How a climbing hangboard at dwelling can enhance your climbing

Unless you live near a rock climbing gym (lucky!) Or, better yet, a naturally occurring climbing wall (lucky!), You will likely consider buying a hangboard at some point – but what the hell are you doing with it? it after nailing it to a beam in the basement? There is a lot – I repeat, a lot – information on how to use the climbing trainer at home, but how to train with it really depends on your athletic goals.

What is it?

A hangboard is one of the few basic home exercise tools for climbers. It looks like the rock you'd find in a climbing gym, but it's usually long and thin and has a variety of different functions, from large jugs that you can paw with your whole hand to thin ledges to tiny bags, that you can barely fit ankle into.

Why do people use one?

Hangboard training is one of the best ways to build finger, hand, arm, shoulder, and back strength. They are an effective and affordable alternative to gym membership or daily trips to a real rock face.

Where are you going?

You can attach your hangboard to any permanent door or bracket in your home. Just make sure you have plenty of room on all sides of your body when hanging on the board. (That includes space for swinging legs, which is why a flat wall is not a good place for your board.) There are even systems that attach to a door frame like a chin-up bar so that no drilling is required (your landlord thanks you) .

Some climbing hangboards fit on a door frame so there is no need to drill holes in the wall. Photo: Courtesy Blank Slate Climbing

What are the risks?

Using a hangboard puts a lot of strain on small muscles and sensitive tendons and tightens them. That is the point, but there is also the danger. You need to learn to accelerate yourself, know when to stop exercising, and sometimes take a week off to avoid injury.

What does a training program look like?

That depends on your goals. If you can't pull yourself over an overhang, your focus should be on doing different versions of the basic pull-up until you have built up shoulder and back strength. If you have weak fingers, hanging on tiny pockets and ledges can improve your shape. If you're a beginner, a workout can consist of a 10-minute session that includes a pull-up on the pitcher, a 15-second slope on the sloper, a pocket slope with three shrugs, and three pull-ups on the larger edge. (You can find each type of function in your instruction manual.)

As you become more advanced, you can probably tackle a more difficult set of tasks for 20 minutes or more. The best way to figure out the workout routine that's right for you is to train with an experienced climber until you get the hang of it.

One of the most common types of hangboards for climbing; Photo courtesy of Metolius ClimbingOne of the most common types of hangboards for climbing. Photo: Courtesy of Metolius Climbing

So should you think about getting one?

Yes and no. If you are hoping that hangboarding training will make you a better climber, you might be disappointed. Hangboard training is meant to be a supplement, meaning you still have to practice technique, endurance and mental play on real routes and in the gym.

Hangboard training makes you a stronger climber – but over a long period of time. Understand and appreciate this and it will become a necessary part of your climbing training.

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