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Initial impressions of Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center (RPTC) hangboard
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By slim
Administrator
Oct 24, 2013
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
at first i was just going to email this to a couple of my climbing partners, but after writing it i figured it might be useful to others who are using hangboards. maybe in the next few days i will try to add some photos to break it up a bit. so, if you are bored and have a couple hours to burn reading about hangboards... enjoy!

came home monday and had a package on my doorstep - i was super psyched. i opened it up and there were 2 little brown objects that looked like chocolate cakes. "mmmm, chocolate..." said my inner homer simpson. i spent some time looking them over, washed them with some soap, water, and a toothbrush to make sure they were clean as a whistle. they are so little! i know that mark and mike were really determined to get all of these holds in a small package that wouldn't take up too much space, and i think they were successful. had a hard time sleeping monday night. i had a lot on my mind - climbed some great routes at shelf with some friends over the weekend, thinking about next years big hairy goal, and most of all getting psyched to rebuild the machine!

finally got it all installed tuesday night. ok, maybe not everything - but enough to do my workouts. i still need to put up some tarps to keep the chalkdust contained, get a new clock (my current one just died for some reason), get a little fan to clip to the structure, maybe add a bit more structural bracing, etc. some time before the winter gets here i need to come up with some sort of idea for insulating my workout space.

yesterday was a dead day at work, so i spent some time designing my workout. i sat down with a drawing of the RPTC and made up little names/acronyms for the holds.

my naming convention for the various grips on the RPTC hangboard.
my naming convention for the various grips on the RPTC hangboard.



developed a new sequence order of the holds - this is always a tough one as you should put the most important grips towards the beginning, but almost all of the grips are important to me (sorry pinch, but maybe not so much in your case ...:).

the last couple years i have used the same grip for all 3 sets and tried to add 2.5 lbs per set. for some reason, i seem to get stronger each set - i have no idea why. this season i am altering the holds within a grip position, with each set progressing to a more difficult hold. so in a nutshell a 3 set grip position is like big hold, medium hold, small hold.

here is my workout sheet that i print and use during my workout. the "hold" is from my naming convention (above), "Wt" is amount of weight added or subtracted, "Score" is how many seconds i was able to hang out of the total 30 seconds (for example if i failed at the 3rd second of my last rep the score would be 28), proposed is the weight that i think i should use during my next workout. i think it is really important to propose your weight for the next workout immediately after your set because you have the best feel for how difficult it was and what you should try next time.

sample workout sheet
sample workout sheet



so, last night i did my baseline workout. for each grip/hold position i performed a set of investigative hanging by 'sweeping' through a series of increased loads. basically, i started out with a load that i was pretty sure would be a bit on the easy side. so, i hang for 5 seconds, add 2.5 lbs during my 5 second rest, hang for 5 seconds again, add 2.5 lbs, etc. when i get to a load that i can barely hang or barely fail for 5 seconds i stop. whatever that load is, i subtract 10 lbs and call that my baseline 'handicap' for that hold for a 5 on 5 off 6 rep set. in the past i have found that this works pretty well for guessing what weights i should start at for my first workout on a new hangboard or new set of holds. for me, this is key info so that i can constantly compare my workouts over a long period of time versus a baseline.

probably the best things about last nights workout:

1) my skin didn't get shredded. it was slightly raw towards the end, but considering that i did a fair amount of hanging over a 3 hour period it was a success. in the past, my first few workouts have shredded my skin, and i usually had to bail on some of my sets. my skin feels perfectly fine this morning, no rawness, no flappers or blisters.

2) the pockets are amazing, hands down the most comfortable pockets i have ever used. there are a bunch of different 2 finger and mono pocket configurations to choose from. in the past, i have always had a really hard time with the index/middle finger combo due to a major difference in my finger lengths. on my new board, i was easily able to find configurations that felt very comfortable for this combo. the monos are also very comfortable. usually these really hurt the skin. like, really really hurt the skin.

