Strength Training

Contact strength (RFD) in rock climbing - Introduction

If you're a sport climber or boulderer, you know that finger and upper body strength are crucial for success in these disciplines [1][2]. However, while often overlooked, finger Rate of Force Development (RFD), often termed contact strength, is another highly critical factor. Moreover, the higher your level, the more important it becomes since dynamic moves on small holds become more common as the grades rise [3].

RFD is the ability to generate force quickly, which is essential for explosive movements like dynos and deadpoints. In sport climbing and bouldering, where holds can be small and difficult to grip, RFD can make all the difference between sending or falling off.

In this article, I'll focus on ways and tools used to measure and evaluate and your finger RFD practically. I'll also explain how to decide when to focus on finger strength (MVC) and RFD training and when to introduce it into your training program.

The article features an instructional video, where I show step-by-step how to determine your RFD using the Tindeq Progressor accurately [4].

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Finger Rate of Force Development measurements for rock climbers - summary

The Rate of Force Development (RFD) or contact strength is, next to finger and upper limb strength, a critical parameter determining rock climbing performance, especially at high levels. However, not everyone needs to engage in contact strength training. For lead climbers and amateur boulderers, it's usually more important to work on their finger strength (MVC) [5].

To decide when to start contact strength or power training, you should measure your RFD using a dedicated tool, such as the Tindeq Progressor, or Exsurgo gStrength, and compare the result with your Peak Load measurement. Based on this calculation, you may decide between finger strength and contact strength training and properly plan your subsequent training cycles. RFD measurements and analysis are easy to perform on your own with the Tindeq Progressor. To do it, you can follow the step-by-step instructions I have provided in the video included in this article.


  1. Laffaye, G., Levernier, G., Collin, J.-M., 2015. Determinant factors in climbing ability: Influence of strength, anthropometry, and neuromuscular fatigue. Scand J Med Sci Sports. (link)
  2. Laffaye, G., Collin, J.-M., Levernier, G., Padulo, J., 2014. Upper-limb Power Test in Rock-climbing. Int J Sports Med. (link)
  3. Vereide, V., Andersen, V., Hermans, E., Kalland, J., Saeterbakken, A.H., Stien, N., 2022. Differences in Upper-Body Peak Force and Rate of Force Development in Male Intermediate, Advanced, and Elite Sport Climbers. Front. Sports Act. Living. (link)
  4. (link)
  5. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Dr. Tyler Nelson’s New Active Finger Strength Training Protocols, Mar. 23, 2023. (link)

Dr. Tyler Nelson’s New Active Finger Strength Training Protocols - Introduction

Dr. Tyler Nelson is among the most prolific coaches and climbing influencers today. He takes nothing for granted and constantly looks for new, most effective, and safest ways to improve our climbing skills.

He is the author of many popular climbing training protocols, the most well-known being the "Simplest" Finger Training Program and Density Hangs, which I've covered in my earlier posts [1][2]. He is also a frequent guest on climbing training podcasts, including the Training Beta Podcast, the Nugget Climbing Podcast, and the Power Company Climbing Podcast.

Dr. Nelson recently wrote two thought-provoking articles for (Part 1 and Part 2), explaining his latest discoveries in finger strength training [3]. So hold on tight because the world of some of you hangboarders and system board enthusiasts may soon be turned upside down!

The limits of heavy fingerboard training

Some of you might wonder why we were even having this discussion. The best way to get super strong fingers is to do weighted hangs, right? And yes, I know many climbers who've reached superhuman finger strength by adding 50+ kg to their harness and hanging from small edges. Paul is a great example, and you can read his story in this article [4].

Those who don't like lifting heavy might choose to do one-arm hangs, which gives slightly different adaptations, but it's about the same thing - putting a heavy load on your fingers and hanging statically for 3 - 12 seconds. Sports scientists call this mode of training yielding isometrics - your forearm muscles are trying to prevent your fingers from opening.

At first, this feels great - you're quickly increasing added weight every week, and progress is tangible for a month or two. For example, you may rapidly increase your MVC-7 to bodyweight ratio from 160% to 170%. But after a while, you'll inevitably see progress stalling, and it will become increasingly difficult for you to grind through those high-volume Bechtel's Ladders sessions.

Ok, no sweat, you switch to a hypertrophy program, like the 7/3 Repeaters, for 8 - 12 weeks and then retest your finger strength. Unfortunately, chances are that the results will not improve but will be significantly lower than before you started doing Repeaters. How frustrating! Even worse, though you may see measurable gains on the hangboard regarding the loads you can hold, the transfer to climbing harder may be limited.

So what's the problem? Why aren't you getting noticeably stronger and better at climbing despite doing weighted hangs? The most straightforward answer is that weighted hangs do not necessarily trigger climbing-specific adaptations. Yes, you can add more load to your harness while hanging, but could you move off a hold with this load? No way, right?

The thing is that although your hangs become heavier, even 1.5 – 2.0 of your body weight, on the climbing wall, your fingers never see such supra-maximal eccentric loads. And it's not that eccentric loading is bad. For example, our fingers generate rapid eccentric forces when latching onto a hold when deadpointing. It's just that the response is dependent on the load. The strength response goes away as soon as you remove the excess weight. According to Dr. Nelson, that's the true limiter of heavy fingerboarding.

How to use fingerboards effectively

Contrary to common belief, hangboards are an excellent training tool for beginner climbers. When you're new to climbing, you'll typically do a lot of climbing on big holds, which doesn't stimulate your fingers to adapt to grabbing small holds like crimps and two-finger pockets. So that's a great time to embark on some introductory hangboard protocols to get your fingers used to high loads. Then, as you enter higher grades, you won't be surprised by a sudden finger tweak when you cut your feet while crimping. The routines worth considering include Hangboard Moving Hangs, Density Hangs, or 7/3 Repeaters [5][6][7].

Just be mindful of your total training volume. It's best to keep it constant by replacing one of your weekly bouldering sessions with a hangboard session or carefully increasing volume in small steps. Otherwise, you could get injured. Remember that most injuries stem not from increased training loads but from sudden spikes in training volume when we add a new exercise into the mix.

