Climbing Finger Strength Analyzer 2.0

Climbing Finger Strength Analyzer 2.0

The Climbing Finger Strength Analyzer will allow you to see how strong your fingers truly are. Simply add a load to your harness and hang two-handed or one-handed on the edge of your choice for as long as you can.  You may use either the half crimp or open crimp hold position. Input your height, arm span, body weight, and select your current mode of hangboard training. The analyzer will then predict your average bouldering level. 

The result will give you a basic idea of how hard you should be able to boulder at the moment and how much stronger you need to get to progress. It will also allow you to determine whether it’s strength or technique that is potentially holding you back! So get your weight belt on, or hang a bucket full of sand from your harness, hop on the hangboard, and see if you’re the next Alex Megos!

Please let me know if the result was accurate for you! I would appreciate it if you could provide your input parameters together with your result in the post comments section. This will help me improve the algorithm in the future!

Important: Warm-up your fingers and shoulders thoroughly before performing the tests, or before engaging in any climbing training. This will not only help you to avoid injury, but the result of the analysis will also be more accurate. To obtain the best results, follow the detailed instructions on how to use the Finger Strength Analyzer in the sections below.

Your Input
Body parameters:
Finger strength module:
Mode 1: At least twice a week, including weighted hangs
Mode 2: At least once a week, but I mainly do Repeaters
Mode 3: I do some random hangboarding from time to time
Mode 4: I don't use a hangboard at all - I just climb!

5

10

15

20

25

5

10

15

20

25

30

Pull-ups module: on off

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

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12

13

14

15




Calculated Results

Climbing Finger Strength Analyzer – Instructions

Below are the detailed instructions on how to use the calculator to get the best results.

  1. Warm-up your fingers and shoulders thoroughly! This will help you to:
    • Avoid injury;
    • Get more accurate results.
  2. Pick an edge between 5 – 25 mm deep.
    • Using the 20 mm edge will let you compare your result directly with the Lattice Training standard.
    • The calculator uses an algorithm to convert between different edge depths, but an element of uncertainty is introduced.
  3. Decide on the hang time you will aim for.
    • You will get the best accuracy for 7-second hangs (MVC-7).
    • Beginners and climbers with limited hangboarding experience should use 10-second (MVC-10), or even 15-second (MVC-15) hangs.
    • The calculator can convert between different hang times using a slightly altered version of the Rohmert’s curve [1].
  4. Decide on the hold position.
    • Both half crimp and open crimp positions are allowed.
    • Choose your stronger position.
  5. Perform a series of 3 – 4 progressively heavier recruitment hangs in the chosen hold position on the selected edge.
    • To be able to generate maximum force, you need your muscles to be recruited!
    • Use at least 10-second hangs to allow sufficient time for recruitment.
    • Start at your body weight and keep adding around 5 – 10 kgs to each consecutive hang until the hangs start feeling hard.
    • Rest 1 – 3 minutes between recruitment hangs.
  6. Rest for 10 – 15 minutes after your last recruitment hang and start the maximum finger strength testing procedure.
  7. Based on your recruitment hangs, try to predict the load allowing you to hang for the test time you’re aiming for.
    • Hang in the half crimp or open crimp hold position for as long as you can.
    • Adjust the load based on how hard it was to achieve the hang time that you aimed for.
    • Rest 3 – 5 minutes and repeat the measurement.
    • Execute up to 8 test hangs, until you feel like you can no longer improve your result.
  8. Input your height, body weight, the added hang load, test edge depth, and maximum finger strength test hang time into the calculator. You can use negative numbers to subtract weight.
  9. Select the mode of hangboard training you are using.
    • If you do max hangs regularly, your test result will be higher than for people who only do Repeaters or don’t train on the hangboard at all. The calculator takes that into account.
  10. Take a look at your result.
    • If it’s lower than what you normally climb, then:
      • Consider redoing the test after a couple of days to see if it’s not just a matter of getting used to the test procedure and to doing maximum strength tests.
      • What about your technique? Is it possible that you can compensate for your low strength with flexibility or experience?
      • Think about your preferred climbing style. Do you excel at climbing slabs or overhangs?
      • When was the last time you climbed? Your strength may have deteriorated since then.
    • If your result is higher than what you normally climb, then:
      • Think about your training – are you in the middle or at the end of a maximum strength training cycle? Make sure that the correct hangboard training option is selected.
      • What about your technique?
        • Do you tend to power through moves?
        • Do you rely enough on your feet?
        • Are you flexible?
      • When was the last time you climbed? Your strength may have improved since then.
  11. If you can, please write a comment with your input and results. This will help me improve the tool in the future!

