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fingerboard form affecting results (Read 1362 times)

Liamhutch89

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fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 09:27:24 am
For a bit of context I came from a martial arts and weightlifting background prior to climbing and have always found it fairly easy to gain strength, and I understand enough about recovery, programming, how to break plateau's, etc. I've always found it hard to gain finger strength though since beginning climbing and using the fingerboard.

Recently I noticed that I don't particularly feel fingerboarding in the forearm finger flexors and it's moreso in the extensors. I have also noticed that when I engage to pull hard I go a few degrees into a front lever with the edge pushed in front of me and wrists in extension and ulnar deviation (I googled this). I feel that this position may be why I can't engage the flexors properly (and may be why i've had limited results in over a year of fingerboarding!).

Attempting to correct this and keep my wrist straight I had to hang directly under the edge and my elbows had to be locked out straight, but the results were pretty good as I added 12.5kg to my previous best effort and today my forearms are wrecked. It didn't feel great on the elbows though being locked out.

Question is, where am I weak or immobile such that I cant keep my wrists in a more neutral position AND engage the elbows slightly at the same time? Or do I just need to get used to hanging on a straight arm? I feel like my shoulder/core/arm strength are quite good already, certainly well above my finger strength.

 

abarro81

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#1 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 09:37:58 am
I think it's common to go into a slight front level position when you bend arms on 2 arm fingerboarding. I certainly do it... but I go into that position because I'm stronger in that position. 
If you're 12.5kg stronger on a straight arm then it sounds like you've probably inadvertently not been going that close to your max when you do hangs. For me it loads the hang slightly differently - on a bent arm you can twist in and compress a little more, and I think it allows you to use the back 3 part of your hand more, whereas straight arm feel like it loads index/middle more for me.

Anyway, can't really advise on the elbows - I find straight arm but engaged shoulder is fine for my elbows

spidermonkey09

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#2 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 09:52:05 am

Attempting to correct this and keep my wrist straight I had to hang directly under the edge and my elbows had to be locked out straight, but the results were pretty good as I added 12.5kg to my previous best effort and today my forearms are wrecked. It didn't feel great on the elbows though being locked out.

Question is, where am I weak or immobile such that I cant keep my wrists in a more neutral position AND engage the elbows slightly at the same time? Or do I just need to get used to hanging on a straight arm? I feel like my shoulder/core/arm strength are quite good already, certainly well above my finger strength.

I think you probably need to get used to hanging straight/nearly straight, although I defer to those with greater experience. I have to hang directly under the edge when doing max hangs, but I haven't experimented with a front lever style position. My elbows definitely aren't "locked" straight though, I keep a slight bend in them to avoid the issue described. If you have banged an extra 12.5kg on a single session it sounds like you have plenty more ground to gain, just take it easy and get consolidated at that weight before you add any more.

Probably not surprising your elbows feel wasted after adding that much weight in a single session, thats quite an increase in workload that they aren't used to. I tend to feel sore after max hangs, its maximal effort after all with a significant amount of weight added. I'd give it a week or so at the same weight and see if it gets easier and your elbows stop hurting after the session. If so maybe add a bit more gradually.

tim palmer

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#3 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 12:43:42 pm
I don't really understand why you would want to hang totally straight armed,  I think the position you describe ending up in is exactly where you want to be, arms slightly engaged feet slightly in  front.

I think if you want to feel it in your forearms do longer hangs or do a couple of pull ups immediately after your hand without letting go.

The obvious explanation as to why fingerboarding hasn't improved your climbing (in your view) is that pure finger strength isn't the rate limiting factor.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2020, 12:50:01 pm by tim palmer »

Liamhutch89

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#4 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 01:23:42 pm
I don't really understand why you would want to hang totally straight armed,  I think the position you describe ending up in is exactly where you want to be, arms slightly engaged feet slightly in  front.

I think if you want to feel it in your forearms do longer hangs or do a couple of pull ups immediately after your hand without letting go.


I agree that a straight arm hang does not have much relevance to bouldering but considering how much stronger my fingers were when getting the flexors to engage properly, perhaps it's worth incorporating some in my fingerboard routine to develop the 'mind-muscle connection' or is that nonsense? 


