Eric Hörst’s “7-53” finger strength hangboard routine

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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
Positions/Set1
Hangs/Position3
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
Positions/set1
Hangs/position3
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!

References

  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. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 1. (link)
  9. Eric Hörst 7-53 Hangs, The Rock Climber’s Training Manual, Mar. 20, 2017. (link)

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