If your MVC-7 on a 20 mm edge is between 125 - 160% body weight, then you're likely an intermediate climber with a fair bit of climbing under your belt [8]. That's the perfect time to incorporate weighted hangs into your climbing schedule. You'll reap the greatest benefit from your training efforts, and the transfer to actual climbing will likely be noticeable. However, as soon as you hit a plateau, you need to think about changing your strategy because constant shifting between Hörst’s 7/53, Bechtel's Ladders, and Eva López MaxHangs isn't going to move things forward [9][10][11].

One thing we need to remember is that the hangboard can also be an excellent finger rehab tool. If you're experiencing finger pain, you may use the hangboard to progressively load your fingers into the discomfort range while staying below the pain threshold. The fingerboard makes it easy to control the load and gradually increase it from session to session until you can climb at your max again.

Finger strength as a skill

According to Dr. Nelson, once you've reached a certain high level of finger strength, weighted hangs will not necessarily help you that much. In the best-case scenario, you'll see diminishing returns

Eric Hörst’s finger strength training program – quick summary


In November 2020, I received an email from Carson – one of my blog readers. He wrote me to ask for advice regarding his hangboard training. Carson was already an accomplished young boulderer, but he wanted to amp his game by further improving his finger strength. 

He ultimately devised his own training program based on Eric Hörst’s “7-53” finger strength training program and dramatically improved his finger strength within just 8 weeks. I found his case very interesting and inspiring, so I decided to share his results with his permission.

Initial result from the Finger Strength Analyzer 2.0

First, Carson described his training situation and recent results. He used my Finger Strength Analyzer 2.0 tool to estimate his current bouldering level [1]. He entered the following input:

  • Height/Span: 6’0
  • Weight: 157 lbs
  • Training Mode 1: At least twice a week, including weighted hangs
  • Edge depth: 18 mm (wooden Metolius rung
  • Hang time: 7 seconds
  • Added load: 70 lbs (227 lbs in total)
  • Pull-ups: 3RM, +75 lbs
  • Calculated comfortable projecting level: V6 – V7

The result accurately reflected his current bouldering ability – he had just recently come back from a trip, during which he sent two V6s and two V5s. His personal best result was V7/V8, but it took him 3 months of projecting. Carson also explained that he excelled at overhanging and compression routes due to his high pull strength and underperformed on technical vertical climbs with small holds.

Previous finger strength training program

Before the pandemic, Carson did not hangboard – he only bouldered. However, when COVID struck, he began training hard, according to the following schedule:

  • Monday: 5 reps of 1 arm Recruitment Pulls – Tyler Nelson inspired, feet on the ground, maximal isometric [2]
  • Wednesday: Bouldering outside or in the gym if it was raining
  • Friday: 5 sets of 6 reps of 7/3 repeaters
  • Saturday/Sunday: Climbing once every two weekends or so

This simple self-made training program allowed him to take his bouldering level from V4/V5 to V6/V7. It is worth noticing that his training volume was relatively low, with only 2 short hangboard sessions and 1 – 2 climbing sessions in a week. Yet, it was sufficient to allow him to progress 1 – 2 V-grades.

Now Carson was ready to take his training up a notch, so he contacted me to ask which of the programs on my site would be most appropriate for him to build finger strength over the next few months. 

Choosing the hangboard training protocol

We started by discussing the hangboard training methods that Carson could use to develop his finger strength further. Usually, when an athlete has been hangboarding for less than a year, I recommend completing a few cycles of 7/3 Repeaters at 80% of the 7-second max. load [3]. The goal is to build some muscle and strengthen the connective tissues to prepare for the heavier loads. However, Carson was determined to train maximum strength immediately.

I figured that since he had already trained with Recruitment Pulls for a few months, it might be ok to continue with high intensity training. Alternatively, Eva López MaxHangs can be an excellent introduction to weighted hangs if you opt for a lighter version of the protocol [4]. You might, e.g., start with 15-second hangs at 85% intensity, which would be only slightly heavier than the standard loads used for 7/3 Repeaters.

Still, Carson chose to go for the Hörsts “7-53” protocol, which, I believe, lies close to the maximum of the intensity spectrum [5]. I need to stress here that Carson was not formally entering any of my training programs – he was merely asking for advice, so I was not in the position to categorically advise him against following an aggressive training routine.

And yet, while it was a bit risky, Carson’s approach was not unreasonable. He is a young climber, able to regenerate quickly, and he did, after all, train with added weight before. However, I think he still has a lot to gain with less aggressive protocols, and I agree with Eva López that you should strive to achieve progress with the least amount of stimulus possible. This way, you won’t hit the wall with your development. 

Details of the climbing training program

After our discussions, Carson designed the following program for himself:

  • Hangboard routine: Eric Horst’s “7-53” protocol (Table 1)
  • Program duration: 8 weeks
  • Program structure:
    • Twice a week 1 set of:
      • half crimp
      • full crimp with a thumb wrap
      • 4 fingers open hand

Each set was 3 x 7 seconds on, 53 seconds off. He would start the program at 90% of his hal crimp MVC-7, which was equal to 205 lbs. Every hangboard workout, he would attempt to increase the load by 2 lbs. Every fourth week he planned to deload and to use less weight. That meant that he would increase his half crimp training load by the end of

Eric Hörst “7-53” Finger Maximalkraft-Routine -Zusammenfassung

Eric Hörst “7-53” Finger Maximalkraft-Protokoll – Einführung

Die “7-53”-Hangboard-Routine wurde von Eric Hörst entwickelt, um die maximale Fingerstärke für Klettern zu trainieren. Die Idee hinter der 7-Sekunden-Spannung (TUT) und der 53-Sekunden-Pausenzeit wurde im T4C-Podcast erläutert [1]. Laut Eric dauert die vollständige Wiederherstellung der Leistungsfähigkeit der Muskulatur zwischen zwei maximalen Hangs etwa 3 Minuten und ist in zwei Phasen unterteilt [2][3]. In Phase eins, die 50 Sekunden lang ist, synthetisieren die Mitochondrien das ATP um die interzellulären Phosphokreatin-Reserven (PCr) wiederzuherstellen. Diese Phase ist von entscheidender Bedeutung und reicht aus, um mindestens zwei weitere Hangs abzuschließen. Die zweite Phase, die den Rest der 3 Minuten dauert, ist für das Krafttraining nicht so wichtig. Diese kurzen 53-Sekunden-Pausezeiten zwischen drei aufeinander folgenden Hangs sind praktisch das einzige, was die “7-53”-Hangboard-Routine von den Eva López MaxHangs-Protokollen, unterscheidet, wo die Pausen zwischen beiden Hängen immer drei bis fünf Minuten betragen [4].

