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 By: Jens Larssen  | Date: 2006-01-12  | Category: Training    | (10) Comments  
In general terms, all finger techniques are equally good. However, different techniques suite different climbers, holds, angles and rock. Most climbers have a dominated finger position and this position is therefore trained frequently, meanwhile the abandoned techniques are getting weaker. A balanced gripping repertoire is the key factor for any top-climber. Introduction article-2002!
oh_3fing.jpg opencrimp.jpg cc_lill_nara.jpg

Open hand

Open crimp - Often weak

Closed crimp

Your preferred technique usually depends on where and how you began to climb. If you started out on verticals with crimpers you are probably strong in a closed crimp position, while if you started out on steep indoor bouldering your strongest position is open crimp. Climbers that have started out on small limestone pockets and slopers, like in Fontainebleau, are often very skilled in open hand.

Recruiting muscle fibres

The good thing is that, through recruitment training of your finger muscles, it is relatively easy  to adapt and increase the strength of the different finger positions. In bouldering, you have probably noticed that you feel stronger by the number of tries. This is in fact partly due to recruitment. For each try, more muscle fibre is being used and coordinated.


To much load makes index finger 'collapse'.

Recruitment Training
Gripping positions can get more than 100 % stronger in 1 hour (i.e. 100 % more muscle fibres will be in use). To train this, you just hang on your fingers with a load that they can take and then gradually increase this load. However, if you overload your finger position will collapse and the training will become contra-productive.

1. Start by making 10 pulsations and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 - 10 times. When you feel/get stronger, increase the load.


2. Make 2+2 moves upwards and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 - 10 times. When you feel/get stronger you can prolong the moves.

3. Make 2 double hand moves upwards and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 - 10 times.

When you feel/get stronger you can start doing downward moves.


Different possibilities to increase the load

    1. A. Low load can be achieved by simply standing on the floor.
    2. B. Step inwards/backwards to increase the load.
    3. C. Stand on holds
    4. D. Foot-less

 Muscle Training & Injuries
Your maximum power depends on the strength (size) of your fibre and the proportion of fiber that is in use. A later article will discuss how you can increase the strength of your muscle fibres. The first step however is to increase the use of the fibres that you already have. This can be achieved through campus board training, however, begin with low load training to reduce the risk of injuries. A good idea is to start every session with focus on your finger positions. This will give you a better understanding and knowledge of the gripping techniques - a key factor in climbing.


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Closed crimp in combination with open hand by Richard Simpson

Extremely strong Open crimp by Angela Eiter