There’s outdoor rock climbing. There’s indoor rock climbing. And, finally, there’s board climbing. Progressing right along with the rock climbing industry are the climbing training boards available. Popular models include the Kilter Board, Tension Board, Grasshopper boards, and Moonboards.
If you are considering adding board climbing into your training regime, you likely identify as an intermediate or advanced climber looking to improve your climbing game. Each type of rock climbing training board has its unique features. The Moonboard is notoriously among the harder of the selection, sporting stiffer grades mimicking outdoor climbing, smaller holds, and infamous hand-foot matching.
How do you know if you are ready to tackle this new training style? While we can’t decide that for you, we can give you some factors to consider that might point you toward your answer.
Factors to Consider Before Jumping on MoonBoard
Are you mentally ready for humbling challenges?
If you have been feeling confident on the routes or boulders in the gym, that’s great. But a MoonBoard will feel different, force new movement, and push you beyond what you’ve experienced thus far. Depending on the model, the MoonBoard angle is fixed at 25 or 40 degrees, adding difficulty.
Can you climb V4-V6 comfortably in the gym or V4 outside?
The Moonboard's design caters to more challenging sets of climbs and, unlike other training boards, does not sport holds that allow for boulders below V3 (and they are tough V3s!). Even then, most boulders are V4 and harder. Asking yourself whether you can climb at least the lowest grades will help ensure you can effectively train on a Moonboard and maintain good morale.
Do you have consistent access to a Moonboard?
This might seem silly, but if you want to use the Moonboard as a training tool and maximize gains, it’ll benefit you to complete sessions on it consistently. Depending on your goals and availability, one to two sessions a week would maximize progress. If you have to drive far to access a Moonboard and cannot commit weekly, maybe look for other ways to replicate the skills needed in your home gym and test your gains when you can climb on one.
Are you motivated?
While the digital component of a Moonboard allows users to create infinite problems, the hold set never changes. It may get repetitive, mainly if you are limited by difficulty when you first start. If you have enough motivation, discipline, or, more importantly, both, you will find the Moonboard a valuable tool.
The bottom line is that the answer to when you should start Moonboarding depends on your why. You can climb on a Moonboard anytime, but you must be mentally and physically ready to use it as a training tool and improve your climbing.
If you feel ready and try a session or two on the board, but with little success, take a step back and reevaluate your starting point. Determine where you are still weak, whether finger strength, body tension, or general upper body strength. Set being able to train on the Moonboard as your goal and start incorporating on and off-the-wall exercises to reach overhung V3/V4 ability.
If you are in the above situation, here are some great workouts to start incorporating to prepare you for Moonboarding.
Workouts to Get You Moonboad Ready
Work on deadpoints, making powerful, decisive moves to holds at the apex of your reach. The catch is you don’t jump, so all limbs, other than the one moving, should keep contact with the wall.
Aim to deadpoint to smaller holds that are too precise to dyno or jump for because that is the advantage of a deadpoint - dynamic precision.
2. One-arm Lock-offs
These are great for building strength and making hard moves on the Moonboard without losing body tension or hastily throwing for a hold.
You can do these on a bar with assistance (i.e., hold onto a band with your not-in-use arm) or complete them on a climb by forcing yourself to lock off on every move for 3-5 seconds before grabbing the next hand.
The Moonboard holds are smaller and significantly less juggy than the Kilter Board. Having strong fingers will help with sticking the moves.
There are a variety of hangboard workouts on the internet, but if you’re working toward Moonboard climbing, you’ll want to train max finger strength rather than endurance. This may look like slowly building up weighted hangs on smaller and smaller edges.
4. Limit Bouldering
In true boulder fashion, Moonboard climbs will be a pure power test. The board isn’t as big as other LED boards, so unless someone has designed a circuit-style climb, you’ll have to string together a short sequence of max-effort moves. While that doesn’t require excessive endurance, it does require the ability to try hard briefly.
Limit bouldering is a great way to replicate that. It is what its name implies: climbing at your limit. You want to pick a climb and try to link a sequence of at least 3-5 tough moves. Give yourself plenty of rest in between climbs.
Board climbing is gaining more traction as the sport grows and will remain a critical training tool for climbers with different goals and abilities. Start when you’re ready, knowing the Moonboard is not going anywhere and sits waiting to humble you. Let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or comments we didn’t address below! We love hearing from you all about whether you find these pieces useful!