Die erste sechzigsekündige Pause ist entscheidend für die Phosphokreatin-Resynthese und Erholung.

Phosphokreatin-Resysnthese nach Hangboard-Maximalkrafttraining nach dem 7-53-Protokoll

Abbildung 1: PCr-Resynthese-Dynamik nach [3].

Das “7-53”-Hangboard-Protokoll im Detail

  1. Wähle zwei bis fünf verschiedene Griffpositionen. Erwäge die Einbeziehung:
    1. Halbe Crimps
    2. Full Crimps
    3. Three-Fingerlöcher
    4. Zwei-Fingerlöcher: ndex-Mitte (IM), Mittel-Ring (MR) und Ring-Pinkie (RP) – fortgeschritten
    5. Tiefe Monos
  2. Bestimme für jede Griffposition die Menge des addierten oder subtrahierten Gewichts, sodass du 10 Sekunden lang hängen kannst.
  3. Für jede Griffposition:
    1. Hänge dich für 7 Sekunden an das Hangboard und mach eine Pause von 53 Sekunden.
    2. Vervollständige insgesamt 3 Hangs pro Set.
  4. Erhole dich 3 – 5 Minuten und wechsel in die nächste Griffposition.
  5. Führe insgesamt 2 – 5 Sets aus.
Tabelle 1: Eric Hörsts “7-53” Hangboard-Routine Zusammenfassung.
Das "7-53" Protokoll
Hang Testzeit [s]10
Marge [s]3
MVC-7 Last92 - 97%
Sets2 - 5
Hängezeit [s]7
Rest zwischen Hängs [s]53
Rest zwischen Sets [min]3
ZUS [s]42 - 105
Gesamtzeit [min]7- 23

Eric Hörsts “7-53” Hangboard-Routine Bemerkungen

  • Die Anzahl der Sets kann zwischen 2 – 5 variiert werden.
  • Empfohlene Griffe:
    • 14 – 20 mm Kanten
    • 20 – 30 mm Zwei-Fingerlöcher
    • Tiefe sehnenfreundliche Monos
  • Konzentriere dich zunächst auf das Training der Half-Crimps und der offenen Handtaschenpositionen.
  • Wenn du nicht alle Hängen durchführen kannst, reduziere das Gewicht.
  • Fortgeschrittene Kletterer können dies in Betracht ziehen:
    • Hinzufügen eines zweiten Sets für jeden Full- und Halb-Crimp-Griff;
    • Zusätzliche Sets von Zwei-Finger-Taschen (offene Hand) und Pinch-Griffen.
Abbildung 2:  Screenshot aus einem “7-53” Trainingsvideo.

Eric Hörst “7-53” Finger Maximalkraft-Protokoll – Schlussfolgerungen

Man sieht, dass Eric das Konzept der 3-Sekunden Sicherheitsspanne (Anstrengungsniveau) in sein Protokoll aufnimmt. Die gleiche Idee wird von Eva López in ihren MaxHangs Protokollen verwendet [4][5][6]. Laut Eric ist das “7-53”-Protokoll sehr zeiteffizient; es dauert nur 12 Minuten, um drei vollständige Sets durchzugehen. Er behauptet, dass er sich im Laufe der Jahre von 22,5 kg auf 41 kg Zusatzgewicht bei einer 14-mm-Kante verbessert hat und dass diese Methode eine ausgezeichnete Vorbereitung auf Einarm-Hangs ist [7]. Dieser Ansatz mit hoher Intensität und geringem Volumen steht im Einklang mit den Ergebnissen der aktuellen Forschung, in der gezeigt wurde, dass eine Erhöhung des Übungsvolumens nicht unbedingt zu höheren Kraftzuwächsen führt [8].

Ein zeiteffizientes und einfach zu befolgen Hangboardtraining-Protokoll, das du nicht das Gefühl gibt, erschöpft oder gepumpt zu sein.

Abgesehen von Erics Zeugnis konnte ich einige interessante Meinungen zu The Rock Climber’s Training Manual finden [9]. Die meisten Kletterer im Forum sind sich einig, dass die “7-53” Hangboard-Routine in der Tat sehr zeiteffizient und einfach zu befolgen ist. 

Es wird keine Pumpe gemeldet, was bedeutet, dass das alaktische Energiesystem in Betrieb ist, was im Allgemeinen charakteristisch für Maximalkrafttraining ist. Aus meiner Erfahrung mit dem Protokoll kann ich hinzufügen, dass ein gewisses Kraftausdauerelement beteiligt ist und der dritte Hang im Set immer etwas härter ist als der erste und der zweite. Allerdings bin ich auch nie richtig aufgepumpt worden.

Es wird kein Gefühl der Erschöpfung nach der Trainingseinheit gemeldet, verglichen mit dem Standardprotokoll für Hangboard Repeaters, aber das ist beim Maximalkrafttraining normal – man sollte sich nicht müde fühlen. Keine Sorge, Gewinne werden sicher kommen. Schließlich ist das Erics Lieblings Hangboard Protokoll!

Wenn du Fragen oder Anmerkungen hast, zöge du nicht mich zu kontaktieren. Bitte abonniere du den Blog, um über die kommenden Beiträge zu den neuesten Methoden des Klettertrainings auf dem Laufenden zu bleiben!


