One of the most time effective way of getting stronger for climbing is to develop digits of steel. Training on a hangboard (also known as fingerboard) requires a certain level of dedication, it’s repetitive and can be tedious at times - but stick with it and the benefits are worth it! There are a number of options to choose from, so here’s a quick run down of what to consider when buying one.
Fixed vs Portable Hangboards
The first factor to think about is the set up. Are you able to mount a hangboard in your home? If yes, there is a wide range of fixed training boards on the market to suit beginner and experienced climbers alike. If your answer is “no”, then a portable board might work for you instead.
You want to set up your board to allow your body to freely hang underneath. The easiest way is to fix the hangboard onto a plywood backing board, and mount it above a weight-bearing door frame, or something similar. There are also some very clever and creative ways to install one using a removable pull up bar, so search the web for some inspiration. If you have the space and are handy with the tools (or know someone who is!), you can create a simple, free-standing frame for your hangboard.
The latest trend in hangboards are the emergence and popularity of portable training boards. These boards are versatile, can be set-up for home training as well as taken to the crag as part of your warmup routine. A great option if you live in a rental or can’t have a mounted board at home. They can be hung from any weight bearing anchor point in your home or outside such as exposed beam or a tree branch.
Wood vs Polyester Resin vs Polyurethane
Training boards are either made of wood, polyester resin or polyurethane. Older style boards were made of polyester resin which is robust but heavy. Wood and polyurethane boards have increased in popularity in the last few years, offering unique shapes, and skin friendly training options, without the weight. Here are the pros and cons of each:
Choosing the correct board for your skill level will largely depend on the size and shape of the holds. Climbers new to finger board training should start with larger edges and deep pockets until the fingers get accustomed to the intensity. Start slowly, and take weight off by using a pulley system or propping your feet on a chair or stool if required. Beware, going too hard, too soon can lead to finger injuries. It takes time for tendons and pulleys to adjust and get stronger.
Boards with a variety of hold depths will allow you to progress to smaller holds as your finger strength improves. Smaller edges, shallow pockets and steep angled slopers are more suited to advanced climbers that have experience with finger strength training.
Also take your goals into consideration and the grip type you want to improve. Do you want to get better at half crimps, open hand, pockets, pinches or slopers? Each board have different features and hold shapes, so choose one that will help you achieve your goals. Training aides specific to a grip type, such as pinch blocks, are also available to compliment your hangboard.
Cheap and cheerful!
Metolius Prime Rib Board – 15, 23, 38mm edges. Simple, but effective! Perfect for the Lattice-style open, half crimp, 3-finger drag training.
Metolius Project Training Board – Compact with a good selection of holds from edges, jugs, slopers and pockets that won’t break the bank.
Awesome Woodys Cliff Board Mini – The go-anywhere training/warm-up board with 4 rounded edge sizes (10, 15,18 and 30mm), pockets and monos.
Beastmaker 1000 – One of the most versatile training boards on the market! Wooden CNC milled with a large variety of slopers, pockets, edges and jugs to suit your training needs. The wood will test your finger strength without chewing through your skin.
Metolius Simulator – Ergonomically shaped, and lightly textured. Offering many different hold options suited to the beginner and intermediate climber.
Beastmaker 2000 – Can’t go past this one! An international standard for fingerboards. Large, medium and small edges, evil slopers, gnarly 2-finger pockets and monos. Designed for climbers who have training experience, and want the maximum finger strength gains.
Awesome Woodys Home Boy – More edge sizes than you can poke a stick at! 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20mm edges and a bonus jug. Suited to advance climbers who want to progress to micro holds
Written by: Sheila Alexander
If there's one thing Shay knows, it's climbing training. She knows her hangboards through and through and is always up for a chat about getting those fingers, arms and shoulders strong!