Fingerboard climbing is one of many types of climbing that beginners have to sift through and learn about. Fingerboards are a unique form of climbing, but are one of the best ways to gain strength for free climbing.
This article will talk about what fingerboard climbing is, how often you can do it, and then finally some helpful tips to stay motivated while training and how to bring your climbing to the next level!
What is Fingerboard Climbing?
First, lets answer the question that probably brought you here: “What is Fingerboard Climbing?”
Fingerboard climbing is a form of grip-specific training that strengthens your fingers for hard outcroppings. This type of climbing is done using a fingerboard, often called a hangboard.
Climbing is hard on your fingers, no matter how long you’ve been climbing. There are lots of extremely difficult climbs out there that can be very frustrating if you aren’t already strong enough for them.
But how strong do you need to be? That really depends on your vertical reach (how far forward you can reach). If your vertical reach is greater than or equal to the distance between handholds, then theoretically, everything should be attainable for you with enough time spent climbing and training.
What is a Climbing Fingerboard?
Fingerboards, or hangboards, are a wood or plastic device that replicates climbing holds that you’ll face indoors or outdoors on rock climbing and bouldering routes. There are hundreds of different fingerboard brands, sizes, and styles.
Fingerboards are used for many things. Most obviously, they are used to train finger strength for climbing routes with hard finger-sized holds. Fingerboards can also be used to train smaller muscles in your hands and fingers that are often ignored, but are also essential for climbing well.
Another way fingerboards are used is by training endurance of the fingers. Max Hang times are almost like a bench press weight in a regular gym… major bragging rights are attached to this number!
How Often Should I Hangboard?
This is a question that is hard to answer because it varies on multiple factors. Generally speaking, the better of a climber you are, and the more often you consistently climb, the more often you can hangboard.
Here are some more specific guidelines:
Climbing Skill: Some people will say you don’t need to hangboard unless you can lead 5.11s. I don’t agree with this, I think hangboards can be good for anyone. Newer climbers don’t need to work on it nearly as much as advanced climbers though.
How Often You Climb: Hangboards are just like climbing… they can be hard on your hands. If you don’t climb often then you don’t need to hangboard much (or at all).
Where do You Climb?: If your climbing gym or normal outdoor spot has nice big holds then fingerboarding may not be that important. If you find yourself commonly slipping off small holds, then it may help.
How Many Times a Week Should I Fingerboard?
Hangboarding puts significant stress on your hands and fingers. Therefore, you need to give your digits time to heal and adapt before doing it again. After a hard hangboarding session I’d rest or only do casual grip work for about 48 hours afterwards.
Should I Hangboard Before or After Climbing?
Hangboarding should be done before a climbing session according to many leading hand doctors. You should do higher skill, high motor control tasks (like fingerboarding) before you do more large, broad skills like general climbing.
Should Beginners Hangboard?
I don’t recommend beginners to use fingerboards until they’ve been climbing at least once a week for six months to a year. Your hands and fingers will get stronger during this time simply by climbing and you don’t generally need the extra stress of a hangboard.
The Last Pitch
Fingerboarding is a style of climbing that has many uses especially for more experienced and advanced climbers. Beginners should be cautious when using the fingerboard and take their time.
While the amount of overuse injuries that overuse is not yet well understood, the potential risk is thought to be significant.
It is essential for climbers to understand how to best minimize this risk, starting with appropriate warm-up and cool-down activities prior to climbing.
Growing up in Fresno, CA, Yosemite has always called to Robert. From camping trips as a kid, he quickly became a regular to the parks granite walls.
His favorite, and most difficult climb to date is Serenity Crack at the Royal Arches in Yosemite, rated a 5.10d. Robby spends most of his time bouldering these days, and loves the Camp 4 Boulder area.