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It is easy to comprehend the importance of improving your maximum muscular strength. This portion of the assessment is all about measuring your peak force in four important movements that translate directly to climbing performance. Each exercise we will test from 2 joint angles (120-degree, 90-degrees) which, with spill over, will cover the entire range of motion. We measure whole body strength with the deadlift isometric , vertical pulling force with the vertical pull isometric, horizontal pressing / squeeze strength with the bench press isometric, and your finger strength on 3 different edge sizes (20,15, 10mm). This portion of the test is designed to set your strength baseline, but also to assign training loads so we can accurately prescribe the load necessary to improve your overall force output.
Rate of force development testing is all about getting an understanding of how much force you can produce in a specific timeframe. Athletes with higher rates of force development have an athletic advantage when the movement gets dynamic. For climbing this means having the ability to be powerful between holds but also to grasp on to small edges quickly as we athlete falls away. In climbing we call this contact strength and is a limiter when you’re working at your highest intensity. Contact strength, or finger flexor RFD, is only one of the tests we perform during this portion of the assessment. Other tests include: whole body RFD with the deadlift speed pull, vertical jump testing for whole body power output, push-up power testing for squeeze power, and the campus slap test to measure vertical pull power.
Anaerobic finger testing is all about working at a higher intensity (above 80%) without the availability of new blood flow to working muscle. This happens every time on the wall when you’re trying a hard bouldering move or route crux. If you’re climbing at your absolute limit you’re often doing this for many moves in a sequence so the capacity of this system really matters in climbing. With this series of tests (10s. and 30s. max effort) we can accurately estimate the time and intensity you’d use to train your fingers on a hangboard as well as the time you’d spend on the climbing wall. By taking out the skills of climbing we can get a very detailed estimate of your underlying forearm and finger flexor physiology. This translates to your coach knowing what you can tolerate (in terms of time) at the time of your test so we can work you right up to your limit. Then we can either slowly add intensity (for maximum strength) or time (for capacity building) depending on your goals.
The repeater test is an estimate of the total number of moves you could perform, at your limit, currently on the wall. Because the skills of climbing are removed we can be very specific with overloading the finger flexors without having to worry about your mental game or specific move beta. By using either a 5-second or 7-second effort (depends on the average time you spend on a hold) followed by a brief 3-second rest we can estimate how long you can work on the wall at your highest intensity. By knowing how hard you can work at your highest intensity we also get the data (loads) that you’d work with at sub-maximal intensities for endurance training. This test can be performed for up to 25 sets but that is not necessary for every athlete. If you’re a route climber, doing 25 sets is a good measure so your coach can note how many highest intensity sets (above a certain percentage) you can perform until your energy systems can no longer sustain the work. If you’re a bouldering athlete doing 10 sets of this exercise is enough to note your “move number” at a certain percentage intensity..