After the great feedback we received from our recent community discussion on the Rate of Force Development (i.e. contact strength) with Taylor Reed from The Beta Angel Project, we thought we should do another one!

This time we wanted to discuss a specific piece of research from the most extensive finger strength researcher in the field: Eva Lopez-Rivera.

Key finding from the Research:

  • The value of maximal strength training may vary depending on the climber’s starting strength levels.

Eva Lopez and her collaborator, J.J. Gonzalez-Badillo, were interested in how hangboarding affected 22 climbers of different finger strength abilities who averaged an 8a redpoint ability level.  The climbers were tested for finger strength on a 15 mm edge for maximum added weight at 5 seconds, and also tested for endurance strength on an 11 mm edge hang to failure.  Climbers were tested both before and after a 4-week intervention.

Method:

  • 3-5 sets of 10-second maximum dead hangs with 3-minute rests.
  • The climbers were divided into a Low Strength (LS) group and a High Strength (HS) group.
  • Results are as follows:

The low strength (LS) group started at 22.71 (+/- 7.72) kg of added weight and saw a 35.78% statistically significant strength increase, and started at 24.95 (+/- 11.99) seconds of hanging and saw a 35.59% statistically significant endurance increase.  The high strength (HS) group started at 41.95 (+/-7.71) kg of added weight and saw a 3.69% non-statistically significant strength increase, and started at 50.35 (+/-18.04) seconds of hanging and saw a 4.22% non-statistically significant endurance decrease.

Two potential points of discussion:

  1. When you start from a lower strength level you’re more likely to make greater gains when doing maximal finger-strength training.
  2. The authors spend some discussion time on the findings related to endurance.

While maximal strength training had a statistically significant positive impact on endurance for the LS group, it had a non-statistically significant negative impact on the HS group.  The authors suggest there may be a physiological reason for the decrease having to do with muscle fiber composition – a “greater fatigability, or that they may need a stronger stimulus or an extended training period.”

Taylor noted that he had a section of his research inventory dedicated to finger strength.  He also had a few questions he thought could get us started!

  • Would the findings above affect your prioritization of training techniques if you’ve already seen significant strength gains from hangboarding?
  • Taylor was also curious about how the community saw the use of the hangboard for endurance vs. other tools.
  • Do some training protocols have unintended training consequences? He’s observed this in his successful motor learning interventions and was curious what the community thought about the concept of “unintended consequence.”