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How to Incorporate Hangboarding into Your Training Routine

Hangboarding is one of the best tools to increase finger strength for climbing. Every climbing gym likely has an area dubbed by regulars as the “training area.” However, unlike a traditional gym, where you’d expect a training area to contain treadmills, pulley machines, squat racks, and flat benches, the training area in a climbing gym usually looks a bit different. Instead, you’ll likely find system boards, pull-up bars, maybe a few dumbbells, and a hangboard (or a few)! You’ve undoubtedly seen all the strong climbers, or frankly, any climber, venture over to the hangboards at some point and proceed to hold their body weight, or their body weight plus additional weight, up by mere pads of their fingers.

There’s a good reason for the popularity of those training areas at rock gyms, housing the atypical training equipment. In this article, we will focus on the hang boards, although system boards are another tool you can check and incorporate into your training. Hangboarding is a great tool to start incorporating once you’ve been climbing for six months to one year. While you can begin integrating hangboarding into your training at any time, it is generally better and safer (for your tendons) to focus on climbing to improve finger strength during the first year.

But let’s assume you are ready to start hangboarding to improve on the wall. There are many ways to go about hangboarding, depending on what you want to get out of it. This leads us to our first and most crucial point: define your goal. Defining your goal should not be overlooked because it can make you more prone to injury or overuse, especially if not timed appropriately.

How to Define Your Goal with Hangboarding

There are three general categories hangboarding training usually falls under:

  1. Tendon/finger strength

  2. Tendon/finger endurance

  3. Rounding out your training

It is essential to determine which one or combination of goals you are looking to achieve, as that will determine when and how frequently you should incorporate hangboarding into your workouts.

Timing and Frequency

Once you have determined what goal you are aiming for, you can use the general guideline below to factor in how frequently you will have to do a hangboarding session and how long the session will last.

Set aside 1-3x per week

  • For tendon/finger strength training 1x-2x/week

  • When: Before Climbing

  • Duration: 30 - 45 minutes

  • For tendon/finger endurance training 2x/week

  • When: Before Climbing

  • Duration: 15 - 20 minutes

  • For rounding out your training 3x/week

  • When: After Climbing

  • Duration: 10 - 15 minutes max

It’s time to formulate the workout for hangboarding. There will be a gradual progression to higher-difficulty routines and exercises as you continue to hangboard. There are plenty of training programs for each goal, but we’ve curated three hangboarding programs, one for each goal!

The Actual Hangboard Workout

Tendon/Finger Strength: Minimum Edge Depth Hangs

Find a hangboard you like.

Choose the smallest edge you can hang on for 8 to 12 seconds.

Hang for 8 to 12 seconds.

Rest for 3 minutes.

Repeat the drill x4.

Tendon/Finger Endurance: Repeaters

Find a hangbard you like.

Choose the second smallest edge you can hold onto for at least 5 seconds.

Hang for 4 seconds.

Rest for 4 seconds

Repeat x4.

Rest for 2 minutes.

Complete x4.

Rounding Out Your Training: A Little Bit of Everything

This is a simple hangboard exercise for adding to the end or beginning of any climbing session.

Alternate between max hangs on various edge sizes.

Do 3-5 explosive pullups in between sets.

Complete two sets of max hang on at least three different-sized edges.

Hopefully, you feel more confident about adding hangboarding into your training routine. It isn’t complicated if you take the time to plan out your goals and when you’ll add it to your training. Let us know if you found this article helpful in the comments below!