MyPinch: Grip Strength Testing

Use our free testing tool for an insight into your grip strength

AIM Aim: To isolate and test grip strength using a lifting protocol

WHEN When: After a rest day, post warm-up, with skin in good condition

WHO Who: Recommended for climbers who regularly hangboard and climb above V4/6b+

WHY Why: Assess before and after a training cycle to measure the intervention effectiveness


Testing and training with a pinch block is a useful alternative to using a hangboard. Weights used on a pinch block and the arm position is very different to using a hangboard but the validity of a test retest protocol before and after a training block is still high. Therefore, this is a useful method to measure any gains you may have made in finger strength.

Which block are you using?

Select below

This testing session is designed to assess finger strength in two different grip positions using a Lattice pinch block. The grip positions used are a strict wide pinch and a 4 finger hold either open or half crimp on a 20mm edge.

Testing and training with a pinch block is a useful alternative to using a finger board. Weights used on a pinch block and the arm position is very different to using a fingerboard but the validity of a test retest protocol before and after a training block is still high. Therefore, this is a useful method to measure any gains you may have made in finger strength.

Results from this session also provide an excellent baseline from which to calculate the intensities of other sessions, such as max holds and 50% aerobic power repeater holds.

When comparing any results from testing sessions or when using the loads based on testing during training (i.e. 50% repeaters) it is extremely important that you place your fingers in the same position on the holds and use the same grip type (i.e. half crimp). This is especially important on the pinch grip as holding the pinch further down will make the hold a lot easier.

Rest and Warm Up

Complete this sessions after at least 24 hours of rest. Remember to warm up thoroughly before starting this sessions and warm up your fingers specifically for the hold size and grip position used in testing.

How to Use a Pinch Block Safely

A key component of using a pinch block is that the weight is lifted from the ground rather than hanging from your arms in an overhead position. To do this safely and effectively please follow the guidelines below:

  1. Always lift from your legs and not your arms. The weights attached to the pinch block should be in contact with the ground whilst you are able to grip your chosen hold. Whilst the weight is still in contact with the floor your arm should be straight, your back should be straight with a hinge at the hips and your legs should be bent. To lift the weight from the floor you should extend your legs and extend at the hip into an upright standing position whilst keeping your arm straight. If you lift the weight by bending your arm instead of straightening your legs you are not using the ideal form for testing or training. Lifting from the arm is likely to limit your performance and skew your results.
  1. Make sure your feet are out of the way. This may seem obvious but it is important to make sure you cannot hit your feet or any other body part if you suddenly drop the pinch block with the weights attached. This can happen quite easily when trying to lift maximal loads.
  1. Be strict on grip positions used. Make sure to take an accurate note of where your fingers are placed on the holds in each grip position to make test retest results and training loads reliable.

For further guidance on these points and for help with future training please watch the video link below:

Testing Instructions

Complete up to 8 sets (on each arm) of progressively heavier hangs until you reach a maximum score. You may reach a higher score on one arm but please record both for more detailed results. Rest for 3 minutes between each hold on the same arm. This means you can attempt a hold every 90 seconds on alternating arms.

Each hang must follow the rules below

  • Lift the weight from the floor using the set grip position
  • Each hold must last a full 7 seconds from the weight leaving the floor to hitting the floor
  • Your arms should be straight or bent slightly.
  • You must use the set grip positions listed below.

A max score is the highest load completed for the set time staying in the same grip position. Once the load is too high for you to complete a full 7 second hold you have reached failure.

Test 1: Pinch Grip Strength

Using the standardised pinch position, complete the heaviest hold possible for the set 7 second period. You MUST keep your fingers and thumb above the line on the top of the block. You can put your fingers in the screw holes if you desire. Make sure to keep the block vertical and do not tilt your wrist to create an angle. See picture below for guidelines. Test both hands with 90 seconds between each hand and 3 minutes between the same hand.

Test 2: Lattice standard testing edge

Using the Lattice standard testing edge, complete the heaviest hold possible for the set 7 seconds. You can use either a 4 finger open grip position or a 4 finger half crimp position for this testing but your thumb should not be in contact with the hold. Use the same timing as in the pinch test but please rest for at least 10 minutes between testing each grip position.

Open grip position.

Half crimp position.

Recording Your Score

Record the weight used on each hand for both grip positions. Remember you need to complete a full 7 second hold for it to count! Once you’ve completed the testing send us your results here https://latticetraining.com/form/my-pinch-block and we’ll analyse your data and send you a report.

Safety

Any maximal testing session includes some form of risk. Please follow the rules below to reduce the risk of injury and seek advice from a professional coach if you are unsure how to perform this testing safely.

  • Do not change grip positions whilst holding weights. If your fingers move or open out whilst under load, you should immediately stop the set and place the weights back on the ground by bending your legs.
  • Load your fingers slowly when beginning a hold.
  • Increase the load of each set slowly. Increments of up to 5kg should be used.
  • If you have not reached a max load within 8 sets, finish testing and complete this session on another day.

This testing session is designed to assess your complete grip system using four key pinch sizes & one 30mm edge. Width and depth vary to compare your strengths and weaknesses and identify where your most effective gains can be made. Results from this testing session can be used to calculate intensities for training sessions.

Rest and Warm Up

Complete this sessions after at least 24 hours of rest. Remember to warm up thoroughly before starting this sessions and warm up your fingers specifically for the hold size and grip position used in testing.