  1. E. Hörst, Training4Climbing Podcast #10: Maximum Strength Fingerboard Training’, Mar. 1, 2017. (link)
  2. Layec, G., Bringard, A., Vilmen, C., Micallef, J.-P., Le Fur, Y., Perrey, S., Cozzone, P.J., Bendahan, D., 2009. Does oxidative capacity affect energy cost? An in vivo MR investigation of skeletal muscle energetics. European Journal of Applied Physiology 106, 229–242. (link)
  3. Cooke, S.R., Petersen, S.R., Quinney, H.A., 1997. The influence of maximal aerobic power on recovery of skeletal muscle following anaerobic exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology 75, 512–519. (link)
  4. Eva López Blog – Fingerboard Training Guide (II). Maximal grip Strength and Endurance Methods and Load Training management, May 23, 2018. (link)
  5. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routine for finger strength, Apr. 29, 2019. (link)
  6. González-Badillo, J.J., & Gorostiaga, E., 1993.  Fundamentos del entrenamiento de la fuerza. Aplicación al alto rendimiento deportivo. (link)
  7. E. Hörst, Training4Climbing: 4 Fingerboard Strength Protocols That Work, Nov. 1, 2016. (link)
  8. Schoenfeld, B.J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., Alto, A., 2018. Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men.


Metoda “7-53” Erica Hörsta – podsumowanie

Metoda “7-53” we wspinaczkowym treningu siły palców

Metoda “7-53” została opracowana przez Erica Hörsta w celu umożliwienia wspinaczom efektywnego treningu siły palców na chwytotablicy. Idea 7-sekundowych czasów pracy (ang. Time Under Tension – TUT) przedzielanych 53-sekundowymi czasami odpoczynku została wyjaśniona w podcascie T4C [1]. Według Erica, pełna regeneracja pomiędzy dwoma zwisami trwa około trzech minut i jest podzielona na dwie fazy [2][3]. Podczas fazy pierwszej, która trwa około 50 sekund, mitochodria resyntezują ATP w celu odbudowania międzykomórkowych zapasów fosfokreatyny (PCr). Ta faza jest kluczowa i umożliwia wykonanie przynajmniej dwóch kolejnych zwisów. Druga faza, która trwa przez resztę czasu nie jest już aż tak ważna dla budowania siły. Te krótkie 53-sekundowe interwały odpoczynkowe są praktycznie jedynym co odróżnia metodę Erica Hörsta od protokołów MaxHangs Evy López, gdzie czasy odpoczynku pomiędzy kolejnymi zwisami wahają się od trzech do pięciu minut [4].

Pierwsze 60 sekund odpoczynku między zwisami jest kluczowe dla odbudowania zapasów fosfokreatyny w mięśniach.

Phosphokreatin-Resysnthese nach Hangboard-Maximalkrafttraining nach dem 7-53-Protokoll
Figura 1: Dynamika regeneracji fosfokreatyny według [3].

Szczegóły metody “7-53” Erica Hörsta

  1. Wybierz 2 – 5 różnych chwytów. Weź pod uwagę:
    1. Otwarte krawądki
    2. Pełne krawądki
    3. Dziurki na trzy palce
    4. Dziurki na dwa palce: wskazujący-środkowy (IM), środkowy-serdeczny (MR) oraz serdeczny-mały (RP) – dla zaawansowanych
    5. Głębokie dziurki na jeden palec
  2. Dla każdego chwytu wyznacz obciążenie, które musisz dodać lub odjąć, żeby być w stanie wisieć 10 sekund.
  3. Dla pojedynczego chwytu:
    1. Wykonaj 7-sekundowy zwis i odpocznij 53 sekundy.
    2. Wykonaj w sumie 3 zwisy w jednej serii.
  4. Odpocznij 3 – 5 minut i przejdź do kolejnego chwytu.
  5. Ukończ w sumie 2 – 5 serii.
The “7-53” protocol
Hang test time [s]10
Margin [s]3
Sets2 – 5
Hang time [s]7
Rest [s]53
Rest betw. Sets [min]3
TUT [s]42 – 105
Total time [min]9 – 27

Tabela 1: Podsumowanie metody “7-53” Erica Hörsta.

Metoda "7-53"
Czas testu [s]10
Margines [s]3
Obciązenie MVC-792 - 97%
Liczba serii2 - 5
Liczba chwytów w serii1
Liczba zwisów dla jednego chwytu3
Czas trwania zwisu [s]7
Odpoczynek między zwisami [s]53
Odpoczynek między seriami [min]3
Czas pod napięciem (TUT) [s]42 - 105
Czas całkowity [min]7 - 23

Uwagi do metody “7-53” Erica Hörsta

  • Liczbę serii można zmieniać w zakresie 2 – 5.
  • Zalecane chwyty do trenowania:
    • Krawądki 14 – 20 mm
    • Dziurki na dwa palce 20 – 30 mm
    • Głębokie, przyjazne ścięgnom dziurki na jeden palec
  • Początkowo skup się na treningu na otwartych krawądkach oraz dziurekach w chwycie wyciągniętym.
  • Jeżeli nie jesteś w stanie wykonać wszystkich zwisów w serii, zmniejsz obciązenie.
  • Zaawansowani wspinacze mogą roważyć:
    • Dodanie drugiej serii dla każdej trenowanej otwartej lub zamkniętej krawądki;
    • Wykonanie dodatkowych serii na dziurkach na dwa palce (chwyt wyciągnięty) lub na ściskach.
Figura 2: Zrzut ekranu z filmu przedstawiającego sesję demonstracyjną metody “7-53”.

Metoda “7-53” Erica Hörsta – trening wspinaczkowy siły palców na chwytotablicy – wnioski

W swojej metodzie treningu wspinaczkowego siły palców Eric stosuje koncepcję 3-sekundowego marginesu bezpieczeństwa. Ten sam pomysł wykorzystywany jest przez Evę López w jej metodach MaxHangs [4][5][6]. Według Erica metoda “7-53” jest niezwykle wydajna czasowo. Wykonanie trzech pełnych serii trwa jednie 12 minut. Eric twierdzi, że dzięki wieloletniemu treningowi przy użyciu metody “7-53” udało mu się zwiększyć dodatkowe obciążenie z którym ćwiczy na krawądce 14 mm z 22.5 kg do 41 kg. Ponadto według Erica metoda ta ma być doskonałym przygotowaniem do bardziej wymagających zwisów na jednej ręce [7]. To podejście oparte na małej objętości treningowej przy zachowaniu wysokiej intensywności jest zbieżne z aktualnymi wynikami badań naukowych, gdzie wykazano, że zwiększenie objętości treningu niekoniecznie przekłada się na zwiększony przyrost siły [8].

Wydajna czasowo i prosta w zastosowaniu metoda, która nie wyzwala uczucia zmęczenia i spompowania.

