Conference PaperPDF Available

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



The effect of three dead-hang training programs, each comprising two 4-week cycles, over strength improvement measured by maximum added weight borne while hanging off a 15 mm edge, was studied in three groups of sport climbers with a sport level of 7c+/8a. The group that performed lower-volume sessions of maximal repetitions with complete pauses (n=11) experienced greater improvement than the group doing a medium-volume of submaximal dead-hangs with incomplete rest (n=8) and the group that combined both methods (n=7).
Comparison of the Effects of Three Hangboard
Training Programs on Maximal Finger Strength in
Rock Climbers.
E. López-Rivera1 & J. J. González-Badillo2
1Club Vertical, Toledo, Spain
2Faculty of Sport Sciences, Pablo de Olavide University, Seville, Spain
Summary The effect of three dead-hang training programs, each
comprising two 4-week cycles, over strength improvement measured by
maximum added weight borne while hanging off a 15 mm edge, was studied
in three groups of sport climbers with a sport level of 7c+/8a. The group that
performed lower-volume sessions of maximal repetitions with complete
pauses (n=11) experienced greater improvement than the group doing a
medium-volume of submaximal dead-hangs with incomplete rest (n=8) and
the group that combined both methods (n=7).
Climbing requires a high level of finger strength to maintain the grip on handholds.
Hanging off the fingertips is the method most frequently used by climbers to
develop grip strength. When prescribing a training program, the volume, intensity
and recovery variables are determinant for its effects. Traditionally there have been
two methods that climbers used: one based on low volume, high intensity and
complete pauses, and other, commonly known as “repeaters” with moderate to high
volume, submaximal intensity and incomplete recovery. Despite their popularity, no
scientific study had compared the effects of both methods over strength development
to this date.
Comparing the effect on strength development of three dead-hangs training
programs, comprised of two 4-week phases each: group 1 used low volume,
maximal loads and complete pauses (LvMax-LvMax), group 2 employed medium
volume, submaximal loads and incomplete pauses (MvSub-MvSub) and group 3
combined both methods (LvMax-MvSub).
The hangboard with adjustable wooden edge described and validated by López-
Rivera & González-Badillo (2012) [1] was used for both dead hang training and
finger strength testing. The finger strength test (ST) consisted in hanging off a 15-
mm deep edge for 5 seconds with maximum added weight. Once the initial
strength test was completed (ST1), twenty six climbers (average of French 7c+/8a
redpoint level, 31.7 years old and 11.7 years of climbing experience) were
randomly assigned to one of three training groups: the LvMax-LvMax group used
the most effective program in terms of maximal strength in the previously cited
study [1], 8 weeks doing 3-5 sets of 10-second maximal dead-hangs with 3-minute
pauses between them. The MvSub-MvSub group spent the two 4-week cycles
performing 3-5 sets of 4 to 5 10-second repetitions each, resting 5 seconds between
repetitions and 1 minute between sets. The LvMax-MvSub group used the former
method in phase one and the latter in phase two. On weeks 4 and 8, ST2 and ST3
were carried out respectively. Repeated measure ANOVA with Bonferroni post
hoc tests and the magnitude-based inference [2] were used to analyze the data.
No significant differences in strength were found among groups prior to
training. Although no statistical significance was reached in strength gains
among groups at ST2 and ST3 compared to ST1, magnitude-based inferences
revealed that LvMax is possibly beneficial (51 % and 71 %, for group 1 and 3
respectively) compared to MvSub after 4 weeks of training. Furthermore,
LvMax-LvMax is possibly beneficial compared to LvMax-MvSub (58%) and to
MvSub-MvSub (60%). Lastly, LvMax-MvSub lost at ST3 6 % of the gains
obtained at ST2.
Table I. Strength results by group (kg, mean ± s)
LvMax- LvMax group
(n = 11)
(n = 8)
(n = 7)
30,00 ± 11,67
34,64 ± 14,68
34,55 ± 9,21
41,79 ± 14,34
38,41 ± 9,17 a
39,29 ± 12,22
ES = Effect size; where an ES < 0,25 was defined as trivial, 0.25 to 0.50 small, 0.50-1 moderate and >1
large, according to Rhea (2004) for well-trained athletes. Differences among groups not significant (p >
0.05).a Intra-group significant differences compared to ST1 (p <0.05).
