Week 3: Strength
I survived the monotony of endurance training and I'm so thankful I was in decent enough shape that I didn't have to do 4 weeks of that. This week I transitioned into strength training which means a lot of time building up finger strength on the hangboard. The hangboard is something that I don't have a ton of experience on, mainly because I never received any formal instruction on how to use it for training and I know it can be a really quick way to a finger injury. I guess until recently I never really thought I needed to train on it specifically; Probably because before I opened AntiGravity Equipment I had a lot of time to climb outside and go on extended road trips and I just built up finger strength naturally out on the rocks.
After careful review of the strength section of the training manual, I felt comfortable enough to start my 4 weeks of training. In addition to the hangboard and the core workouts, I had my friend Cameron help me with a few exercises for opposing muscles and general conditioning that I could add to the mix. There's not much outdoor climbing during this phase so the extra exercises have helped to round out my training day and keep me healthy and balanced.
I'm going to go ahead and detail the week's hangboard workout and supplemental training but it's worth mentioning that you need to be cautious if you're new to hangboarding and plan to try it out because as I mentioned earlier, it can very quickly lead to finger injuries if used incorrectly. The week's workout consisted of these:
Saturday: This was supposed to be my official first day of strength training. We had a crazy party at the shop for all the June birthdays the night before and there was no way I was going to get a quality workout in so I opted for an extra rest day and pushed the exercises to Sunday.
Sunday: I started the day with 30 minutes of low intensity endurance traversing. I rested for about 20 minutes while I got things ready to start the hangboard workout upstairs near the shop. The hangboard I used is the Rock Prodigy Training Center. If you're local and you're interested in picking one up, I stock it at AntiGravity Equipment. Since it was the first workout, it would mostly be trying to establish a baseline by which to track improvements for future workouts. The routine was to go through 8 different grip styles; 1 set per grip; 6 reps per set. The reps consisted of 10 seconds hanging and 5 seconds resting (on the same grip). After 6 reps, I had 3 minutes to rest, and then I could move on to the next grip.
I started with the Jug holds and 20lbs added to my harness. I would later learn that this was a key mistake as it tired me out too early and set a bad precedent for the rest of the workout but hey, live and learn.
Next was Index, Middle, and Ring fingers with 5lbs of weight added to my harness. Same mistake.
Next was a Medium edge and this was where the first sign of trouble started to show up. On my last rep I fell off with a second to go. It doesn't sound like much but I knew I should've felt way stronger on a medium edge with just body weight.
Medium Pinch followed and on my 6th rep I fell off with 3 seconds to go. I'm usually pretty strong on pinches but I was definitely too tired to finish the set and I was regretting the additional weight at the start of the workout.
Next up was Middle and Ring finger pockets. This is where I made my biggest mistake. I read my abbreviations wrong and did the set on my Middle and Index fingers. I found out I'm really weak in these two fingers really fast even with 40lbs of weight subtracted through a pulley system attached to my harness. I only got through 5 reps with longer rests than what was prescribed.
From there I moved to Large Edges and I was was able to complete the full set with just body weight.
I completed all 6 reps with body weight on the Wide Pinch but it was touch and go on the last rep as my hands slowly creeped to the edges of the pinch.
Last up was Middle, Ring, and Pinky fingers. Another mistake here, but not quite as big. I just used the wrong pocket but I managed to complete the set with 40lbs of counter-weight on the pulley system. And that was the end of the hangboard workout.
I finished the workout with the following opposing exercises designed by Cam:
Lateral Crawl x 20, Hover Crawl x 20, lateral raises, front raises, reverse fly, and shoulder press all x 10, chair dips and kick-backs x 10, hammer curls x 30, and repeat all the lifts again. Finished with 20 Burpees. I used really light weight for all my lifts, 10lbs.
Monday was a core day: Plank for 1 min, followed by 40 elbow/knee touches, 30 sec break and repeat. Side plank 1 min with 20 hip swivels, 30 sec break and repeat. Seated compressions I did a little modification on; with wide legs I did 10 reps of the following: hands on hips, hands by knees, and hands just past knees, back to hands by knees, and back to hands on hips followed by 30 sec rest. On the repeat I did it with legs together which was slightly easier. 40 chair dips followed by 40 squats. Cam's instructions were "Ass to grass! Hold onto something like a door jam if you can't squat deep!" I can't, so I did.
Tuesday I started with 20 minutes of traversing followed by 20 minutes of rest. The hangboard setup went a little faster with previous knowledge. When I was ready to start I did the same workout as Sunday but with modifications to the weight: Jugs on body weight; Index, Middle, Ring on body weight; Medium edge on body weight; Med pinch on body weight; I still confused Middle, Ring for Middle, Index and only completed 4 sets with 40lbs of counterweight; Large Edge with body weight; Wide Pinch with body weight; Middle, Ring, Pinky with 40lbs of counterweight. Overall it was a much better workout and know that I know all the mistakes I know which holds I can add weight to for the next round.
The opposing exercises from Cameron were as follows: Tabata warm up on the bike- 30 sec on, 20 sec off x 4 with RPMS above 80, 1 min rest. 30 split jumps. Regular, incline, and decline pushups, 10 each. 30 single glute/ham raises (which I skipped cus I didn't know what they were). Repeat the tabata workout.
Wednesday, core: Lateral crawl into hover crawl x 20 each side (my wrists were acting up so I skipped this one). 50 mountain climbers, slow trying to get my knees between my arms. V-ups 30 sec touching knees or toes. Russian twist 30 sec. 50 mountain climbers. Hollow hold for 30 sec followed by 20 hollow rockers, rest 30 sec and repeat. Superman for 1 min. 50 mountain cimbers.... agony.
Thursday is a full rest day!! Well kind of. As I was getting everything in place to leave four days, there was plenty to be done.
Friday was my birthday and my present to myself was to get up extra early and head over to AntiGravity Equipment to get in one last hangboard workout before the trip to Squamish, yay! This time I made sure I had all mistakes corrected and was properly set up to crank. The workout was as follows: Jugs on body weight; Index, middle, and ring with 2.5 lbs added; Medium edge with 2.5 lbs added; Medium Pinch with 2.5lbs added; Middle, Ring fingers with 40 lbs counterweight; Large Edge with 2.5 lbs added; Wide Pinch with 2.5 lbs added; and Middle, Ring, Pinky with 37.5 lbs counterweight. By far the most accurate transitions in my hangboard workout!
Supplemental training: As you can see, Cameron helped with me an additional weight training routine. I keep the weight light and he keeps the reps high and focused on opposing muscles and some leg exercises as well as interval training. It's enough to make you puke but I'm getting used to the idea. I still keep icing after workouts, still keep using the FlexBar for opposing forearms muscles. I was doing really well on the water until the last couple days so instead of adding something new, I'm going to keep working on drinking enough water throughout the day.
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