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!
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.
Finger strength is one of the most important, if not the most important aspect of sport climbing and bouldering, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to get stronger. With a single cycle of Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders protocol, I was able to increase my finger strength by 4%, without running any unnecessary risk of getting injured! The finger strength I gained allowed me to send some of my long-term projects on the Moonboard, and solidify my 7A benchmark level! Now I’m starting a second cycle to see how much I can still improve with this extremely effective, but largely underrated hangboard finger strength training protocol. You can find my documented finger strength training progress in this post.
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!