If you are a sport or trad climber, then you will find forearm endurance critical. There are two types of endurance, anaerobic and aerobic, and both are crucial if you want to send hard. Both can also be effectively trained with well-designed protocols, described here in detail.
The Hangboard Moving Hangs (HMH) climbing training protocol was described by Eric Hörst in his book Conditioning for Climbers. Because the intensity of the exercise is rather low, even beginner climbers with a couple of months of training under their belt can give it a try.
The Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol is a perfect introduction to hangboarding, because it’s safe, it puts less strain on the shoulders than typical dead hangs, and it’s easy to do. This routine is a powerful and versatile technique for developing forearm endurance, and it is worth including in any climber’s training portfolio! I started hangboarding with the Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing endurance protocol myself, and I would recommend it to both beginners and advanced climbers.
The Eva López SubHangs strength endurance protocol is characterized by long hang times of up to 45 seconds, at relatively low loads, between 55 – 85% MVC-7. This approach is aimed primarily at improving strength endurance and potentially also strength itself, through hypertrophy. The Eva López SubHangs strength endurance protocol is quite similar to the more old fashioned way of hangboard training, where long hangs till failure were preferred. The protocol can be executed in two versions, the minimum edge with no added weight (SubHangs MED) and with added weight (SubHangs MAW). Use this method if you want to reduce recovery times between sustained sections of a route, or if you need to be able to hang on to small holds for longer!
The Zlagboard comes with a built-in Forearm Endurance Workout protocol. The idea behind the method is to generate a severe forearm pump, targeting the anaerobic lactic energy system and improving both the physiological and psychological tolerance to high acidic loads. While not very climbing-specific, the Zlagboard Forearm Endurance Workout might be just what you need to get you through long, hard, and pumpy cruxes. Boulderers may also benefit from faster regeneration between attempts, as well as from muscle hypertrophy caused by growth hormone release triggered by lowered blood pH. Go ahead and give the Zlagboard Forearm Endurance Workout a try if you like suffering, but keep your climbing goals in mind!
Endurance Repeaters are a less known modification of the standard 7/3 Hangboard Repeaters protocol. The idea behind this method is to perform intermittent hangs until failure, with the load reduced to only 30 – 40% of your maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). Such training is known to introduce adaptations, which include improved capillary density and vascular conductance, increases in size and density of the mitochondria, aerobic enzymes and fat oxidation, as well as sparing of muscle glycogen, reduced rates of lactate (La-) production and enhanced La- removal. Ultimately, you should expect improved oxygen supply to the muscles and better maximal endurance capacity. Give Endurance Repeaters a try if you often get pumped before you even reach the crux on those long sport routes!
The Intermittent Dead Hangs (IntHangs) protocols were developed by Eva López for strength endurance training. While similar to the classic Repeaters, IntHangs are generally characterized by lower volume. IntHangs should constitute only a part of a training session and be combined with other activities. lntHangs can be executed in two versions, the minimum edge with no added weight (IntHangs MED) and fixed edge with added weight (IntHangs MAW). Both methods trigger muscle hypertrophy because of the relatively long time under tension (TUT) and medium loads.
The classic 7/3 Repeaters are a typical strength endurance training protocol, designed to mimic the grip and relax sequence that is characteristic of climbing. The loads used are generally low, compared to the Eva López MaxHangs protocol, or to the Eric Hörst’s “7-53” protocol, which makes Repeaters safer for intermediate climbers. The rest times between hangs are on the other hand very short, typically just 3 seconds, which stimulates the anaerobic lactic energy system and inevitably leads to severe muscle pump. While Eric Hörst doesn’t consider repeaters to be the best strength endurance protocol, he still thinks it can be useful as a pre-season preparation for lead climbers.