Oprócz wypowiedzi Erica znalazłem też kilka interesujących opinii dotyczących protokołu “7-53” na forum The Rock Climber’s Training Manual [9]. Większość forowiczów zgodziła się, że metoda “7-53” jest w istocie wydajna czasowo i prosta w zastosowaniu. Nie odnotowano wystąpienia spompowania przedramion, co oznacza, że zaangażowany jest głównie beztlenowy bezmlekowy system energetyczny.

Brak wystąpienia pompy mięśniowej jest ogólnie charakterystyczny dla treningu siły maksymalnej. Bazując na moim doświadczeniu związanym z omawianą metodą mogę dodać, że występuje tu pewien element wtrzymałości siłowej. Trzeci zwis jest zwykle trudniejszy do wykonania niż dwa poprzedzające. Mimo to ja też nigdy nie czułem się spompowany. Wspinacze nie donosili także o uczuciu ogólnego zmęczenia po sesji treningowej na chwytotablicy z metodą “7-53”, które to uczucie pojawia się przeważnie po sesji przeprowadzonej typową metodą Hangboard Repeaters. Jest to jednak normalne dla treningu siły maksymalnej palców na chwytotablicy – nie powinno się czuć dużego zmęczenia. Nie obawiaj się jednak, siła na pewno będzie przyrastać, Eric ręczy za to słowem! W końcu to jego ulubiona metoda trenowania na chwytotablicy!

Jeśli masz jakieś pytania lub komentarze nie wahaj się skontaktować ze mną. Zasubskrybuj blog by być na czasie z nadchodzącymi artykułami na temat nowoczesnych metod w treningu wspinaczkowym! 


  1. E. Hörst, Training4Climbing Podcast #10: Maximum Strength Fingerboard Training’, Mar. 1, 2017. (link)
  2. Layec, G., Bringard, A., Vilmen, C., Micallef, J.-P., Le Fur, Y., Perrey, S., Cozzone, P.J., Bendahan, D., 2009. Does oxidative capacity affect energy cost? An in vivo MR investigation of skeletal muscle energetics. European Journal of Applied Physiology 106, 229–242. (link)
  3. Cooke, S.R., Petersen, S.R., Quinney, H.A., 1997. The influence of maximal aerobic power

Quick summary

8-month finger strength training program – Abstract

Background: Running a full-time professional career, a family, and a blog leave me with little time do train and sleep for recovery. I can rarely afford to go to the gym, let alone climb outdoors. The bulk of my training consists of hangboarding. In this post, I describe the results of my eight-month hangboard finger strength training program with Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders routine.

Objective: To verify how much I can progress my absolute and relative finger strength while undergoing a weight loss intervention, and under conditions of chronic sleep deprivation.

Design: The hangboard training program consisted of three training cycles. After each cycle, I increased the hang loads. I trained three hold positions, the 14 mm edge full crimp, 14 mm half crimp, and 20 mm 3-finger pocket. I tested my maximum finger strength with 7-second hangs on a 20 mm edge in half crimp position (MVC-7 HC 20).

Results: With the program, I increased my MVC-7 HC 20 absolute strength from 108 kg to 116 kg. During the last training cycle, I managed to reduce my body weight from 65.5 kg to 61 kg through Intermittent Fasting and Low Carbohydrate/Keto Diet. As a result, I increased my relative finger strength from 163.5% to 190%, allowing me to improve from the 7A benchmark to 7B benchmark level on the Moonboard Masters 2017 hold setup.

Conclusions: Hangboard training is an effective and efficient method of improving maximum finger strength. Satisfactory gains can be expected despite inadequate sleep and undergoing a weight loss intervention. Losing weight contributed to the increase of my relative finger strength and allowed me to progress my Moonboard bouldering level significantly.

Hangboard finger strength training – Introduction

Finger strength is one of the most important, if not the most important aspect of sport climbing and bouldering. I found on multiple occasions that a thoroughly executed finger strength cycle on a hangboard allowed me to send projects, on which I’d been stuck for months. I’ve been hangboarding practically ever since I started climbing, back in 2005. The first hangboard workout I ever tried was the fingerboard moving hangs, described by Eric Hörst in his book “Training for Climbing” [1]. It’s basically a strength endurance training routine, and the good thing about it was that it was safe, a significant factor for a beginner climber I was at the time. Still, it was not until 2010 that I became serious about hangboarding and made it the cornerstone of my rock climbing training. I began experimenting with Hangboard Repeaters, and for a long while, it became the only hangboard exercise I did [2]. But in 2018, I noticed that I wasn’t able to add more weight to the hangs any more and that my strength had plateaued. I went out on a search for purely strength-oriented hangboard training methods, and I started with the Eva López MaxHangs [3][4]. The results were pretty impressive, and I began to gain strength quickly. At that point, I read “Logical Progression” by Steve Bechtel, and I became immediately interested in his new approach to rock climbing training [5]. If you don’t know who Steve Bechtel is, you can listen to one of his interviews at [6].

Finger strength is the most crucial facet of sport climbing and bouldering. If you're stuck on a grade, first check if your finger strength is sufficient to progress!

Last year, after testing a couple of different hangboard strength training routines, including the “7-53” protocol by Eric Hörst, and the One Arm Hangs hangboard training routine, I decided to finally try out Steve’s 3-6-9 Ladders strength training workout [7]. I must admit that, like many other climbers, I was a bit skeptical in the beginning, because I came across opinions that the loads used in the protocol are insufficient to trigger neural adaptations [8]. Still, I figured Steve surely knew what he was doing, and besides, I wasn’t risking much anyway. In this post, I will briefly describe the finger strength training progress I made in 2019/2020 with this underrated, but safe and surprisingly effective rock climbing training protocol.

Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders finger strength training Cycle 1

According to the protocol instructions, the first thing you

Quick summary

One Arm Hangs hangboard training routine

The One Arm Hangs protocol was made popular by Chris Webb-Parsons, an Australian V15 boulderer [1]. The protocol is known for being a very intense training method, putting a lot of stress on both arms and elbows, so it should best be used only by climbers capable of bouldering in the upper V-range [2]. The One Arm Dead Hang can be particularly useful to climbers who are so strong that they need to add very high loads, even over 50 kg, to make their two-handed hangs challenging enough, and for whom reducing the hold size may at some point become painful [3]. Since the One Arm Hangs protocol is very different from any two-handed hangboard protocol, if you never tried it before, you are likely to notice quick strength gains, owing to the entirely new stimuli it provides. This can make One Arm Hangs the perfect tool whenever you need to break through a plateau.

