Contact strength (RFD) in rock climbing - Introduction

If you're a sport climber or boulderer, you know that finger and upper body strength are crucial for success in these disciplines [1][2]. However, while often overlooked, finger Rate of Force Development (RFD), often termed contact strength, is another highly critical factor. Moreover, the higher your level, the more important it becomes since dynamic moves on small holds become more common as the grades rise [3].

RFD is the ability to generate force quickly, which is essential for explosive movements like dynos and deadpoints. In sport climbing and bouldering, where holds can be small and difficult to grip, RFD can make all the difference between sending or falling off.

In this article, I'll focus on ways and tools used to measure and evaluate and your finger RFD practically. I'll also explain how to decide when to focus on finger strength (MVC) and RFD training and when to introduce it into your training program.

The article features an instructional video, where I show step-by-step how to determine your RFD using the Tindeq Progressor accurately [4].

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Finger Rate of Force Development measurements for rock climbers - summary

The Rate of Force Development (RFD) or contact strength is, next to finger and upper limb strength, a critical parameter determining rock climbing performance, especially at high levels. However, not everyone needs to engage in contact strength training. For lead climbers and amateur boulderers, it's usually more important to work on their finger strength (MVC) [5].

To decide when to start contact strength or power training, you should measure your RFD using a dedicated tool, such as the Tindeq Progressor, or Exsurgo gStrength, and compare the result with your Peak Load measurement. Based on this calculation, you may decide between finger strength and contact strength training and properly plan your subsequent training cycles. RFD measurements and analysis are easy to perform on your own with the Tindeq Progressor. To do it, you can follow the step-by-step instructions I have provided in the video included in this article.


  1. Laffaye, G., Levernier, G., Collin, J.-M., 2015. Determinant factors in climbing ability: Influence of strength, anthropometry, and neuromuscular fatigue. Scand J Med Sci Sports. (link)
  2. Laffaye, G., Collin, J.-M., Levernier, G., Padulo, J., 2014. Upper-limb Power Test in Rock-climbing. Int J Sports Med. (link)
  3. Vereide, V., Andersen, V., Hermans, E., Kalland, J., Saeterbakken, A.H., Stien, N., 2022. Differences in Upper-Body Peak Force and Rate of Force Development in Male Intermediate, Advanced, and Elite Sport Climbers. Front. Sports Act. Living. (link)
  4. (link)
  5. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Dr. Tyler Nelson’s New Active Finger Strength Training Protocols, Mar. 23, 2023. (link)

MaxHangs MAW-MED 8-week training cycle spreadsheet

Setting up your own training cycle can be challenging, particularly in the case of routines such as the MaxHangs, where it's necessary to calculate added load, edge depths, and other parameters. That's why I have created functional Excel spreadsheets for StrengthClimbing registered Premium Users [1].

Trigger neural adaptations efficiently through low volume, short time under tension, and high loads.

All you need to do is register for a 1-month subscription plan and download the Excel spreadsheet. The MaxHangs MAW_MED training spreadsheet features a complete 8-week training plan that consists of 4 weeks of MaxHangs MAW and 4 weeks of MaxHangs MED. You may train various hold positions, from half crimp and full crimp through 3-finger drag, 2-finger pockets, and even pinches.

Start with four weeks of MaxHangs MAW, followed by four weeks of MaxHangs MED, to complete a full 8-week cycle and maximize gains.

The training sessions are programmed, and hang loads are calculated automatically, although advanced users will find the spreadsheet easy to customize to modify their training plans. You just need to measure your finger strength based on the step-by-step instructions included, and the rest is done automatically.

And in case you have any additional questions, as a Premium User, you get full technical support. I can also help you customize the training plan according to your goals. On top of that, you get access to all StrengthClimbing Premium Content, including articles, instructional videos, tools, and training programs!

Good luck with your finger strength training!


  1. J. Banaszczyk, StrengthClimbing – Eva López MaxHangs Hangboard Routine For Finger Strength, Apr. 29, 2019. (link)

Finger strength measurements for rock climbers - Introduction

If you're serious about training for climbing, monitoring your progress, and making the most out of your hangboard training, you need to have a clear finger strength benchmark. Just as you would measure the 5RM or 1RM load for your bench press or pull-ups, you can measure the maximum load for your fingerboard hangs. There are a few different methods for determining maximum finger strength, or Maximum Voluntary Contraction (MVC), as it is often called. In this article, I focus on the first and most basic method: measurement using two-handed weighted hangs. Then, I will explain other techniques in separate posts, including one-arm hang and dynamometer measurements.

In principle, it all sounds straightforward. Just add load to your harness, grab a stopwatch, choose an edge and hang away. In fact, it truly isn't difficult. However, a few nuances and factors need to be considered if you want to perform the perfect finger strength measurement. In this article, you'll find all you need to make accurate and reliable maximum finger strength tests that can later serve as a solid benchmark for designing your own finger strength and forearm endurance training drills and in-depth climbing data analysis.

Below, you'll also find my Simple MVC-7 calculator allowing you to convert any 5 - 20-second weighted or unloaded hang to MVC-7. Here you'll find detailed instructions on how to use the program.

I also made a short video to guide you through the MVC-7 measurement process to ensure that your measurements are perfect every time.

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Simple MVC-7 calculator instructions

Using the MVC-7 calculator is extremely simple. Type in your body weight and added hang load, and choose the test edge and the test time. You instantly get your result recalculated to standard MVC-7 on a 20 mm edge.

By default, select the Intermediate mode. The Beginner and Expert modes lead to significant differences only for longer test times. You may need to experiment a bit to determine which model is the most accurate for you at the moment.

Finger strength measurements for climbers - summary

Accurately measuring your finger strength is critical for evaluating your climbing performance. It lets you know how strong you are and opens the door for making meaningful endurance measurements and monitoring your training progress.

In this post, I have comprehensively covered how to measure your finger strength using the two-handed weighted hangs method. This method is simple and effective for intermediate and advanced climbers. However, strong individuals and pros will likely prefer one-arm methods or using a dynamometer, which will be covered in my future posts.

On top of that, I have also included a Simple MVC-7 calculator program, which will allow you to quickly convert any two-handed measurement on an arbitrary edge depth to a standardized 20 mm MVC-7 result. If you have any questions, go ahead and let me know. Good luck with your measurements!


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