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Hangboarding Guide: Read These Before You Start Training

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Sports and other physical activities are the key to a healthy body, as well as reaching one’s fitness goals. Doing physical activities has a lot of benefits. These include improved sleep quality, better mental health, increased level of confidence and strength, a stronger heart. Doing sports can trigger chemicals in the brain to make you feel relaxed and happier.

Hangboarding Guide

What is Hangboarding?

There is a sport that increases a person’s endurance and strength, and this activity could also just be a hobby and a physical exercise for some. Hangboarding is considered to be one of the best ways to improve arm strength and grip. Literally, this activity is done by hanging from a board. It is an efficient way to increase one’s strength on the arms, hands and fingers.

Wooden Hangboard
Credit: pinterest.com

Climbers prefer hangboarding as a form of exercise to improve small holds, and perform better in scary overhangs. Hangboard training is said to be one of the most time-efficient ways to improve hand and finger strength. It could be a substitute when climbing gym is not available. Results can be seen after a few months of training. Two to three 30-minute workouts in a week can deliver improved and excellent results.

In a research done by the United Stated Air Force Academy Department of Engineering and Mechanics, it was shown that hangboards significantly increase one’s climbing ability. Take note, this activity should not be taken just for fun. Including handboarding to your sports or physical activities requires time. Hangboarding is not the most fun workout routine. This one is difficult, but it provides the best results. The gains after this physical activity is all worth it.

Right Time to Start Hangboarding Training

Hangboarding is usually done by those who have been in the climbing scene for 2 years or longer. Keep in mind that hangboarding can cause significant strain on the finger tendons. These tendons are improved and developed significantly through climbing experience.

Climbing experts suggest to start hangboarding after six months of climbing. The reason why one cannot immediately start hangboarding is because fingers can be injured and get overstressed.

Before going onto the battle with hangboards, it is important to do warm-up exercises. Hangboard focuses on the upper body and the core. A full body warm up is essential in this part. Stretching, jumping jacks, and a few pushups are a few examples of warm up exercises before hangboarding. A minimum of 15-minute warm-up is highly suggested.

The best time to hangboard is before a climbing activity. Doing handboards after climbing may most likely cause injury and stress to the body. After climbing, it is best to rest the hands, forearms, arms, and fingers.

How to Succeed in Hangboarding

When choosing this activity, it is important to have a clear goal in mind. These goals will help you when excuses start to come up. Having a go-to playlist is a way to get back on track. Find something that will get you pumped up and make your adrenaline rushing.

It is important to consult experts before diving into this physical activity. Rest is also very essential. After hangboarding, you should take at least 2 days off between trainings. This is important because one must rest the body.

Hangboarding Workout for Beginners

A lot of physical workouts focus on parts of the body such as the arms, legs, and chest. There is a lot less emphasis on the fingers, even though they are very important in one’s fitness journey. After all, they serve as our means of grasping and climbing. You must build your finger strength, as it can help with intense activities like rock climbing.

People new to the climbing circuit will probably have a hard time catching up because of the lack of support for beginners. Most hangboarding workouts are quite intense, and learning the art is not a “one size fits all” approach. The good news is that you can start small and experiment with the intensity of your regimen. Make sure to find somebody who can guide you with the process, because the last thing you want is to injure your fingers.

Why Use Hangboarding?

Having a hangboard around will drastically help you in improving your finger and hand strength (or what trainers refer to as “contact strength”). With an instrument available to you at home, you no longer have to go out and find a climbing gym. You can use the hangboard in short intervals throughout the week, going through as many repetitions as comfortable to you and your body.

When starting in the hangboarding and climbing process, you do not need to worry about technical skills. At first, there is no real “right way” to deal with routes. You also have a lesser risk of injury if you do not stress about this too much. Advice from a more experienced climber or trainer can help in this case. Force is not necessary, but patience is.

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How Hangboarding Works?

At its core, the art of hangboarding revolves around hanging your body while grasping onto something with one hand. It is key to straddle the board to make it more convenient for you to reach the succeeding holds. This will allow you to descend your feet closer to the ground once you can release the tension in your hands. Keep in mind that you should not just let go and drop because this can injure the joints in your hands.

This exercise does not just build finger strength, but it also builds endurance. It helps you maximize your capacity to build strength and in a way that does not take as much effort as more conventional workout routines. Ideally, you should feel less fatigue and tiredness once you are proficient with hangboarding.

Like most workouts, a good form can ensure that you are on the right track to progress. Open-handed grips are the best for this. A small amount of bend in your elbows, while making pulling movements through your shoulder blades, keeps you on the right level of pressure. Maintain this with the help of a pull-up bar or a similar instrument so that it is easier for you to progress on the hangboard.

How to Use a Hangboard?

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the use of a hangboard. The best way to approach it is to think of it as a modified version of a pull-up bar. It is good to have a resource that helps clarify your fitness concerns, and the video below can help point you in the right direction.

The hangboard has multiple spaces or “grips” that will serve as the basis for your workouts. They allow you to practice several finger and hand positions that will build contact strength and endurance. It simulates a rock climbing experience without the need for you to go out and find a climbing gym (or an actual rock wall).

When first using a hangboard, one of the best ways to approach it is just to grasp onto the larger spaces. Try to just hang from them. See how long you can carry that position, then try to move onto the smaller, more compact spaces. This helps you build a routine.

