Academy: Hangboarding Cycles

Part of our "Toes to Knows" Climbing Academy series--covering climbing from footwork to mental preparation.

Tags: Coaching, Hangboarding, Advanced

In my last three posts I outlined three different hangboard routines. Two max hangs and a strength-endurance 7x3 repeater. There are lots of other types of hangboarding, but those two types cover the fundamental hangboarding objectives: strength and strength endurance.

The next question most folks ask is “great, I see how to do the basic routines, but when should I use them?”

To properly answer that, you have to first answer the question of what type of climbing would you like to be doing. If you’re primarily a route climber, then you should work both strength and strength endurance. If you’re primarily a boulderer, then endurance doesn’t matter as much, unless you like to do a lot of problems in a day or if you’re a competitive boulderer. In those cases, some strength-endurance training will help you keep your optimal send level high. 

That said, thinking about a larger-scale hangboarding cycle routine needs to consider what other types of training and climbing you’re doing. Ideally, it’s best to not mix strength and strength-endurance training in the same day. If you’re working limit boulder problems in the evening and want to hangboard the same day, then work on max hangs in the morning.

Should you hangboard and climb in the same day? I think it’s fine, though if you do, it’s best to hangboard first so you get the maximum benefit of the strength-focused exercise. It’s also best if you separate these two sessions by several hours (hang in the morning, climb in the evening) to give your tendons time to recover and re-hydrate.

Another thing to consider regarding training cycles is how much you want to sacrifice your climbing at any given time of year to optimize strength gains. You’ll get stronger if you just work on nothing but max-strength for a couple of months, but you’re route climbing will suffer. Are you willing to do that?

It would be impossible to cover all possible training scenarios in this blog post. Since you’re reading a blog post from a company that sells belay glasses, I’m going to assume you like to climb routes and therefore need strength endurance as part of your training.

EyeSend Belay Glasses

2-Month Macrocycle for Route Climbers

Since outdoor route season is usually in the summer, I suggest using the winter months to get in lots of pure-strength training, then switching to more focus on strength endurance in the summer months. Here’s what a year-long macrocycle might look like.

Training macrocycle

Weekly Cycles

Here’s what each week might look like for the proposed macrocycle. If hangboarding and climbing in the same day, hangboard in the morning and climb in the evening.

Terms definitions:

  • Max Hang means a max hang hangboarding protocol (see one-hand max hangs and two-hand max hangs for examples)
  • Limit Boulders means trying boulders at the limit of your ability
  • Power Boulders means working on boulder problems that demand a lot of power (dynamic movement). Other power training could be substituted in here, such as campus training along with some bouldering.
  • Routes Projecting means working on climbing routes that are at the limit of your ability. Another way of thinking about this is bouldering on a rope. An objective is to not do so many routes you’re getting really pumped and tired.
  • Fun Route Climbing is climbing routes but not getting to serious yet about trying really hard things
  • 7x3 Hangs is a 7x3 hangboard routine
  • Enduro Routes is working on endurance routes training, such as doing two difficult routes in a row or climbing up then down then up (up/down/up) a few routes at the end of your session. The objective is to get pumped!
  • Routes Redpoint is working on routes that you’re able to redpoint in a relatively short period of time. You get more pumped doing this than routes projecting.

Strength + Power Only

Strength and Power Training Only

The purpose of this cycle is to increase your strength and power. Both are extremely useful for bouldering and route climbing.

Strength + Power Focus

Strength and Power Training Focus

This cycle continues to work on strength and power, but starts to layer in a bit of route climbing. This focus area comes in the second month of the macrocycle. One month is long enough for a particular type of max hang protocol, so it’s suggested that you change something up to avoid plateauing. This might be changing holds, or weights, or durations.

Strength-Endurance Focus

Strength Enduro

This cycle introduces more serious route climbing, while maintaining some time on pure strength efforts. It’s good to maintain some work on pure strength always as strength comes slowly. This is the only cycle with three hangboard sessions in a week, adding one to bump up your strength endurance before the spring sending season sets in.

Route Climbing Performance

Climbing Route Performance

Send!! Still work a bit of strength and continue to train some specific strength endurance training.




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