A very intense finger strength training method, recommended for climbers who can boulder above V8.

One Arm Hang hangboard training protocol details

  1. Choose a hold and adjust the load so that you can hang one-handed for 5 – 10 seconds.
    • Preferably use an edge and the half crimp grip position.
    • Other holds are also possible but are less recommended.
  2. For the chosen grip position:
    • Hang one-handed for 5 – 10 seconds in the slightly bent arm position.
    • Repeat the hang for the other arm.
    • Rest 2 – 5 minutes.
  3. Perform a total of 3 hangs for each arm according to step 2.
  4. For the chosen grip position:
    • Hang one-handed for 5 – 10 seconds in the 90° bent arm position.
    • Repeat for the other arm.
    • Rest 2 – 5 minutes.
  5. Perform 3 hangs for each arm according to step 4.
  6. For the chosen grip position:
    • Hang one-handed for 5 – 10 seconds in the full lock-off position.
    • Repeat for the other arm.
    • Rest 2 – 5 minutes.
  7. Perform 3 hangs for each arm according to step 5.

One Arm Hangs hangboard training routine remarks

  • Make sure your arms are fully warmed up ready to take high loads.
  • Best if you can do a one-arm pull up on a jug, or at least be able to comfortably lock-off with one arm for a couple of seconds.
  • Using a pulley system to reduce the load may actually be better than using a rope for assistance.
  • Keep your scapula retracted, particularly with the slightly bent arm hangs.
  • Concentrate on preventing your body from spinning – if not using a rope for assistance.
  • If you can’t hang for 5 – 10 seconds on any hold, use a pulley system to reduce your weight.
  • Start on a deeper edge, keep adding weight and work your way down to smaller holds.
  • The optimum hang time is between 5 – 7 seconds –  10 seconds can be too hard on the shoulder.
  • This is a strength training protocol, so rest as long as you need to be able to properly execute the hangs.

Table 1: One Arm Hangs hangboard training protocol summary.

One Arm Hangs
Hang test time [s]5 - 10
MVC-7 load92 - 106%
Hangs/position6 (3/arm)
Hangs/set18 (9/arm)
Hang time [s]5 - 10
Rest betw. hangs [min] 2 - 5
TUT/arm [s]45 - 90
Total time [min]17 - 42

One Arm Hang climbing hangboard training cycle

  • The training cycle below is the CWP training cycle adapted to using a pulley system, rather than an assisting rope.
  • A typical cycle is 12 weeks long, broken into two 6-week blocks.
  • Perform at least 2 sessions per week.
    • Weeks 1 – 2
      • Execute the protocol with 10-second hangs.
      • Use a pulley system to adjust the load properly.
    • Week 3:
      • Execute the protocol with 5-second hangs.
      • Increase the load accordingly, to make the 5-second hangs challenging.
    • Week 4
      • Execute the protocol with 10-second hangs.
      • Use the load from Weeks 1 – 2.
    • Week 5:
      • Execute the protocol hanging as long as you can.
      • Use a higher load than in Week 3, to fail in under 5 seconds.
    • Week 6:
      • Rest
    • Weeks 7 – 8:
      • Execute the protocol with 5-second hangs.
      • Use the load from Week 3.
    • Week 9:
      • Execute the protocol with 10-second hangs.
      • Reduce the load in comparison to Weeks 7-8.
    • Week 10:
      • Execute the protocol with 5-second hangs.
      • Use the load from Weeks 7 – 8.
    • Week 11:
      • Execute the protocol hanging as long as you can.
      • Use a higher load than in Week 10, to fail in under 5 seconds.
      • Compare your maximum hang times with hang times from Week 5.
    • Week 12:
      • Rest

One Arm Hangs load vs. climbing level

In 2018 an interesting study was published, in which bouldering level was related to one arm finger strength. For the tests the Beast Fingers GRIPPŪL apparatus was used, with a 19 mm edge, in-cut 15 degrees [4]. Unfortunately, the exact test procedure is not thoroughly explained, so it is difficult to relate it to results of other tests.

Quick summary

Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders hangboard finger strength training

The 3-6-9 Ladders hangboard finger strength training routine was developed and popularized by Steve Bechtel, who is a well-known climber, coach, and writer. His aim was to create an effective hangboard finger strength training program that could be safely used all year round, both off-season and during the season, while not leading to overtraining or injury. The main idea behind Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders program is to reduce the loads to the necessary minimum and progress the volume, leading to increased time under tension (TUT) [1]

According to Steve, the program does not require any specialized hangboards, leads to less fatigue and reduced injury risk, and is sustainable over long periods of time. While the initial strength increase may not be as spectacular as in the case of the MaxHangs protocols, the gains will be more persistent, as they will originate from the development of more efficient neurological pathways, rather than from improvements in energy-system efficiency, as it is the case with high-intensity training [2].

Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders protocol details

  1. Choose 3 – 4 different grip positions.
    1. Try to include full crimp, half crimp, and open hand grip positions.
  2. For each grip position determine the load that will allow you to hang for a maximum of 12 seconds.
  3. For each chosen grip position perform the following sequence 3 – 5 times:
    1. Hang 3 seconds, rest 10 – 60 seconds;
    2. Hang 6 seconds, rest 10 – 60 seconds, or more;
    3. Hang 9 seconds. That’s one set.
  4. Rest as needed between sets, typically 3 – 5 minutes.
  5. In week 4 of the training cycle add a 12-second hang to each set.

Table 1: Steve Bechtel’s Ladders protocol summary.

