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By DanielRich
Dec 19, 2013

So the general wisdom out there is that the hangs should be sets of fairly short hangs of 5-8 seconds. I was curious about the origination of this wisdom and whether for some things we ought to be hanging longer.

5-8 seems to be something derived from traditional muscle building and training, where it is normally a few quick reps and then several sets. The difference lies in this being an isometric exercize(static) vs concentric or eccentric exercise.

I am going through a gymnatic training program(gymnastic bodies I highly recommend it) and there is an emphasis on low numbers of high intensity reps for normal concentric and eccentric exercises. This is line with expectations but the isometric holds there is an emphasis on both the difficulty of the hold and the duration of the hold and in fact I think that the heavier weight is placed on the duration. The guy who came up with that program has a reasonable background of high-level gymnastic coaching experience, so this struck me as interesting. In going through the plan I really felt that the long durations were very effective especially on ab-heavy positions(front lever and such). I am a sample size of one, and may have misattributed gains though so take that with a grain of salt.

I have also found research on isometric exercise that suggests maybe longer duration is not bad.
jp.physoc.org/content/536/2/649.full

In the paper a short duration is a 1 second isometric contraction vs a 20 second isometric contraction. They were using leg extensions. Both groups saw large strength increases with the long duration seeing a slight but significant strength advantage over the short duration group. The really interesting point is that the short duration group saw no significant tendon strengthening, but the long duration group saw a very significant tendon strength/stiffness improvement.

So bringing things back to climbing, I really liked the point that I have seen on Monomaniacs blog about training being critical to reducing chances of injury due to the controllable and repetitive nature of training, and I wondered if injury prevention is part of your goal maybe you should be including long duration hangs.

I am just getting back into climbing after a number of years hiatus so I am particularly interested in the injury prevention, but I also wonder if short hangs really acheives the most strength gains? Specificity is good and a short hang is similiar to what we do on the rock, but I wonder still.

I am going to start hangboarding and emphasizing long hangs and I will try and track my results. Has anybody else out there who likes spreadsheets ever played with this? Does anybody have data?

I was thinking fairly long durations (1+ minute). Right now I am weak and I don't have my hangboard(it is old from a few years ago) mounted so I actually just use the weight of the board and do each finger individually hooked into a small hold on the board and then hold the board suspended.

I know to take it easy but I actually think the 1+ minute durations and low weight mostly just make my fingers feel better and less tweaky.

Anyway Thoughts?


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By JacksonLandFill
From South Central, PA
Dec 19, 2013
not everyone smiles

When you climb you're not holding each hold for 20+ seconds, sure you do it sometimes but not every one. Especially indoors.

Typically I do 8-10 second hangs of various kinds and always end with a hang to failure using good form.

Regarding injuries... don't train so much. Rest is worth just as much as training.


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By DanielRich
Dec 19, 2013

Hey thanks for the response,

I know that the shorter length is more similiar to the rock, but I was curious if anyone had experimented with the longer duration.

Ideally with training we are stressing something whether it is with weight on the duration or length of the duration. We don't climb with weight strapped to us but that could be very effective for training especially as we are able to slowly add weight and see progress. Duration seems like it could be another useful variable to change.

In normal concentric and eccentric exercises I know that the duration isn't that useful but in isometric longer durations are often used.
For example
anthonymychal.com/2012/05/the-truth-about-long-duration-extr>>>

Now there is some controversy as you can see in the above link I was just curious if anyone had applied any of these principles to hangboarding.


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Dec 19, 2013
Pulling a small roof at 2/3 height on Mission Impossible.  Adam Sanders photo.

Daniel,

When we first developed our hangboard protocal we performed 10 second hangs with 5 second rest. We still recommend this for beginners because, as you said, it's less tweaky (because the loads must be lower to complete the hangs). We eventually switched to 7/3 hangs because we found they were more effective at improving climbing-specific strength.

Regarding the article, 1 sec and 20 sec are VERY different (say, 2000% or so?). I think its unreasonable to suggest that a 5-8 sec hang is on par with a 1 sec hang. I think this study is interesting, but only tells you 20 sec is better than 1 sec. It doesn't tell you anything about 5-8 sec.

FWIW, this study suggests 3 second contractions with 7 sec rest are superior to 1 min contractions with 1 min rest.