Important: Remember that the analyzer tool should only serve as an aid in your training and that it provides just a rough climbing grade prediction! The quality of the analysis strongly depends on the quality of the input you provide.

Example measurements

Let’s take a look at the following examples to see how to perform the maximum strength measurements correctly. 

First of all, remember to warm up thoroughly – only warmed up muscles are capable of performing at their full potential. The warmup should include your fingers, your forearm flexor muscles, and your shoulders.

Next, perform a series of hangs at bodyweight on progressively more difficult holds, to trigger initial muscle recruitment. Further recruitment will be done during your test hangs, so you will likely achieve your best result in the third or fourth test hang, and not in the first one or even int the second one.

Take 3 – 5-minute rests between the test hangs, to allow full phosphocreatine regeneration [2].

Example 1: Correct

The goal is to determine the MVC-7, which is the maximum lead with which the climber can hang for a full 7 seconds only.

  • Hang 1:
    • Added load: 0
    • Result: 16 s
  • Hang 2:
    • Added load: 6 kg
    • Result: 13 s
  • Hang 3:
    • Added load: 9 kg
    • Result: 7 s
  • Hang 4:
    • Added load: 9 kg
    • Result: 3 s – climber was not focused
  • Hang 5:
    • Added load: 9 kg
    • Result: 7 s – confirmation of the result
  • Hang 6:
    • Added load: 9 kg
    • Result: 3 s – climber was already tired

Final recorded result: MVC-7 is bodyweight + weight of clothes + 9 kg

Example 2: Correct

The goal is to determine the MVC-10, which is the maximum lead with which the climber can hang for a full 10 seconds only.

  • Hang 1:
    • Added load: 6 kg
    • Result: 10 s
  • Hang 2:
    • Added load: 6 kg
    • Result: 7 s – climber did not recover from the previous hang or was not focused
  • Hang 3:
    • Added load: 6 kg
    • Result: 15 s – full muscle recruitment was reached
  • Hang 4:
    • Added load: 9 kg
    • Result: 10 s
  • Hang 5:
    • Added load: 12 kg
    • Result: 4 s – the load was too high
  • Hang 6:
    • Added load: 9 kg
    • Result: 9 s – climber was already tired

Final recorded result: MVC-10 is bodyweight + weight of clothes + 9 kg. Notice that the climber did not settle for the result of Hang 1 and continued the measurement to reach a better result in Hang 3 and in Hang 4.

Example 3: Incorrect

The goal is to determine the MVC-7, which is the maximum load that allows the climber to hang for a full 7 seconds only.

  • Hang 1:
    • Added load: 6 kg
    • Result: 7 s – done!

Final recorded result: MVC-7 is bodyweight + weight of clothes + 6 kg.  Surely the climber could have done better in the subsequent hangs. Such a measurement will lead to an underestimated result of the analysis.

Example 4: Incorrect

The goal is to determine the MVC-7, which is the maximum lead with which the climber can hang for a full 7 seconds only.

  • Hang 1:
    • Added load: 0 kg
    • Result: 28 s – climber got very tired and burned out the PCr completely. Full recovery will take more than 5 minutes.
  • Hang 2:
    • Added load: 3 kg
    • Result: 14 s – climber was tired
  • Hang 3:
    • Added load: 6 kg
    • Result: 13 s – climber began to recover
  • Hang 4:
    • Added load: 9 kg
    • Result: 6 s – tired from previous hangs
  • Hang 5:
    • Added load: 8 kg
    • Result: 7 s – tired

Final recorded result: MVC-7 is bodyweight + weight of clothes + 8 kg.  This is an underestimated result because the climber got very tired after the first 28-second test hang. Based on the extrapolation of the result of Hang 1, the actual MVC-7 result should be at least +12 kg.

