3 Things You Can Do with a Hangboard (That's Not Just Hangboarding)
by Christopher Schafenacker
Going on a beach vacation? Panicked about losing your climbing fitness? Fear not! With a portable hangboard, a little creativity, and plenty of willpower you can do a lot more than keep your finger strength up. You might even get stronger. Heck, you might even cancel your gym membership when you get home (ok, not really, but you get the idea). A hangboard is a versatile training tool that, in a pinch, allows you to target most aspects of climbing fitness…but you need to know how to use it. This article serves as a crash course.
Getting the Most Out of Your Hangboard: A Guide
Everyone knows you can train finger strength on a hangboard. After all, the tool was literally designed for this purpose. Few realize that max. strength, power, and general body conditioning are also trainable with a simple chunk of wood, however. Doing so may not be ideal, but if you’re trapped on a beach with nothing but palm trees to climb, a portable hangboard will do nicely. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Max. Strength Hangboard Workout
A hangboard, whether portable or traditional, is really nothing more than a fancy pull-up bar. As long as the model you own features big jugs or can be gripped over the top (think: the Maverick), you’re good to go. Perform, for instance, 6 sets of 3-5 reps at 90%-100% effort of assisted one-arm pullups (using a band, or length of rope), uneven pull-ups, or weighted pull-ups (backpack full or beach rocks, anyone?) and you’ll return from vacation stronger than when you left. Rest for 2-3 minutes between sets and, if you’re on an extended vacay, add 1 set per week up to a maximum of 10 sets and you’ll see serious gains.
2. Max. Power Hangboard Workout
Power is a matter of max. strength applied over minimal time. This means exploding through the contraction phase of a given exercise so think gripping or pulling as hard as you can as fast as you can. Perform, for instance, 6 sets of 3 reps. of a single grip (say, half-crimp) resting 10 seconds between reps and 90 seconds between sets. Repeat for 2-5 grip types and add 1 set per week up to a maximum of 10 sets.
3. General Conditioning Hangboard Workout
Finger strength and pulling power are cornerstones of climbing performance, but you can’t send without general fitness. A portable hangboard attached to a long sling or length of rope is basically a TRX and with it you can do nearly everything you need to maintain full-body fitness. One-arm rows? Check. Supermans? Check. Tricep press? Check. Bicep curls? Check. Name a muscle group from the waist up and you can probably train it with a Maverick tied to a sturdy tree branch.
A hangboard is, of course, best used to train finger strength but if need be it can be used to train just about everything else which is having one is a key for anyone trying to stay climbing fit no matter where they are.
Featured Climbing Training Gear
Maverick: The on-the-go, bring it anywhere hangboard. On a family road trip to keep your fingers in shape. We like to bring this to the crag with us to keep our fingers warm—without losing skin on mediocre warm-ups—at that steep, thuggy sport crag.
The Rocket Wall: Available in 6’ and 8’ widths, it’s been tough for us to keep up with the demand for this innovative home climbing wall solution. Slightly overhanging, the Rocket Wall is big enough to set routes on, or to build a systems board.
The Rock-Stah: Our handcrafted version of a traditional hangboard, with curving crimp rails to help alleviate unnecessary strain on your pulleys. Because ain’t no one got time for a finger injury…
The Rocketeer Wall: our free-standing adjustable solution for those who can’t mount a hangboard anywhere in their home or apartment—or who are limited on space. The Rocketeer gives climbers the additional option to set specific climbing holds. Recreate the crux holds of your proj and get ready to send, bruh.