EDIT: some more of my thoughts on this can be found here


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 20, 2013
Sure, I can belay

The article in the Journal of Physiology is interesting. It suggests that equal volumes of isometric training, whether performed in 1 second or 20 second intervals produces similar strength and hypertrophy gains in untrained subjects.

Tendon stiffness increased only with the longer intervals, which might be significant if increased stiffness is correlated with increased resistance to injury. Which this study doesn't address.

Both arms in this study used the same intensity, 70% MVC. Do you expect to maintain the same intensity with a 60 second hang that you might with a 5-8 second hang? Seems to me this will be the fatal flaw in your training.


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By kenr
Dec 20, 2013

DanielRich wrote:
> "research on isometric exercise that suggests maybe longer duration is not bad.
> jp.physoc.org/content/536/2/649.full "

Near as I can tell, that article above is about using isometric stretching to train muscle elongation and range-of-motion,
not strength.

When I am training for elongation and RoM, I think of 20 seconds as short duration. Myself I often go for five minutes or more.

Ken


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By kenr
Dec 20, 2013

DanielRich wrote:
So the general wisdom out there is that the hangs should be sets of fairly short hangs of 5-8 seconds.

"general wisdom"?
I think it's more accurate to say that the frequently-expressed opinions of some older American climbers who have lots of time free on web forums - (perhaps along with some (un-biased?) fingerboard manufacturers) ... is for repeated 5-8 second static hangs.

If you actually read a _book_ by an American climber, Eric Horst in Conditioning for Climbing says max 3-5 seconds for repeated hangs (and once he's gotten that out of the way, moves on to describe six dynamic finger-strengh methods some of which he clearly thinks are superior to static repeaters).
The Self-Coached Climber book says the goal for finger strength is to build Type IIa + IIb fibers, and so recommends only dynamic training. (My understanding is that isometric training tends to build Type I fibers.)

The three Euro authorities I've checked suggest (if any static training at all) a very intense hang of 5-10 seconds with like three minutes rest before attempting another -- but with the clear understanding that the main primary training should be dynamic moves.

At my local gym, the posted training protocol for the Comp team for younger climbers shows no static finger hangs at all. A YouTube video of a strong young climber of her training routines shows no static hanging at all.

That's the "general wisdom" as I look around nowadays.

Ken

P.S. I wonder if the older approach of static hanging came from Trad climbers who had a big (justifiable) fear that they'd fall while hanging statically to place pro. Nowadays I do not often see videos of sport climbers or boulderers failing on a route because they ran out of static holding endurance.


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 20, 2013
Sure, I can belay

kenr wrote:
research on isometric exercise that suggests maybe longer duration is not bad. jp.physoc.org/content/536/2/649.full Near as I can tell, that article above is about using isometric stretching to train muscle elongation and range-of-motion, not strength. When I am training for elongation and RoM, I think of 20 seconds as short duration. Myself I often go for five minutes or more. Ken


Ken, you may want to re-read the study, (or maybe I should!) as it seems to me they are measuring the effect of two different duration isometric exercises (performed at 70% of maximum voluntary contraction, i.e. not a "stretch") on tendon stiffness. If I understand correctly, increased stiffness is useful in some sports (dynamic jumping events, ? running) because the stiffer tendon can store more force for recoil. I don't see how that makes much difference in climbing. However, their observation that both protocols led to similar strength and hypertrophy gains may be generalizable.


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 20, 2013
Sure, I can belay

kenr wrote:
"general wisdom"? I think it's more accurate to say that the frequently-expressed opinions of some older American climbers who have lots of time free on web forums - (perhaps along with some (un-biased?) fingerboard manufacturers) ... is for repeated 5-8 second static hangs. If you actually read a _book_ by an American climber, Eric Horst in Conditioning for Climbing says max 3-5 seconds for repeated hangs (and once he's gotten that out of the way, moves on to describe six dynamic finger-strengh methods some of which he clearly thinks are superior to static repeaters). The Self-Coached Climber book says the goal for finger strength is to build Type IIa + IIb fibers, and so recommends only dynamic training. (My understanding is that isometric training tends to build Type I fibers.) The three Euro authorities I've checked suggest (if any static training at all) a very intense hang of 5-10 seconds with like three minutes rest before attempting another -- but with the clear understanding that the main primary training should be dynamic moves. At my local gym, the posted training protocl for the Comp team for younger climbers shows no static finger hangs at all. A YouTube video of a strong young climber of her training routines shows no static hanging at all. That's the "general wisdom" as I look around nowadays. Ken P.S. I wonder if the older approach of static hanging came from Trad climbers who had a big (justifiable) fear that they'd fall while hanging statically to place pro. Nowadays I do not often see videos of sport climbers or boulderers failing on a route because they ran out of static holding endurance.


