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Obtaining a G.I. Joe Kung-Fu Grip: How to exercise my hands for rock climbing

LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
edited July 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey all,

So I regularly work out but recently got a bit interested in rock climbing. Just the idea at the moment, not the actual act of it, yet. Probably just the fake gym wall stuff and going to take some classes at first. Now, I've looked up some exercises to do online to improve my grip but god damn my forearm/grip is weak. Weak~~~~~~~~

When I try to hang with one hand I can maybe max out 25seconds for each hand. Of course I can go longer while hanging with both hands, but I read a guide that says 45seconds on a one hand hang is "normal" and I should work up to hanging for 4 minutes. Good lord do I need to improve.

So I come to you for some advice. What are some exercises I can do to improve my grip strength and/or hang time? I'm not only looking for gym exercises but also things I can do at home for 5-15minutes at a time while surfing the web or something like that. I need to improve my grip strength by a ton it seems, so I am going to need a lot of help and a lot of different exercises.

I eventually want to hang on one hand for 4 minutes so that's my end goal. Right now, I'm just going to shoot for 45 seconds and try to improve from there.

Also, if anyone has some advice for gloves that is welcomed. My hands ache after hanging. Ache.

If you want a visual by my hanging exercise, there's a picture at this webpage just scroll down a bit and look left.

Lilnoobs on

Posts

  • DirtyDirtyVagrantDirtyDirtyVagrant Registered User regular
    edited July 2012
    I have heard that throwing a towel over a pullup bar and using it to subsequently pull yourself up can be very strengthening for the grip. I think we have a couple of rock climbers around here. Perhaps they can confirm?

    @blake t

    DirtyDirtyVagrant on
  • GafotoGafoto Registered User regular
    Unless you are a top level climber doing specific workouts for climbing is probably not worth your time. Like most skill-based activities the best training for climbing is climbing.

    Also remember that depending on the climb you're doing very little hand strength can be required. A 5.6 slab climb can be done with little to no upper body strength if you have good footwork. Concentrate on specifically not using your hands for climbing as much as possible, it's easier to support your weight on your feet than your hands.

    My recommendation is to simply get out and start climbing as a means of training. Eveybody sucks at first, you just do it until you get better. You'll be amazed at how quickly you can progress if you devote time to it. Many climbing gyms have bouldering caves which are a low key way to work on technique and overall power (they tend to not work your endurance very well).

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  • khainkhain Registered User regular
    If you wan to improve your strength that's fine, but if you want to improve your ability to rock climb then you should go actually climb instead of working on exercises that may help since rock climbing far more about technique then pure strength and there is no way that a 45 second 1 handed hang is normal.

  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    If you are interested in something a big part of it is doing just.

    Just, go.

    No ones going to care if you can't some type of test.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    yea just go rockclimbing and work on different grips. strength will come

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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    Not a climber, but I have a lot of friends who do it, and they all say that it's not about arm strength, finger strength, or any of that, but it's all about core strength. You're not so much working your fingers as you are working the entire muscle group from your stomach all the way along your shoulder and arm to your fingers, but it starts at your core.

    And yeah, doing 30 minutes of rock climbing is going to give you much better results than doing 30 min of specialized exercises.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Climbing is the #1 thing to practice. Also, most gyms have hangboards and other practice pieces you can use. I wouldn't REALLY worry about it until you're climbing 5.10c+ indoors, as you might blow a tendon doing some of the training if you don't have a base level of grip. If you're hell-bent on it, just do pushups, pullups and situps.

  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Yeah, just climb, climb , climb.

    You're going to be faced with tons of different grips in walls, so climbing constantly is the best way to just get used to it.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    EggyToast wrote: »
    Not a climber, but I have a lot of friends who do it, and they all say that it's not about arm strength, finger strength, or any of that, but it's all about core strength. You're not so much working your fingers as you are working the entire muscle group from your stomach all the way along your shoulder and arm to your fingers, but it starts at your core.

    And yeah, doing 30 minutes of rock climbing is going to give you much better results than doing 30 min of specialized exercises.

    core strength isn't worth shit if you fingers can't hold on to something

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Climbing is mostly core, but there's plenty of grip involved, especially 5.10+ (prior to that climbing is more positive slope-wise than negative). Since you haven't actually climbed yet, don't worry about it. You'll spend your first 6 months lamenting how ripped up your hands feel and how you can't move your arms. Just make sure to get some ClimbOn for your hands to prevent huge callouses.

  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    What is ClimbOn? An anointment of some kind?

    Also does it matter what kind of gloves or shoes I wear?

    Basically, I won't be able to climb until the end of July (when classes start) because my current gym doesn't have a wall. So I just wanted to do some prep work before I jump in full force =)

    Thanks for the suggestions so far. It seems I should add some more core endurance work and leg work as well.

  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited July 2012
    I don't think I ever seen anyone ever climb with shoes, at least not for indoor climbing.

    Shoes you'll need rock climbing shoes, which will probably be the tightest shoes you ever worn. If you're climbing at a climbing gym you can usually rent a pair until you're ready to buy your own. Once you are, you'll want to go to a store that sells them and hopefully has a climbing wall (REI is perfect for this) and try as many pairs as you can.


