While these tips are for hangboarding beginners, they are not for beginner climbers! So we offer this note of caution: before reading this, if you have been climbing for less than one year, it is suggested that you don’t focus on adding a hangboard routine to your training. For the lowest risk of tendon injury, prioritize climbing as much as possible. After naturally building up tendon strength through climbing, introducing hangboarding may help increase your finger strength and give you gains in your climbing. 

Now, if you are ready to jump into hangboarding keep reading for a fantastic beginner hangboard routine!

Before you begin any hanging boarding workout, it is vital to ensure that you are thoroughly warmed up. That includes, and mostly refers to, warming up your fingers. Preferably, you’ll want to do your hangboarding session before you climb. If you try to max hang or load your tendons after climbing for two hours, you may put yourself at an increased risk for injury. Here are some great warmup exercises!

Warmup Exercises for Hangboarding

  1. Fingerflicks

Hold your arms straight out in front of you and repeatedly open and close your fingers wide — complete two sets of 30 reps. The wider you spread your fingers, the more you’ll feel it in your extensors (the backside of your forearm). 

  1. Clams

Hold your arms straight out in front of you. Instead of extending your fingers out wide, open and close them into your palms, focusing on squeezing your finger pads into your palm. Complete two sets of 30 reps. 

  1. Finger Pushups

Start in a tabletop position on the ground. Keeping your fingers on the ground, lift your palms/wrists. Repeat for 25 reps. If this is too hard, shift your weight back and into your legs to take some weight off your hands and wrists.

Once warmed up, we suggest conducting a benchmark test to where you currently are with your finger strength. This will also provide a baseline to compare against in the future and see if you have made any progress. Below is a simple benchmark test:

Max hang on 20mm edge.

To do this, you will need a timer and a hangboard with a 20mm edge (20m is approximately equivalent to an edge that’s one finger pad deep). 

Start hanging and go until you drop. Markdown or note your time for future reference so that after training on the hangboard for a few weeks, you can measure if your finger strength has increased. If you can’t hang on the 20mm yet, then find an edge you can hang on. Overtime you can work your way up to the smaller edges. Ensure that you have marked down your max hang time regardless of the edge you used. 

Now that you’ve warmed up your fingers and established a baseline for your finger strength, you are ready to jump into the following hangboard workouts!

Hangboard Workout #1: 8 x 10 

Find a medium edge on a hangboard. 

Hang for 10 seconds at 90% effort.** 

Rest for 2 minutes. 

Repeat for eight rounds. Do four rounds with straight arms and four with bent arms, or as close to 90 degrees as you can hold.  

**Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of percentage effort utilized before. It is a simple concept. Think of 100% effort as something you can do once, and then you’re done for the day (or at least for a substantial amount of time). 50% effort is something you can do comfortably for an extended period without feeling too exhausted. 75% effort is, therefore, something you can do a handful of times before needing a rest. If you break down the percentages between 75% and 100%, then 90% effort means you should be trying hard enough that seconds 8 through 10 feel hard to hold, but not so challenging that you can’t repeat the exercise after a minute of rest. 

Hangboard Workout #2: Repeaters 

Find a medium edge that you can hold for 7 seconds.

Start a timer and hang for 7 seconds, then take 3 seconds of rest. Repeat 8-10 times.

To make this easier/to modify, keep your feet or toes on the ground to offset your weight. You can work up to having your feet completely off the ground. 

As you get into hangboarding, don’t go crazy off the bat. Instead, build up over time, letting your tendons adjust to the isolated load. One to two weekly sessions alternating between these three workouts is a great place to start! 

Cheers to getting strong fingers and amping up your training! Let us know in the comments below if you’ve just started hangboarding and if you’ve seen any improvements in your climbing!