Research > Research Inventory > Biomechanics: Repeaters (intermittent contractions)

Comparison of the effects of three hangboard strength and endurance programs on grip endurance in sport climbers

Authors: E. López-Rivera, J.J. González-Badillo | Year: 2019
Summary/Results: The researchers compared the effects of three different Hangboard training programs on grip endurance in advanced sport climbers (7c+/8a mean climbing ability). The three programs tested were MaxHangs (4 weeks of maximum added weight dead-hangs followed by 4 weeks of minimum edge dead-hangs), IntHangs (8 weeks of intermittent dead-hangs on minimum edge depth), and Max_IntHangs (4 weeks of maximum added weight dead-hangs followed by 4 weeks of IntHangs). Strength and endurance testing was performed at week 0, week 5, and week 9. The results showed a significant improvement in grip endurance for the IntHangs group after 4 weeks (25.2%) and after 8 weeks (45%), as well as the MaxHangs group after 8 weeks (34.1%). The Max_IntHangs group did not show a significant improvement in grip endurance. Main conclusion: IntHangs are very effective for improving grip endurance, but MaxHangs are also effective. Notes: Interesting that a strength-based program (MaxHangs) showed a 34% increase in grip endurance, but also interesting that it is 17% higher than what the researchers showed in a previous study. This previous study was performed with more advanced sport climbers (8a+/8b mean climbing ability).  Contributing Beta-Angel (Connor Davis) note: lower level sport climbers may be better off using the MaxHangs protocol as they can significantly improve small-hold grip endurance while also improving maximum strength.
Reference: J Hum Kinet, 66, 183.
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The determination of finger flexor critical force in rock climbers

Author: D. Giles, JB Chidley, N. Taylor, O. Torr, J. Hadley, T. Randall, S. Fryer | Year: 2018
Summary/Results: The authors studied the applicability of a new measurement tool called “critical force” in 11 climbers who climb roughly 7b – 8b+ (5.12b – 5.14a).  The authors used a series of three measurements taken at 80%, 60%, and 45% of each climber’s maximum force (MVC calculated on a 20mm edge for 7 seconds) using a 7 second on, 3 second rest protocol until failure.  These three measurements allowed the researchers to calculate “critical force” (the threshold for being able to sustain work at “a certain intensity” – see note) and W’ (the duration of sustainable work above the threshold).  Beta-Angel note: The excellence of the “critical force” concept needs some explanation.  It is best described in an article by Poole et al. (2016): it basically serves as an indicator of systemic fatigue during high-intensity exercise.  The two concepts (CF and W’) show how long “severe” high-intensity exercise can be sustained.  “Severe” intensity exercise is defined as a second threshold separating “heavy” and “severe” intensities and sits above the typical “lactate” threshold which separates “moderate” from “heavy” intensities.  During severe intensity, oxygen consumption rises continuously to its maximum level, oxygen delivery limits the ability of cells to convert energy from nutrients, energy reserves near depletion, blood lactate increases to exhaustion, as well as other indicators of fatigue.
Reference: International Journal of Sports Phsyiology and Performance, December 2018

The effect of cold ambient temperatures on climbing-specific finger flexor performance

AUTHORS: K.C. Phillips, B. Noh, M. Gage, T. Yoon  |  Year: 2016
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers tested the effect of cold and neutral ambient temperatures on the maximum finger strength and finger endurance until failure of 12 rock climbers averaging 5.10c redpoint.  Cold conditions appear to matter less for maximum finger strength than they do for holding on for longer periods.
REFERENCE: 3rd Rock Climbing Research Congress. Proceedings 2016, Telluride, CO

Evaluating the Rock Prodigy Training Method

AUTHORS: Michael L. Anderson1, Mark L. Anderson  |  Year: 2016
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Authors collected performance data from 118 climbers through an online survey. 69% of respondents indicated they followed 75% of the rock prodigy method, and a mean gain from all respondents of 26.1 lbs per grip after one training season and 38.3 lbs per grip after multiple seasons with 95.3% of respondents suggesting they had improve in climbing itself.
REFERENCE: 3rd Rock Climbing Research Congress. Proceedings 2016, Telluride, CO

Finger Strength Improvements with the Rock Prodigy Training Center Hangboard

AUTHORS: Michael L. Anderson, Mark L. Anderson  |  Year: 2016
SUMMARY/RESULTS: The researchers collected training data from 118 users who had trained with the researchers specially-designed hangboard based on design goals of ergonomics, reduction in skin stress, reduction in unused material, and increase in the specificity to rock holds. The survey indicated that training using the researcher’s hangboard increased finger strength by 32% and red point ability by 1.35 Yosemite decimal system letter grades. Self-report data also suggests the potential for reductions in injury using the specially-designed hangboard. Beta-Angel note: 32% and 1.35 YDS improvement? Helpful to know.
REFERENCE: 3rd Rock Climbing Research Congress. Proceedings 2016, Telluride, CO

