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One-Arm Traversing to Increase Grip Strength

Here’s a simple, effective, and fun exercise that you can add to your winter gym workouts to increase your grip strength in the Spring.

One-arm traversing is a simple, yet surprisingly trying, exercise with two big payoffs: increased grip strength and better speed of contraction (contact strength). Contact strength is a function of how fast muscular motor units can be called into play—this determines how fast you can summon maximum grip strength on a small hold. Use this exercise twice per week as a complement to high-intensity training such as maximal bouldering, hypergravity training, hangboard pull-ups, and such.

1. Select a vertical to slightly overhanging section of an indoor wall with enough room to traverse 10 to 20 feet on medium- to large-size handholds and small- to medium-size footholds.

2. Climb up onto the wall so that your feet are just a foot or two off the floor. Now remove one hand from the wall and hold it behind your back. Begin traversing with small, quick lunges from one handhold to the next. Advance your feet to new footholds as needed to keep your center of gravity over your feet and maintain balance.

3. Continue traversing for eight to twelve total hand moves, and then step off the wall.

4. After a brief rest, step back up onto the wall and traverse the opposite direct using your other hand.

5. Perform two or three one-arm traverses with each hand.

6. Safety notes: It’s important to perform small, controlled lunges that allow you to catch the next hold with a slight bend in your elbow. Shoulder and elbow injuries could result from consistently catching lunges with a fully extended arm or shoulder. Stop this exercise if you feel pain in your fingers, elbows, or shoulders.


Copyright 2012 Eric J. Hörst. All rights reserved.