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Overview of H.I.T. Strip™ System Workouts for Building Maximum Grip Strength

The author training two-finger pocket strength (with 20-pund weight belt) on Nicros H.I.T. Strips.

The author training two-finger pocket strength (with 20-pound weight belt) on Nicros H.I.T. Strips™.

One of the greatest training-for-climbing hits is Hypergravity Isolation Training (aka H.I.T.), an advanced protocol for training maximum grip strength. Not to be confused with the “HIT” program performed by body builders, this highly specific grip training method involves climbing with weight added to your body (simulates “hypergravity”) and on identical finger holds (grip isolation).

It’s now been more than 20 years since I developed this Nicros training system and protocol, and H.I.T. workouts are now used by thousands of climbers across the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America as part of their training program. In this article I’ll introduce you to the basics of H.I.T. Strip™ System training.

Why is H.I.T. so Effective?
Hypergravity Isolation Training meets the four fundamental requisites for training maximum grip strength for climbing: 1. high intensity contractions for the duration of the exercise, 2. muscular failure in less than 30 seconds (ideally in less than 20 seconds), 3. the grip is trained with the body in climbing-specific positions (and movement), and 4. a specific grip position is isolated and used until failure (or near failure). While many other grip-strength exercises meet one, two or three of these requirements, only H.I.T. meets all four.

In top photo shows me training on 3rd generation H.I.T. Strips™, a unique platform I develop for optimal H.I.T. workouts. Notice the 20-pound weight belts around my waist, as well as key factor that both hands are in the two-finger pocket grip position. The Nicros’ H.I.T. Strip™ System provides identical pocket, crimp, and pinch grip holds on which I can “ladder” up and down on using climbing movements.

Most important is to add weight to produce failure of each grip position in 10 to 20 total hand movements (which should take just 15 to 30 seconds). Wall angle is critical—I suggest 50-degrees past vertical, although you can use angles between 45 and 55 degrees past vert. Feet simply step on resident holds on the wall and your body can turn as it would while climbing steep rock. Obviously this exercise is very climbing specific, and it targets—actually hammers!—specific grip positions in a way they rarely, if ever, get worked in normal climbing activities (i.e. in doing a climb you are typically grabbing holds of varying shape and size). For intermediate and advanced climbers, there is simply no better way to train grip strength.

Two-finger pocket grip on a HIT Strip with HIT Pinches above.

Two-finger pocket grip on a H.I.T. Strip™ with H.I.T. Pinches™ above.

H.I.T. Strip™ and Pinch Details
Nicros H.I.T. Strips™ feature incut rounded first-pad crimp holds on each side, one-and-a-half pad rounded pockets (fingers on), and a rounded two-pad bucket hold in the middle. The two H.I.T. Pinch holds (mounted just above the strips) are medium-sized, slightly positive, and angle inward to make for a natural wrist position while gripping. The strips come with a moderate texture (ideal for commercial gyms), though, I advise home users to sand down the edge texture a bit.

While owning a H.I.T. Strip™ System provides you with the ideal platform for hypergravity training, you can also perform H.I.T. Workouts without the specially designed H.I.T. Strips™. You simply need to arrange 10 identical crimp holds, 10 identical two-finger pocket holds, 8 or 10 identical pinch holds, and 5 identical rounded buckets. Of course, purchasing these holds may cost a lot more than the H.I.T. Strip™ System. Furthermore, I find the obvious nature of the H.I.T. Strips™ makes the laddering more straight forward and discourages you from cheating by grabbing other holds on the wall. Learn much more about the H.I.T. Strip™ System and Hypergravity Isolate Training by following the links below.