Comparison of the Effects of Three Hangboard Training Programs on Maximal Finger Strength in Rock Climbers

AUTHORS:  E. López-Rivera, J. J. González-Badillo  |  Year: 2016
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers studied the impact of three hangboard protocols across 8 weeks on 26 climbers climbing approximately 13a/b. The protocols involved low volume, maximum added weight with long rests, high volume with submaximal intensity and low rest, and a combination. The results favor the low volume, maximum added weight with long rests protocol. Beta-Angel note: low rest for the submaximal intensity group? I’d be so pumped…
REFERENCE: 3rd Rock Climbing Research Congress. Proceedings 2016, Telluride, CO

Effect of interval bouldering on hanging and climbing time to exhaustion

AUTHORS: Jerry Prosper Medernach, Heinz Kleinöder and Helmut Heinz Hermann Lötzerich  |  Year: 2015
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers studied the impact of two training types (interval bouldering and conventional bouldering) over 4 weeks on 24 elite boulderers. Research found that interval boulder training was more effective at increasing intermittent finger hanging and climbing time to exhaustion than conventional bouldering.
REFERENCE: Effect of interval bouldering on hanging and climbing time to exhaustion. (2016). Sports Technology.

Haemodynamic kinetics and intermittent finger flexor performance in rock climbers

AUTHORS: S Fryer, L Stoner, A Lucero, T Witter, C Scarrott, T Dickson, M Cole, N Draper  |  Year: 2015
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers attempted to determine whether blood flow or a muscle’s ability to use oxygen is more important to climbing performance by assessing intermittent contractions to failure, as well as the different phases of finger contraction, in 38 climbers of different abilities. Researchers attribute the greater rate of force across the different phases of contraction in elite climbers as due to greater blood delivery, enhanced oxygen recovery during release, and a superior ability of the muscle to use oxygen.
REFERENCE: Int J Sports Med. 2015 Feb;36(2):137-42.

Physiological determinants of climbing-specific finger endurance and sport rock climbing performance

AUTHORS: Macleod, Sutherland, Buntin, Whitaker, Aitchison, Watt, Bradley, Grant  |  Year: 2007
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers aimed to understand the determinants of endurance in sport rock climbing using intermediate rock climbers and non-climbers on a climbing-specific apparatus. Maximum voluntary contraction was identified, and two isometric endurance tests performed at 40% of MVC, (1) continuous contraction, and (2) intermittent using 10 s, 3 s activity / rest ratio. Muscle blood oxygenation and muscle blood volume were recorded in the flexor digitorum superficialis using near infra-red spectrosocopy.   Climbers were better at the intermittent but not continuous test. Recovery of forearm oxygenation during rest phases (intermittent test) explained 41.1% of variability. Researchers conclude that muscle re-oxygenation during rest phases is a predictor of endurance performance.
REFERENCE: Journal of Sports Sciences, Volume 25, 2007

Finger flexors fatigue in trained rock climbers and untrained sedentary subjects

AUTHORS: Quaine F1Vigouroux LMartin L.   |  Year: 2003
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Researchers tested 10 elite climbers against 10 non-climbers using a finger strength endurance exercise whereby participants reached 80% of maximum finger force followed by a 5 second activity, 5 seconds rest ratio until failure. Expert climbers both had higher fingertip force (420 +/- 46 N vs. 342 +/- 56 N) and also were able to maintain more repetitions (19 vs. 12).
REFERENCE: Int J Sports Med. 2003 Aug;24(6):424-7.

Physiological adaptations in sport rock climbers

AUTHORS:  RA Ferguson, MD Brown.   |  Year: 1999
SUMMARY/RESULTS: Authors measured handgrip force, forearm blood flow and arterial blood pressure during sustained (one continuous contraction) and intermittent (5 seconds on, 2 seconds off) handgrip exercise in five experienced male sport climbers and ten sedentary non-climbers. Authors found no difference in contraction force between climbers and non-climbers on a non-climbing specific apparatus, nor did they find a difference in sustained isometric endurance time – however, climbers were able to continue their intermittent contractions for twice as long as sedentary subjects. Rise in blood pressure was significantly lower in rock climbers.
REFERENCE: International Conference on Science and Technology in Climbing and Mountaineering, 1999 Leeds, UK.