Training

Hangboard Training Program – Piotr

Piotr is an extremely motivated and experienced lead climber, who excels at crimpy slabs and vertical walls. He lives in Mexico, where he has access to vast areas of high-quality virgin rock, which allows him to bolt his own new lines.

To me, Piotr is a bit of a mystery because, based on the score from my lead climbing grade prediction algorithm, his level should only be 5.11d (7a). So far, the algorithm has been pretty accurate at estimating the current lead climbing level for other climbers on the program. And yet just a while ago, Piotr managed to send his fourth 5.13a (7c+) route. I believe that what Piotr lacks in terms of physical determinants, he makes up for with experience, technique, a strong mental game, and commitment. On top of that, being six feet tall gives him an extra edge on crimpy and slabby routes. 

Piotr is currently climbing a lot outdoors, so he follows a low volume hangboard training program, which strikes an equal balance between strength and endurance development. It also needs to be mentioned that Piotr never really trained on the hangboard before, so he still has a huge potential for physical development. I believe that if he combines his improved strength and endurance with his technique and experience, he will significantly progress as a climber.

Climber on an overhanging route in Mexico

Photo: Piotr in his element – projecting a 5.13a route in Mexico.

Here's what Piotr says about the Program:

Tired of reading, analysing, and piecing together everything I found on- and offline, I decided to look for help. Being a 43-year-old with very specific needs, I decided to contact various online coaches, who unfortunately could or did not want to take me under their wings. Through sheer luck, I came across StrenghtClimbing website, and upon having read all (sic!) its content in one go, I decided to contact Jedrzej to ask a few questions. He got back to me quickly, answered all my Qs and offered help with training. I started Jedrzej's training programme 7 months ago. At present, I can feel my fingers (crimping and grip) much stronger than before and my endurance has grown substantially. For the very first time, I am motivated to train on a fingerboard, which I had avoided and used infrequently before. I meticulously write down my results and J meticulously gets back to me with his feedback. In short, I have found my coach!
Piotr
Sport Climber (Mexico)
5/5

Results of Cycle 1

When Piotr entered the program his MVC-7 on a 20 mm edge was only 114%, a result typical for a V5 climber. His critical force was 33% of his MVC-7, which is more common for boulderers than lead climbers. For sport climbers, this number normally lies above 40% and it’s not uncommon to see ratios as high as 50% or even 55%. Taking into account Piotr’s results, and the fact that he never trained systematically on the hangboard, I decided to put him on a balanced program, with a slight emphasis on endurance development.

Cycle 1 was three months long, from mid-June until mid-September when we ran the performance assessment. As a result, Piotr’s strength increased by 4 kgs, which is a very respectable 5% improvement. However, Piotr’s gains in terms of endurance were even more spectacular. In only three months his Critical Force went up to 40% MVC-7, and 47% body weight. In August Piotr confirmed his physical fitness by redpointing a 5.13a (7c+) project. 

I believe that Piotr still has some way to go before he’s ready to lead his first 5.13b route, but he’s on the right track, and with his commitment and discipline, it’s just a matter of time.

Table 1: Hangboard Training Program progress.

 06.202009.2020
Previous cycleJust climbingStrength/Endurance
MVC-7 (20 mm) [kg]8185
Body weight [kg]7171
MVC-7 (20 mm) [%BW]114%119%
CF [%MVC-7]33%40%
CF [%BW]38%47%
CF [kg]27
34
Score828947
Bouldering level predictionV5 (6C)V5 (6C)
Current bouldering levelV5 (6C) V5 (6C)
Lead level prediction5.11d (7a)5.12b (7b)
Current lead level5.13a (7c+)5.13a (7c+)

Figure 1: Critical Force as percentage of MVC-7 – progress plots.

Figure 2: Critical Force as percentage of bodyweight – progress plots.

References

Hangboard Training Program – Sam

Samantha is a super experienced lead climber, who has traveled worldwide and climbed rocks on almost every continent. She likes climbing bouldery routes, with short cruxes and good rests in between, but since her aerobic endurance is excellent, she can comfortably project longer routes as well. 

Sam’s Critical Force to MVC-7 ratio is high, reaching almost 50% (Table 1), so it is no surprise that she established her 5.13b (8a) personal best in Red River Gorge [1]. Because of that, we decided to emphasize strength development, to help her improve on overhanging and powerful routes. Sam trained diligently throughout May and significantly improved her finger strength, strength endurance, and aerobic endurance, as can be seen in the progress plots below.

At the moment, Sam is climbing mainly outdoors, so we reduced the training volume accordingly, but strength training remains the cornerstone of her hangboard program.

Table 1: Hangboard Training Program progress.

 04.202005.2020
Previous cycleMixedStrength
MVC-7 (20 mm) [kg]73.476.6
Body weight [kg]5858
MVC-7 (20 mm) [%BW]127%132%
CF [%MVC-7]49%49%
CF [%BW]63%65%
CF [kg]37
38
Score11111200
Bouldering level predictionV4 (6B+)V4 (6B+)
Current bouldering levelV6 (7A) V6 (7A)
Lead level prediction5.13a (7c+)5.13a (7c+)
Current lead level5.13b (8a)5.13b (8a)

Figure 1: Critical Force as percentage of MVC-7 – progress plots.

