• Coming Back From Injury
  • Get Trip-Fit Fast
  • Systems Wall and Symmetrical Training
  • Coaching Climbing - How To Train Juniors with Care and Caution
  • Grip Trainers - Gimmicks, or Worth the Money?
  • Hangboarding for Endurance: Not Just for Power
  • Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do
  • Planning a Year's Climbing
  • Portable Training Rigs - How to Stay Fit on the Go
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Suspension Training for Rock Climbing
  • Eat Fat, Climb Harder - The Ketogenic Diet
  • Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance
  • Mental Training Made Simple
  • Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 2
  • Endurance Training Tips for Winter
  • Five Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 1
  • Staying Power - How to Last All Day at the Crag
  • Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting
  • Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter
  • Training While Injured
  • The Hard Way, Easier: How to Cope with Redpoint Nerves
  • Climbing Literacy - Get Better Instantly by Reading Routes
  • The Numbers Game - How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
  • Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong
  • Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
  • The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard?
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock - Three Strategies to Prevent the Pump
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 - Strength and Power II
  • The Training Effect - Steve House and Scott Johnston
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Gutbusters - Core Exercises for Rock Climbing
  • Rest ... or Else
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Crank Like a Russian - How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • How to Improve Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • How to Use a Hangboard
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
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    Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard?


    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.



    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.


    READ How to Use a Hangboard


    Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers


    Daniel Woods: 10X10 Hangboard Workout


    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 187.

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