How to Tune Your Hangboard Workout Properly


A consistent hangboard workout will increase your finger strength and help you send your next project! You may have seen photos of Alex Honnold on his hangboard in his van or heard about Sonnie Trotter sending his 5.14 project after a season of almost exclusively hangboarding. Hangboarding, or fingerboarding, is a great way to take your climbing to the next level.

Whether climbing V5 or V15, you can improve your climbing with a few simple tips. Follow below to learn how to properly tune your hangboard workout and know what mistakes to avoid.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Hangboard Workout

back view of a man hangboarding

Warm Up!

Whether you can move around on the wall or perform light hangs, you should properly warm up before every hangboard workout. Anything to get your heart rate pumping and your blood flowing quicker!

Choose a jug or a comfortable edge and perform some hangs with your feet on the ground. Before moving to smaller edges, check in with your fingers (listen to your body). The smaller the edge, the longer you should rest between warm-up sets.

Listen to Your Body When Hangboarding

No, this doesn’t mean physically listening to your joints when they’re creaking. Listening to your body is attuning your hangboard workout to how your body is feeling. You don’t need to perform your personal best each time you hangboard; instead, focus on how you’re feeling and adjust your workout accordingly.

It’s okay to take weight off, reduce your hang time, or even end your workout early if you’re not feeling it. It’s better to return to a hangboard workout another day when your fingers feel better than to risk pushing it and injuring yourself.

Consistency is Key

Many climbers start hangboarding only to give up through a program because they either aren’t seeing results or would instead focus on climbing. If you’re serious about improving your finger strength, stick to your training program. That being said, continue to listen to your body. You can stay consistent without risking your health.

Focus on Weaknesses

Identifying your strengths is simple. Look at what routes you like to seek out and which you tend to avoid. If you’re confident in your pinch strength but skip the crimpy ones, you should focus on your finger strength. Alternatively, if you avoid pinchy problems, then it’s obvious what you should be training. Slopers require immense contact strength and shouldn’t be ignored either! If you can access a hangboard with all these grip options, use it and train your weaknesses.

Training Crimps

When strengthening your fingers, perform hangs with an open hand or half-crimp. It’s recommended to avoid training full crimps, and if you can, avoid using them altogether. Full crimping is bringing the thumb over the top of your pointer finger when on a hold, not to push the pointer finger in further but to close the palm and shift the center of gravity beneath the hold. Full crimping puts more strain on the finger joints and causes many pulley injuries.

Training your crimps will increase your finger strength, helping you hang onto smaller edges. Watching somebody perform a front lever on a crimp might make you feel like you’ll never develop finger strength, but remember to stay consistent and listen to your body. Nobody gains this ability overnight!

Hangboard Exercises

  1. Dead hangs: For maximum strength, start with 3-4 sets of dead hangs on various grip types (e.g., crimps, pockets, slopers, focusing on proper form and engaging the shoulders and core.
  1. Repeaters: Following dead hangs, move onto repeaters, performing 3-4 sets of 6-8 repetitions with shorter hang durations and rest intervals to target endurance.
  1. Offset hangs: Finish with some offset hangs to work on grip strength imbalances and increase overall finger strength.

Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Skipping a Warm-Up – Going into your hangboard routine without warming up can stress your finger muscles too much. Properly warm up the body before any workout.
  1. Full Crimping – Avoid training your full crimp and focus on developing your finger strength.
  1. Not Adapting – Not every training session needs to see a PR! Adapt during your routine to how your body feels.
  1. Improper Form – Make sure you perform every hang with proper form- Retract your shoulders and have a slight bend in your elbows.
  1. Advancing Too Fast – Just because you’re starting to feel a little stronger doesn’t mean you should advance to the smallest edge on your hangboard. Incrementally adjust your routine as you gain strength.