Hand Exercise Machine

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What Is a Hangboard Workout?

A hangboard workout is a climbing workout using a piece of equipment called a hangboard. A hangboard, also known as a fingerboard, is designed specifically to help rock climbers increase the strength of their climbing holds and grips. A hangboard contains a variety of holes and small edges for handgrips and is mounted on a wall to mimic vertical climbing.

Hangboard workouts employ a variety of holds in the hangboard to allow climbers to practice different grips to strengthen their wrists, fingers, and arms. Hangboards can be found at most climbing gyms and can lessen your risk of injury during practice or out in the field.

3 Benefits of Hangboard Training

Hangboard workouts offer a number of important benefits for experienced climbers that regularly use this training tool during strength training.

  1. Grip strength: The number one benefit to hangboarding is increasing your grip strength, which is one of the most important elements of climbing technique.
  2. Upper body strength: Simply hanging from a hangboard with the standard bent-arm open hang can help you increase your upper body strength. Including pull-up exercises into your hangboarding routine can strengthen your shoulders, chest, and back.
  3. Endurance: Regularly training with a hangboard can greatly increase your body’s endurance with long holds and hangs.

5 Safety Tips for Using Hangboards

Hangboards can be a useful training tool for experienced climbers, but there are a series of safety tips to follow to avoid finger, tendon, or wrist injury. Here are a few tips for experienced climbers to follow to foster proper safety when using a hangboard.

  1. Warm-up before using the board. Always warm-up before starting a hangboard session. Get your heart rate up by doing some jumping jacks or jump rope, then do some regular pull-ups at a pull-up bar, as well as some hand and forearm stretches. You can also warm up with some basic climbing moves, and 20 minutes of cardio.
  2. Always use matching grips. When working out on the hangboard, always use a matching pair of grips to ensure you’re working both sides of your body evenly and avoid injury.
  3. Take it slow. The hangboard can put a lot of strain on your fingers and hands, especially when you’re starting out. Take it slowly and listen to your body as you gradually build up to longer hangs and exercises. Consider supporting your weight with a step stool or a pulley system as you get used to putting your full weight on your fingers.
  4. Use the right handholds. Familiarizing yourself with the proper grips is an important part of learning how to use a hangboard. Beginners should stick to an open handhold, which is the best hold to avoid injury. An open hand hold involves holding onto the hangboard with the tips of your fingers. Slopers, which involve holding onto the large shelf at the top of the hangboard, use your palms and are also relatively simple. When you have more practice, you can try crimping. The half crimp is an open-handed grip where the thumb doesn’t overlock onto the index finger, while the full crimp does overlock the thumb. The full crimp is a stronger hold but is more likely to sustain finger injuries. When performing your hangboard routine, try to practice the half crimp.
  5. Keep your shoulders engaged during dead hangs. The proper form for a dead hang is to hang from the board with slightly bent elbows, keeping your shoulders engaged. There should be space between your shoulders and your ears, and your elbows should not be locked.

5 Hangboard Workouts

Here are a few beginner hangboard workouts for experienced climbers who are just beginning to incorporate the fingerboard into their training routine.

  1. 15-second hang: Using an open hand grip on the largest matching jugs of your hangboard, hang for 15 seconds, then rest for 45 seconds. Repeat for five reps, and then rest for three minutes. Repeat for six sets with three seconds of rest in between each set.
  2. 10-second hang: Using an open hand grip on the largest finger pocket of your hangboard, hang for 10 seconds then rest for 10 seconds. If the grip is too easy, change grip positions to a smaller hold. Repeat the exercise, then rest for three minutes. Repeat for 6 sets with three minutes of rest between each set.
  3. Alternating grips: Using an open hand grip on the largest jug, hang for seven seconds then rest for five seconds. Repeat this exercise six times. Change grip to the largest finger pocket. Hang for seven seconds then rest for five seconds. Repeat the exercise five times, with three minutes of rest in between each set. Change your grip to the sloper, and repeat.
  4. Pull-ups: Using an open hand grip on the largest jug of your hangboard, do five pull-ups then rest for one minute. Repeat this exercise for five sets, with three minutes of rest in between. If that becomes easy, change your grip to the largest finger pocket of your board.
  5. Three-finger hangs: More advanced climbers and hangboard users can practice hanging to the board with three-finger grips. Begin with your index, middle, and ring finger. Then advance to your middle, ring, and pinky finger. Using an open hand grip, hang with a three-finger grip in a smaller finger pocket for seven seconds, then rest for five seconds. Repeat this exercise for six reps. Change to the harder three-finger grip and to the smallest finger pocket. Repeat for another six reps.

Before You Start Climbing

Climbing is a high-impact activity with an elevated risk of serious injury. Practice, proper guidance, and extensive safety precautions are essential when attempting a climbing pursuit.