3) really good selection of edges for 4 finger half crimp and full crimp grips. they span a really large spectrum from easy enough for a beginner to nasty enough for a serious crimping fiend. the small crimps were difficult, but the shape and texture keep them from being painful.

4) shoulders, elbows, and wrists all felt comfortable. there are absolutely no dead holds that are too close together to be usable. the curvature and layout of the holds really feel natural with the radius of your arm pivoting about your shoulder, kind of like divinci's drawing of the person depicting the range of motion of a person's arms. the crimps are well located so that your shoulders, elbows, and wrist are in natural positions. some of my older hangboards had the crimps really close together, which bothered my shoulders and wrists.

5) pinches are excellent. they are kind of funny looking, but always choose function over fashion :). i have never had a hangboard that had usable pinches - either way too easy, way too hard, or way too weird, so i just used wood blocks with cord through them. i can get rid of those now. less clutter in my workout area, and less scurrying around rigging things up during my workout.

6) texture is excellent. i have the most slippery hands on earth, so i like having strong texture. as mark pointed out earlier, it is better to have too much than too little, you can always sand it down a little bit, but adding texture is almost impossible. the multiple texture is really key - the pads of your fingers are fully engaged on the hold, and the smooth texture on the front eliminates that nasty shearing of your skin that causes the big nasty flappers.

all of these things are going to be a really big help during my hangboard phase. usually, my biggest hurdles during HB season are having to bail on sets due to skin issues and/or awkward positioning. i can't wait to get started on my new cycle and see how it all goes.

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By Mark Paulson
Oct 24, 2013
What a coincidence-- I, too, just got a RPTC and completed my first workout yesterday. I agree with pretty much everything Slim said, and am very excited about it's potential. Also, mine is yellow.
My favorite things so far:

-The pinches are the only ones I've ever seen on a hangboard that actually work, and there are three different widths (although the smallest is pretty impossible). They feel awesome.

-The crimp is the best I've seen on a hangboard, and seems like the most realistic approximation of an outdoor crimp. You can half, full, and fingernail it. I feel like I see this size all the time outside, but have never seen in on a board (although my experience is limited).

-The texture and hold shaping are as comfortable as you're gonna get. I have an original Simulator that I stopped using long ago as the edge radii would trash my skin, and the ergonomics sucked.


This is the first time I've actually rigged up a pully/counterweight system, and it's been a long time coming- hangboarding is a total crap-shoot if you don't have a quantifiable weight addition/reduction system. I'm most excited about knowing that I'll be less likely to injury myself on hard crimps and tweaky pockets outside.

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By slim
Administrator
Nov 11, 2013
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
here are some photos to give some ideas on which pockets to use for different finger combos. the andersons put a LOT of thought into the configuration of the pockets and where they should be located on the board. i have done several workouts now, and the pockets are absolutely awesome. i have never had a board where i could do entire workouts without my skin taking a beating during the pocket sets. with this board, my skin doesn't even feel raw the next day, and i haven't had to stop any of my sets so far.

one of the things i really like is that there are several options for the index/middle finger pairs. notice that these pockets are on the outer edge of the hangboard. this is to allow you as much room as possible to curl your ring finger towards your palm without grinding it into the hangboard. i had a lot of problems with other boards in the past grinding my knuckles into meat. sometimes i would have to bail on sets which totally sucks. the IM combo pockets give you 3 good options with differing depths (see photos below). notice that the depths increase as you move outwards - this is to make more room for your longer middle finger. also, the 3 different options allow you to find the right depth for the depth of your finger pads, which really saves your skin. this is the first board i have had that the IM combo feels really natural.


the deepest index/middle combo.
the deepest index/middle combo.



the middle-depth index/middle finger combo pocket.
the middle-depth index/middle finger combo pocket.