As you can see, taking a good measurement requires some effort and a conscious approach. Also, notice that it’s far more likely that your result will be underestimated rather than overestimated. Overestimation of the output may occur if you:

  • Use a test edge that’s bigger than you realize;
  • Use a sped-up timer;
  • Turn the pull-ups module off and rely solely on your finger strength measurement, while your upper body strength is very low;
  • Have a very big discrepancy between your half crimp and open crimp strength;
  • Never try hard enough while climbing on the rock or at the gym;
  • Set the wrong training mode, e.g., Mode 4 instead of Mode 1;
  • Climb in rock formations that don’t suit your style;
  • Climb in sandbagged areas.

If you exclude all the above cases, and your result is still overestimated compared to your true average bouldering level, please let me know – perhaps the algorithm requires an adjustment.

Output interpretation

In principle, the calculator outputs your average predicted climbing grade, based on your current fitness level. This means that it gives you the grade, at which you should be able to project and send a boulder problem within a reasonable time and number of attempts – something like  1 – 3 sessions at the most. To understand this concept better, let’s look at the results of the r/climbharder survey from 2017 [3].

The r/climbharder survey has 555 records, where climbers specify their height, weight, max hang added loads and a lot of other useful parameters. The most interesting part is that the respondents also specify their bouldering level, but they give three different grade values:

  • The average bouldering grade, meaning the grade they can climb 90 – 100% of the time
  • The maximum grade they climbed in the last three months
  • The maximum grade they ever climbed

Out of all the survey responses, 157 were useful for testing the analyzer because they contained complete information required to perform the calculation. I analyzed all 157 records and it turns out that the output from the calculator is closest to the reported maximum grade that the climbers climbed in the last 3 months – roughly 50% of the calculated results lied within the +/- 1 V grade range of accuracy. This should come as no surprise because the calculator takes into account the currently measured parameters of the climber.

However, about 35% of the results reported were more than a single V grade higher than the prediction from the analyzer, and 15% were lower. Therefore the algorithm has a tendency to underestimate the maximum grade climbed in the last three months. Still, this is understandable, because the maximum grade climbed is clearly at the high end of what the climber can achieve.
I will publish the results of a more thorough statistical analysis of the r\climbharder survey records in a separate post.

Hint: To estimate your Moonboard level, subtract 2 V grades on average from your result. So if the result of the calculation is V6, you can expect to climb V4 on the Moonboard. The Moonboard is not sandbagged, it just requires a correction factor 😉 

Climbing Finger Strength Analyzer – Algorithm Overview

In numerous research publications, it was shown that the Maximum Voluntary Contraction (MVC) of the finger flexors, measured by means of a hangboard is a very good predictor of the climber’s performance on the rock [4][5][6][7][8][9]. The trend I observe is to perform the measurements using one-handed hangs, but measurements performed using two arms are also valid [10]. The advantage of two-arm hangs is that, in contrast to one-arm hangs, they rarely require the assistance of a pulley system. Instead, the load is often added to the climber’s weight rather than subtracted. 

The core of the Climbing Finger Strength Analyzer is the data from the MaxToGrade internet poll published at [11]. As of May 2020, the survey was filled in by over two thousand climbers from the V1 – V17 climbing range. The results of the survey are characterized by very high variability and low reliability, as it is impossible to control data acquisition in any way. However, up to V13 bouldering level, the mean value seems to be consistent with the results published by Lattice Training on their Instagram [12].

The current Climbing Finger Strength Analyzer version 2.0 was significantly improved compared to the initial version 1.0 that was developed in Mar. 2019. Version 1.0 was based solely on my interpretation of the data from [11]. In version 2.0, the results published in [12] were also taken into account.

The algorithm was modified to satisfy cases I found on the internet forum discussions, in various internet articles, as well as those taken from my own research database. I also introduced a new module that takes into account the climber’s height and arm span as well as the frequency and intensity of their hangboard training. An auxiliarly Pull-ups module was added that renders it possible to fine-tune the result.

Impact of the climber’s height

The influence of the climber’s height and weight on their climbing performance and the finger strength required for them to boulder on a certain level is a neverending discussion. If you’re interested, you can read multiple Reddit threads and other articles that touch on that topic [13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21].