How to lift

A key component of using a pinch block is that the weight is lifted from the ground rather than hanging from your arms in an overhead position. To do this safely and effectively please follow the guidelines below:

  • Movement should come only from the legs.
  • Grip adjustments should only be made before the weights have been lifted. For maximal strength testing stop the lift immediately if you’re not in an optimal grip position.

Performing a lift

  • Start with the weights fully on the floor and positioned between your feet as illustrated. Make sure your feet and limbs are clear of the weights, at maximal loads it’s easy to drop them onto your toes.
  • Straighten your arms and assume the lifting stance by bending at the hips, knees, and ankles.
  • Optimise your grip position and level the block directly above the weights.
  • You’re now ready to lift, extend your legs and hinge at your hips to an upright position. Don’t brace against your legs, this will skew your results. Lifting from the arm is likely to limit your performance.
  • Be strict on grip positions used. Make sure to take an accurate note of where your fingers are placed on the holds in each grip position to make test/retest results and training loads reliable.
  • Please follow the rules above to reduce the risk of injury and seek advice from a professional coach if you are unsure how to perform this testing safely.
  • Increase the load of each set slowly. Increments of around 2.5kg should be used.

Tech Tip: Focus on maximising surface area contact for more friction.

Any maximal testing session includes some form of risk. Please follow the rules above to reduce the risk of injury and seek advice from a professional coach if you are unsure how to perform this testing safely.

For further guidance on these points and for help with future training please watch the video link below:

Testing Instructions

Which Grips should I test?

We do not recommend testing more than one pinch grip in a session as you will skew your results. If you want to benchmark all of the sizes, we recommend spreading your testing sessions over several sessions.

If this is your first time testing your grip strength and you don’t have any specific goals, you should start on the wide shallow grip position as this will target the thumb flexor most often under developed in climbers.

If you’ve been testing and training on pinches for a while, you should consider which grip types are most novel to you and target those first.


The Quad block features the following four unique grips that, combined into a single block, allow you to develop your entire grip system by targeting specific muscles:

Wide Shallow – Flexor Pollicis Longus, Found in the forearm, this flexes the thumb at its distal phalanx. The largest of the thumb flexors, training this will typically result in quick gains for those new to pinch training.

Wide shallow grip type and attachment point for lattice quad block

Wide Deep – Abductor Pollicis Brevis, This abducts the thumb at its carpometacarpal joint away from the palm. Training this grip position will typically improve performance on the largest pinches and slopers.

Wide deep grip type and attachment point for lattice quad block

Narrow Deep – Abductor Pollicis, This adducts the thumb at its carpometacarpal joint towards the index fingers metacarpal joint. Narrow pinches target the interossei and lumbricals, important for a crushing grip used on arĂŞtes.

Narrow deep grip type and attachment point for lattice quad block

Narrow Shallow – Opponens Pollicis, A short intrinsic muscle found in the radial aspect of the hand that opposes the thumb towards the fingers. Training this will typically improve grip strength for bar like tufas.

Narrow shallow grip type and attachment point for lattice quad block

Attachment points for lattice quad block

1. Clip one strand on the shortest loop above the knot.

2. Clip both strands below the knot


How to test

Complete up to 8 sets (on each arm) of progressively heavier lifts until you reach a maximum score. You may reach a higher score on one arm but please record both for more detailed results. Rest for 3 minutes between each hold on the same arm. This means you can attempt a hold every 90 seconds on alternating arms.

Before each testing session

Before each testing sessions you must wipe your pinch block clean of any chalk with a little water on a fresh cloth. Remove excess water and let the surface dry completely. Skipping this step will invalidate your results. Apply the same chalk you use for climbing to your hands only.

Each hang must follow the rules below:

  • Lift the weight from the floor using the set grip position
  • Each hold must last a full 7 seconds from the weight leaving the floor to hitting the floor
  • Your arms should be straight or bent slightly.
  • You must use the set grip positions listed below.
  • A max score is the highest load completed for the set time staying in the same grip position. Once the load is too high for you to complete a full 7 second hold you have reached failure.
1 rep max grip testing diagram

Test 1: Pinch Grip Strength

Using your chosen grip position, complete the heaviest hold possible for the set 7 second period. Make sure to keep the block parallel to the floor and do not tilt your wrist to create an angle. Maximise your surface area contact with the block and align your thumb to engage all your fingers. See illustration for guidelines. Test both hands with 90 seconds between each hand and 3 minutes between the same hand. If you have not reached a max load within 8 sets, finish testing and complete this session on another day.

Quad block grip position

Rest for at least 10 minutes before testing the next grip position

Test 2: 30mm Testing Edge

Quad block crimp position

Using the 30mm testing edge, complete the heaviest hold possible for the set 7 seconds. You can use either a 4 finger open grip position or a 4 finger half crimp position for this testing but your thumb should not be in contact with the hold. Do not use full crimp. Use the same timing as the pinch test. If you have not reached a max load within 8 sets, finish testing and complete this session on another day.

If your shoulder or back begins to feel like the limiting factor when testing this edge, please move to a smaller edge size.

Recording Your Score

Record the weight (including the block) used on each hand for both grip positions. Remember you need to complete a full 7 second hold for it to count! Once you’ve completed the testing send us your results and we’ll analyse your data and send you a report.