Steve Bechtel's Ladders
Hang test time [s]12
Margin [s]0 - 9
MVC-7 load88 - 95%
Positions3 - 4
Sets/position3 - 5
Hangs/set3 - 4
Hang time [s]3 - 12
Rest betw. hangs [s]10 - 60+
Rest betw. sets [min]3 - 5
TUT [s]162 - 360
Total time [min]30 - 141+

Steve Bechtel’s Ladders routine remarks

  • You may adjust the rest time as needed – make sure you don’t get pumped.
    • Long rests lead to strength gains through neurological factors, such as muscle recruitment and firing rate.
    • Short rests lead to strength gains through hypertrophy (muscle growth).
  • If you’re new to the protocol, start with lighter loads – about 90% MVC-7 and see how it feels.
  • Keep a clear and detailed log of your hang loads, rest times between hangs and between sets.
Training log for Steve Bechtel's Ladders hangboard finger strength protocol.

Figure 1: Make sure to keep a log of your hang loads, rest times between hangs and between sets.

3-6-9 Ladders hangboard finger strength 4-week training cycle

  • A typical Ladders hangboard finger strength training cycle is four weeks long.
  • Perform two sessions per week.
  • Start with three hold types.
  • Schedule:
    • Week 1:
      • For each hold type perform 3 sets, that’s 9 sets in total per session.
    • Week 2:
      • For each hold type perform 4 sets, that’s 12 sets in total per session.
    • Week 3:
      • For each hold type perform 5 sets, that’s 15 sets in total per session.
    • Week 4:
      • Add a 12-second hang to each sequence, making it 3-6-9-12. For each hold type perform three sets, that’s 9 sets in total per session.
  • After completing the 4th week, perform a 12-second strength assessment for each hold type and increase the loads accordingly.
  • Add anywhere from 2 – 5% body weight after each 4-week cycle.
  • You want to keep adding weight over a long period. Increasing the load too early will lead to a plateau.

Bechtel’s Ladders hangboard finger strength routine results and discussion

The main idea behind Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders hangboard finger strength training protocol is to effectively improve finger strength, without running the risk of injury or overtraining, while still being able to climb outdoors regularly. To achieve this goal, the program relies on progressing volume rather than load. To support his strategy, Steve refers to a research paper from 1983, where it was shown that seven daily 1-minute actions at 30% of max resulted in around a 30% gain in strength in just six weeks, indicating that low loads can successfully be applied to strength training [3]. This approach was met with some skepticism amongst experienced climbers because the study Steve refers to was done on untrained men doing isometric squats. Furthermore, it was argued that the low loads in the Ladders hangboard finger strength training program would be insufficient to trigger strength gains in the case of experienced athletes [4]. Indeed, the most critical issue with the current state of literature is that the majority of studies were carried out on untrained subjects, while it is well established that trained individuals respond differently than those who lack training experience [5][6].

It is currently generally accepted that loads of at least 65% 1RM (one-repetition maximum) are required to trigger hypertrophy, and even higher loads are needed to maximize strength

Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routine – quick summary

Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routine

The Maximum Hangs (MaxHangs) protocols were developed and popularized by Eva López, a Spanish elite climber, coach, and sports scientist [1]. The training protocols are low volume and high intensity. When first introduced, the MaxHangs hangboard routine was faced with some skepticism, because of the relatively short time under tension (TUT), compared with, e.g., Hangboard Repeaters or Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders [2][3]. However, despite the program’s low volume, Eva López was able to prove the extreme effectiveness of her routines scientifically.

Since then, MaxHangs have become widely accepted in the climbing community [4]. Eva’s findings are in line with the results of recent research, which show that a low volume routine can be just as effective as a high volume one while being significantly more time-efficient [5]. The protocol can be executed in two versions, the minimum edge with no added weight (MaxHangs MED) and with added weight (MaxHangs MAW). Both methods trigger neural adaptations through short TUT and high loads (75 – 103% of MVC) [6]

Trigger neural adaptations efficiently through low volume, short time under tension, and high loads.

MaxHangs MAW-MED 8-week training cycle spreadsheet

Setting up your own training cycle can be challenging, particularly in the case of routines such as the MaxHangs, where it's necessary to calculate added load, edge depths, and other parameters. That's why I have created functional Excel spreadsheets for StrengthClimbing registered Premium Users.

All you need to do is register for a 1-month subscription plan and download the Excel spreadsheet. The MaxHangs MAW_MED training spreadsheet features a complete 8-week training plan that consists of 4 weeks of MaxHangs MAW and 4 weeks of MaxHangs MED. You may train various hold positions, from half crimp and full crimp through 3-finger drag, 2-finger pockets, and even pinches.

The training sessions are programmed, and hang loads are calculated automatically, although advanced users will find the spreadsheet easy to customize to modify their training plans. You just need to measure your finger strength based on the step-by-step instructions included, and the rest is done automatically.

And in case you have any additional questions, as a Premium User, you get full technical support. I can also help you customize the training plan according to your goals. On top of that, you get access to all StrengthClimbing Premium Content, including articles, instructional videos, tools, and training programs!

Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routine

Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routine details (MED)
  1. Choose an edge on which you can hang for only 6 – 20 seconds.
  2. Hang for 5 – 15 seconds (leave a 1 – 5-second margin), rest for 3 – 5 minutes.
  3. Complete 2 – 5 sets.
To follow this protocol you will need a hangboard with progressively small edges, like the Progression and Transgression hangboards, developed by Eva López, or the adjustable Fingerschinder portable wooden hangboard [7][8]. Still, it should be reasonably easy to make your own board with different size wooden edges. The way I do it is that I insert 2 mm thick cardboard strips into the edge slots of my Zlagboard, as you can see in Figure 1 [9].

Figure 1: Cardboard strips in the edge slots of the Zlagboard, to adjust edge depth.

Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routine details (MAW)

  1. Choose a grip position to train.
  2. Add enough weight to be able to hang for only 6 – 20 seconds.
  3. Hang for 5 – 15 seconds (leave a 1 – 5-second margin), rest for 3 – 5 minutes.
  4. Complete 2 – 5 sets.

Table 1: MaxHangs protocol summary.