I thoroughly reviewed these sources, as well as the comments on my blog and Facebook posts. In the end, I concluded that statistically, taller climbers require less finger strength relative to their body weight to climb a particular grade. With this approach, the algorithm was able to satisfy most of the investigated cases with decent accuracy. However, I would be grateful for any constructive feedback in the comments. This will help me introduce further adjustments to the program and also better understand the phenomena underlying the high variability of the results. 

Impact of training mode and familiarization

As I studied the results submitted by climbers on Reddit, I realized that people who rarely use the hangboard in general report lower relative finger strength required for them to climb on a given level than those who train with maximum hangs regularly. The above observation may, to some degree, be attributed to the effect of familiarization. It was reported that higher strength scores could be obtained if the finger strength test is repeated after one week [4]. What is more, climbers with little hangboarding experience usually don’t know how to measure their MVC to obtain the maximum possible result. 

On the other side of the spectrum, by observing my results, I noticed that during maximum strength training cycles, my MVC-7 is significantly higher than during hypertrophy cycles, when I mostly do 7/3 Repeaters. I believe this effect to be related to the differences between central nervous system adaptations during maximum strength and hypertrophy cycles.

That is not to say that the results of the measurements are not valid, but I think that it makes sense to introduce a correction factor both for people who do train maximum hangs and for people who don’t use the hangboard at all. With the correction algorithm, I was able to make sense of the results reported by the climbers on internet fora, people who commented under my blog and Facebook posts, as well as from the assessments I performed on myself and on the climbers that I coached.

Edge depth and hang time conversion

As mentioned before, the best accuracy of the measurements is obtained if the measurements are performed on a 20 mm edge for 7-seconds hang time. However, a 20 mm edge is not always available, and MVC-7 tests can prove to be too risky not only for climbing beginners but also for advanced climbers if they don’t have enough hangboarding experience.

For these reasons, I implemented an algorithm that makes it possible to relate different hang times on different edge depths to the baseline MVC-7 at 20 mm edge results. The edge depth conversion algorithm is based on generally available results, as well as on my own experience and on the experience of professional coaches with whom I discussed this subject [22]

The hang time to maximum strength calculation is based on my variation of the Rohmert’s curve [1]. You can find more information on the Rohmert’s curve and other hang time mathematical models in [23].

Impact of grip type

Originally Lattice Training recommended carrying out the tests in the half crimp hold position [10]. However, in their more recent publication, they allow both the half crimp hold position and the open crimp position. The full crimp and three finger drag positions remained disallowed [9].

It may happen that there is a big discrepancy between your half crimp and open crimp strength. In that case, you should use the stronger grip position. You can also experiment and take the average from the two measurements, to see if that improves the accuracy.

