• Rock Climbing Training: How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 7
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 6
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Final Part
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber - The Rock and Ice Training Series
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 5
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 4
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 3
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 2
  • Rock Climbing Training: Building a Better Climber: Part 1
  • Rock Climbing Training: Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Rock Climbing Training: The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Rock Climbing Training: Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Rock Climbing Training: Never Get Pumped Again
  • Rock Climbing Training: Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Rock Climbing Training: Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Power Train for Climbing
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Mentally Train
  • Rock Climbing Training: Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Rock Climbing Training: Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Rock Climbing Training: Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Is Protein Important?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Rock Climbing Training: Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Training While Hungry
  • Rock Climbing Training: HowTo Use Microcycles
  • Rock Climbing Training: Improving Slab Technique
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Unlock a Crux
  • Rock Climbing Training: Using Your Hangboard the Right Way
  • Rock Climbing Training: Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Rock Climbing Training: Training During Pregnancy
  • Rock Climbing Training: Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Stay Psyched
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Prevent Bonking
  • Rock Climbing Training: Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • Rock Climbing Training: The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Rock Climbing Training: Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Rock Climbing Training: Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Rock Climbing Training: Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Rock Climbing Training: Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Rock Climbing Training: Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Ultimate Strength
  • Rock Climbing Training: The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Rock Climbing Training: Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Rock Climbing Training: Resting the Perfect Amount
  • Rock Climbing Training: How To Recover On Route
  • Rock Climbing Training: Does Creatine Work?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Rock Climbing Training: Euro Training Secrets
  • Rock Climbing Training: Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Training With an Injury
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Beat Fear
  • Rock Climbing Training: How Often Should You Rest?
  • Rock Climbing Training: Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • Rock Climbing Training: How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Rock Climbing Training: Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Video Spotlight
    Humboldt State Climbing Team
    Humboldt State Climbing Team

    Rock Climbing Training: Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard

    27-Feb-2012
    By

    Which is the best way to increase the resistance of campus and hangboard exercises—using smaller holds or adding weight?

    Andrew O’Donnell | Ithaca, New York

    The answers are really simple when it comes to training, and I’m afraid that both concepts have merit and can be used to achieve different effects. A third variable for hangboard exercises is to use one arm instead of two. With smaller grips (or rungs), always utilize the correct hold. Small sharp edges are bad on the skin and sloping edges can feel greasy and condition-dependent. However, it can work well to use progressively smaller edges, provided they slope no more than approximately 20 degrees to the horizontal and are slightly rounded. Some climbers believe that this is better than adding weight or doing one-armed work, as it will prepare you for using small holds at the crag. 

    Adding weight is tried and true. However, once you are dealing with any more than 20 pounds for campusing or 70 pounds for hangboards, it is more practical to switch to smaller holds, or for hangboarding to start using one arm. Because many will find the jump from two arms to one to be simply too great, using smaller holds is a good stepping-stone. One-arm work is perhaps a more practical alternative to adding weight for stronger climbers as it lets you use all four fingers and use edges that support the first finger joints and feel reasonably comfortable. If you stick to two-arm work (and don’t go for the option of adding weight) then your remaining alternatives will be to use small edges, or use combinations of one, two, or three fingers on each hand. This latter option can work well, but beware forgetting to train certain fingers, or receiving harmful tweaks on monos.

    An alternative is to do one-armed hangs with a minimal amount of assistance from the free hand (say, on a low edge or a bungee cord), but the amount of help can be tricky to quantify. For campus work, moving to smaller rungs and doing smaller moves has a slightly different training effect than staying on the same-size rungs and going for larger moves. The former will work the fingers more and build contact strength, and the latter will make you more powerful in the arms. 

    The answer is, of course, to try all these methods, but not randomly. Plan your training so that during your first phase of strength training you increase resistance by adding weight, then during your next sequence you can try making the holds smaller, and so on.

    HOW THEY HANG

    Think texture. Smooth holds are less abrasive, less painful and more difficult to hang than highly textured ones. In real climbing that’s bad, but this is training. The more difficult it is, the stronger you’ll get.
    Pockets make you cheat. Want to get strong on two-finger holds? Avoid pockets on the board! Climbers cheat themselves by using the friction on the sidewalls of the board’s pocket to hang from the hold. You’ll get stronger by simply using two fingers (in the open-hand position) on a flat 1- to 1.5-pad edge. Make sure you train each of the three “sets” of two-finger combinations.

    Think atmosphere. Most climbers install hangboards in their dingy basements or guano-scented sheds. Their motivation to train like a prisoner in Oz lasts about a week. Then, the hangboard, um, hangs in obscurity like Brad Dourif’s acting career. Hang your board near the things you love: television, kitchen, kegerator.

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