Figure 2: Critical Force as percentage of bodyweight – progress plots.

References

  1. mountainproject.com, Red River Gorge Climbing, July 10, 2006. (link)

Hangboard Training Program – Daniele

Daniele is a powerful all-round climber who specializes in bouldering but is also successful in sport climbing. He’s had a great summer so far, and he managed to set personal bests in both bouldering and lead climbing. His most spectacular achievement this year was climbing Souvenir 8A in Chironico, which was set by Fred Nicole [1]. Below you can see an example ascent video.  

Video 1: Example ascent video of Souvenir 8A.

Another success for Daniele this year was that he improved his personal best in sport climbing to 8a+ in August. Daniele prefers short and bouldery routes. When we look at his progress table, we can see that his Critical Force is currently 34% of his MVC-7, which is typical for boulderers. Still, because Daniele is very strong, his CF relative to bodyweight is 66%, which is definitely sufficient to send hard lead climbs. 

Focusing on improving his endurance would probably let Daniele reach 8b+ fairly quickly. However, since he has a preference for bouldering, we are emphasizing his finger strength development and working on his endurance as a secondary goal.

Table 1: Hangboard Training Program progress.

 05.2020
Previous cycleStrength
MVC-7 (20 mm) [kg]128
Body weight [kg]67
MVC-7 (20 mm) [%BW]191%
CF [%MVC-7]34%
CF [%BW]66%
CF [kg]44
Score1383
Bouldering level predictionV11 (8A)
Current bouldering levelV11 (8A)
Lead level prediction5.13c (8a+)
Current lead level5.13c (8a+)

Figure 1: Critical Force as percentage of MVC-7 – progress plots.

Figure 2: Critical Force as percentage of bodyweight – progress plots.

References

  1. Fred Nicole, Wikipedia. (link)

Hangboard Training Program – Jędrzej

I’ve been climbing since 2005, and since the beginning, my ambition was to send hard sport routes. However, my training focus revolved around bouldering and building strength, because I thought that if I got stronger, my endurance would also improve, a tip I read in one of the articles by Eric Hörst [1][2].

However, despite getting stronger and progressing significantly on the Moonboard, I couldn’t understand why I would very quickly get pumped when lead climbing. It was only later, after reading a paper by Lattice Training, that I discovered that the correlation between finger strength and endurance is very weak [3]. It is certainly valid for continuous hangs endurance, but not necessarily for intermittent hangs endurance, which is the key to sending difficult routes.

For these reasons, I designed my personal Training Program to put an equal emphasis on strength and endurance development. I started in July 2019 with and 8-month cycle of Steve Bechtel’s Ladders, which constituted the main part of my training sessions and helped me increase my finger strength significantly [4][5]. The second part of my sessions was a short 10 – 20-minute set of Endurance Repeaters [6]. The program proved very effective, and I managed to increase my finger strength and endurance significantly, as shown in Table 1 below. You can read the details of that part of my training program in [7]

Starting from April 2020, I began to focus on endurance development, by increasing the duration of the Endurance Repeaters exercise to 45 minutes. This change let me improve my endurance further, but I noticed that my finger strength began to decay. I want to become a better lead climber, but also to keep improving my bouldering, so now I’m trying to fine-tune the program to regain the finger strength level from Mar. 2020, while efficiently developing my endurance. On this page, you will find the details of my progress, as I follow the Experimental Hangboard Training program of my design.

Table 1: Hangboard Training Program progress.

 07.201909.201902.202006.202007.2020
Previous cycleMixedStrengthStrengthEnduranceStrength
MVC-7 (20 mm) [kg]108111114106108
Body weight [kg]6566626464
MVC-7 (20 mm) [%BW]166%168%184%166%169%
CF [%MVC-7]29%33%34%39%41%
CF [%BW]49%55%62%64%69%
CF [kg]32
36394144
Score11361193132013161373
Bouldering level predictionV7 (7A+)V8 (7B)V9 (7C)V9 (7C)V8 (7B+)
Current bouldering levelV6 (7A) (MB)V6 (7A) (MB)V8 (7B) (MB)V7 (7A+) (MB)V7 (7A+) (MB)
Lead level prediction7c+7c+8a+8a+8a+
Current lead level?????

Figure 1: Critical Force as percentage of MVC-7 – progress plots.

Figure 2: Critical Force as percentage of bodyweight – progress plots.