This study’s main result was the greater strength development observed with the
LvMax-LvMax method, probably due to neural adaptations linked to the use of high
intensities [3]. It is worth noting that MvSub-MvSub gains peaked after 8 weeks of
training, probably via hypertrophy promoted by the combination of higher volume
per set, submaximal intensity and shorter pauses between repetitions [4]. These
results suggest that the most beneficial method for grip strength in climbing is
LvMax-LvMax, but a medium-term planning could benefit from sequentially
prescribing LvMax-LvMax and MvSub-MvSub so that the effects of hypertrophy
add up to the neural ones. REFERENCES
[1] Lopez-Rivera, E., & González-Badillo, J. (2012). The effects of two maximum grip strength training
methods using the same effort duration and different edge depth on grip endurance in elite climbers.
Sports Technology, 5(3-4), 11
[2] Batterham, A.M. & Hopkins, W.G. (2006). Making meaningful inferences about magnitudes.
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance; 1:50
[3] Hakkinen, K., Alen, M., & Komi, P. V. (1985). Effect of explosive type strength training on isometric
force- and relaxation-time, electromyographic and muscle fibre characteristics of leg extensor
muscles.pdf. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 125, 587600.
[4] Miranda, H., Simão, R., Moreira, L. M., de Souza, R. A., de Souza, J. A. A., de Salles, B. F., &
Willardson, J. M. (2009). Effect of rest interval length on the volume completed during upper body
resistance exercise. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 8(3), 38839
... The effects of strength training differ according to the initial strength level and years of training experience of each athlete (Peterson et al. 2005), individualization being among the basic principles of training. In climbing, there are scarce studies that have assessed the suitability of several grip strength training methods for rock climbers (López-Rivera & González-Badillo, 2012, 2016 and boulderers (Medernach et al. 2015). There is, however, a lack of research on the implications of dissimilar initial strength levels. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Grip strength and endurance are determinant factors of climbing performance. The training response to strength training depends on initial strength levels. This study aims to investigate the effects on grip strength and endurance of a 4-week weighted dead-hang training program in experienced rock climbers with a higher (HS; n = 10) and lower strength level (LS; n = 12) according to the median value in the initial strength test. Grip strength and endurance changes were significant for the LS group, but not for HS (35.8%, p < 0.01; 35,6%, p < 0.01; against 3.7% and-4% respectively). These results suggest that finger strength levels must be taken into consideration when designing finger training programs. Résumé La force de préhension et l'endurance sont des facteurs déterminants pour la performance en escalade. La réponse à l'entrainement de la force dépend du niveau de force initiale. L'objectif de cette étude est d'investiguer les effets, sur la force de préhension et l'endurance, d'un programme d'entrainement de suspensions avec poids durant 4 semaines sur des grimpeurs expérimentés qui ont un niveau de force supérieur à (HS; n = 10) et inférieur à (LS; n = 12) selon la valeur moyenne du test de force initiale. Les changements sur la force d'agrippement et l'endurance sont significatifs pour le groupe LS, par contre ce n'est pas le cas pour le groupe HS (35.8%, p < 0.01; 35,6%, p < 0.01; contre 3.7% et-4% respectivement). Ces résultats suggèrent que le niveau de force des doigts doit être pris en compte pour la création de programmes d'entrainement des doigts.
Full-text available
Due to the increasing popularity of climbing, the corresponding diagnostics are gaining in importance for both science and practice. This review aims to give an overview of the quality of different diagnostic testing-and measurement methods for performance, strength, endurance, and flexibility in climbing. A systematic literature search for studies including quantitative methods and tests for measuring different forms of strength, endurance, flexibility, or performance in climbing and bouldering was conducted on PubMed and SPORT Discus. Studies and abstracts were included if they a) worked with a representative sample of human boulderers and/or climbers, b) included detailed information on at least one test, and c) were randomized-controlled-, cohort-, cross-over-, intervention-, or case studies. 156 studies were included into the review. Data regarding subject characteristics, as well as the implementation and quality of all relevant tests were extracted from the studies. Tests with similar exercises were grouped and the information on a) measured value, b) unit, c) subject characteristics (sex and ability level), and d) quality criteria (objectivity, reliability, validity) were bundled and displayed in standardized tables. In total, 63 different tests were identified, of which some comprised different ways of implementation. This clearly shows that there are no uniform or standard procedures in climbing diagnostics, for tests on strength, endurance or flexibility. Furthermore, only few studies report data on test quality and detailed information on sample characteristics. This not only makes it difficult to compare test results, but at the same time makes it impossible to give precise test recommendations. Nevertheless, this overview of the current state of research contributes to the creation of more uniform test batteries in the future.
