Why hangboarding, how to start, which exercises are the best? Here are the reasons it is the most efficient, controlable, carryable, trackable and important training for rock climbers. Read, comment and share this article to friends who would benefit from it.
Most of us have limited time for rock climbing. Hangboarding is a good way to train right at the physical intensity that will make you better in short amount of time. Multiple workouts exists and you can pick one that adapts to your schedule. With workouts ranging from 1 to 30 minutes, you are sure to have time to do them. The workouts can be done everyday and even multiple time a day. Power and Stength based exercises can be done before a climbing day and strenght-endurance and endurance can be added at the end as an extra kick.
10 minutes workouts routines:
- Endurance: 40 reps of 10 second exercise 5 seconds rests at 30% of maximum voluntary contraction
- High intensity interval training: 5 sets of 6x (7 seconds exercise 3 seconds rest) at 70% of maximum strength with 1 minute rests in between
- Strength training: 5 hangs of 10 seconds at 90% of MVC with 2 minutes rest in between.
It is possible to get the right stress on the fingers from climbing, but that is a difficult task. You might adapt to the activity and reach a plateau or push too hard and get injuries. By focussing on the strength aspect of climbing on the hangboard, you can climb with a focus on using proper technique and keep having fun.
We tend to keep doing the types of climbing we are used to which can lead to problems. Only trying hard movements during bouldering for example can lead to pain in the fingers and injuries. Staying in your comfort zone in sport and Trad climbing might not be the best to develop power. The hangboard allows to practice the types of exercise you need
Your first goal as you start hangboarding should be to become pain free and reduce your injury risk. The hangboard is a perfect tool for this. You can control the intensity of your exercises. The controlled environment allows you to test your fingers in multiple gripping positions.
Warm-up is a critical part of climbing. Climbing routes bellow your maximum level is a standard practice but far from the best way to go. Even easy climbs can have physically demanding movements. Climbing also sets you at risks of unplanned stress on the finger. If feet slips from footholds, you can have a big stress before being warm and injure yourself from the start. A proper warm-up off the wall using the hangboard can be repeated continually and reduce your risks of getting injured.
The control environment lets you focus on the things that are particularly hard to work on. Dynamic exercises, single fingers holds and aerobic endurance are three of my favorite exercises I like to train separately. Gripping and position technique worked separately can have great impact on climbing.
Continuity in training is key. By using hangboards, you can train everywhere, at anytime with limited equipment. Standardized grips are available everywhere. You can use them or train on other types of hold. A door frame can also do the trick. For those whose doorframes doesn’t offer proper grips, here is a quick and easy setup for installing a hangboard on your doorframe.
Portable hangboards can be used everywhere and allow you to carry your finger workouts with you. They come in different shape and position. Here are a few ones we like:
Making your own portable board is also a good way to go.
Track Your Progress
Finger strength take time to build, but only when having the right intensity of workout will you get improvement. Knowing your finger strength level can direct the exercises to make sure of the intensity you should train at. The hangboard is a perfect tool to evaluating your finger fitness parameters. Unlike gym climbing grades that are subject to change, the hangboard will stay the same over time.
Multiple parameters on the hangboard can be tracked to evaluate your climbing performance.
Strength tests such as maximum voluntary contraction tests provide an idea of the strength you can statically hold on grips.
Here is for example my finger profile evaluated with Entralpi. As you can see, there are imbalances in the strength of my fingers. By training them individually, I make sure that they are built over time. Even if my right and left hand display similar level of strength, tested individually, the finger profiles are quite different. Tracking this data
Dynamic tests like the RFD 200 ms test will tell you how much strength you can apply in this short amount of time. Dynamic power will determine if you can stay on a wall during a dynamic movement.
Critical force tests gives you an idea on your aerobic threshold.
Fingers Strength is Key
If the other points didn’t convinced you yet to hangboard, read this! Even if you still have to work on the other aspects of climbing, finger strength is critical and necessary to rock climb. Multiple studies have been conducted to show the link in between climbing performance and finger strength.
By pinpointing the failures, you can isolate specific aspects of climbing and train them on the hangboard. For example, during a finger training workshop given by Eva Lopez at the Boulderz climbing gym, I’ve realized that the opening of my shoulders was a limiting factor in the strength my fingers were producing. This was making it hard for me to hold hard gaston movements and making the jump in Vitamine hard for me to do. By changing my hanging posture and measure my progress, I’ve seen improvement and can now do the movement everytime.
I believe that hangboarding is a key component and will try to provide the best content on using it. Feel free to write us a comment if you are interested in any information. I believe our force platform that measures the strength on the hangboard to be a game changer on hangboarding. It is currently in production and we distribute units in order of command on the pre-sales. An external view can also be very beneficial. Entralpi certified coaches are giving workshops in multiple climbing gyms to share information.