References

  1. E. Hörst, Training4Climbing, 5 Reasons Why Stronger Fingers Matter!, June 10, 2016. (link)
  2. D. Mirsky, Evening Sends – CATCH A HANGBOARD BUZZ, Oct. 15, 2014. (link)
  3. Giles, D., Chidley, J.B., Taylor, N., Torr, O., Hadley, J., Randall, T., Fryer, S., 2019. The Determination of Finger-Flexor Critical Force in Rock Climbers. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 1–8. (link)
  4. S. Bechtel, Training: Hangboard Ladders for Finger Strength, Climbing.com, Aug. 10. 2016. (link)
  5. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders hangboard finger strength training, May 18, 2019. (link)
  6. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Endurance Repeaters, May 2, 2019. (link)
  7. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – 8-Month Hangboard Finger Strength Training Program Results, Mar. 31, 2020. (link)

Personal Hangboard Training Program

Running a climbing website became an excellent opportunity for me to study training for climbing in-depth. After all, the best way to learn something is to write about it. It also made it possible for me to have in-depth discussions with the U.S., Australia, or Italy’s best professional coaches. I got to know some fantastic people who are very motivated to improve their climbing performance. Now, having read hundreds of scientific papers and books on the physiology of sports training, hangboarding, mechanisms of fatigue, and energy systems, and after adding my 15 years of climbing experience on top of that, I decided it was time to put knowledge into practice.

I used my engineering background to develop a unique climbing training system based on cutting edge climbing research and tested it on a group of athletes to ensure that it is effective and safe. The program comes in two versions, addressed to both boulderers and lead climbers. The training sessions are tailored to fit precisely my clients’ current goals and climbing schedules. Based on a set of metrics of my own design, I can determine which exact facets of the athlete’s profile need improvement, be it finger strength in a specific position, anaerobic, or aerobic endurance. I tested these assessment techniques and proven them accurate for a wide range of climbing levels, from 5.11 (6b+) up to 5.14d (9a).

If you’re interested in following my program, don’t hesitate to email me!  

As my course participant, you will receive:
  • Sport climbing training plans tailored to your current level and goals. This includes strength, endurance, and power training exercises.
    • The training routines are based on the most recent developments in climbing training.
  • A full assessment after each training cycle – roughly every two months
    • The assessment will allow me to plan the next training cycle and introduce adjustments to the training plan based on the progress. That includes a video call to discuss the results.
  • Ongoing support for the training
    • You can send me as many emails with questions as you like and I will answer them in 24 hours at the latest (possibly sooner) unless I’m on holiday. It will also be possible to ask questions through WhatsApp
  • Support regarding injury prevention and treatment – fingers, elbows, shoulders
  • You will learn a lot of interesting and useful things about training methods in general, which you will be able to apply throughout your whole climbing career!

Below you can find a ranking with the most recent test results of some of my athletes that follow the program. The ranking is based on the recent maximum finger strength test results [1] and Critical Force test results [2]. The results are then fed into an algorithm that outputs a score and the calculated predicted bouldering and lead climbing level. The tables also include the current climbing level reported by the climbers, as well as the personal best results. Click on the athlete’s name, to read the details of their progress so far.

Here's what people say about the Program:

Tired of reading, analysing, and piecing together everything I found on- and offline, I decided to look for help. Being a 43-year-old with very specific needs, I decided to contact various online coaches, who unfortunately could or did not want to take me under their wings. Through sheer luck, I came across StrenghtClimbing website, and upon having read all (sic!) its content in one go, I decided to contact Jedrzej to ask a few questions. He got back to me quickly, answered all my Qs and offered help with training. I started Jedrzej's training programme 7 months ago. At present, I can feel my fingers (crimping and grip) much stronger than before and my endurance has grown substantially. For the very first time, I am motivated to train on a fingerboard, which I had avoided and used infrequently before. I meticulously write down my results and J meticulously gets back to me with his feedback.
In short, I have found my coach!
Piotr
Sport Climber (Mexico)
5/5

Table 1: Personal Hangboard Training Program  – bouldering ranking.

RankNameMVC-7/BWCurrent levelPredicted level
1Daniele1.91V11 (8A)V11 (8A)
2Alberto1.81n.a.V10 (7C+)
3Jędrzej1.66V7 (7A+) (MB)V8 (7B+)
4Jose Miguel1.56V8 (7B+)V8 (7B)
5Dominik1.35n.a.V4 (6B+)
6Sam1.32V6 (7A)V4 (6B+)
7Piotr1.19V5 (6C)V5 (6C)
8Jose Antonio1.17V5 (6C)V4 (6B)

Table 2: Personal Hangboard Training Program  – lead climbing ranking.

RankNameScoreCurrent levelPredicted levelPersonal best
1Daniele13835.13c (8a+)5.13c (8a+)5.13c (8a+) in 08.2020
2Jędrzej1373above 5.12b (7b)5.13c (8a+)5.12b (7b) in 2014
3Jose Miguel12405.13c (8a+)5.13b (8a)5.14a (8b+)
4Sam12005.13a (7c+)5.13a (7c+)5.13b (8a) in 2019
5Alberto10935.13a (7c+)5.12d (7c)5.14a/b (8b+/c) in 2000
6Dominik10175.11c (6c+)5.12c (7b+)5.12a (7a+) in 2018
7Piotr9475.13a (7c+)5.12b (7b)5.13a (7c+) in 08.2020
8Jose Antonio8305.12b (7b)5.11d (7a)5.12b (7b) in 09.2020

References

  1. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Climbing Finger Strength Analyzer 2.0, June 25, 2020. (link)
  2. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Climbing Critical Force Calculator, May 19, 2019. (link)
Almost there...

Get updates on upcoming posts