While the hangboard has been around for years and is at the top of the list of any dedicated climber’s training tools, pinch blocks are new and still unknown to many. Despite this, they are an extremely valuable tool for increased grip strength. And if used properly, pinch blocks can be an effective pinch grip training.
The hangboard will get you ready for hard crimp lines anywhere, but one day you may find your hands giving out as you throw a big move to a pinch or climb a hard tufa route. This is where you need to be able to use all types of pinches when climbing. And pinch blocks comes in handy for a more effective pinch grip training.
Finding smart ways to incorporate pinch blocks into your training will give you a grip of steel and get you ready for pinch-intensive routes and boulders anywhere. On top of this, many pinch blocks on the market come with crimps incorporated into the side of the block, meaning they can double as a miniature hangboard. This gives you the best of both worlds in one!
Today, we will discuss several effective pinch grip training exercises you can do with pinch blocks to warm up and increase your grip strength.
What are Pinch Blocks?
Pinch blocks are portable wooden blocks that are designed to be ergonomic for a pinch grip position. They typically come with an attachment point for either hanging weights or suspending the blocks themselves in the air. With many options on the market today, selecting the best climbing pinch blocks for your goals can be challenging.
Ucraft Pinch Block
- A small and lightweight training pinch board
- Designed to be versatile and multifunctional with a double-sided hangboard
- It comes equipped with durable paracord which makes it easy to attach to various surfaces.
- Constructed from ash-wood, a material that is both strong and durable.
This Ucraft pinch block is great because of its versatility. Why have a pinch block and a portable hangboard in your climbing bag when you can have both in one? This block comes with multiple pinch sizes and 31mm and 16mm crimp edges, making it perfect for warming up and training your hands and fingers for pinching and crimping. It is very affordable compared to many other options on the market, yet still built to last with the highest quality wood and material.
How to Improve Climbing Grip Strength with Pinch Blocks?
Pinch blocks are built for versatility for you to work on your climbing grip strength. There are many ways for you to have an effective pinch grip training. Below are some ways that you can use the pinch blocks.
Warming up with Pinch Blocks
The first useful pinch block training is for warming up. Many climbing injuries are caused by the lack of a proper warm-up routine, so this is something to dial in early on. Pinch blocks are a great tool to get your hands and fingers ready for the rock. Because of their size, they are also very convenient to pop into your climbing bag without taking up too much space or adding weight. A pro tip is that they can even be used in the car on the way to the crag! Here are a couple of pinch grip exercises to prepare you for trying hard on the wall.
First, hook the rope loop of the pinch block on your foot or hang it from a tree or bolt to create tension. When performing repeaters, you will alternate between pulling on the pinch block for seven seconds and resting for three seconds. In each position, repeat this four times. Different holds will stress your hands and fingers in different ways when climbing, so it is important to warm up multiple positions. Start by using the pinch block’s edges and do sets in open hand and then half crimp positions. Once you finish these, get your thumb working and warm up your pinch grip position.
Warmup Max Pulls
By now, your hands and fingers should be feeling decently warm. A good way to finish up your pinch block warm-up is with max pulls. Cycle through all the same grip positions, this time pulling with close to maximal force for just five seconds. Now your hands and fingers should be ready for the rock!
Training with Pinch Blocks
Now, let us discuss using pinch blocks in a training context to increase grip strength for climbing. Pinches are one of the most common holds you will encounter when climbing outside. The most obvious of these are tufas and blocks, but also, anytime there is a crimp or side-pull with a thumb-catch or an arete you can wrap your hand around, having a solid foundation in pinch strength will serve you well.
Pinch blocks are the simplest and most effective way to train this strength area. Dedicating time to this will make a big difference in your climbing grip strength and performance.
Eric Horst is somewhat of a godfather figure in training for climbing. He has been offering groundbreaking training guidance for over twenty years. Horst offers a fantastic protocol for using pinch blocks that is both simple and effective. Let’s check it out.
For this protocol, you will need either plates or dumbbells you can hang from your pinch block. First, you will need to do some testing. Find the maximum weight you can hold for twelve seconds in the widest possible pinch position. Now, use this weight to lift the pinch block for seven seconds while pinching it as hard as possible.
Once finished, immediately switch the block to your other hand and do the same thing. Repeat this twelve times total, six reps with each hand. This is one set. Perform two to three sets with three to five minutes of rest in between.
If it ever feels too easy, add five pounds and reassess. With anything in training, consistency is key. Make sure to perform this routine at least twice weekly to see results, and always record your sets and weights to track progress over time.
By now, hopefully, you are sold on the pinch block as a necessary pinch grip training equipment. Pinch blocks are something every serious climber should have in their training quiver. Their compact size, versatility, and effectiveness make them the perfect tool for the gym, the crag, and everything in between. Spend some time putting in work with these, and you will thank yourself later as you latch the top hold on your project with an iron grip!