Finger strength is the most critical quality in climbing, and all other skills derive from it. Finger strength should be trained regularly to maintain slow but steady progress. Fortunately, there exist many training protocols that are a surefire way to get you that iron claw you always craved!
In this post, I describe the results of my eight-month hangboard finger strength training program with Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders routine. My goal was to verify how much I can progress my absolute and relative finger strength while undergoing a weight loss intervention, and under conditions of chronic sleep deprivation.
With the program, I increased my MVC-7 HC 20 absolute strength from 108 kg to 116 kg. During the last training cycle, I managed to reduce my body weight from 65.5 kg to 61 kg through Intermittent Fasting and Low Carbohydrate/Keto Diet. As a result, I increased my relative finger strength from 163.5% to 190%, allowing me to improve from the 7A benchmark to 7B benchmark level on the Moonboard Masters 2017 hold setup. Go ahead and find out the details!
The One Arm Hangs protocol was made popular by Chris Webb-Parsons, an Australian V15 boulderer. The One Arm Hangs can be particularly useful to climbers who are so strong that they need to add very high loads, even over 50 kg, to make their two-handed hangs challenging enough, and for whom reducing the hold size may at some point become painful. Since the One Arm Hangs protocol is very different from any two-handed hangboard protocol, if you never tried it before, you are likely to notice quick strength gains, owing to the entirely new stimuli it provides. This can make One Arm Hangs the perfect tool whenever you need to break through a plateau.
Steve Bechtel designed his 3-6-9 Ladders protocol as an effective and safe strength training method that can be used both off-season and during the season, while not leading to overtraining or injury. His idea was to reduce the load to the necessary minimum and progress the volume instead. But that does not mean that the loads used are light! Try an 8-week cycle with Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders protocol to trigger both neural and structural adaptations of the forearm muscles!
The Maximum Hangs (MaxHangs) protocols were developed and popularized by Eva López. The training protocols are low volume and high intensity, and their effectiveness is scientifically proven! MaxHangs became widely accepted in the climbing community and are among the most popular hangboard protocols. The routine can be executed in two versions, the minimum edge with no added weight (MaxHangs MED) and on a fixed edge depth with added weight (MaxHangs MAW). Both methods trigger neural adaptations through short TUT and high loads.
The Maximum Weight “7-53” protocol is a highly effective strength training method developed by Eric Hörst as something in between the classic 7/3 Repeaters protocol and Eva López’s MaxHangs. This highly time efficient protocol is the middle ground between strength and strength endurance training, and it is recommended for intermediate and advanced climbers. With this method, Eric progressed from 22.5 kg to 41 kg added weight on a 14 mm edge and it’s his favorite hangboard protocol!