Climbing hangboard training & tips

Climbing hangboard training & tips

The learning curve at the beginning of one's climbing career can be almost as steep as the wall. Each visit to the climbing hall brings new personal records, and you're soon flashing reds and getting ever closer to mastering that tricky 6C. But then something happens – you hang there with both hands on the top grip, weeks go by and you can barely manage to do harder problems. You've reached your first plateau. But don't worry! A little hangboard training might be just what you need. Note: we use the terms 'fingerboard', 'gripboard' and 'hangboard' interchangeably in this article.

Reach the next level with grip training

Many of us have been (or still are) where you are now. That's why we'll be going through some good exercises you can do at home with your fingerboard. We'll focus on grip strength but also present a few other good exercises that strengthen the entire upper body. Let's start by going through some simple basics for hangboard training.

Things to keep in mind when exercising with a hangboard

Exercising with a board is relatively straightforward, but some things are good to know if you're just starting out. In the list below, we've compiled some basics that we'll go through one by one:

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  • Warm-up properly
  • Engage back and shoulders
  • Rest between sets
  • Don't use a full crimp
  • Don't wear yourself out

Warm-up properly

Start by warming up your shoulders and arms by rotating your arms. Get your heart rate up by jogging a bit on the spot. Then move your fingers. Open and close your hands and maybe squeeze a stress ball to get them warmed up. Then start on the hangboard's easiest grips and do a few warm-up sets before starting the workout itself.

Engage Your Back & Shoulders

Just like when you climb, you want to use the entire upper body musculature. The same applies for when you exercise on your fingerboard. By using your back and shoulders, you also get the opportunity to strengthen muscles in these areas while training your grip strength.

Rest Between Sets

It's important to let your fingers recover between sets so that you don't put too much stress on them. Resting also allows you to do all the sets you wanted to and thus benefit more from your training.

Don't Use A Full Crimp

Don't use a full crimp grip as it puts a heavy load on your fingers and increases the risk of injury significantly. When exercising with a grip board, you should instead use half crimp or open handed grips so as not to put unnecessary strain on your fingers.

Don't Wear Yourself Out

You don't have to exhaust yourself to get good results from training. Stop a few seconds before  you reach the point of grip failure. This reduces the risk of injury.

Grip Training Workout

Start with the easiest grips and move to more difficult ones if you find them too easy. When exercising grip strength with a hangboard, understand that it takes longer to strengthen tendons and ligaments than it does to increase muscle strength – this is why you want to start out easy and advance slowly. Fingerboards often have larger grips on the top of the board and smaller ledges that you can progress to as you get stronger. Use grips that you can hang on for anywhere from 7-10 seconds before you advance to smaller grips. As with all training, it's wise to progress slowly at the beginning. This way, your fingers get used to the load. An example of a good training program is three sets where you hang for about 7-10 seconds on each set.

Other Good Exercises for Hangboards

There are lots of great exercises you can benefit from whether you're a climber or not. A hangboard is an excellent training tool to strengthen the entire upper body. Here we present two exercises that you can do at home with your board.


Grab the board's biggest grip and pull yourself up. Pull-ups are a very useful exercise that strengthens both back and arms. Many find it tough, so if it gets too hard, you can put a chair behind you to rest one foot on, which will relieve your upper body and make the exercise a little easier.

Hanging Leg Lift