Training for Grip Strength with Hangboards

hangboard

If you are just beginning to rock climb, then your grip strength isn’t going to be the thing that is holding you back from progressing. You will have a lot of technique to perfect, and muscle strength to build, before you really need to start training your grip.

Finger and shoulder injuries can happen easily if you start hangboarding too soon. It is important to go slow when you are new so that the tendons in your fingers get a chance to strengthen. This can take a long time, at least a year for beginner rock climbers.

Once you start getting to intermediate levels, and are starting to pull on smaller holds and crimps, your finger strength may start holding you back. If you’ve reached that point, you may want to look in to a hang board to train on at home.


Choosing a Hangboard

There are different features to look for when choosing your first (or second, or third) hangboard. Some people will end up having more than one. If you’re just starting out with hangboarding, keep in mind these different features when choosing the best hangboard for you.


Material

The two common types of hangboards are wood and plastic. Some of the plastic ones have different material makeups, but they will feel similar to the holds at the rock climbing gym. Wooden hangboards are much easier on the skin, but they have less friction so they will be a bit more slippery.

The Beastmaker 1000 is one of the most popular wood grip boards. It has everything you need to increase your finger strength and it is easy on the skin. This is a very suitable board for beginners.


The Metolius Foundry is a polyester resin board with a very fine grit that makes it easy to grip. It has a good variety of holds and they are ergonomically angled for increasing comfort and reducing injuries.


Type of Holds

Hangboards have various different grips, ranging from big jugs to small edges. Some hang boards have slopers, pinches, and even pockets. There are hang boards that are very basic, which are more than enough to develop your strength, and there are hang boards that allow you to train more specific types of holds.


The Iron Palm Hangboard is one of the few hang boards available that has good sized slopers as well as a couple pinches on each side. It has a great variety of edges and allows you to train the necessities plus specialize in holds that are less common to a lot of over hangboards.


Size

The size of a hang board is important for how much space you have available to hang it. Sometimes this can be an aesthetic choice as well. Smaller boards will generally have less variety of holds, so again it depends on if you are looking just to develop basic finger strength or if you are looking for a variety of hold types and sizes.


The Metolius Project Training Board is a compact board with just enough different holds to give you a great workout. Its height is only 6 inches so it can be secured in a lot of places where a taller board won’t fit.


Variety of Edge Sizes

In addition to the different types of holds, the more common type of variety in hangboard holds is the size and the depth of the hole. Wider holds allow you to get all four fingers into the hold, but there are holds with only room for three or two fingers as well. In regards to depth, the more shallow the hold, the harder it will be to hang from.


The Metolius Wood Grips Deluxe Training Board has a good variety of different finger depths. It is a great hangboard that is easy on the skin and gives you a complete workout.


How to Mount A Hangboard

A lot of hang boards will come with their own mounting kit, which may include a board to first nail to the wall. If it doesn’t, a good idea is to first get a 3/4” plywood board that is bigger than your hang board and attach it to the studs in your wall.


Above the Door

Above the door is one of the best places to hang a hangboard. There is usually enough room, and the open space underneath is perfect for room for your lower body.


Temporary Mount Devices

If you don’t want to go through mounting a hangboard, or if you’re renting and you’re not really allowed to, there are still options.

The Blank Slate is a great solution for a temporary mount device. You can either mount a complete hangboard to it, or, you can buy rock climbing holds of your own choice. The best thing about mounting your own holds is that you can change things up when you feel like it.


Free-standing units

If you don’t want to mount it to your wall, and even a temporary mount device won’t work for you, the most ambitious thing you can do is build or buy a free-standing unit.


The Bodyweight Master Free Standing Pull Up Bar is very solid and stable free-standing device that can be used for pull-ups, or rigged to support a hangboard.


Hangboard Exercises

Once you’ve chosen a hangboard, committing yourself to using it is the next step. Always make sure you’ve properly warmed up before trying the smaller holds.


Pull Ups

Pull-ups are a good warmup exercise. As a warmup, do them on the biggest holds on your hangboard. Most hangboard come with some type of jug holds, usually on the top.

Dead Hangs

Dead hangs are a very effective hangboard exercise for increasing your finger strength. With straight arms, elbows slightly bent, simply hang for as long as you can, or for a set amount of time, in sets. Go through all the holds from biggest to smallest.

Weighted Hangs

Once you’ve mastered hanging for a set amount of time on each of the holds, it could be time to start adding weight. A popular way to do it is to add more weight for each set, but to hang for the same amount of time. Remember to go slow and add more and more weight gradually.

Repeaters

Repeaters are doing multiple hangs on the same holds, with a very short break in between reps (3 seconds). Doing them on the smallest holds you can effectively hang for 6-7 seconds is a great way to build power endurance.

Leg Lifts

While finger strength is the main benefit of a hangboard, they can be very beneficial to your core as well. By lifting your knees, or straightening your legs and pointing them at a 90 degree angle, you’ll get a great core workout in addition.


Rock Rings

Rock rings are a great alternative to a hangboard and can help you build finger strength. They are also portable, and easier to hang. You can do all the same exercises that can be done on hangboards. The added instability of these hanging holds can help build core strength and work minor stabilizing muscles, in a way that fixed holds on a hangboard don’t.

Another popular use for rock rings is to attach weights to them and work on your finger strength by holding them up, rather than hanging from them.


Metolius Rock Rings 3D are a simple and effective solution that you can use to develop your finger strength. The ropes are adjustable and they can be hung from a lot of different places.


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