Ken, I just don't understand why you are so opposed to repeaters unless it's some kind of innate iconoclasm.
Common sense would suggest that short max hangs as well as repeaters both are useful training tools, DEPENDING ON YOUR SPECIFIC WEAKNESSES.
Trying one version for a month and seeing if it seems to help your climbing will be a lot more useful than reading all of Eric Horst's books. Or even Mono's when that comes out.

Just out of curiosity, how many national champions has your local gym produced?

PS For the OP- I like the book "Overcoming Gravity" for gymnastic progressions for the upper body.


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By DanielRich
Dec 20, 2013

Wow guys thanks for the great replies. I haven't spent much time on this forum but I have on other internet forums and the discussion level here exceeded my expectations.

All of the information was quite useful.

Monomaniac you a valid point about 1 second not being comparable to 8-seconds.
I think I had seen that page of yours before but had forgotten about it. It was really useful and it sounds like you have definitely seen benefits/gains correlate with short duration. Thanks for the info.

KenR,
Thanks for the information on dynamic movements for fingers I will have to look into that as well.

Mark,
Oops I hadn't caught that the short duration and the long duration used the same intensity. That doesn't seem realistic for me to expect to hang at the same intensity for the greater duration.

I had been reading tendon stiffness as strength although perhaps that is wrong.
I fell back to wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tendon and it actually lumped tendons into two types.

Energy storing which are more elastic and can store more energy, and positional which allow for much finer control but stretch much less and are significantly stiffer.

It seems that fingers would fall under the second category and although I think that would make stiffer tendons "better" I am not sure.

Thanks for the feedback guys.


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By Tipton
Dec 20, 2013

kenr wrote:
"general wisdom"? I think it's more accurate to say that the frequently-expressed opinions of some older American climbers who have lots of time free on web forums - (perhaps along with some (un-biased?) fingerboard manufacturers) ... is for repeated 5-8 second static hangs. If you actually read a _book_ by an American climber, Eric Horst in Conditioning for Climbing says max 3-5 seconds for repeated hangs (and once he's gotten that out of the way, moves on to describe six dynamic finger-strengh methods some of which he clearly thinks are superior to static repeaters).


You make it out like Horst ONLY advocates shorter hangs, but in Training for Climbing (1st edition, not sure about 2nd) he suggests repeaters with 10 second repetitions. And speaking of unbiased...I have a VERY difficult time taking Horst seriously as his books are riddled with plugs for his own line of products (Nicros).


kenr wrote:
The Self-Coached Climber book says the goal for finger strength is to build Type IIa + IIb fibers, and so recommends only dynamic training.


"recommends only dynamic training"? Really? I don't recall reading that at all and I can't imagine Hunter making a blanket statement like that.

kenr wrote:
Nowadays I do not often see videos of sport climbers or boulderers failing on a route because they ran out of static holding endurance.


I think this is because videos of sport climbers or boulderers that CAN'T do the moves are extremely uncommon. Who posts videos of trying and failing to pull onto the starting holds fifty times? That would make for some terrifically uninspiring footage. Instead, you generally see footage of climbers that are at least close to achieving the ascent.


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By JLP
From The Internet
Dec 20, 2013

kenr wrote:
American climbers who have lots of time free on web forums...

Ken - would love to hear about some sick sends all the bullshit you've posted here has allowed you to accomplish. All I see in your profile are ass-easy beginner routes.


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By jarthur
From Westminster, CO
Dec 20, 2013
My dogs got ups yo!

JLP wrote:
Ken - would love to hear about some sick sends all the bullshit you've posted here has allowed you to accomplish. All I see in your profile are ass-easy beginner routes.


