Monday, April 23, 2012

Transgression, a hangboard for high level climbers

Versión en español

After the arrival of  progression®; the board aimed at lower and medium level climbers, here comes TRANSGRESSION®, developed for those with a high level of finger strength, that already put to the test by climbers like:

Andrea Cartas Barrera (8b+), Dafnis Fernández (9a), Dani Moreno (9a), Eric López (8B Fb, 9a), Iris Matamoros (9a), Jose Luis Palao "Primo" (8c+), Luis Alfonso Félix Pérez (9a+), Luis Muñoz (8A+ Fb), Mikel Ziarrusta (8c+/9a), Nacho Sánchez (2x8C Fb), Pablo Barbero (9a), part of the Belmez Face Brigade...

Thanks to them, to the "guinea pigs" who vounteered for the three investigations previous to my thesis, to my 10 years of work as a trainer and nearly one year of preliminary studies ergonomic tests, prototypes texture essays, etc. In collaboration with JM Climbing Surfaces and Dafnis, here is this board and the training I propose to go with it.

If you are curious about average finger strength/endurance increases after doing a row using the basic methodology  (4 weeks doing dead hang with added weight on 18mm; and then 4 weeks without extra weight on smallest edge possible), this is a  little summary  (López-Rivera, E. and González-Badillo, J.J., (2010); Manuscript in preparation):
  • Improvements in finger strength (maximum weight supported for 5 seconds on 15mm): 25,8% (7c+ to 8b group; n=5); 8,9% (8b+ to 9a group; n=4)
  • Improvements in finger endurance (maximum time on 11mm): 40,9% (7c+ to 8b group; n=5); 10,9% (8b+ to 9a group; n=4)
Transgression and its companion poster
¿How do I know if this fingerboard is the right one for me?
The requisites are the following:

- Having previous experience with dead hang training,
- Having climbed in a systematic way for more than two years,
- Being older than 18,
- Meeting or exceeding the following tests of maximum hanging time, using a half crimp type of grip and keeping your arms straight, from a 10 mm edge, and then from a 20 mm one,  resting for 5 minutes between them:

  • 10mm: maximum hanging time greater or equal than 15 seconds.
  • 20mm: maximum hanging time greater or equal than 40 seconds.

¿What are the differences with  progression®?

In the first place, the proposed methodology and planning that is included with each board, is customized to the needs of high level climbers with ample training experience.
As for the hardware, there are visual differences like colors and profile, but the most notable ones can be summarized like this:

- The depths of the edges, are 18, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6 mm  against  24, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12 and  10 mm of the other one

- The finish and sharpness of the smaller edges are a bit more radical for Transgression, so that the user can choose whether to keep them that way to make them easier to hold, or to blunt them (a tiny bit!) to reduce harm to the skin.
The first version of Transgression was released in 2011 and was made in polyester. 
The new Transgression version, launched in 2013, came with some improvements: lighter than the previous one, because was made in Polyurethane; a softer texture and a little bit more rounded edges. The training guide that comes with it was updated as well.

Finally I'd like to mention some coaches that I've had the pleasure of meeting in the last few months.
Thanks to their interest on trying these training methods and fingerboards, we have started to share information and cooperate in a way that undoubtedly will make all of us progress both as climbers and trainers:

Thank everyone, It's a great honour to share experiences with you!

Description Here

Have fun if you decide to purchase it!

Worldwide authorized distributors

CANADA (EASTERN): Climb Smart Shop,

CANADA (WESTERN):  The Hive Bouldering Gym,


ITALIA: LDR Import Export,

GERMANY: In-Tacto Climbing Goods,

JAPAN: Evolution, incl. ;


SPAIN: Surfaces for Climbing

UK: Jurassic Climbing Academy

USA: William Snyder; Swiaz Inc. DBA Southwest Instruments

Interested in distribution?
Feel free to contact the manufacturers,  Surfaces for Climbing:
+34 972 35 47 97;

Friday, April 6, 2012

Specific Weight Exercises for Climbers

versión en español
When we choose the strength exercises that we will perform at the gym, we should select those that induce a positive stimulus over the muscles and joint angles that determine performance.

Actually, as Badillo and Ribas (2002) suggest, the goal should be to train movements, not muscles. According to this, exercises that involve a very limited number of muscles, like biceps curl or hammer curl, have little to no impact on climbing performance; they would only be useful when there is a clear lack of pulling force due to the flexor muscles of the elbow being weaker than the rest of the pulling muscles, which is often the case, especially for women.

As an example, when we pull from a hold, we first need our finger flexor muscles to be strong enough to grab the hold. But when the time comes to reach for the next hold the impulse force will come from the legs first, then the hips, trunk and shoulder all the way to the elbow.
Given that the lack of pull force usually is not attributable to the legs, we could focus on upper body strength exercises that reproduce the different pulling movements that we use while climbing.

This way we'll be working our muscles simultaneously and in the same coordinated sequence that we demand from them in a route. The more similar a training exercise is to the actual physical performance, the greater the possibilities of transfer (Stone and col, 2007).

So our question for today is:

What weight exercises have a greater transfer to our sport's movements?
In my opinion, the following do:
  • Dumbbell row (with arm at 90º abduction) and one-arm reverse flies *
  • One-arm lat pulldown (slightly laid back)*
  • One-arm standing cable pullover or dumbbell pullover *
  • Dumbbel row (with arm at 0º abduction), or sitting one-arm cable row *
  • Standing one-arm cable triceps pushdown or triceps kickbacks *

Nonetheless, keep in mind that these really specific exercises are suitable for adult advanced athletes, i.e., those who have completed a more general and basic stage of strength training.




ONE ARM LAT PULLDOWN (slightly laid back)


Alberto, Fontainableau. Picture: Jon Juarez. Source:

If you do a lot of bouldering it would be interesting to include dumbbell chest flies as well.

In future entries you can get info on methodology (number of sets, reps, rests, etc.) and planning to correctly apply your new workout routine.

* Cable or pulley exercises don't allow for big loads, so if you plan on doing maximum strength with maximum load methods (less than 6 reps), the best way is to use free weight exercises.