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Effective Hangboard Training – Part 1

physical-two-finger-hangboardThe hangboard (aka fingerboard) is a popular training tool for climbers, as it addresses the weakest link to the rock: the fingers. Unfortunately, this simple training tool can be misused (or overused) and lead to finger tendon and elbow injuries. You can best avoid this outcome by utilizing a fingerboard as just one part of a good training program, not the cornerstone.

While the large holds of a fingerboard offer an ideal platform for pull-up and lock-off exercises, the focus of this article is use of the board to train grip strength. The genius of a good fingerboard is the multitude of finger positions and grips that it enables you to train. This is especially useful if you are unable to regularly boulder or climb at a commercial gym–why not install at home a fingerboard or a set of Pump Rocks for some substitute training?

Warming Up for “Board”
Before you engage in any serious training, it’s imperative that you perform a progressive warm-up. Begin with a few minutes of light exercise such as jogging around the block or doing fifty jumping jacks. This might seem like a funny way to begin a finger workout, yet it’s absolutely vital for elevating your heart rate and core temperature (warm muscles are less likely to be injured). Next, perform a few sub-maximal sets of pull-ups as well as several arm and upper-body stretches. Complete the warm-up with some self-massage of the fingers and forearms muscles–this will further loosen the muscles and enhance blood flow for a great workout. Finally, consider reinforcing the tendons at the base of your fingers with a few tight turns of athletic tape. Following are two excellent hangboard workouts. Check out NICROS hangboards: V10 board | Warrior Board

Training Contact Strength with “Repeaters”
Pyramid training simulates the way your forearm muscles might work in climbing a long boulder problem or medium-length sport route. In this way, it tends to train forearm endurance over pure strength. As shown in Figure 6.2 , one run through the pyramid involves seven hangs on the same pair of holds.

physical-TFC-pyramid

The rest interval between each hang is just five seconds, so a complete cycle will take just under one-and-a-half minutes. Take a one-minute rest, before performing another pyramid cycle on a different set of holds. Your goal is seven to fifteen total sets.

As you progress through the sets, strive to hit all the primary grip positions including full- and half-crimp, all the two-finger pocket “teams,” pinch grip, and open-hand slopers. It’s good to vary the size of the holds used for a given set based on your level of fatigue, but be sure to stay “on schedule” in terms of the timing of your hangs and rest intervals.

Figure courtesy of Training For Climbing: The Definitive Guide to Improving Climbing Performance.