Having trouble progressing halfcrimp from 1.0 pad to 0.9999 of a pad for a long time

Despite goofy title, let me explain. Crimps have been stopper moves for me since the beginning, so im training them on a regular basis for already 2 years out of 4 years of my climbing journey. My half crimp training consists of both hangboarding as well as projecting and repeating boulders with medium to small edges. Despite the effort and i struggle to achieve a stable half crimp on the hold sizes that are even slightly smaller than what my DIP joint can cover, even while making gains on the bigger edges month to month.

What do i mean by “stable halfcrimp”? Let’s consider following 2 shapes:
First image (my half crimp) , notice lifted fingertips that reduce my contact area, which despite following the prescription of 90 degree bent in index is still quite a slipper skin dependent grip not much different from the open 4. This force transfer becomes ever worse with smaller edge. Over the last 2 years i have added at least 20 kg on the 1 pad edges where my DIP bone is in contact with the edge but reducing the edge even by a few mm brings me back to square 1 struggling to complete 10s even with bodyweight without slipping.

Second image (half crimp i would like to have, the stable “halfcrimp”) fingertip in full contact with the edge, maximum contact surface for good pressure and friction => hold control both down and back while pulling.

Over the last half a year I tried to “learn” the latter position with 2 approaches. 1) by using both light weights (10% bw) for 30s with strict neutral position focusing on DIP flexion. 2) to remove some load and use a crimp block for a few months with the weight that lets me keep the desired form. That seem to be promising and improve my form a bit but then i lost it in a matter of a month when i tried to experiment with another intervention (training crimps by repeating hard crimpy boulders with only). I feel a bit stuck and would use some advice, i hope this problem is not new for some of you and you have solved it before. Thanks!

I’m not sure if I understand, but the photo of your desired position looks weird to me. It’s like you are trying to do a curl with your fingertip. It somehow doesn’t look like a half crimp to me.
I’m no expert so please don’t take this at face value; but maybe instead of focussing on bending your finger (which causes your top finger pad to curl individually) you can try to focus on pushing the top 2 pads down as a single unit (which will probably push your knuckle up a little bit more).

Or have I misunderstood the half crimp all these years? Wouldn’t surprise me :stuck_out_tongue:

I guess my rant can be summed up as “is the hyperextenion of dip inevitable name of the game when you go beyond 1 pad? Or is there are way to to use your last digit actively, you just need to learn it and strengthen it?”

Ah now I get it! Well then I definitely can’t help you :stuck_out_tongue:

It does make sense to me to define a (half) crimp as a hand technique where you hyperextend your DIP joint. Doesn’t answer your question, but might make communicating about climbing a bit easier if everybody would mean the same thing by ‘crimp’.

By the way, I have seen people grab a tiny (credit card sized) hold by curling their fingers and putting their finger tips on the hold (so nails pointed down). When they did this, their DIP joint wouldn’t hyperextend. Not sure what this technique is called.

Found one more, from Nate campusing power strips, do we agree this is all half crimp? Then when a coach says “do half crimp” im expected to go a tad bit into hyperextension when the load is high, or am i wrong?

I would definitely define it that way! No hyperextension, no (half) crimp… but this is all merely a matter of definition and doesn’t necessarily relate to your question about pad size and hyperextension (because I bet there’s people who can 3 finger drag a half pad).

I think the real question is “what works when climbing?” You refer to it as a problem - but is it?

I’m not sure that more force or more surface area on a flat edge translates to actual climbing as cleanly as we want it to. In fact, I’m positive it doesn’t. I’m also positive that the definition of a half crimp, full crimp, and open hand differ wildly from place to place. So I’m not convinced that finding the solution will actually make a difference.

I’m an n=1, but my definition of half crimp is my super power, particularly in 3 finger, and I don’t think I’ve ever made my fingers look like your 2nd image. Always the first, and I hold most micro edges as a half crimp or fully open.

Can you get a photo of what these two grips look like from the pinky side?

My first thought is that the slightly more open position (top photo) is allowing you to passively drag your pinky, which is capable of taking a TON of weight. The higher angled position(2nd photo) might be forcing your to actively pull with that pinky rather than drag with it which could explain the huge weight difference. If you ever hear pro’s complaining about always getting pinky flappers and splits when they do heavy 1 arm hangs or campus board, this is why.

If that does end up being the case, front-three half crimp training is a great method for getting your hand to be more engaged without letting the pinky drag steal most of the load.

How much DIP hyperextension a person gets in their half crimp can be heavily influenced by finger length proportions as well as joint range of motion. Some people’s DIP’s are so flexible that it’s nearly impossible for them to not hyperextend in a half crimp.

As for the difference in your two positions, I think that we should be strong in a multitude of grip positions so that we can conform our hands to the holds as best as possible. That second position is allowing you to get more surface area and actually grab behind the hold which is (in my opinion) a far more useful grip for actual climbing even though the first one might allow you to add more weight when hanging directly below a hold that you never have to move off of or climb above.


Nate i think you totally nailed it and i never though about it before. The pinky gotta be the answer!

In the half crimp i have now i’m heavily dragging with the pinky, its fully engaged in open position . I clearly rememeber situations on the wall when im loosing pinky im loosing my halfcrimp, also very often i feel like 4 finger half crimp and back 3 finger are more or less the same position strength wise. I abuse it a lot of 6-7 finger wide holds where i need to match. Also get pinky flappers on a regular.

On the other hand, when i rise to the second position, my pinky looses contact and cant drag (see how much room left), and it even feels more natural to try press with it at 90 degrees instead, although the position feels real tweaky for the pinky.

This totally makes the math click in my head haha, really good point. I think now i have some way to reason about where to direct my training to re-balance the strength and engagement across fingers. As you said, front 3 feels like a very useful grip that i’m behind on. Maybe slowly learn keeping pinky at 90 to feel less tweaky is another direction i could explore.

Thanks for the insights!

Awesome! This is what I expected to see from the pinky side, and it sounds like it lines up with your experiences as well.

As for keeping the pinky at 90, I wouldn’t stress too hard about pinky angle. I’ve seen people be incredibly strong with both a bent and locked out DIP in the pinky. If you do work on pinky at 90 take it SLOW. If you’ve always climbed with the pinky in a drag position then any new stress can feel like a lot for your pinkies.

Let us know how this goes once you’ve worked on this for a bit. I think front three half crimp should go a long way for you. Take your time with that one too since it will likely feel like a lot more stress on your ring fingers than you are used to.

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Progress report: to assess how slow to go and where is the red line i injured my ring finger :smile: Jokes aside, it was not serious and few sessions of open hand climbing + focus on protein / collagen and rehab sessions with many 30s hangs an low weight did the trick. Unfortunate but totally predictable combination of loosing 5 kilos of xmas weight and being psyched about crimpy bouldering.

Next up, slowly building 3f half crimp tolerance using a crimp block!