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THE EFFECTS OF A WEIGHTED DEAD-HANG
TRAINING PROGRAM ON GRIP STRENGTH
AND ENDURANCE IN EXPERT CLIMBERS WITH
DIFFERENT LEVELS OF STRENGTH.
López-Rivera, E. 1 and González-Badillo, J. J. 2
1Club Vertical, Toledo, Spain, firstname.lastname@example.org
2Faculty of Sport Sciences, Pablo de Olavide University,
Seville, Spain, email@example.com
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.
Keywords: Hangboard, fingerboarding, finger strength, rock
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
Mots clés: Poutre de traction, entrainement sur fingerboard, force des
doigts, escalade, performance
Grip strength and endurance are determinant factors of climbing
performance. 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. This
study evaluated the effects on grip strength and endurance of a
weighted hang training program, as proposed by the previously cited
study, in experienced climbers with different starting strength levels.
The fingerboard apparatus and tests used in this study were those
validated by López-Rivera and González-Badillo (2012). The
endurance test (ET) consisted in hanging to failure off an 11 mm-deep
edge and the strength test (ST) measured the maximum added weight
that the athlete could hold for 5 seconds off a 15 mm-deep edge.
Twenty-two climbers (average of French 8a redpoint grade level, 31.5
years old and 12.2 years of climbing experience) trained for 4 weeks
using the dead-hang training method proposed by the previously
reported study, involving 3-5 10-second maximal dead-hangs with 3-
minute pauses between them. The participants were divided according
to their median value at ST1: HS (ST1 ≤ 30 kg) and LS (ST1 > 30 kg).
In week 4 ST2 and ET2 were performed. The ANOVA repeated
measures test and Pearson correlation were used to analyze the data.
The LS group showed greater grip strength and endurance gains than
HS (p < 0.005). When controlling for body weight, LS yielded a
significant higher correlation between ST1 and ET1, as well as
between ST2 and ET2 than that of HS (r = 0.82, r = 0.82, against r =
0.67; r = 0.70; respectively).
Table 1. Results in ST1 (kg; mean ± s) and ET1 (s; mean ± s)
LS (n = 7)
22.71 ± 7.72
30.83 ± 9.96a
24.95 ± 11.99
HT (n = 10)
41.95 ± 7.71
43.50 ± 9.80
50.35 ± 18.04
48.22 ± 13.30
a Intra-group significant differences compared to ST1 (p ≤ 0.001). b Intra-group
significant differences compared to ST1 (p ≤ 0.01)
The main result from this study is that in climbing, similarly to other
sports, a maximal finger strength training yields greater gains for
athletes that start from a lower level of strength, probably due to neural
development (Häkkinen et al. 1987). It is worth noting the different
relationship between grip strength and endurance that LS and HS
display, both before and after training. Interestingly, while training for
strength had a positive influence on LS in terms of grip endurance on
small edges in line with López-Rivera and González-Badillo (2012),
the smaller strength gains obtained by HS were paired with a reduction
in endurance. A possible explanation could lie in different muscle
fiber composition among groups (Wüst et al., 2008) which could favor
developing one quality in detriment of the other, a greater fatigability,
or that they may need a stronger stimulus or an extended training
period. These results can provide coaches with tools for a better
individualization and periodization of grip training in climbing.
Häkkinen, K., Komi, P. V., Alén, M., & Kauhanen, H. (1987). EMG, muscle
fibre and force production characteristics during a 1 year training period
in elite weight-lifters. European Journal of Applied Physiology and
Occupational Physiology, 56(4), 419–427.
López-Rivera, E., & González-Badillo, J. 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), 1–11.
López-Rivera, E. & González-Badillo, J. J. (2016). Comparison of the Effects
of Three Hangboard Training Programs on Maximal Finger Strength in
Rock Climbers. In: 3rd IRCRA Congress, USA, 5th-7th August.
Medernach, J. P. J., Klein Der, H., & Tzerich, H. H. H. L. (2015). Fingerboard
in competitive bouldering: training effects on grip strength and
endurance. Journal Strength & Conditioning Research, 29(8), 2286–
Peterson, M. D., Rhea, M. R., & Alvar, B. A. (2005). Applications of the dose-
response for muscular strength development: a review of meta-analytic
efficacy and reliability for designing training prescription. Journal of
Strength & Conditioning Research, 19(4), 950–958.
Wüst, R. C. I., Morse, C. I., de Haan, A., Jones, D. a, & Degens, H. (2008). Sex
differences in contractile properties and fatigue resistance of human
skeletal muscle. Experimental Physiology, 93(7), 843–850.