Grip Training For Climbing

Grip Training and Finger Strength for Climbing

Need convincing to put time into training your fingers? Here are two:

  • Climb harder: As the grades get more challenging, the holds typically get smaller or more slopey. So at a certain point, you’ll stop progressing if your fingers are not strong enough to grip the holds. 
  • Prevent injuries: Just consider the number of bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints in your hands and fingers. Strengthening your digits can help prevent damage that causes chronic pain.  

As with any training regimen, start conservatively and slowly increase the number of repetitions in a set as your training progresses. 

Finger Strength Exercises: Beginner and Intermediate 

Warm-up: Get the blood flowing to the extremities. Five to 10 minutes of easy aerobic exercise like walking or running will improve circulation. Then target the hands and fingers with a few minutes of rotation and gentle dynamic stretching. 

Gripping: Using a soft squeeze ball, grip and release the ball with the entire hand using all of your fingers. Repeat this motion continuously for one minute. That’s one rep. Rest for one minute, then start again; do three repetitions total. 

Crimping: Start with self-resistance pinching exercises that will help develop strength for crimping small holds. Rotate each finger through the thumb, pinching and releasing five times. Repeat five to 10 times. Then, move the pinching exercises to the squeeze ball, using each finger one at a time with the thumb. Pinch and release the ball five times each. Repeat five to 10 times. 

Finger Extensions: Place a finger-strength resistance band around all fingers at the knuckles. Extend and release fingers continuously for one minute, then rest for one minute; repeat for a set of three repetitions. 

Fingerboard Exercises: Advanced Training

You’ll need a foundation of finger strength before you get serious with fingerboard or hangboard exercises. These offer effective ways to get stronger, but the training can be intense so start slow and limit workouts to two to three times per week.

Warm-up: Start with a general warm-up and then climb easily for 10 to 20 minutes before moving to a fingerboard. 

Dead holds: Start with a static—or dead hang—with your feet on the ground and focus on the three principal finger positions—open hands, full crimp, and half crimp. Hang for five to 10 seconds with each hold and then rest for an equal amount of time. Use your feet to moderate the amount of weight on the finger hold. Repeat five to 10 times, slowly releasing the leg support to reach an entire bodyweight hang. Try this circuit twice or three times per week with 48 hours rest in between training sessions. 

Pull-ups: When you are ready to progress even further on the fingerboard, repeat the same warm-up and static holds, and then move into fingerboard pull-ups with each of the same three positions: open hands, full crimp, and half crimp. Repeat three to five times each. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.