 147, 2016 P. 269-274

Strength and forearm volume differences in boulderers and sport climbers

AUTHORS: Sveen, J., Stone, K., Fryer, S. | Year: 2016
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Sveen et al. measured forearm volume and maximum finger force in 10 controls, 9 sport climbers, and 9 boulderers. Boulderers had higher maximum finger force than sport climbers, who had higher force than controls, however there was no significant difference in volume – suggesting that the development of finger force may be a result of neural adaptation (building of strength through increased electrical activity in the muscles, motor unit synchronicity and firing rates, and decrease of agonist-antagonist co-activation), rather than hypertrophy (building of strength through increases in muscle).
REFERENCE: 3rd Rock Climbing Research Congress, Proceedings 2016

A novel tool and training methodology for improving finger strength in rock climbers

AUTHORS: Michael Anderson and Mark Anderson |  Year: 2015
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Research tested a new finger strength training tool, the Rock Prodigy Training Center, and its protocol, the Rock Prodigy Method using an online survey. After four weeks of training, finger strength improved by an average of 21.5%, and overall climbing improved by 2.5 letter grades on the YDS.  Other data include ability to train without fear of injury compared to other methods (85%) and other hangboards (64%).  Beta-Angel note: See Finger Strength Improvements with the Rock Prodigy Training Center Hangboard
Procedia Engineering, 112, 491-496.

Fingerboard in competitive bouldering: training effects on grip strength and endurance

AUTHORS: Jerry P.J. Medernach, Heinz Kleinöder and Helmut H.H. Lötzerich  |  Year: 2015
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Research studied the effect of a 4 week program using either a finger boarding or bouldering routine on 23 advanced male boulderers. They found that the finger boarding program significantly improved grip strength and endurance for competitive boulderers.
REFERENCE: Fingerboard in Competitive Bouldering. Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research, 29(8), 2286-2295.

Sport-specific finger flexor strength assessment using electronic scales in sport climbers

AUTHORS: Jiří Baláš, Jonáš MrskoČ, Michaela PanáČková and Nick Draper  |  Year: 2015
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers studied finger strength of various grip positions , as well as the reliability of that grip position throughout a climbing session. “Open grip” and “Closed crimp” strength ratings were found to be most closely related to self-reported climbing ability, compared to two pocket grip styles employing just two fingers.
REFERENCE: Sport-specific finger flexor strength assessment using electronic scales in sport climbers. (2016) Sports Technology.

Inventing the hand grip strength tester for climbing and determining it`s correlation coefficient with men sport climbers ability

AUTHORS: Alireza Balaghi , Amir Sarshin and Mohialdin Bahari | Year: 2014
SUMMARY/RESULTS: main goal of study was inventing a new instrument for testing hand grip strength among sport climbers and determining correlation coefficient with men sport climber’s ability. Conclusion showed high correlation between climbing ability and amount of hand grip strength.
REFERENCE: European Journal of Experimental Biology, 2014, 4(2):333-336

The effect of arm and grip position during finger flexor strength measurement in sport climbers

AUTHORS: J. Baláš, J. Kodejška, J. Mrskoč, M. Panáčková, N. Draper | Year: 2014
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers looked at the effect of different elbow and shoulder positions on grip strength. Researchers found that the most suitable positions to assess finger strength are with straight arms or slightly bent arms above the head while handgrip squeeze tests were not recommended to assess finger strength in climbers. Beta-Angel note: Phew. For a second there I was worried I would have to start doing curls with my hangboard.
REFERENCE: 2nd International Rock Climbing Research Conference, Sep 2014

Relationship between climbing specific grip techniques, hold depth and maximal finger force capacity of rock climbers