Example test input cases

  1. Adam Ondra
    • Weight: 68 kg
    • Height: 185 cm
    • Arm span: 186 cm
    • Added hang load (one arm, 5 sec, 23 mm edge, open crimp): 10 kg [4][21]
    • Training mode: Difficult to say, but probably somewhere between Mode 1 and Mode 2
    • Pull-ups module: OFF
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V15 (8C)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result at the time of the test: V16 (8C+)
  2. Alex Megos
    • Weight: 57 kg
    • Height: 173 cm
    • Arm span: 173 [24]
    • Added hang load (one arm, 7 sec, 20 mm edge): 18 kg [21]
    • Training mode: Probably Mode 1
    • Pull-ups module: OFF
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V17 (9A)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result: V15/V16 (8C/8C+)
      • Alex never did a 9A, but he is so strong that I guess he should be able to do it.
  3. Magnus Midtbø
    • Weight: 69 kg
    • Height: 174 cm
    • Arm span: 174 cm
    • Added hang load (one arm, 7 sec, 20 mm edge: 5 kg): [25]
    • Training mode: Difficult to say, but probably somewhere around Mode 2 now
    • Pull-ups module: OFF
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V13 (8B)
    • Calculated by Lattice Training from their test: V13 (8B)
  4. Climber 1 (personal database)
    • Weight: 110 lbs
    • Height: 61 inch
    • Arm span: 61 inch
    • Added hang load (two arms, 7 sec, 14 mm edge): 100 lbs
    • Training mode: Mode 1
    • Pull-ups module: OFF
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V10 (7C+)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result: V10 (7C+)
  5. Climber 2 (personal database)
    • Weight: 125 lbs
    • Height: 64 inch
    • Arm span: 64 inch
    • Added hang load (two arms, 7 sec, 20 mm edge): 45 lbs
    • Training mode: Mode 3
    • Pull-ups module: OFF
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V5 (6C)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result: V6 (7A)
  6. Climber 3 (personal database)
    • Weight: 57 kg
    • Height: 164 cm
    • Arm span: 163 cm
    • Added hang load (two arms, 10 sec, 20 mm edge): 0
    • Training mode: Mode 4
    • Pull-ups module: OFF
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V2 (5+)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result: V3 (6A)
  7. Climber 4 (personal database)
    • Weight: 67 kg
    • Height: 172 cm
    • Arm span: 184 cm
    • Added hang load (two arms, 7 sec, 20 mm edge): 61 kg
    • Training mode: Mode 1
    • Pull-ups module: OFF
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V11 (8A)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result: V10 (7C+)
  8. Reddit Climber 1 (r/climbharder survey)
    • Weight: 78 kg
    • Height: 184 cm
    • Arm span: 184 cm
    • Added hang load (two arms, 10 sec, 18 mm edge): 35 kg
    • Training mode: Mode 4
    • Pull-ups added load: 30 kg (5 rep max)
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V10 (7C+)
    • Reported best ever bouldering grade result: V11 (8A)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result (last 3 months): V10 (7C+)
    • Reported grade at which can send 90% – 100% problems: V8 (7B) [26]
  9. Reddit Climber 2 (r/climbharder survey)
    • Weight: 68 kg
    • Height: 180 cm
    • Arm span: 181 cm
    • Added hang load (two arms, 10 sec, 18 mm edge): 64 kg
    • Training mode: Mode 1
    • Pull-ups added load: 30 kg (5 rep max)
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V11 (8A)
    • Reported best ever bouldering grade result: V10 (7C+)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result (last 3 months): V10 (7C+)
    • Reported grade at which can send 90% – 100% problems: V7 (7A+) [26]
  10. Reddit Climber 3 (r/climbharder survey)
    • Weight: 58 kg
    • Height: 175 cm
    • Arm span: 178 cm
    • Added hang load (two arms, 10 sec, 18 mm edge): 20 kg
    • Training mode: Mode 2
    • Pull-ups added load: 23 kg (5 rep max)
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V6 (7A)
    • Reported best ever bouldering grade result: V8 (7B)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result (last 3 months): V8 (7B)
    • Reported grade at which can send 90% – 100% problems: V5 (6C) [26]
  11. Reddit Climber 4 (r/climbharder survey)
    • Weight: 59 kg
    • Height: 168 cm
    • Arm span: 168 cm
    • Added hang load (two arms, 10 sec, 18 mm edge): 9 kg
    • Training mode: Mode 1
    • Pull-ups added load: 4.5 kg (5 rep max)
    • Calculated average bouldering grade result: V2 (5+)
    • Reported best ever bouldering grade result: V7 (7A+)
    • Reported maximum bouldering grade result (last 3 months): V7 (7A+)
    • Reported grade at which can send 90% – 100% problems: V6 (7A) [26]
    • This is an example of a result that does not make any sense. Probably the climber did not measure the finger strength and pull-ups properly. I find it highly unlikely for a climber with such low parameters to consistently send V6 while being in a maximum finger strength training cycle.

Finger Strength Analyzer – conclusions

I believe that the Finger Strength Analyzer can serve as a powerful tool both for climbers and coaches. I find it very useful for designing training programs and in particular for optimizing training loads for strength training cycles. However, the tool is under constant development and your feedback is vital for its further improvement, so please don’t hesitate to comment and give me your opinion, particularly if you think that your results don’t make any sense. 

Please remember that the analyzer tool should only serve as an aid in your training and that it provides only a rough climbing grade prediction!