Full-text available
This is the extended version of the article presented at the 3rd International Rock Climbing Research Congress, hosted in Telluride, USA fro 5th-7th August 2016 with the title: "Comparison of the Effects of Three Hangboard Training Programs on Maximal Finger Strength in Rock Climbers." The online version can be found on:
Full-text available
The purpose of the current study was to compare the workout volume (sets x resistance x repetitions per set) completed during two upper body resistance exercise sessions that incorporated 1 minute versus 3 minute rest intervals between sets and exercises. Twelve trained men completed two experimental sessions that consisted of 5 upper body exercises (i.e. barbell bench press, incline barbell bench press, pec deck flye, barbell lying triceps extension, triceps pushdown) performed for three sets with an 8-RM load. The two experimental sessions differed only in the length of the rest interval between sets and exercises; one session with a 1-minute and the other session with a 3-minute rest interval. The results demonstrated that for each exercise, significantly greater workout volume was completed when resting 3 minutes between sets and exercises(p < 0.05). These results indicate that during a resistance exercise session, if sufficient time is available, resting 3 minutes between sets and exercises allows greater workout volume for the upper body exercises examined.
Full-text available
Nine experienced rock climbers (mean climbing ability of 8a+/b) were randomly assigned to Group A (n = 5) and Group B (n = 4). Both groups trained dead hanging using two different methods. One method consisted of using the minimum edge depth (MED) they could hold the weight of their body; the other consisted of using a bigger edge (18 mm) with maximum added weight (MAW). Group A performed MED from Weeks 1 to 4, and then performed MAW the following 4 weeks (termed as MED–MAW group); Group B performed MAW from Weeks 1 to 4 and then performed MED the following 4 weeks (termed as MAW–MED group). Maximum grip strength and endurance tests were conducted initially (ST1; ET1), following 4 weeks (ST2; ET2), 8 weeks (ST3; ET3), 2 weeks (ST4; ET4) and 4 weeks (ST5; ET5) completion of training to determine the effects of detraining. The 9.6% improvement in grip strength (p>0.05) in MAW–MED group in ST2 and 6.9% in ST4 was greater than in MED–MAW group. In terms of grip endurance, MAW–MED group in ET2 (16.69%) and in ET3 (19.95%) improved more than MED–MAW group (p>0.05). Significant positive correlation was found between ST and ET, and between changes in strength and changes in endurance at all stages, controlling for body weight in all cases. The present data suggest that the most effective sequence of finger strength training methods is MAW–MED.
Full-text available
A study of a sample provides only an estimate of the true (population) value of an outcome statistic. A report of the study therefore usually includes an inference about the true value. Traditionally, a researcher makes an inference by declaring the value of the statistic statistically significant or nonsignificant on the basis of a P value derived from a null-hypothesis test. This approach is confusing and can be misleading, depending on the magnitude of the statistic, error of measurement, and sample size. The authors use a more intuitive and practical approach based directly on uncertainty in the true value of the statistic. First they express the uncertainty as confidence limits, which define the likely range of the true value. They then deal with the real-world relevance of this uncertainty by taking into account values of the statistic that are substantial in some positive and negative sense, such as beneficial or harmful. If the likely range overlaps substantially positive and negative values, they infer that the outcome is unclear; otherwise, they infer that the true value has the magnitude of the observed value: substantially positive, trivial, or substantially negative. They refine this crude inference by stating qualitatively the likelihood that the true value will have the observed magnitude (eg, very likely beneficial). Quantitative or qualitative probabilities that the true value has the other 2 magnitudes or more finely graded magnitudes (such as trivial, small, moderate, and large) can also be estimated to guide a decision about the utility of the outcome.
To investigate the influence of explosive type strength training on isometric force- and relaxation-time and on electromyographic and muscle fibre characteristics of human skeletal muscle, 10 male subjects went through progressive training which included primarily jumping exercises without extra load and with light extra weights three times a week for 24 weeks. Specific training-induced changes in force-time curve were observed and demonstrated by great (P less than 0.05-0.01) improvements in in parameters of fast force production and by a minor (P less than 0.05) increase in maximal force. The continuous increases in fast force production during the entire training were accompanied by and correlated with the increases (P less than 0.05) in average IEMG-time curve and with the increase (P less than 0.05) in the FT:ST muscle fibre area ratio. The percentage of FT fibres of the muscle correlated (P less than 0.05) with the improvement of average force-time curve during the training. The increase in maximal force was accompanied by significant (P less than 0.05) increases in maximum IEMGs of the trained muscles. However, the hypertrophic changes, as judged from the anthropometric and muscle fibre area data, were only slight during the training. It can be concluded that in training for fast force production considerable neural and selective muscular adaptations may occur to explain the improvement in performance, but that genetic factors may determine the ultimate potential of the trainability of this aspect of the neuromuscular performance.