AUTHORS: A. M. Amca, S. Aritan, L. Vigouroux | Year: 2014
SUMMARY/RESULTS: This study sought to quantify maximal finger force with three different grip types (slope or open hand, half crimp, and full crimp) on four different hold depths (1 – 4cm) while pulling on the holds both (a) vertically and (b) away from the wall. Roughly, it appears as if more force can be applied to smaller holds using the full crimp grip, and more force can be applied to larger holds using the slope or open-hand grip.  This was true while pulling down and while pulling away from the wall.  Beta-Angel note: a discussion with the author noted the following finding: “While in the vertical direction, force between the half crimp and slope grip are similar, you can exert more force in more directions using the half crimp rather than the slope grip.” A possible explanation: “with the slope grip, the subjects cannot extend the wrist without slipping of the holds while with the crimp grip, it was possible to extend the wrist and exert more anteroposterior (front-to-back) forces.”  This finding may have significant implication for the requirements associated with technical positioning.
REFERENCE: 2nd International Rock Climbing Research Conference, Sep 2014

Computer connected force platform performance assessment and training tool for rock climbing

AUTHORS: F. Bourassa-Moreau, B. Bourassa-Moreau2 E. Bourassa-Moreau | Year: 2014
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers analyzed the use of a Wii balance board and performance assessment software on an endurance-specific hangboard training protocol. The researchers found that the balance board is both compatible with performance assessment software and, while the tool consistently underestimates measured effort, improves the control and prevision of training intensity.
REFERENCE: 2nd International Rock Climbing Research Conference, Sep 2014

Isometric Strength and Relative Isometric Endurance

AUTHORS: Carlson and McCraw | Year: Published online 2013
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Thirty six male college students were used to test the relationship between maximum strength of the forearm and endurance at 30, 45, 60 and 75 percent of maximum. Researchers found that the weaker subjects performed better at lighter loads than the stronger subjects.
REFERENCE: Research quarterly for exercise and sport, Volume 42, 1971 (2013?)

The effects of two maximum grip strength training methods using the same effort duration and different edge depth on grip endurance in elite climbers

AUTHORS: E. Lopez-Rivera, J.J. Gonzalez-Badillo | Year: 2012
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers measured two climbing hangboard protocols (training the use of maximum added weight first, and minimum edge depth second, vs. the opposite) in 9 experienced rock climbers broken into two groups. Results suggest that training maximum-added weight first, and minimum edge-depth second is superior to the opposite protocol.
REFERENCE: Sports Technology, Volume 5, 2012, issue 3-4: Climbing Technology

Effect of hold depth and grip technique on maximal finger forces in rock climbing

AUTHORS: A. M. Amca, S. Aritan, L. Vigouroux, E. Berton | Year: 2012
SUMMARY/RESULTS:Beta-Angel note: Possible duplicate is under review. Anyone with access?
REFERENCE: J Sports Sci. 2012;30(7):669-77

Finger load distribution in different types of climbing grips

AUTHORS: Konstantin Fuss, F., Niegl, G. | Year: 2012
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Fuss and Niegel analyzed the differences in (a) finger forces, and (b) friction in three grip types (closed crimp, open crimp, and open hand). The researchers found that the primary finger in the closed crimp was the index finger (followed in decreasing fashion by each subsequent finger in turn), and the middle finger in the open crimp and open hand positions (followed equally by index and middle). They also found that friction in the index finger in closed and open crimps are similar, and greater compared to the open handgrip.
REFERENCE: Sports Technology, Volume 5, 2012, issue 3-4.

Measuring Lifting Forces in Rock Climbing: Effect of Hold Size and Fingertip Structure

Author: R. Bourne, M. Halaki, B. Vanwanseele, J. Clarke | Year: 2011
Summary/Results: Authors looked at the relationship between the size of sandstone edges and force in 11 males and 4 females climbing between 11a and 14a.  The authors found greater amounts of pulp were associated with higher forces on the smallest edge depth, and a positive association between participant force on the smallest edge and height/reach.  Additionally, the researchers did not find an association between climber’s ability to hold shallow (2.8 and 4.3mm) and deep holds (5,8, 7.3, and 12.5mm), and climbing performance was associated the strongest with force on the two middle edges (5.8 and 7.3mm) than on the other edges (2.8, 4.3 and 12.5mm).  Beta-Angel note: “the author’s suggestion for the application of greater “pulp” to small holds has to do with deformity of the skin creating greater contact area.  Soft tissue compressive force” was calculated by dividing maximum lifting force on the 12.5mm by contact area. Finally, the authors are confused by a height / small-edge force association.  We are too.
Reference: Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 2011, 27, 40-46

Maximal resultant four fingertip force and fatigue of the extrinsic muscles of the hand in different sport climbing finger grips

AUTHORS: F. Quaine, L. Vigouroux | Year: 2004
SUMMARY/RESULTS: The authors set out to determine whether the “slope” grip or “crimp” grip resulted in different levels of fatigue during sport climbing by testing six elite sport climbers for 80% of their maximum contraction force over 20 repeated 5-second contractions and rests. The authors found that in terms of muscular fatigue, neither grip type provides any more benefit than the other.
Reference: Int J Sports Med. 2004 Nov;25(8):634-7.

