Developing stronger fingers is important when you want to take your climbing to the next level. There are four main reasons why you want more finger strength. The first is because you need the extra grip to be able to grab and hold onto small ledges. Second, you need the strength to recover on small holds. Third, stronger fingers will give you more endurance on submaximal holds and forth, stronger fingers have more stamina. If your fingers are weak they will become tired and you will lose your grip faster.
Exercises for increasing finger strength
Beginning climbers should focus on doing a lot of climbing to build their finger strength. Using an indoor climbing center is perfect for building finger strength and skill. More experienced climbers should spend more time on targeted training do develop the finger flexor muscles of your forearms.
Basic finger strength training exercise for beginners
The first and most basic exercise for starting strength training to increase grip strength should be done gradually. This is the ideal way to start if you’re new to rock climbing. Begin by using a fingerboard or a gym bar if you don’t have access to a fingerboard. Start by hanging from the bar or the board by your fingertips, using both hands and all fingers. When you first begin it may be hard to hang on for longer than 5 seconds at a time. Don’t push yourself too hard, but try to hang for five seconds at a time, then rest for two minutes and repeat for two sets. Perform this training exercise twice per week until your finger strength increases, then gradually increase the hang time to 12 seconds with two minute rests in between. Continue with sets of three twice a week until you’re ready to take on more challenging strength training exercises.
Simple home finger strengthening exercise
An exercise that you can do from the convenience of your home is to mount a round bar in a high location where you can grab onto it with two fingers and hang. This is a recommended beginner exercise from a champion rock climber. Make sure to chalk the surface to help you keep your grip. Grab onto the bar with two fingers on your right hand and hold on to the bar for 12 seconds then release your grip. Repeat with the left hand and follow the same steps. This helps to strengthen the fingers and the associated muscles in the arm that give your fingers their gripping strength. Repeat in sets of five with two minute rests in between. Do this exercise twice per week when you’re just starting out to avoid over stressing the nerves and other tissues in your arms and fingers.
Practice with your fingerboards for a beginner’s finger strength training exercise. With this exercise, you move laterally across a section of mounted finger grips moving from right to left. move to increasingly higher holds on the fingerboards for about ten feet, then turn around and make your way back down to build grip strength using all your fingers and increasing skill for ascending and descending in your climb. This exercise is moving towards the level for an intermediate climber. It is challenging for the muscles and nerves and should be done after you’ve reached a mid-strength level already.
Minimum Edge Training
This is an entry-level training exercise that uses a fingerboard. Purchase a fingerboard that has a variety of different sized finger holes. The fingerboards should be mounted in a place where you can hang with all your weight suspended. Begin by placing your fingers in the holes near the bottom and hang with your body weight suspended. Hang for 12 to 15 seconds and begin with half crimp or open hand crimp grips.
As you progress in strengthening your fingers, start adding in open hand and pinch grip training. These exercises will help to strengthen the muscles in your arms and increase your finger strength dramatically over time.
Avoid training with a grip that causes your thumb to lock over the index finger. Train in sets of five 12 second hangs with a two-minute rest in between each set. Start out with two sets per training session. when you begin to advance, add more sets until you are at five to six sets per session. Add the pinch grip in the advanced sessions and allow between five and six minutes rest periods in between each set. As your strength increases use smaller pockets and ledges.
Maximum Weight Fingerboard Training
Use larger holds for training but add weight to your body. the fingerboard will offer more comfortable holds. You will add weight to your body by fastening a set of weights clipping them to the belay loop of your harness. Use edges less than one finger pad in depth.
Select the hold and test weights to find the maximum weight you can support on the hang for 10 seconds before failure. Once you’ve found the ideal weight, you’re ready to begin the training.
Find a hold on the fingerboard and hang for a total of seven seconds, then let go and rests for 53 seconds precisely. Repeat this three times to complete one set. Allow a period of 3 minutes rest time and complete a total of three complete sets. Beginners in this exercise may begin with just two sets and advanced climbers may use up to 5 sets two times per week. Do not go over twice per week because your tissues need time to recover. You don’t want to cause physical damage to your body.
A few more tips on strength training for the fingers
Finger strength training is important for making sure that you have the stamina that you need for safe and enjoyable rock climbing. It is a process that isn’t completed quickly. When you do it the right way, you start out slowly to protect your finger and arm tissues and nerves from becoming damaged by over stressing them. Being patient is the best approach but you should also be consistent. It’s a good idea to start a training journal. Write down the day that you start with your beginning strength training. Write down what you do, how long you spend doing it and which days you train so you can keep track. Some beginners have more finger strength than others. If this is the case, you may be able to do a little more such as holding on a little longer than some others and doing a few more sets in your session. Just remember it’s important not to overdo it because an injury can set you back in reaching your strength training goals.
Finger strength training is difficult and it can even be painful when you first begin. If you stay with it, you’ll soon see the difference and you’ll be glad you started. It gets easier. If you don’t have access to fingerboards when you start out, you can use other types of structures to practice but make sure that they are safe and sturdy so you don’t fall. For the most effective training, get a set of hangboards as soon as you can. By following these recommendations and the five exercises recommended you will improve in your strength and stamina for safer and more enjoyable climbing.
If you are new to our blog, check our Climbing Resources:
- Rock Climbing Shoes for Wide Feet
- Climbing Shoes Care
- Climbing Rope Care
- Fitting Guide for Climbing Shoes
- Overcoming the Fear of Falling
- Full Body Strength Exercises for Rock Climbing