References

  1. Rohmert, W., 1960. Ermittlung von Erholungspausen für statische Arbeit des Menschen. Internationale Zeitschrift für Angewandte Physiologie Einschliesslich Arbeitsphysiologie 18, 123–164. (link)
  2. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Eric Hörst’s “7-53” finger strength hangboard routine, Jan. 21, 2019. (link)
  3. r/climbharder, Climbharder Survey results, Apr. 19, 2017 (link)
  4. Baláš, J., Mrskoč, J., Panáčková, M., Draper, N., 2014. Sport-specific finger flexor strength assessment using electronic scales in sport climbers. Sports Technology 7, 151–158. (link)
  5. Michailov, M.L., Baláš, J., Tanev, S.K., Andonov, H.S., Kodejška, J., Brown, L., 2018. Reliability and Validity of Finger Strength and Endurance Measurements in Rock Climbing. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 89, 246–254 (link)
  6. Baláš, J., Pecha, O., Martin, A.J., Cochrane, D., 2012. Hand–arm strength and endurance as predictors of climbing performance. European Journal of Sport Science 12, 16–25. (link)
  7. Fryer, S., Stone, K.J., Sveen, J., Dickson, T., España-Romero, V., Giles, D., Baláš, J., Stoner, L., Draper, N., 2017. Differences in forearm strength, endurance, and hemodynamic kinetics between male boulderers and lead rock climbers. European Journal of Sport Science 17, 1177–1183. (link)
  8. Macleod, D., Sutherland, D.L., Buntin, L., Whitaker, A., Aitchison, T., Watt, I., Bradley, J., Grant, S., 2007. Physiological determinants of climbing-specific finger endurance and sport rock climbing performance. Journal of Sports Sciences 25, 1433–1443. (link)
  9. Torr, O., Randall, T., Knowles, R., Giles, D., Atkins, S., 2020. Reliability and Validity of a Method for the Assessment of Sport Rock Climbersʼ Isometric Finger Strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 1. (link)
  10. 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)
  11. https://toclimb8a.shinyapps.io/maxtograde/ (link)
  12. Lattice Training – Instagram, Boulder Grade vs. Finger Strength (2 Arm), Mar. 16, 2020. (link)
  13. climbcore.wordpress.com – Ideal BMI, Height, Age for climbing (8a.nu data visualizing), Sept. 26, 2019. (link)
  14. C. Ring, Rock and Ice – The Height of Injustice: Is Being Tall an Advantage in Your Climbing Career?, Apr. 21, 2019. (link)
  15. A.J. Warnke, Climbstat – The disadvantage of being tall in rock climbing seems to be driven by higher weight, Dec. 16, 2018. (link)
  16. r/bouldering, How much does height affect bouldering?, Dec. 02, 2015. (link)
  17. r/bouldering, Harder being tall or short, Jan. 30, 2017. (link)
  18. r/climbing, Does height matter?, Feb. 21, 2018. (link)
  19. r/climbharder, Height, Climbing Performance and the Role of Weight, Sept. 28, 2019. (link)
  20. r/climbharder, 8-Month Hangboard Finger Strength Training Program Results, Apr. 06, 2020. (link)
  21. R. Knowles, Lattice Training, Height in Climbing, Aug. 10, 2017. (link)
  22. López-Rivera, E., 2014. Efectos de diferentes métodos de entramiento de fuerza y resistencia de agarre en escaladores deportivos de distintos niveles, Tesis doctoral, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha. (link)
  23. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders Hangboard Finger Strength Training, May 18, 2019. (link)
  24. r/climbing, I am Alex Megos, Ask Me Anything!, Nov. 05, 2014. (link)
  25. Magnus Midtbø, YouTube, WORLDS HARDEST CLIMBING TEST | #153, Mar. 29, 2019. (link)
  26. r/climbharder, Climbharder Survey results, Apr. 19, 2017. (link)

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14 thoughts on “Climbing Finger Strength Analyzer 2.0”

  1. Hasan Sarp Uçar

    Weight: 67 kg
    Height: 179 cm
    Arm span: 186 cm
    Added hang load (two arms, 10 sec, 15 mm edge): 0 kg
    Training mode: Mode 4
    Pull-ups added load: 50 kg (1 rep max)
    Calculated average bouldering grade result: V7 (7A+)
    Reported maximum bouldering grade result: V5 (6C+)
    But, I have bouldered outdoors only one time.( 4 days), Been bouldering 15 months indoors.
    Max Indoor boulder grade is V7

    1. Hi Hasan!

      Thank you very much for your input! It looks like you have some serious bouldering potential! Congratulations on reaching such a high level in only 15 months! Your upper body strength is very good, so you have a solid base for further development 🙂

      Good luck with your progress!

