Fingerboard Pulley System

Fingerboard pulley system in action

I was able to finally work with the gym manager to add a pulley system to the fingerboard in my local climbing gym yesterday. Fingerboards are incredible tools for building outright finger strength to grip tiny edges.  That said, using a fingerboard without a fingerboard pulley system is akin to walking around in the dark without a light.

Yea you are training, but really are you?  Are you progressing? How much weight were you holding on that two finger pocket last month and how much are you now? Do you know how much weight you took off by putting your tippy toes on a chair when training that small edge? The answer is you simply do not, and that is where the fingerboard pulley system comes in…

Fingerboard Pulley System

A fingerboard pulley system is basically two pulleys, two eye bolts and like 10′ of 5-7mm nylon cord mounted underneath a fingerboard. Even though it is possible to buy everything individually, I used the Trango Rock Prodigy Pulley Kit just to keep things simple.

Fingerboard pulley system diagram
Notice how 175 lbs climber only feels 130 lbs of force due to offsetting effect of the pulley system (not counting friction, etc.) .

A fingerboard pulley system is the equivalent of an assisted pull-up machine for climbers. That said, a fingerboard pulley system is NOT really meant for performing pulling or dynamic motions. Its primary purpose is to remove weight from your body when performing fingerboard dead hangs. The pulley system accomplishes this by using a simple 1:1 pulley mechanism, which counterbalances or offsets the climber’s weight.

Using the Fingerboard Pulley System

Clipping into belay loop

45 lbs weight plate

To use the fingerboard pulley system, clip the line directly underneath the fingerboard to your belay loop using a carabiner. Next attach however much weight they would like removed from your body to the other end of the system (far right in the diagram above). You can do this using a simple girth hitch and carabiner or whatever is easiest. Now when you hang from the fingerboard, your weight will be offset by however much weight you attached to the other end of the system.

Why are Fingerboard Pulley Systems Important

-Fingerboard pulley systems allow climbers to quantifiably remove weight from their body when performing fingerboard exercises. Again, this is important because it establishes a baseline to accurately measure and track the progress of strength gains for specific grip types.

-Like mentioned above, before pulley systems were implemented, the primary way to remove weight from your body when doing fingerboard exercises was to offset your weight on a chair or something similar. Besides being extremely subjective, the awkward positioning really increased the risks of finger, shoulder or elbow injuries. With the introduction of pulley systems, it is now easy to train weak grips like tiny edges or two finger pockets with proper technique and thus a lower risk of injury.

Quick Notes on the Fingerboard Pulley System

-Again, although a fingerboard pulley system can be easily adapted for assisted pull-ups, that is not its primary purpose. If you are planning on using it in this capacity, make sure you hang the weight high enough so that it does not hit the ground as you pull upward.

-Whenever you are training on the fingerboard make sure to employ proper technique. That means making sure you are properly warmed up as well as focusing primarily on an open hand grip, keeping your elbows slightly bent and lats engaged to decrease your risk finger/elbow/shoulder injury.

For more information on training with the fingerboard read my post Fingerboard Repeaters – Training for Climbing.

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