18 February 2010
Several climbers have picked up on routines floating about the web advocating very short rest periods between sets on the fingerboard - like 6-10 seconds hanging with 3 seconds rest. They have compared it to notes in my book talking about 5-8 second hangs with more like a minute’s rest. Confused?
The regimens are very different because they are training completely different things. The former is an anaerobic endurance protocol. It replicates roughly what happens when climbing a route - hanging for some seconds on each move with only a few seconds rest as the hand reaches for the next hold. The rationale for using a fingerboard to do this type of endurance training is two-fold:
Because you can’t get to a real route or bouldering circuit to do this training more effectively. Or…
You already train a ton and need something that bit more intense to keep the body responsive.
Clearly both are a very specific and fairly rare set of circumstances. Most people can get to some real climbing, and they should do that instead because they need the technique element of the training every bit as much as the fitness. And very few are doing enough training to have squeezed everything out of the technique element and need a really intense stimulus to keep the body responding. If you do fit those above special cases, using the fingerboard in this way could be useful as a very intense way to build anaerobic endurance.
The majority of fingerboarders are doing it to gain strength. Gaining strength needs a high force stimulus - pulling at your maximum. If the rests are short, it’s not possible to sustain this - you get pumped and can’t pull your hardest. So that’s why you rest fully between sets and the sets are 90% plus of your maximum force.