  2. Gunter Sissoko

    A couple of thoughts on how this could be improved:

    1. Information on specific hang boards because not every 20mm edge is alike. For example: Should the bottom edge on a bm 1000 be treated like an 18mm edge or a 15mm edge? It’s not exactly comparable to an 18mm edge on a transgression board. Having information on what to input for common hangboard holds would be helpful for getting accurate data.

    2. You probably shouldn’t make a recommendation about weight loss when the only information you have is height and weight. Healthy and optimal body weights are highly individual. It’s easy to look at someone’s weight and say that they’re too heavy for climbing, but you don’t know what their body composition is, or how dieting to lose weight will affect their mental health and physical health. I’m just under 6 feet tall and typically around 195 pounds. I’m probably somewhere between 12% and 15% bodyfat when I’m at that weight, and I do have to watch my food consumption and tolerate a baseline level of hunger to maintain it (and no, I have never trained deliberately to put on muscle, I’ve been this way since high school).

    Your calculator recommends that I lose weight, but I know that it would be very unpleasant to drop down to and maintain even 185 pounds. I tested inputing a weight of 175 pounds (20 pounds lower than my actual weight), and it suggested losing an additional 22 pounds. At 153 pounds, it said that I would be at my optimum weight. That would require me to lose 40 pounds even though I’m already at a weight that is healthy for me. This sort of thing is what eating disorders are made of.

    I’m sure that I would see short term gains in my climbing with some weight loss, but would operating at 10% bodyfat all the time really be beneficial to my climbing long term? Would I recover as effectively? Would I gain strength as effectively? Would I remain injury-free? Weight loss doesn’t provide cumulative improvements in climbing ability or strength. It doesn’t help you get stronger long term, and at a certain point it actually makes it harder to improve as a climber and to keep your body healthy. Most climbers aren’t so close to the limits of their strength potential that they’ll benefit more long term from weight loss than from a healthy amount of bodyfat that will allow them to train effectively. As climbers, we’re surround by disordered eating habits and a fetishization of unhealthy body weights. I think it’s pretty unhelpful to have your training calculator tell people to lose weight with very little information about their body composition. If you’re going to make recommendations like that, you should ask for climbers’ body fat percentage, and then give recommendations based on that. Here are example of what you could say (to men – women should be at a higher body fat percentage):

    20% body fat – You carry a fair amount of excess fat. Your climbing and health would benefit from losing some weight.
    12-15% body fat – you are at a good composition for training. If you plan to go on a climbing trip or have a project, consider losing weight for short term strength gains.
    10-12% – your body fat is quite low, try to stay at or above this level while training to minimize the risk of injury and maximize your ability to build strength.
    <10% bodyfat – Your body fat percentage is very low. Your training and injury risk could benefit from some weight gain. Your body composition is optimal for sending a hard project, but it is not recommended to maintain this body fat percentage long term.

    Those are some ideas of what you might say. Disclaimer: the specific numbers are informed more by my intuition than by science, but the principles are there. The important point is that the climbing community needs training resources that encourage health weights and healthy eating habits, not blanket recommendations to lose weight with minimal information about an individual’s body composition.

    1. Hi Gunter!

      Thank you for the comments! I think you’re probably right about the weight recommendation. I thought that since I have the height and weight, I could give some more feedback to the user, but it was supposed to be just some additional and marginal comment. Instead, it became the center of everybody’s attention, and it distracted people from essential things. Until now, nobody even commented on the impact of the climber’s height and arm span on the result, can you believe it? 🙂

      Sure, it would be best to base the recommendations on body fat %, but I think that asking the user for this data would be too complicated and unnecessary. Anyway, I used BMI because the numbers were already there, but I think I will remove this module altogether because it doesn’t seem useful.