the shallowest index/middle combo pocket.  the contours of this pocket really distribute the shear stress across your skin, which is a big help in preventing your skin getting it's a$$ kicked.
the shallowest index/middle combo pocket. the contours of this pocket really distribute the shear stress across your skin, which is a big help in preventing your skin getting it's a$$ kicked.


moving on to the middle/ring combo pockets. these are actually located towards the interior of the hangboard. this seems a little counter intuitive at first when you hold your fingers up in the air. your mind kind of wants to put the index/middle combo towards the interior and the middle/ring combo to the outside. again, the key thing is that for the middle/ring combo, you generally curl your index finger towards your palm. if you look at the photos below, you will see that my index fingers have tons of room, and they aren't being squashed into the hangboard. these pockets also have a slight tilt tilt to them, which helps deal with uneven finger length and gives a more natural alignment to the wrist.

the deeper middle/ring combo pocket.
the deeper middle/ring combo pocket.


the shallow middle/ring combo pocket.  the tilt, friendly texture, and lardge edge radius help prevent the dreaded flapper.
the shallow middle/ring combo pocket. the tilt, friendly texture, and lardge edge radius help prevent the dreaded flapper.


deep middle/ring combo pockets in action. the 2 separate panels allow you to adust the width of the board for your shoulders which allows a comfortable overall body position.
deep middle/ring combo pockets in action. the 2 separate panels allow you to adust the width of the board for your shoulders which allows a comfortable overall body position.



that brings us to the monos.... last year i did my first couple seasons with monos included in my workouts. i knew that i needed to prepare my fingers for upping the ante, and monos are fairly prevalent at one of my main climbing areas. holy crap did it hurt. monos are plenty tough to hang just in terms of your tendons and your psyche, but the skin pain was brutal. there were many nights where i felt that i was getting stronger, but i didn't want to increase the weight because it literally felt like i was grabbing the business end of a filet knife. it really sucked. i kinda didn't know what to do. i tried sanding my boards down, taping, all sorts of stuff. nothing seemed to really help. sanding king of helped, but the edge radii of the pockets on my old boards was just too sharp. tape is too slippery and wants to roll.

around this time, i started emailing mark and asking how he deals with the skin issue. it sounded like he had gone through a lot of the same issues. after emailing back and forth for a while, i was literally typing up a message to him to tell him that he and mike should design a hangboard and write a book about how to use it - i kid you not, literally i was emailing him. being easily distracted, i pulled up facebook and saw that he had just posted that they were working on these things - i was psyched. the anderson bros were on the job, and i knew that if anybody could come up with some good pockets, they were the guys for the job.

so lets look at the monos on this thing. the exterior pockets that are used for the index/middle combos give you a total of 5 options with different depths and other slight nuances that help you dial in the right one(s) for you. one of the things that i think really helps keep your skin from getting trashed is taking advantage of these different depths. i do 3 sets of monos - i start with deep, then mid-depth, and then shallow. this helps spread the shear stress to different parts of my finger so that i am not hammering the exact same spot 3 sets in a row. also, this really helps you get familiar with how to best set your finger up for different depths. it takes a bit of practice to figure out how you want to configure your finger - different people set their hands up in different ways.

if somebody would have told me a year ago that the RPTC would have monos this good, i would have been pretty guarded in my optimism. they are absolutely awesome. each time i hang them i am amazed at how comfortable they are. don't get me wrong - you are still hanging monos, it ain't no picnic. however, my skin has had no problems. the contours and texture really distribute the shear stress across as much finger surface area as possible. i could go on and on about the optimization of the hertzian contact mechanics of the edge radii blah blah blah, but luckily for you i won't bore you with that stuff. i will just tell you that if you want to climb at locations where you need mono strength, this is without any doubt the board you have been looking for. here's a couple photos of some of the mono options.