It helps to pick out a hangboard built for the type of exercises you want, but it is also alright to go with a basic one. There are a wide variety of hangboards available that focus on things such as sloping and crimping, but you do not have to worry about that as a beginner.

As you go down to the smaller spaces in a hangboard, you will slowly be able to hold positions longer and build strength. This will make it easier for you to use your tendons in exercises, which can help aspiring climbers. Eventually, you can start to add pull-up motions and even craft your routines when using the hangboards.

It might help to have more movements when in the larger spaces, then toning them down a bit if you are grasping onto the more compact ones. The important thing is to use the hangboard at your own pace because the last thing you want is to injure your fingers.

How Effective Is Hangboarding?

Like with all forms of exercise, the goal of hangboarding is to build strength. In reaching this goal for your hands and fingers, hangboarding is an effective strategy. If you are interested in exploring rock climbing, surfing, and other sports that make use of contact strength, then it is a form of workout that you should look into. The cost of a hangboard is also worth it for the benefits alone, because you can practice a variety of techniques and routines from the comfort of your bedroom.

The hangboard provides you with an additional surface layer that simulates how high or low you should go when climbing or surfing. It helps you build speed and control, alongside finger grip and shoulder pull. You also do not have to worry about being a pro at using the hangboard immediately, because it builds on muscle memory and improvement will come with usage.

And if you are in it for the fun, hangboarding does not sacrifice the energetic aspects of outdoor sports. Your arm and leg muscles remain stimulated, while the core is also paid attention to because of the movements. You can experiment with some routines that might be too risky to attempt for the first time in a real setting since you can use the hangboard from the comfort of home. If you want to be creative about how you use your hangboard, you can even incorporate household objects like cardboards and food trays as obstacles.

Furthermore, hangboards are compact, light, and just the right size to carry around wherever you go. If you want to use them over at a friend’s house, a park, or another location with a wall, feel free to do so. You do not have to spend fees on a climbing wall rental, since the hangboard provides you with the training experience you need. Not only will your muscles be trained, but you also spend less money.

Hangboarding on a Van. Credit: outboundliving.com

Hangboarding Tips

Most people who purchase a hangboard want to get better at contact sports, or at least build their finger strength and endurance. Unfortunately, it is common for new hangboard users to fall victim to faulty routines that have a lot of repetitions but few signs of progress. There is no particular routine to follow because hangboarding is a unique experience for every individual. And when getting into climbing, it is important not just to have great finger strength, but also balance and control.

The reality is that training with a hangboard is only a supplemental aspect to the experience of climbing. You cannot magically get better at climbing just by practicing at the hangboard. However, the additional strength it builds will help out when you use your skills in the open. As beginners, starting small is the best way to approach things.

The goal for a beginner climber should be to use the hangboard as a way to simulate the climbing experience at home. After all, it is not a wise financial decision to go out and spend money on gyms right away. You can use the hangboard to start having a routine and to practice the most basic forms of grips.

Doing this two to three times a week is optimal for your body, as it should be enough to trigger muscle memory. It is also more realistic because things such as school and work will also take up the rest of the week.

If two to three days a week is still not doable, then you may opt for at least once or twice a week. The most important thing is to be able to practice, and a time-bound regimen is not that necessary. Three to five sets of six-second repetitions of “on” and “off” grips are recommended for beginners because this focuses on open and half crimp positions.

Even if you have spent an adequate amount of time with the hangboard, it may be better for you to keep exercises short. Another goal should be to get generally strong fingers while using the hangboard as a means to target specific parts. You can ask a trainer or look up the types of crimping to get a better idea for building specific finger strength.

Hangboarding FAQs

When Should I Start Hangboarding?

The benefits of hangboarding can make you want to jump into it immediately. However, it is recommended that you consult with a trainer about when to start incorporating it into workouts. Without proper guidance, you can overstress your finger muscles and cause damage to your hands.

Make sure that you have at least attempted to climb before, and in a supervised environment. Furthermore, hangboarding is not ideal for children and teenagers under the age of sixteen. This is because their bodies are still growing, and hangboarding might cause damage to finger joints and bones. Consulting with a trainer is the best way to figure out if and when you can start hangboarding.

How Often Should You Hangboard?

Two to three times a week should be enough. Even if you are experiencing a lot of improvements in finger strength, hangboarding is not the type of exercise that you do every day. Doing so will give you a bigger risk of developing osteoarthritis. Never ignore things like finger pain or discomfort. Those may be signs that you are overworking your muscles. There is nothing wrong with taking a short break, especially if the alternative is permanent damage.

How Do I Stay Safe When Hangboarding?

You should always consult with a trainer or a professional before you begin hangboarding. But even when you have a bit of experience already, the reality is that hangboarding still exposes you to a lot of risks. That is why it is still important to do things like warm-ups. Try to do a few repetitions of jumping jacks or other light exercises before getting into the hangboarding.

That way, you have a lesser risk of muscle cramps. Be sure to pay attention to proper form as well, because you do not want to damage your bones and muscles. Never drop suddenly from the hangboard, as slowly lowering yourself to the ground is the best way to prevent damage.

Featured Image Source: Flickr @120volt

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