    Also, when you start climbing, STICK to the routes.

    Kyougu on
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    Lilnoobs wrote: »
    What is ClimbOn? An anointment of some kind?

    Also does it matter what kind of gloves or shoes I wear?

    Basically, I won't be able to climb until the end of July (when classes start) because my current gym doesn't have a wall. So I just wanted to do some prep work before I jump in full force =)

    Thanks for the suggestions so far. It seems I should add some more core endurance work and leg work as well.

    Don't be that guy with gloves.

    stick to renting shoes if you can. You want them snug but not overbearingly tight. anyone who tells you that you need to get the smallest size you can grease your foot into deserves to get punched in teh face. you don't want to be swimming in the shoes, but constantly needing to take your shoes off is not fun and you won't get any benefit of too tight shoes. there are only a few situations that having the super tight climbing shoes is actually beneficial, none of which will apply to a beginer

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Lilnoobs wrote: »
    What is ClimbOn? An anointment of some kind?

    Also does it matter what kind of gloves or shoes I wear?

    Basically, I won't be able to climb until the end of July (when classes start) because my current gym doesn't have a wall. So I just wanted to do some prep work before I jump in full force =)

    Thanks for the suggestions so far. It seems I should add some more core endurance work and leg work as well.

    ClimbOn is a hand bar with beeswax and junk to keep your callouses from getting super horned and sticking out (when that happens, you tear them off at inopportune times)

    There's no real way to prepare yourself for climbing without climbing, as it requires building callouses and very fine tendon strength and body control. I don't know of much that duplicates it.

  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Btw, I can't recommend rock climbing enough as a hobby/sport. It's challenging both physically and mentally but you're never trying to keep up with anyone. It's a great workout. And the people at any gym I been to have been some of the friendliest people I met, always willing to help you out with a tough wall or just congratulating you after finishing one.

  • MagdarMagdar Registered User regular
    Yeah, just get to the gym and climb. I started climbing last year (Feb- Mar) after finally deciding that upper body strength was something I wanted to have (couldn't do more than a few pull ups) and I'm now solid into the 5.10 range. I've been going 2 times a week since the beginning of the year. I don't do any exercises outside of the gym. Just go climb, it's so much more fun than hanging from a pull up bar in your apartment. Are you still reading this? You should be climbing!

  • DibsDibs Registered User regular
    Quick repeated advice and some new stuff from someone who started bouldering 5 weeks ago ('bouldering' is in essence just rock climbing shorter distances so you don't need to get harnessed in):

    Shoes - you need rock climbing shoes, you'll want to rent these until you decide to buy a pair
    Gloves - nope, but you should buy a roll of tape and anytime you slice off skin I would tape it up until it heals
    Grip training - the advice here is the best; go climbing. With that said, you mentioned you wanted a quick 10-15 minute thing while browsing. I would suggest one of these: http://www.acasports.co.uk/product_info.php?cpath=394_709&products_id=10083 (I just grabbed that one from a google search)

    I have NOT used one for grip training, but I do know that they can be used for it. It is not something you need and as someone mentioned you really don't need to do 'climbing specific training' unless you're going full-on elite climber on us.

    Just go climbing, you're going to love it. Be prepared for pain; after the first time your forearms will be useless for two days following (just like anytime you work out a muscle that you haven't in a long, long time). It's worth it.

  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    There is bound to be a climbing gym nearby that has like a fifteen dollar entry fee.

    Just go to it.

    Don't worry about anything else, just go to it. These threads are always ridiculously frustrating because everyone wants to come in and post a bunch of information so they look cool and knowledgeable when you really don't need it. Ask again in four months when you actually have an idea of how you even climb.

    All you need to do is go to the climbing gym.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Blake T wrote: »
    There is bound to be a climbing gym nearby that has like a fifteen dollar entry fee.

    Just go to it.

    Don't worry about anything else, just go to it. These threads are always ridiculously frustrating because everyone wants to come in and post a bunch of information so they look cool and knowledgeable when you really don't need it. Ask again in four months when you actually have an idea of how you even climb.

    All you need to do is go to the climbing gym.

    Seriously though - ClimbOn. The stuff is made of magic.

  • TL DRTL DR Not at all confident in his reflexive opinions of thingsRegistered User regular
    EggyToast wrote: »
    Not a climber, but I have a lot of friends who do it, and they all say that it's not about arm strength, finger strength, or any of that, but it's all about core strength. You're not so much working your fingers as you are working the entire muscle group from your stomach all the way along your shoulder and arm to your fingers, but it starts at your core.

    And yeah, doing 30 minutes of rock climbing is going to give you much better results than doing 30 min of specialized exercises.

    Yep. Actually climbing will work the muscles. Yoga is great core exercise as well, with the added benefit of teaching you how to better engage your core when you need to.

  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    I just want to report back that I had my first official climbing lesson today. It was awesome and I even stayed an hour after to practice bouldering and traversing. Lucky for me, the class just had 2 students and there were 2 trainers, so 1 trainer for each of us which allowed us to rope ourselves up and go. Me and the other guy were able to complete a 5.7 route, wimpy but a start!

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