Spanish research team experimental training protocol
Below is an experimental training protocol used in multiple studies to train maximum grip strength. These studies include:
- “The effects of a weighted dead-hang Training program on grip strength and endurance in expert climbers with different levels of strength” by E. López-Rivera and J.J. González-Badillo (2018)
- “Comparison of the effects of three hangboard training programs on maximal finger strength in rock climbers” by E. López-Rivera and J.J. González-Badillo (2016)
- “The effects of two maximum grip strength training methods using the same effort duration and different edge depth on grip endurance in elite climbers” by by E. López-Rivera and J.J. González-Badillo (2012)
Context: The latest study (2018) was on 22 climbers of different finger strength abilities who averaged an 8a (~5.13b) redpoint ability level. The researchers essentially wanted to see who benefits more from the training: a group that started at lower finger strength, or a group that started at higher finger strength. Tests included: finger strength on a 15mm edge with maximum weight added for 5 seconds, and finger endurance on an 11mm edge hang to failure.
Result: The low strength group saw a 35.78% strength increase and a 35.59% endurance increase whereas the high strength group saw a 3.69% strength (non-significant) increase and a 4.22% (non-significant) endurance decrease.
- Ensure you’re warmed up.
- Start with 3-4 progressive sets at 50%-90% of the previous session’s maximum (more progressive, structured part of the warm-up)
- Use the half-crimp on an 18mm edge.
- 3-5 sets of 10-second maximum dead hangs with 3-minute rests, two times a week for 4 weeks.
- the participants were instructed not to go to failure, but rather to keep a 3-second “reserve”.
- Each subsequent set was varied by 2-5 kg (depending on body weight) depending on how they felt about their perceived effort regarding the reserve.
- 30-minute cool-down between above training and other workouts.
- Note: these were climbers who averaged French 8a Redpoint level, were 31.5 years old with 12.2 years of climbing experience. The “Low Strength” Climbers tested at 22.71 kg +- 7.72, which is the maximum weight a climber could hold off a 15mm edge for 5 seconds.
Fun historical note: Eva’s transgression and progression hangboards are associated with this protocol.
Note1: The original study (2012) is classic and follows an experimental training protocol involving two 4-week training blocks separated by a week of strength training rest. The two groups either used a Maximum-Added Weight (MAW) approach for their first 4-weeks, followed by a Minimum-Edge Depth (MED) approach for their second 4-weeks (MAW-MED) or a reverse MED-MAW approach. Improvements in strength and endurance were greater for the MAW-MED approach but I suggest contacting Eva directly since she’s had a lot of time to refine her methods, often based on different types of climbers. Also, I recommend reading the paper as well, since there are some caveats to the improvements I mentioned.
Note2: I’ll discuss the 2016 paper in a separate entry since it’s important from the perspective of comparing two typical protocols used by climbers: maximal strength training and “repeater” (called ‘intermittent contraction’ method by Eva) training.