Saturday, February 18, 2017

Winter Training: Offset Pullups/Uneven Grip Pullups and Hangboard Workouts

  After months of strength training via lifting weights, weighted pullups, and indoor climbing at a "heavier than usual" body weight... I wanted to start to redirect my training so it was more climbing specific as the spring season was approaching and in preparation for an upcoming spring climbing trip.  One of my obvious weaknesses over the past few years has been lock off and finger strength.  Obviously both of these strengths will increase as I continue to gradually lose some weight, but I wanted to find training solutions that would help to maximize both my time and my results.

  Near the end of my strength training program where I was doing heavy weight lifting routinely and not focusing so much on my peak climbing ability; I did a 10 part fitness evaluation that is an appendix in Eric Horst's "Training for Climbing".  Part 3 of the test was a timed one-arm lock off with each arm.  My result of 0 seconds for a lock off with each arm raised instant red flags.  Part 5 of the test was maximum number of fingertip pullups on a 3/4" edge where I was only able to complete 4 1/2 pullups.  And finally part 6 of the test was a lock off in the top position on the same 3/4" edge where I was able to hold the lock off for 8 seconds.  These poor test results made it very clear to me that I had to specifically target these weaknesses in preparation for the spring climbing season.  

  My training solutions:

  • First and foremost, continue to gradually slim down and lose unnecessary body weight by reducing my daily caloric intake while increase my frequency and intensity of cardio workouts
  • Work on improving my lock off strength by performing offset/uneven grip pullups 2x a week
  • Improve my finger strength through continued indoor climbing sessions, HIT strip workouts, and now through hangboard sessions as well, also 2x a week 
Offset/Uneven Grip Pullups:

  I was able to devise a pretty basic and cheap setup to help with the offset pullups.  All that I needed was (2) eye hooks mounted above my head height to hang objects from, 2 carabiners, a pair of handles and a daisy chain.  I begin the workout by doing 10 warm up pullups with the pair of handles at the same level.  I then use the daisy chain to offset the handles so that one is lower than the other,  The daisy chain that I have offer a 3" drop between loops and my target rep range is 4-6 reps per hand.  I have been doing 3 sets of 5 pullups with each arm with the handles 9" apart.  I am hoping to work up to a 15" offset before I depart for my climbing trip at the end of April.   

Hangboard Workouts

  There are so many options and workouts out there right now for hangboard training.  I was looking for simplicity while still being effective and not overly time consuming since I knew that I would be doing various other finger training exercises in conjunction with the hangboard.  I settled on climbing coach and trainer Steve Bechtel's Hangboard Ladders program.

  To summarize this program, you first pick an edge that you can hold an open hand grip position for a 10-12 second deadhang.  This edge will be your training hold for 4 weeks.  Once the hold is determined, you cycle through 3 grip positions and a set amount of timed hangs and sets.  You start with an open hand grip for a 3 second hang, followed by a 6 second hang and then finally a 9 second hang.  Rest and repeat 2 more times for 3 total sets.  Then you switch your grip position to a full crimp and again do 3 sets of hangs for 3,6,9.  The final grip position is the strongest, the half crimp again for 3 sets of 3,6,9 second hangs.  

  Each week things gradually progress as follows below.  After 4 weeks of strict training you can evaluate the results and then add some extra weight to yourself or begin using a slightly smaller hold.  After 8 weeks (2 complete cycles), a month of no hangboarding should take place.  

**For these workouts I have chosen to utilize the adjustable depth edge hold on my BAM! Climbing board.

Sample Hangboard Progression
Week 1 (2x a week)
  1. Open hand: 3 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Full crimp: 3 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Half crimp: 3 sets of 3-6-9
Week 2 (2x a week)
  1. Open hand: 4 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Full crimp: 4 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Half crimp: 4 sets of 3-6-9
Week 3 (2x a week)
  1. Open hand: 5 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Full crimp: 5 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Half crimp: 5 sets of 3-6-9
Week 4 (2x a week)
  1. Open hand: 3 sets of 3-6-9-12
  1. Full crimp: 3 sets of 3-6-9-12
  1. Half crimp: 3 sets of 3-6-9-12

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