Hang test time [s]6 - 20
Margin [s]1 - 5
MVC-7 load75 - 103%
Sets2 - 5
Hang time [s]5 - 15
Rest betw. sets [min]3 - 5
TUT [s]10 - 75
Total time [min]3 - 21

Eva López MaxHangs strength training protocol remarks

  • Always warm up properly before doing the MaxHangs hangboard routine.
    • Perform three to four sets with increasing added weight or decreasing edge depth (50 – 90% of the previous session’s load) [4].
  • The number of MaxHangs sets can be varied between 2 – 5.
    • Beginners should start with two sets.
  • The hang time can be varied between 5 – 15 seconds.
    • Typical hang time: 10 seconds
  • The margin is also called the effort level (EL)  and may be varied between 1 – 5 seconds [10].
    • Leaving a margin leads to similar results as reaching failure, but reduces the risk of injury.
    • Typical margin: 3 seconds
  • The rest time between sets can be varied between 3 – 5 minutes.
    • Typical rest time between sets: 3 minutes
  • For the MaxHangs MED protocol, an edge between 5 – 10 mm is usually chosen.
    • During each set try to assess the time margin you have left on the hangs.
      • If you feel like your margin exceeds 3 – 5 seconds, decrease the edge depth by 1 – 2 mm, according to the perceived effort.
      • If you feel like your margin approaches


The “7-53” fingerboard protocol – quick summary

The “7-53” climbing finger strength routine

The “7-53” hangboard routine, was developed by Eric Hörst to effectively train maximum finger strength for rock climbing. The idea behind the 7-second time under tension (TUT) and the 53-second rest was explained in the T4C podcast [1]. According to Eric, full recovery between two maximum hangs takes about 3 minutes and is divided into two phases [2][3]. In phase one, which is 50 seconds long, the mitochondria resynthesize ATP to restore phosphocreatine (PCr) intercellular stores. This phase is crucial, and it’s enough to allow completion of at least another two hangs. The second phase, which takes the remainder of the 3 minutes, is not as important for strength training. These short 53-second rest intervals between three consecutive hangs are practically the only thing that distinguishes the “7-53” hangboard routine from the Eva López MaxHangs protocols, where the rest times between each hang are always three to five minutes [4].

The first sixty seconds of rest are crucial for phosphocreatine resynthesis and recovery.

"7-53" hangboard routine phosphocreatine restoration dynamics

Figure 1: PCr restoration dynamics according to [3].

The “7-53” fingerboard protocol details

  1. Choose two to five different grip positions. Consider including:
    1. Half crimps
    2. Full crimps
    3. Three-finger pockets
    4. Two-finger pockets: index-middle (IM), middle-ring (MR) and ring-pinkie (RP) – advanced
    5. Deep monos
  2. For each grip position determine the amount of added or subtracted weight, allowing you to hang for 10 seconds.
  3. For each grip position:
    1. Hang for 7 seconds, rest for 53 seconds.
    2. Complete a total of 3 hangs per set.
  4. Rest 3 – 5 minutes and switch to the next grip position.
  5. Complete a total of 2 – 5 sets.
The “7-53” protocol
Hang test time [s]10
Margin [s]3
Sets2 – 5
Hang time [s]7
Rest [s]53
Rest betw. Sets [min]3
TUT [s]42 – 105
Total time [min]9 – 27

Table 1: The “7-53” finger strength protocol summary.

The "7-53" protocol
Hang test time [s]10
Margin [s]3
MVC-7 load92 - 97%
Sets2 - 5
Hang time [s]7
Rest betw. hangs [s]53
Rest betw. sets [min]3
TUT [s]42 - 105
Total time [min]7- 23

Eric Hörst’s “7-53” hangboard routine remarks

  • The number of sets can be varied between 2 – 5.
  • Recommended holds:
    • 14 – 20 mm edges
    • 20 – 30 mm two-finger pockets
    • Deep tendon-friendly monos
  • Initially focus on training the half crimp and open hand pocket positions.
  • If you can’t complete all the hangs, reduce weight.
  • Advanced climbers may consider:
    • Adding a second set for each full crimp and half crimp grips;
    • Doing additional sets of two-finger pockets (open hand) and pinch grips.

Figure 2: Screenshot from a “7-53” hanboard routine training session video.

Eric Hörst “7-53” strength protocol conclusions

You can see that Eric is incorporating the concept of the 3-second margin (effort level) into his protocol. The same idea is used by Eva López in her MaxHangs protocols [4][5][6]. According to Eric, the “7-53” protocol is very time-efficient; it takes only 12 minutes to go through three full sets. He claims to have improved from 22.5 kg to 41 kg added weight on a 14 mm edge over the years, and that this method is excellent preparation for one-arm hangs [7]. This high-intensity-low-volume approach is consistent with the results of recent research, where it was shown that increasing the exercise volume does not necessarily lead to higher strength gains [8].

Time-efficient and easy to follow protocol that does not leave you feel worked or pumped.

Apart from Eric’s testimony, I was able to find some interesting opinions on The Rock Climber’s Training Manual [9]. Most climbers in the forum agree that the “7-53” hangboard routine is indeed very time-efficient and easy to follow. No pump is reported, meaning that the alactic energy system is engaged, which is generally characteristic of maximum strength training. From my limited experience with the protocol, I can add that a certain strength endurance element is involved and the third hang in the set is always a bit tougher than the first and the second one. However, I also never actually got pumped. No feeling of being “worked” is reported after the training session, compared with the standard Hangboard Repeaters protocol, but that’s normal for maximum strength training – you shouldn’t feel tired. Don’t worry, gains will surely come, take Eric’s word for it. After all, it’s his favorite hangboard protocol! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me. Please subscribe to the blog, to keep up to date with the upcoming posts on cutting edge methods of climbing training!


  1. E. Hörst, Training4Climbing Podcast #10: Maximum Strength Fingerboard Training’, Mar. 1, 2017. (link)
  2. Layec, G., Bringard, A., Vilmen, C., Micallef, J.-P., Le Fur, Y., Perrey, S., Cozzone, P.J., Bendahan, D., 2009. Does oxidative capacity affect energy cost? An in vivo MR investigation of skeletal muscle energetics. European Journal of Applied Physiology 106, 229–242. (link)
  3. Cooke, S.R., Petersen, S.R., Quinney, H.A., 1997. The influence of maximal aerobic power on recovery of skeletal muscle following anaerobic exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology 75, 512–519. (link)
  4. Eva López Blog – Fingerboard Training Guide (II). Maximal grip Strength and Endurance Methods and Load Training management, May 23, 2018. (link)
  5. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Eva López MaxHangs hangboard
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