There are many different ways to increase your strength and endurance, and each method has its pros and cons. Strength-endurance is often grouped with power endurance, but it specifically describes the ability to hold tight over and over again. Power endurance is more broadly the ability to pull hard, throw to the finish line, and make constant catches.
When designed correctly, 4×4 bouldering and lead route spins, two classic strength endurance exercises, are great for building finger and forearm strength and endurance while providing a mental workout, forcing you to stay calm and technically pumped to the extreme.
Depending on the setup of your local climbing gym, however, it can sometimes be difficult to adapt these wall exercises for finger and forearm strength endurance. For example, if you’re training for a pumping, bumpy, and bumpy outdoor project, it might be difficult to replicate if your gym doesn’t have the proper rocks or routes.
Here’s where hanger repeaters come in: They’re simple, they’re quick and effective, and you can do them from the comfort of your home, assuming you have a hanger or edge to use.
With hang reps, you perform a series of hangs, each set separated by a very short rest. Hang time, rest time, number of repetitions, number of sets and rest period between sets are all customizable. So is the tip size you choose, as well as how much weight you add or remove during the exercise. For example, you can perform reps with body weight, extra weight added to your belt, or weight compensation using a pulley system.
A lower resistance protocol
In the context of building strength-endurance, the classic repetition protocol is running for seven seconds followed by three seconds off. When starting your strength endurance training phase, it may be a good idea to do lower reps for a few weeks first to build up to harder rep sessions. If you’re just starting your strength endurance training phase, or if you’re new to repetition training in general, try this protocol:
- 7 seconds on, 3 seconds off
- 10 to 12 repetitions
- 6 sets
- Rest 4 minutes between sets
- Resistance should be 50% of maximum strength (see more on this below)
You should feel a high degree of pump during this workout. The last few reps should be hard, but you shouldn’t fail.
High resistance protocol
If you’re at a more advanced level and have been doing lower resistance reps for a few weeks, you can move up to heavier suspensions. Here’s a good protocol for building endurance for 60 seconds or so of critical chunks:
- 7 seconds on, 3 seconds off
- 5 to 6 repetitions
- 6 sets
- Rest for 3 minutes between sets
- Resistance should be 70% of maximum strength (see more on this below)
The last two reps in the set should be difficult, but you shouldn’t fail. You should feel moderately pumped after your workout and pretty exhausted.
Important notes for both protocols
- Warm up thoroughly before performing repetitive training.
- You can do repetition training twice a week.
- Try to rest before and after repetitive training, as the exercise is quite taxing on the fingers and forearms.
- If you find that you’re doing all the reps easily, especially in your last sets, increase the weight in your next session.
- If you find yourself failing before the seven seconds are up, or if the shape starts to slip, reduce the resistance.
- Depending on your goals, you can do reps on different types of bindings: big edges, smaller edges, pockets, toes, bends. Start with low resistance when training a new hold type.
- You can practice different grip types (half-fold, open hand, three-finger pull), but be sure to stick to one grip type for all six sets.
- Advanced climbers can also try increasing the resistance to 80%. Reduce the number of repetitions to 5 if using this high weight. This is a good protocol for targeting key areas of harder but shorter energy endurance.
- If you’re new to climbing, you’re probably better off doing strength and power endurance training on the wall rather than hanging reps. So you work on developing technique while building fitness.
Determining your strength baseline
To figure out your 50% or 70% resistance levels, you must first determine your maximum strength baseline. Be sure to rest at least one day before performing your maximum strength test.
A typical method for testing finger strength is to perform seven or eight repetitions of heavier seven-second deadlifts on a hanger of your choice (eg, a 20mm rim) using a specific grip type (eg, a half curl). Your maximum strength score is determined by the heaviest weight you can successfully hang for the entire seven seconds with good technique.
For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and can complete a 50-pound deadlift, but fail or lose form within five seconds of adding 55 pounds, your maximum strength score is 200 pounds (150 pounds + 50 pounds), or 133% of your body weight. If you were then going to do a lower resistance rep protocol at 50% max strength, you would want 100 pounds of resistance (50% of 200 pounds). In this case, being 150 pounds, you must offset 50 pounds using a pulley system.
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