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!

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

    1. Hi!
      A single set of the “7-53” protocol is quite intense but very quick. That gives you a lot of room to play around with the volume.
      For example, you may want to do a quick session in the morning (say 2 – 3 sets) and then hit the gym or crag in the evening. I would repeat such a training day pattern up to three times per week. In any case, rest one day in between.
      Alternatively, if you’re off-season, you may want to make hangboarding the cornerstone of your training program. You could then increase the volume of some of the hangboarding sessions, go through multiple positions and sets. It would make sense to rest at least two days after such an exhaustive effort.
      Designing a well-balanced training program can be challenging. I often find climbers overtraining, getting injured, disheartened, and tired while making hardly any progress. A lot depends on your current training goals, fitness level, but more often than not, less is more.
      It’s always good to start with a limited training program, like one hangboard session per week. This allows your body to adapt to the new stimuli and reduce the chance of injury. If you see progress, that’s great; it’s all you need. When you feel like you’ve stopped improving, increase the volume. If the volume becomes too high, reduce it, and increase the load instead. The key is to be consistent and to have a reliable assessment procedure to monitor your progress every 4 – 6 weeks.

  1. Hi there, great homepage. I just tried the Hörst protocoll a first time. I tried adding 15 kg for the first set of 3 hangs in a half crimp position. that went smoothly. for the second, also in half crimp, i was already having some difficulties for both my fingers opening and the shoulder activity. I also tried to add a third set with 10 kg in open hand position.

    my question: should I reduce the weight even for the first set so I can succeed also in the second. or, shall i cascade down the weight and reduce it e.g. to 12.5 kg for the second set of same hangs?

    when do I know I should increase weight, once succeed in all sets aimed for or already if the first set of 3 hangs succeeds?

    kindly robert

    1. Hi Robert!

      Thank you for your question. The Horst “7-53” protocol is one of the most aggressive methods out there. Eric recommends setting the weight so that you can hang for 10-seconds. That’s typically 96% of your max. In my experience, only very strong climbers are able to do 3 full sets at such a high load. For you, I would recommend to set the load at 90 – 94%, so do a 12 – 15 second test, and see if you can do 3 full sets. If the intensity feels just right, please get used to training with such weight by doing a full 8 – 12 week cycle. Afterwards consider increasing the weight or choosing a different protocol. Varying the training methods is key.

  2. Hi, Jerimiah I love the website. I’m now in my 40s and have been climbing since 2007. I tested today as we speak…. 10mm with 80lb for 8.5 seconds almost 9 seconds. My weight is around 150-152. I just started hangboarding full-time in April and only used it once before for a route that had a mono clip in it (I wanted to make the mono clip). However, can a 43-year-old still make some gains? The level I currently boulder is v11 on the tension board this summer and v10 outside. Just did two v10s outside recently this past spring. In terms of Max, I only dare try one max load per session. I also train 6mm pull-ups and perform also one max set. I rest 72 hours between session attempts.

    Hoping to bag an outdoor 11 this fall.

    Thanks,
    Paul

    1. Hi Paul! Thanks for the message! You certainly have super strong fingers! In terms of isometric finger strength, you could be sending even V13. However, there’s always the question of the Rate of Force Development (RFD), contact strength, and other factors like core strength and flexibility. Regarding your question, you can definitely still make gains, but the question is whether you should focus on pure hangboarding or on more dynamic training. What we could do is measure your RFD, but you need a dedicated tool for that, like the Tindeq Progressor (inexpensive) or the Exsurgo gStrength (quite costly). If you can get your hands on one of these, you can send me the results, and I can tell you more. I can also help you if you’d like to set up a training program.

      Cheers,
      Jędrzej

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