      With that said, you ask some great questions about how climbing performance is related to body fat %. Earlier this year, I experimented with a period of low carbohydrate diet and keto diet. I got inspired to do it after listening to podcasts with Neil Gresham and Dave MacLeod and reading some very interesting articles on PubMed. As a result, I lost 5 kg of weight while in a strength training cycle, so my BMI was 20, and my body fat was probably around 10%. I felt very good, actually. I managed to increase my absolute strength form 114 kg to 116 kg, and my relative strength skyrocketed to almost 190% BW on the 20 mm edge. I managed to increase my Moonboard climbing level from 7A+ to 7B while remaining injury-free. Was it pleasant? No, it was not, I like eating unhealthy stuff, but it did help my performance. Anyway, that’s just my single case, and it doesn’t have to be the same for everybody, but I think Neil and Dave might be on to something 😉

      Regarding your comment about edge depth, I could introduce a selection of edges into the app, but the improvement in the accuracy would probably be marginal. Most errors originate from other issues anyway, like e.g., insufficient warmup or recruitment. I tested my strength on a 20 mm edge with a 4 mm radius and on the Lattice Edge (10 mm radius) on the same day, and the difference in the results was 3%, which I think can be considered negligible.

      Anyway, thanks again for your comments, and please stay tuned for the upcoming content!

    1. Hi!
      Thanks for this comment! It’s really encouraging to know that people find the site and the apps useful! I’m currently working on improving the program based on the feedback I got in the comments.

  3. How is the pull-ups module intended to be used? Pull-ups with the specified edge depth? Or from holding anything? While rested or immediately after or before a hang test?

    Thanks for your efforts!

    1. Hi Rob!
      The pull-ups test is to be done on a bar, or some comfortable jugs so that your grip strength does not influence the result. You need to be fully rested and well warmed up. It would help if you did some recruitment pull-ups before you perform the test with full added load.
      Based on the feedback I received from r/climbharder users, the pull-up strength is not a key predictor of your bouldering level – finger strength is much more critical. However, there certainly is some correlation, and the Analyzer will indicate if your pull-up strength is significantly lower or higher than what it is on average for your calculated bouldering level.
      Cheers,
      J.

  4. Hi, thanks for the useful tool. Would you be able to add a sport grade to the output?
    I don’t boulder much and find the grades quite confusing.

    1. Hi Ian!
      I’m glad you like the tool! To predict your sport grade you need to also look at your endurance profile. That means that a different algorithm is required. I’ve developed such a tool, but I haven’t published it yet. Right now, I only use it to calculate the sport climbing level of the climbers following my Experimental Hangboard Training Program. To gain insight into your endurance profile, you can take a test with the Climbing Critical Force Calculator. If you send me your test results (MVC-7, T80%, T60%, T45%, and BW), I can prepare an assessment for you, evaluate your physical parameters and give you some hints regarding which aspects to improve in order to progress.
      Cheers,
      Jędrzej

  5. Weight: 71 kg
    Height: 184 cm
    Arm span: 195 cm
    Added hang load (two arms, 7 sec, 17 mm edge): 32.7 kg
    Training mode: Mode 1
    Pull-ups added load: 43 kg (3 rep max)
    Calculated average bouldering grade result: V9 (7C)
    Reported maximum bouldering grade result: V7 (7A)
    to be fair, I have been able to train for a few months now with little to almost no climbing, and was only able to do 1 V7 boulder.
    it was hard for me to even do V5 when I started climbing again.

    1. Hi Ben, thank you for your comment! I analyzed your input. Indeed, the result is V9, so let’s see what happens here:

      First of all, you’re quite tall, and your ape index is very high. The algorithm is constructed in such a way that a positive ape gives you some additional points, based on the results of the climbharder survey mentioned in the post. A high ape index can definitely help on boulders with long reaches, so this is where you should excel.

      Second, your pull-up strength is also quite high for the grade, which gives you another bonus. It should be helpful for dynamic boulders.

      Without these bonuses, your result would be exactly V7, so if you want to score your personal best, try to look for a V9 boulder with a long dyno – this is where your strength should lie.

      If you mainly climb indoors, try to incorporate some pinch blocks training into your schedule, because indoor holds are often mainly pinches. Introducing some scapular pull-ups into your workout will help you unlock long, wide reaches and help you make the most out of your large wing-span.

      Anyway, I hope this helps:)
      Cheers,
      Jędrzej

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