Hangboard Training Guide

The most efficient way to increase grip strength is to operate at the threshold of your ability, without getting injured. 

Step 1: Know how to prevent injury

  • Do a full body warm up. Like any training, it’s a good idea to get limber before you just surprise your muscles by operating at the limits of their ability. Do some jumping jacks, jump rope, jog, dance like a maniac, whatever. 

  • Don’t over-train. Hangboard training works a very specific set of muscles, and if you trained properly it will take a bit for the muscles to recover stronger than before. We recommend you do not complete a full hangboard training session more than 2-3 times per week. And for peak performance, avoid an intense hangboarding session right before you head to a competition or something

  • Avoid hanging to the point of failure. The moment your muscles fail is where you’re most likely to be injured, so you don’t want to be hanging to failure on every rep, you want to let go about 3 seconds before failure. Know your limit, stay within it. 

  • Don’t train with a full crimp grip. The crimp grip has the most potential to seriously damage the tendons in your hands. Don’t train this way. For maximum safety you want to use an open-hand grip for your training. The gains you make training with an open-hand grip will translate for use with a crimp grip while you’re climbing.

  • Keep a slight bend in your elbows. In order to avoid damaging your shoulder and elbow joints, it is best practice to keep a slight bend in your elbows while you hang. 

  • Have some fun with it. A positive attitude never hurt anybody. 

Step 2: Find your current personal best

Experiment to find the ledge you can hang from for a maximum of 15 seconds. You will be using that hold for repetitions of 12 seconds. 

Step 3: Train

A typical training session could look like this:

  1. Full body warm up.

  2. Warm up your hands by doing an easy hang off the top of the board for 10 seconds. 

  3. Using the hold you max out on at 15 seconds, complete 5 reps of 12 second hangs, resting for 2 minutes between each rep. This completes 1 set. 

  4. Start with 2 sets, with 3-5 minutes between sets. As you get stronger, you can add more sets as you see fit, up to a maximum of about 6 sets.

  5. Complete this training 2-3 times per week. 

Step 4: Improve

As you continue to train, holds that were once impossible will become easy. You want to be continually increasing the challenge so that you are always training at the threshold of your ability.

Try the following ways of increasing the challenge:

  • Use a smaller ledge. Pretty obvious, holding on to a smaller ledge is more challenging than holding on to a bigger one. 

  • Strap weight to yourself. You can do this by attaching weights to your harness, wearing a weighted vest, or eating an extra large burrito. 

  • Use less fingers, or less hands. Can you hang on with just the pinky of your left hand yet? No?! Better get training.

  • Incorporate pull-ups. This has the benefit of an added upper body workout.

  • Mix up the hand position. Close grip or wide grip will work slightly different muscles and training both will help you be ready for whatever you find on the climb. 

Once you can do a one handed, pinky-only, weighted pull-up on the smallest ledge, you can probably stop training. You’ve won. And please send us a picture because that is amazing.