Fingerboard Training 101
I admit, I am not a very religious trainer.
Recently I have developed a bit of a base jumping problem. Which though it does seem to make you extra brave (and, you can fly which is obviously awesome!) not very surprisingly, does ZERO for the finger strength. Hmmm.
Luckily I have a wonderful climbing wall in my backyard, and climbing on it is so much fun that I end up “training.” I like to set very long problems, which are a lot like routes at Rifle, and mark the moves with tape. This way I have lots of climbing projects, and keeps it entertaining when I am the only one out on the wall, which is usually. I have about 15 or 20 problems on the wall right now. The longest one has 54 moves. The pink problem is kind of my top project right now–I usually use pink or purple duct tape for the hardest problems to make sure people like them.
When I start to get really motivated about training, kind of like now, I start lifting weights at the gym, along with climbing on my wall and climbing outside, and I add in a very elementary fingerboard workout. I am amazed at how doing basically not very much on the fingerboard always leads to significant results, fast.
I feel totally confident that my fingerboard workout is safe and noninjurious for all, since I am not a huge training fiend myself. It is definitely a beginner/intermediate workout, but like I say, yields noticeable benefits 🙂
Usually I warm up on my easy problems on the wall, work on my projects for a while, and then eventually my skin starts to hurt, and I am suddenly unmotivated to do any more climbing. When this happens, it’s time for the fingerboard workout. Usually I do this on day 2 of my climbing/lifting days, so it’s the last climbing/upper body thing before a rest day (“rest day” means running, base jumping and skydiving).
I happen to have a nice So Ill fingerboard which I like very much, but I imagine they are all good. The workout is simple. Start on the biggest hold (on mine, it’s the sloper on the top), and do a reasonable amount of pullups. This amount could be 3, it could be 10. It’s up to you. Make sure you do them well, slowly, with no thrutching. Quality is more important than quantity.
Then move down to the next smallest hold (on mine, it’s the big edge below the top sloper). Do one less pullup than you started with–could be 2, could be 9. Then move to the next smallest hold, and do one less pullup. If you started with 3, this is it. Whenever you get down to one, it’s time to start going back up your pyramid, back to where you started. And that’s it. It hardly takes any time at all!
At the moment, I do 6 pullups on the sloper, take it down to 1 pullup on the tiny pockets, and go back up to 6 on the sloper. I make sure to rest for a couple of minutes between sets (usually a good opportunity to weed or rake leaves out of my cactus gardens). So the whole workout doesn’t take more than 15 or 20 minutes. In a week or so, I’ll probably start at 7.
I did this last winter when I kept hurting my legs BASE jumping, and I couldn’t believe how much stronger I got after just a few weeks. I went from being injured and not climbing for months, to being able to do one of my hardest redpoints. And I’m pretty sure it was all because of my fairly non-impressive fingerboard workout. At the time I thought, “geez, I’d better do this all the time!” Naturally, I didn’t. Suddenly I have the fingerboard motivation again, and after only a week and a half (this means a grand total of 3 fingerboard workouts), I am noticing instant finger strength improvement again! It really does work.
Geez, I’d better do this all the time!