How to Get Started with Hangboarding: A Beginner’s Guide


Hangboarding is not just a tool for increasing your finger strength, it’s a pathway to taking your climbing to the next level. The journey of building finger strength may be gradual, but the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you see your progress is unparalleled. Staying consistent and patient is key, as you allow your fingers to adapt to the new challenges you’ll face during hangboard workouts.

When to start finger training is a decision that’s uniquely yours. Some climbers suggest waiting until you’re comfortable at V4, while others propose a two-year wait after starting climbing. Your background and natural finger strength development before climbing are also factors to consider. The key is to start hangboarding when you feel ready and your progress aligns with your comfort level.

The Importance of Finger Strength for Rock Climbers

As you progress your climbing skills, you’ll notice that the more complex the climbs, the smaller the holds tend to be. Of course, this isn’t true for every climb. Take an overhanging sloper-filled route, for example.

While some routes offer generous, open-handed holds, others feature razor-thin crimps that resemble the width of a credit card. These are called “credit card holds” (creative, right?).

While overall fitness is important for climbing, the role of finger strength is paramount. It’s not just about the physical benefits, but the sense of control and mastery over challenging routes that strong fingers provide. With strong fingers, you can confidently navigate those credit card holds and conquer more challenging routes with greater ease.

Hangboard Training: What is a Hangboard and How Do You Use it?


Hangboards, also known as “fingerboards,” are crafted from wood, polyurethane, or polyester resin and feature various holds carved into their surface. Besides strengthening your tendons and ligaments, hangboarding provides a secure environment to practice using different holds. By training on a hangboard, you can quickly adapt to the next hold if it’s not what you imagined.

Hangboarding serves as an excellent method for improving finger strength. While performing hangs, it’s crucial to maintain proper form to prevent injuries elsewhere:

  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears, engage your shoulder blades, and slightly bend your elbows. If you choose to add weight to your hangs, it’s recommended that you attach it to the belay loop of your harness rather than wearing a weight vest, as a weight vest can alter your body’s orientation during a regular hang.
  • Don’t try to push yourself too hard to finish a workout. There’s a reason you’re losing your grip; you’re getting fatigued! Pushing through that fatigue can result in finger injuries.

Effective Finger Strength Exercises

Before performing your hangboard workout, warm your fingers with light climbing or hanging on jugs. As you feel your fingers warming up, slowly progress to smaller holds to prepare for your workout.

Begin with six sets of hangs on five different holds. Start with larger holds and gradually progress to smaller ones until you find the holds you should stick with for now. A few different hangboard workouts are:

  • Max Hangs: These will help you hang on to smaller edges longer.

– Hang for 7-10 seconds, the minuscule hold you can. Allow yourself approximately 3 minutes of rest before moving on to the next repetition.

  • Repeaters: This workout emulates the experience of reaching for the next hold during a climb.

– Hang for a specific duration, such as 7 seconds, followed by a short rest period of 3 seconds. Aim to complete this cycle for 4 minutes or until failure. If necessary, utilize a pulley-and-rope setup to reduce weight and effectively complete the workout.

  • Long Duration: Improve your endurance on longer routes by incorporating long-duration hangs.

– Hold on for 30-60 seconds simultaneously, simulating the sustained grip required for extended periods. This exercise aids in building the stamina necessary for tackling longer climbs.

Listen to Your Body

If you’re considering starting finger training earlier than recommended, it’s crucial to approach it with extreme caution. Remember, your safety is paramount. Rest at least a full day before your next climbing session. Injuring yourself is not the path to developing finger strength, so take it slow and listen to your body.

To minimize the risk of injury, prioritize safety, listen to your body, and progress gradually in your training. Consulting with a qualified climbing coach or trainer can also provide valuable guidance in developing a personalized finger training program when the time is right.