Hey Kids. Do you like hanging on tiny edges? How about with no purposeful immediate vertical progress? What about for short intervals while blasting HipHop? Well have I got the toy for you!
Just prior to the Power Phase is Strength building phase. For which we jumped on our hangboards and… well… hung there for 7 – 10 seconds. And then jumped off and then jumped straight back on. This is the point where we improve our clamps.
Matt and I followed different routines but generally performed the same number of hangboard sessions. I went ahead and installed a new Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center in my apartment while Matt used his existing board and pinch block system.
James: It was my first time hangboarding so it was fairly lightweight. Hearing friends pop their pulleys has given me a healthy fear of full crimps. As I said, the first thing I did was install a new hangboard above my laundry room door. For the longest time I thought it ill advised to do this directly in drywall since I don’t have wooden studs. However I was able to find toggle bolts that hold 75lbs each and install them in metal studs.
In each session you run through 10 or so different grips, from small edges, 2 finger pockets, pinches, slopers with each taking off enough weight with a pulley system so that you can hold for 10 seconds on 5 seconds off for six times (reps) per set. Over the course of 3 weeks you slowly add weight while not over doing it. The key is to find a good baseline and get good rest. MAKE SURE TO WARM UP!!! There is no easy access to a bouldering wall here, so to warm up I simply cycle through the bigger holds with my feet on a stool for 20 minutes prior to starting.
I learned a ton and worked out good baseline numbers for the next cycle of this program. Most importantly I found it actually quite fun and challenging! How have I gone this long without hangboarding?!
I picked a different approach from James’ strict adoption of the RCTM repeater plan. I followed a plan more closely aligned to what I thought Steve Maisch* talks about – max strength hangs.
The idea is you pick a weight where you fail after 5 seconds of hanging on a particular grip. You do three sets of that with 3-5 minutes of rest in between. For any wannabe meatheads out there like me, this is identical to a max strength protocol for lifting if you consider seconds to be reps.
Luckily for me, I started the hangboard phase at just under 230lbs so my body weight was perfect to elicit failure after 5 seconds on my first day (this is the only time you’ll hear me say that in relation to climbing). I picked three grips with two on the hangboard. I used the widest edge I have, which is about one full pad, and the pockety grip you see pictured. Towards the end of the training block I was able to remove my thumbs from the board to make it harder, but early on when this picture was taken I needed the extra help. The third grip was a pinch block setup I built from an 8 inch length of 4×4 that I screwed an eye bolt into so I could hang my 35lb kettlebell from.
I made more progress than I expected through the three week block. I completed seven sessions and increased my time to almost-failure from five seconds per set to 8 seconds per set. This is a 60% increase in time under load. The pinch block didn’t progress so linearly. I actually went backwards from being able to pinch 45lbs for 5-6 seconds to having to drop down to 35lbs and pinch for 8-10 second sets. I’m attributing this to cumulative fatigue.
All in all it was a great success. I was able to do more volume than I expected and didn’t have any finger issues whatsoever. I also subjectively saw my bouldering performance increase in power block, which I’ll explain more on in that post. I’m looking forward to the next block of hangboard training in May.
*NOTE: I went to find the link where Steve talks about five second hangs and couldn’t find it. I found this instead, which isn’t totally different but also isn’t what I thought I had read. I’m wondering if I misread this workout approach and programmed my hangs incorrectly or if I am remembering another training writer and misattributed this to Steve. I’ll report back with clarification if I find some. If any of you are aware of a hangboard approach that talks about 5 second hangs, let me know.*
Go get strong but be careful and warm up appropriately.
“Bada clip bada clamp!”