I wouldn't be so quick dismiss someone because they don't post all of their sends on MP. Not everyone, including yourself feels the need to log everything into MP so they can have someone else look at their profile and say, "Look you don't know shit about shit because your hardest send on MP is a 5.10."


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 22, 2013
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

couple quick comments. i kind of cringe when i read some of these studies and realize within about 15 seconds that the entire comparison is completely flawed. it is amazing that they are reviewed, and actually get published.

there are so many variables to all of it that it would literally take several groups of a gazillion participants to get anywhere with it. untrained individuals could easily gain a fair amount of strength using either method, but a trained individual won't react in the same way to the same training methods. etc, etc etc.

kenr - you mention that your gym comp team doesn't do static hangs. well, obviously. how many comps have thin, fingery, technical problems. zero. for the climbing i do, the HB stuff seems to work pretty well. if i was coaching the comp team would i have them doing HB workouts? of course not - i would have them working on wickedly dynamic bouldering probably 90% of the time.

i think one of the things that climbers that train have a hard time with is really sitting down, figuring out what their (specific) goals are, and tayloring a training program for those goals. it makes it a LOT easier to meet your goals if you use the right tools to get there.


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By SexPanther aka Kiedis
Dec 23, 2013
Thumbtastic

Just wanted to add that I took a look at Mark's blog and really enjoyed it. It's been a long time since training for climbing has been a central thing for me, it's pretty great seeing how you've integrated a lot of focused intensity, made a lot of goals happen, and from the looks of it, been there for the family on a consistent basis also.

Thanks for the inspiration. Doing some goal setting for next year and plan on putting some stuff I gleaned from your posts to work. Respect.


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 23, 2013
Sure, I can belay

VaGenius wrote:
Just wanted to add that I took a look at Mark's blog and really enjoyed it. It's been a long time since training for climbing has been a central thing for me, it's pretty great seeing how you've integrated a lot of focused intensity, made a lot of goals happen, and from the looks of it, been there for the family on a consistent basis also. Thanks for the inspiration. Doing some goal setting for next year and plan on putting some stuff I gleaned from your posts to work. Respect.


That's Mark Anderson's blog, lazyhclimbingclub.wordpress.com/

I'm strictly a training amateur, albeit another Mark. I like his blog too.


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By 5.samadhi
Jan 2, 2014
me

take this fwiw but I had a hangboard cycle before the start of a long trip where I almost exclusively hangboarded. I did 3 sets of max hangs 8-12 seconds long with 3 minute breaks in between. A few easy warmup sets. Sometimes I did this workout 3 days in a row (always trying to progress adding weight or adding seconds). If say on the third day in a row I did not add weight or seconds, then I took a day or two off and started again. This lasted about a month. The result is I added 15lb and 4 seconds to my last hangs compared to my last hangboard cycle last sets (does that make sense?). I also visibly grew my forearm muscles (I wish I had taken measurements, they are visibly larger now).

You dont need super long hangs or super long workouts! In/out, consistency, # of times exposed to workout = hypertrophy in my limited experience.


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By divnamite
From New York, NY
Jan 2, 2014

5.samadhi wrote:
take this fwiw but I had a hangboard cycle before the start of a long trip where I almost exclusively hangboarded. I did 3 sets of max hangs 8-12 seconds long with 3 minute breaks in between. A few easy warmup sets. Sometimes I did this workout 3 days in a row (always trying to progress adding weight or adding seconds). If say on the third day in a row I did not add weight or seconds, then I took a day or two off and started again. This lasted about a month. The result is I added 15lb and 4 seconds to my last hangs compared to my last hangboard cycle last sets (does that make sense?). I also visibly grew my forearm muscles (I wish I had taken measurements, they are visibly larger now). You dont need super long hangs or super long workouts! In/out, consistency, # of times exposed to workout = hypertrophy in my limited experience.

What's the result? How did you perform on the road trip?


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By 5.samadhi
Jan 2, 2014
me

divnamite wrote:
What's the result? How did you perform on the road trip?

Hey man, I will tell you in 6 months when I get to Colorado (final destination/new home). I just started said trip Jan 1.

I havent been on a bouldering trip (more than a daytrip!) in 9 years. So I hope to be able to match what I did 9 years ago when I was 21 and seriously training. That would be solid v7-v8 so we shall see!

:D


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