The obvious explanation as to why fingerboarding hasn't improved your climbing (in your view) is that pure finger strength isn't the rate limiting factor.

On the contrary, fingerboarding has had significant effects on my climbing. My lattice-esque benchmarking shows my fingers are around 3-4 V grades weaker than my actual boulder grade. Improving my finger strength on the fingerboard meant I could walk up problems on the board that I couldn't do previously. Relaxing on the fingerboarding meant I lost finger strength and I couldn't do those problems. Resuming fingerboarding and I could soon do them again... I'm perhaps a rare case of very weak fingers

abarro81

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#5 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 01:30:24 pm
Hold on, I thought you were saying in your OP that you were struggling to gain finger strength fingerboarding? But there you say it makes a big difference? So clearly whatever you're doing IS working to a reasonable extent.. so while you may want to tweak it slightly, you don't need to worry about it too much.

Liamhutch89

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#6 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 01:40:44 pm
Hold on, I thought you were saying in your OP that you were struggling to gain finger strength fingerboarding? But there you say it makes a big difference? So clearly whatever you're doing IS working to a reasonable extent.. so while you may want to tweak it slightly, you don't need to worry about it too much.

Went from 5kg to 15kg added weight initially then never managed to get past that for 2 years whilst trying all sorts of different hanging times, numbers of sets, etc... Over that period I had dips (where climbing ability went down with finger strength) and regained strength (where climbing ability went up) but never really beat the 15kg added for a proper 10s hang... Until yesterday hanging on a straight arm and i went straight up to 27.5kg and felt DOMs in my flexor muscles today for the first time?

Will Hunt

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#7 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 01:45:02 pm
I'm not sure how much I'd read into the Lattice assessment. Remus will be along to correct me in a moment but surely there's a huge amount of selection bias there - the data that they have is from people who like training and monitoring their training i.e. they're as likely to focus on how much extra weight they can add to their fingerboarding routines as they are on how hard they can boulder outdoors. So they're probably more likely to be overgunned for the grade. You might have the perfect fingers to climb grade x, but your fellow weaklings are too busy climbing stuff to submit their vial of saliva to the Lattice Clone Factory.

abarro81

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#8 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 01:50:42 pm
Try doing the hangs straight armed for a while, make sure shoulders are engaged, build up slowly, see what happens...

Liamhutch89

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#9 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 02:10:35 pm
Try doing the hangs straight armed for a while, make sure shoulders are engaged, build up slowly, see what happens...

Suppose I was just looking for confirmation to do this! Thanks!

jwi

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#10 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 02:53:13 pm
I have always felt that bending elbows and leaning back when hangboarding is cheating tactics as if I get stronger in the shoulder girdle I can, by slowly leaning back, increase the frictional component of the hang.

Anyway, DOMS is not a reliable measure of how hard an exercise is, as I'm sure you are well aware of. Stick with it for a while to see if you can increase the load after the neural adaptions phase is over.

Fultonius

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#11 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 03:40:56 pm
Could you get someone to take a photo form side on of your hand/wrist position in your two hanging modes?

I doubt I'll be able to add much, but just want to see something to confirm a pet theory...

(p.s. when I started to get tennis elbow, I think I was climbing with my wrist cocked back too far, meaning the wrist extensors were getting loaded up and the finger/forearm flexors were not)

tim palmer

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#12 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 09:57:39 pm
[ My lattice-esque benchmarking shows my fingers are around 3-4 V grades weaker than my actual boulder grade. Improving my finger strength on the fingerboard meant I could walk up problems on the board that I couldn't do previously.
So if your fingerboarding is working so well why are you concerned about your form

Liamhutch89

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#13 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 21, 2020, 10:43:35 pm
[ My lattice-esque benchmarking shows my fingers are around 3-4 V grades weaker than my actual boulder grade. Improving my finger strength on the fingerboard meant I could walk up problems on the board that I couldn't do previously.
So if your fingerboarding is working so well why are you concerned about your form

Concerned that progress on the front lever ish form had stalled due to not engaging the correct muscles and concerned the straight arm form could be bad for the elbows. From the responses I've received including yours I've decided to do a bit of both - straight arm as it seems to be working and engaging my finger flexors (but tread lightly) and bent arm as it's possibly more relevant to climbing. So thanks

Liamhutch89

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#14 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 26, 2020, 11:30:08 am
straight arm hanging update -

1st session: increase by 12.5kg as reported (from +15kg to +27.5kg).

