Finger Training in a Dorm Room

Look, I've been there, cooped up in a jail cell sized dorm room with brick walls spaced barely 8' apart and two bunk beds encroaching on my space and sanity. Claustrophobic yet? Add in the piles of homework, a dim lamp and a sense of anxiety about your exam tomorrow and you're looking a grim picture where training for rock climbing might be the last thing on your mind. 

Why do I bring this up? Because the other day, I was asked this simple question: 

 

"How can I train with the Port-A-Edges in my Dorm room??"

 

This question gave me a glimpse of hope that even when life gets hectic, people are still looking for ways to maintain and improve their rock climbing specific strength. Good news is, there are a number of ways to strengthen your fingers with the Port-A-Edges in a dorm room - or for that matter, any room where hanging them isn't an option.

Knock out this protocol while studying and you'll likely gain strength and stay sane while your prepare to crush your exam and your project simultaneously. 

 

 . . . 

 

The Dorm Room Finger Recruitment Protocol 

I don't want to bore you with a lecture so I'll be brief, let's first talk recruitment. Recruitment is a neurological adaptation that allows your muscles to pull at their max. Recruitment is best generated from doing max effort exercises. Simple.

When doing max hangs from a hangboard, or simply performing max effort sit pulls, you'll hit you're peak force levels within 2-5s of starting the exercise. 

With this in mind, if you want to increase your recruitment and peak force generation, doing 5 second pulls is going to be a good bet. 

Here's a great protocol for upping your finger recruitment in your dorm:

  • Warm Up - a full body warm up as well as finger warm up is crucial to pulling at your max - get your fingers warmed by performing "Crimp-Ups" in the seated position
  • Set 1: Max Sit Pull - post warm up, with the cords looped around your feet, your elbows at 90 degrees, and sitting with your legs straight and in an upright posture, perform a 5 second max effort pull in the rowing motion starting on a larger edge like the 20mm (note: we recommend trimming the cords to be comfortable for sit pulls)
    • Complete 5 sets of 5 second pulls with 3min rest between
  • Set 2: Max Sit Pull - min edge
    • Complete 5 sets of 5 second pulls on an an edge one size down from what you can hang on
 
portable hangboard sit pulls
 
. . .
 
This simple protocol, that lets you study between sets, is one you can perform anywhere and customize as you wish. The secret to the protocol is to try REALLY hard on every effort. 
 
By starting on a large edge, you're getting your fingers warmed and primed to try hard on the smaller, more challenging edge sizes. Pulling on the large edges will strengthen your fingers but also your climbing specific pulling muscles in your arms, back and core. 
 
By progressing to an edge size which you normally cannot hang on, your fingers will be at max effort while your pulling muscles will not, and you'll be targeting your fingers more specifically in the second set, which is good!! 
 
Finally, by learning to how to actually pull at your max, as opposed to simply hanging on your skeleton and soft tissues from an edge, you're going to improve your recruitment and learn an extremely valuable skill, how to try hard, which is going to pay huge dividends on the wall whether your a boulderer or sport climber. 
 
Crush on and keep notes on your effort levels during these sets and your progress! If you can find some solid objects to loop the Port-A-Edges around, you can repeat this protocol at a multitude of climbing specific joint angles (such as overhead, or side pulls, and more). Check out @C4HP on instagram for more developing research on max pull training - it's interesting stuff! 
 
If you have some heavy text books laying around, you can always pick a challenging edge size to pick them up with... see our article "The 3 Most Effective Ways to use the Port-A-Edges" for more details on "no-hang" training. If you're not bogged down with studying, this exercise is great to "super-set" in with other climbing specific exercises that don't involve your fingers in-between sit-pulls. 
 
Bonus: challenge your climbing friends to a seated pull-off. Carbine the Port-A-Edges together, and see who can hang on as you sit with your feet pressed against each other in a row position, if one person is stronger, make them use a smaller edge! 

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