• The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 7
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 6
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Part
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 5 - Strength Phase II
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance Phase
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • Improving Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • Using Your Hangboard the Right Way
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Video Spotlight
    The Full-Length Video of Alex Honnold Free-Soloing El Sendero Luminoso
    The Full-Length Video of Alex Honnold Free-Soloing El Sendero Luminoso

    Rock Climbing Training: The Importance of Finger Strength


    Can you provide background for a quote that I read from Malcolm Smith? He said, “Finger strength is everything and if you lay down a foundation [at] between 14 and 18 years old it gives you a real advantage, both in terms of performance and avoiding injury.” Is this true?  —Mike Jonas | Commack, New York


    Malcom Smith made the second ascent of the world’s first 5.14c when he repeated Ben Moon’s Hubble in the U.K. back in 1992 at the age of 18. Malcolm became notorious for his fiendish dieting and training regimes and for achieving incredible power levels in a very short period of time. Regarding his quote, I don’t think this is something that we can prove, but serious anecdotal evidence supports it. You can’t expect to reach your full potential in any sport with a high power and skill element if you get into it late in life. There are two important corollaries here. First, Malc was talking about reaching world-class levels. You can still make massive finger strength gains in your 20s and 30s and climb some very hard things. We all know that progress slows down a little and in general it becomes trickier to avoid injury in your 40s and 50s, but you can still get really strong. Staying healthy boils down to the way you train rather than age. It is possible for a teenager to completely break himself with poor training practices and for a veteran to get super-strong without the slightest tweak. The key point is to be progressive.

    Consider also that finger strength is only “everything” for bouldering and short power routes. If you shift the focus to endurance-based climbing in your later years then you are less likely to notice that you missed out on power training. Not only do humans hang on to endurance slightly longer than power, but it also seems that stamina-based climbing is less stressful on the body than bouldering. A recent example is the aging British rock star, Stevie Haston, who has just redpointed an enormous 5.14c roof in his mid 50s! Of course it is possible to list older climbers who have climbed extremely powerful routes or boulder problems, but most of these climbers have built up that strength from an early age, and so I guess they support Malcolm’s theory rather than disproving it.

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