Monday, April 23, 2012

Transgression, a hangboard for high level climbers

Versión en español

This entry was updated in February 2018.

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 (8c), Ander Lasagabaster (9a), Dafnis Fernández (9a), Dani Moreno (9a), Eric López (8B Fb, 9a), Iris Matamoros (9a), Jairo Pandiella (8b+ on sport routes; 8A on boulder), Jose Luis Palao "Primo" (9a), Luis Alfonso Félix Pérez (9a+), Luis Muñoz (8A+ Fb), Mikel Ziarrusta (9a), Nacho Sánchez (3x8C Fb), Ola Taistra (8c), Pablo Barbero (9a), Raquel Hernández (8c), part of the Belmez Face Brigade...

Thanks to them, to the "guinea pigs" who volunteered 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 Surfaces for Climbing and Dafnis, here is this board and the training I propose to go with it.
The first version of Transgression was released in 2012 and
was made of polyester. They were a heavy boards, prone to
damage in transit and with slightly sharper edges
than the ideal.

The NEW VERSION of Transgression was released in 2014.
The differences with the previous one are that: a) it is made of
polyurethane -a lighter material- instead of polyester; b) its edges
has now a softer texture; c) being more rounded and skin friendlier
than the former version's. Anyway, if you find the texture of the edges
a little gritty, you can sand a bit the flat side.
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extra weight on smallest edge possible), this is a  little summary  (López-Rivera, E. & González-Badillo, J.J., (2010); Unpublished raw data from study, untitled work):
  • 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 Progression come with a training plan
in poster format, that along with methods and schedules, provides
guidelines for warming up, correctly performing the dead-hangs,
managing the load and prevent injuries. The contents are deep
and thorough, aimed for users that are eager to learn and with
a high capacity for effort. This Plan will allow them to become
experts in their own process of improvement, boosting their
motivation to seek out performance.

¿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 Progression hangboard has 8 edges of decreasing size, from 24 mm to 10 mm 
The Transgression hangboard has 8 edges of decreasing size,
from 18 mm to 6 mm. They are intentionally oriented and separated from each
other in a way that make full crimping difficult, because I do not recommend
to use this grip type systematically while training on a hangboard.

- The finish and sharpness of the smaller edges are a bit more radical for Transgression, so that the user can choose wether to keep them that way to make them easier to hold, or to blunt them (a tiny bit!) to reduce harm to the skin.

Finally I'd like to mention some coaches and researchers 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:

  • Andrew Pacey (Canada): Climber, Bachelor of Human Kinetics, Instructor climbers, and blogger. He has a weblog about training in climbing
  • Carlos Cabrera (Sweden): Coach of  Geir SöderinMatilda SöderlundDaniel Andersson, Robert Rundin  (Sweden National Climbing Team) and  Said Belhaj.
  • David Mason (Sheffield, UK): Boulderer (8B Fb) and Assistant British Team Coach.
  • Eric Hörst (USA): Climber, recognized performance coach, and author of eight books (climbing performance genre), and over 60 magazine articles. Eric is also editor of the NICROS Training Center.
  • Guido Köstermeyer (Germany): Researcher, Climber (8c+) and Climbing Coach. He has a webpage, and is the author of one of the few books published about training in climbing: Peak Performance.
  • Juan Martín Miranda, "Marvin" (Argentina): Personal Climbing Coach and Argentine Team Coach.
  • Kris "Odub" Hampton, (Cincinnati, USA): Owner/Trainer in Power Company Climbing. Review of the Transgression hangboard here.
  • Neal McQuaid (Dublin, Ireland): Rock climber and fan of climbing training. You can read your review of Transgression board here.
  • Mark Fraser (Canada): Climber, curious about performance improvement, and engineer. He is developing testing devices to help people assess their performance in climbing.
  • Mark McGowan (Glasgow, UK): Climber, currently working as Personal Climbing Coach at Barcelona, Spain.
  • Volker Schöffl (Germany), M.D., PhD. is a Fellow in General Surgery, Trauma surgery and orthopaedic surgery, Sports Medicine and Team Physician of the German Climbing and Expedition Team. Member of Medical Commissions (MedCom) for the UIAA (International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation) and for IFSC (International Federation of Sports Climbing); Head of the Department of Sports Orthopaedics -Sports Medicine, specializing in
    shoulder and elbow surgery at Klinikum Bamberg and University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. Volker has done many first ascents up to 8b and has been on many climbing expeditions. He is an acknowledged expert on climbing injuries with more than 50 scientific papers to his name. He also co-wrote the influential book translated in several languages ‘
    One Move too many: How to understand the injuries and overuse syndromes of rock climbing’
Thank everyone, It's a great honor to share experiences with you!

Spec Sheet

Enjoy it, and enjoy the process if you decide to purchase it!

USA: William Snyder; Swiaz Inc. DBA Southwest Instruments
GERMANY: In-Tacto Climbing
ITALIA: LDR Import Export,
EASTERN CANADA: Climb Smart Shop
WESTERN CANADA:  The Hive Bouldering Gym,

Interested in distribution?
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.