The 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.
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.