2nd session: intended to remain at last sessions weight to get used to it but it felt way too easy. kept increasing by 2.5kg until I only managed a 9 second hang at an additional 7.5kg (+35kg). Did some bent arm hangs afterwards as it's suggested these are more relevant to climbing (which I agree with) and these were up by 10kg (+25kg) after a plateau for around a year. Elbows felt fine on all hangs but outrageous forearm muscle soreness the following day (in a good way).

3rd session: up 2.5 kg (+37.5kg) on the previous session and completed all sets. bent arm hangs up another 5kg (+30kg).

Summary: this new positioning seems to have 'awakened' the correct muscles and in 1 week gone from +15kg to +37.5kg on my half crimp hangs (or to +30kg using the same bent arm form as before). The rate of increase seems to be slowing now to normal levels. The effect on climbing so far is climbing some board problems i've never been able to do and not needing to full crimp some things I previously needed to full crimp. I used to be able to climb after hanging with no noticeable affect on performance, but now i'm absolutely wasted after hanging. Clearly I was doing something very wrong before.

teestub

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#15 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 26, 2020, 11:56:18 am
Is this on lattice edge or something of similar size? Sounds like your fingers maybe arenít weak like you thought!

Liamhutch89

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#16 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 26, 2020, 12:11:18 pm
BM1K bottom edges which I think are a tiny bit easier than the lattice edge.

Yes, knowing i'm not especially weak is nice and now I can focus on getting good rather than getting strong.

spidermonkey09

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#17 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 26, 2020, 12:28:47 pm
BM1K bottom edges which I think are a tiny bit easier than the lattice edge.

Yes, knowing i'm not especially weak is nice and now I can focus on getting good rather than getting strong.

 :o doesn't sound weak to me!

That 1K edge is the nicest around for my money.

Bradders

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#18 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 26, 2020, 03:40:00 pm
Clearly I was doing something very wrong before.

This is bizarre. I suspect you just weren't actually going anywhere near your max before; as in you could always have gone heavier but something was holding you back. Maybe something mental? E.g. thinking you couldn't go heavier? Fear of injury?

Also strange you're getting actual forearm soreness to be honest; max hangs are meant to stress your nervous system and tendon/ligament structure rather than inducing the sort of soreness you'd normally associate with muscular hypertrophy.

I don't have any explanations though.

Liamhutch89

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#19 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 26, 2020, 04:07:33 pm

 :o doesn't sound weak to me!


Not weak but nothing special considering I weigh north of 80kg


This is bizarre. I suspect you just weren't actually going anywhere near your max before; as in you could always have gone heavier but something was holding you back. Maybe something mental? E.g. thinking you couldn't go heavier? Fear of injury?

Also strange you're getting actual forearm soreness to be honest; max hangs are meant to stress your nervous system and tendon/ligament structure rather than inducing the sort of soreness you'd normally associate with muscular hypertrophy.

I don't have any explanations though.

Yes, bizarre indeed. I've always been able to try very hard whilst lifting weights prior to starting climbing (e.g. 260kg max deadlift) but fingerboarding has always felt as though no matter how hard I tried there was no 'mind-muscle-connection' if such a thing exists and trying hard didn't equate to pulling hard at the fingers. I'm not surprised at the muscle soreness however as its a new stimulus and i've previously had muscle soreness from 1 rep maxes in various other muscle groups.

Bradders

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#20 Re: fingerboard form affecting results
February 26, 2020, 06:03:57 pm
Yes that makes sense I suppose, if you've never actually been close to your max before then it'll be very new stimulus.

Either way sounds like your plateau wasn't really anything physical, which is very interesting in itself.

The proof of the pudding will be how it affects your climbing though, as that's what you're training for after all.

 

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