Climbing-specific finger endurance: a comparative study of intermediate rock climbers, rowers and aerobically trained individuals

AUTHORS: Grant S1Shields CFitzpatrick VLoh WMWhitaker AWatt IKay JW. | Year: 2003
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers compared 9 climbers with 9 rowers and 9 aerobically leg trained athletes using Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) on a climbing-specific finger apparatus, and endurance isometric exercise using 40% MCV under three conditions: (1) sustained; (2) 6 seconds on, 4 seconds off, and (3) 18 seconds on, 12 seconds rest. Blood pressure and blood lactate (a byproduct of the body’s use of simple sugars formed in association with muscular fatigue, often associated with being “pumped”) concentration were measured. While MVC for climbers was significantly greater, there were no significant differences for any of the other tests with the exception of a significantly higher blood lactate concentration for climbers when compared against rowers. Researchers suggest that training and participation in rock climbing may result in some specific adaptations.
REFERENCE: J Sports Sci. 2003 Aug;21(8):621-30.

Finger strength does not decrease with rock climbing to the point of failure

AUTHORS: PB Watts, RL Jensen, DM Moss, JA Wagensomer | Year: 2003
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers attempted to determine whether specific finger configuration is the causative factor in climbing failure through changes in maximum finger force and engagement of forearm musculature. The study did not find that the primary cause of failure is a decrease in the ability to produce concentric finger force (as measured by pre- and post-climb finger force and maximum handgrip strength).
REFERENCE: Medicine & Science in Sports & Science, Volume 35(5) Supplement 1, May 2003 P 264.
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A reliable and valid strength measurement of the crimp grip in rock climbing

AUTHOR: D.M. Binney | Year: 2002
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Study used a specialized dynamometer, or hand-grip measurement tool, to test finger strength in order to present a standard measure of the climbing crimp grip. The researchers suggested that their dynamometer is a reliable test for climbers.
REFERENCE: Binney DM. 2nd Int Conf Sci Tech Climbing & Mountaineering, April 2002.

Grip Strength and Endurance in Rock Climbers

AUTHORS: A Cutis and S R Bollen | Year: 1993
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Pinch and whole hand grip strength and endurance was compared between competition climbers and non-climbers of the same age, sex, and physique. While climbers had more finger strength, researchers found no evidence that strength in hands alone correlates with success other than the suggestion that pinch grip strength increased with the length of climbing experience.
REFERENCE: Cutis, Bollen, Proceedings of the institution of mechanical engineers, Vol 207, issue 2, (1993)

Effect of habitual knuckle cracking on hand function

AUTHOR: Castelanos, Axelrod  |  Year: 1990
SUMMARY/RESULTS: 300 patients screened for knuckle cracking along with a number of other variables. No correlation identified with arthritus, however, correlation identifies with lower grip strength, likelihood of family members doing it, smoking, drinking alcohol, and biting nails.
REFERENCE: Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 1990; 49: 308-309

Effect of the finger position on maximal fingertip force and fatigue of the extrinsic muscles of the hand during a simulated rock climbing gripping exercise

AUTHORS: F. Quaine, L. Vigouroux, N. Termoz, P. Portero | Year: unknown
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers measured the force of three maximal isometric finger flexion contractions in two different grip styles: crimp grip and slope grip. Quaine et al. found that the force applied as a result of the different grip styles was not significant suggesting that the use of the different grip types matters not on force but on the characteristics of the hold (size and shape). They also found that repetitive contractions decrease fingertip force and that the finger position does not affect fatigue rate.
Reference: Unknown.