(i will have to try to upload these photos later, stay tuned....)
closeup of deepest mono.
closeup of deepest mono.


deep monos in action, semi close-up.
deep monos in action, semi close-up.


action photo of smallest mono.  note that my neck position isn't optimal - i need to move my clock up a bit, which will bring my head back a bit and my shoulders back also.  also, note the pulley in front of me (taking a shit-ton of weight off).
action photo of smallest mono. note that my neck position isn't optimal - i need to move my clock up a bit, which will bring my head back a bit and my shoulders back also. also, note the pulley in front of me (taking a shit-ton of weight off).

FLAG
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Nov 11, 2013
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.
Slim, Thanks for the flattering review, can't wait to read the rest! One small comment however. Regarding the "middle pair" (Middle-Ring) Two-Finger Pockets, I also intended for folks to use what you are calling the "slot" as a supe deep MR two-finger pocket. This would provide a much deeper MR pocket for those who aren't ready for either of the true two-finger pockets. That is why there is a cutout below the inside of the slot, so you can curl your index finger down into the cutout if using the slot for just the MR fingers.

Also in case you don't mention it, the higher IM pocket was also designed to be used as an IMR 3-finger pocket, allowing the pinky to curl freely to the outside of the board. The "slot" was designed to be used as an MRP 3-finger pocket, allowing the index finger to curl to the inside of the board. Either of the two Variable Depth Edge Rails could also be used as MRP three-finger pockets. Not everyone does 3 finger pockets, but I used them a lot when I was just starting out with hangboarding and I was too weak to safely use any two finger pockets.

FLAG
By slim
Administrator
Nov 12, 2013
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
good points mark.

i use the 3 finger pocket (the same hold that i use for my IM pairs) a lot during my warmup, and this hold would be a very important hold for a beginning HB person for sure. i also use the slot during my warmup, and i use it for my ring/pinky combo. like mark said - the slot is really deep so it makes a good entry level hold for the 2 finger combos (hence why i use it for the ring/pinky combo, which is a tough combo for me)

at some point i will try to add a post about the top 2 edges and how i use them, as well as the crimp, and the pinch.

FLAG
By climbky
Jan 7, 2014
I am thinking about buying this board but am wondering how small the smallest edge is?

FLAG
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 7, 2014
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.
The smallest edge is 5/16" deep, include a 1/8" radius, so there is 3/16" of flat surface, and 1/8" of rounded surface.

The Variable Depth edge varies from 3/8" deep to 1-1/4" deep, with a 3/8" radius throughout. Hope that helps!

FLAG
By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Jan 8, 2014
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
This thing looks so sweet... nice work, mono. And thanks for the extensive review, slim.

Which front range gyms have them installed so far? I want to check it out!

FLAG
 
By climbky
Jan 8, 2014
Thanks so much for the clarification Mark. I have been using the Transgression Board and like it because of the smallies, the downside is it's lack of different grip positions. This board seems very well thought out and is in a very favorable price point. I look forward to using it. Thank you for all the effort put in!

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By slim
Administrator
Jan 8, 2014
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
the small crimp is nasty small (in a good way). probably about 1/4 pad and crisp. the total depth might be 5/16/ but it feels more like 3/16. it is pretty small.

the 2 variable depth edges give you about 2 pads down to 1/3 pad or so. they have a little bit of overlap in terms of depth (ie the depth of the outside portion of the top edge is less deep than the inside portion of the lower edge). the outside portion of the lower edge is fairly difficult.

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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 8, 2014
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.
Jon Zucco wrote:
This thing looks so sweet... nice work, mono. And thanks for the extensive review, slim. Which front range gyms have them installed so far? I want to check it out!


Earth Treks has one. I was told the BRC had one, but I was there 2 weeks ago and didn't see it.

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Jan 8, 2014
At the BRC
Monomaniac wrote:
Earth Treks has one. I was told the BRC had one, but I was there 2 weeks ago and didn't see it.


Was just at the BRC today and was told they have one of your boards but haven't mounted it yet. Didn't think to ask about ETA.

FLAG
By Dan Cast
From New York, New York
Jan 10, 2014
has anyone had any experience mounting this on a blank slate? im curious if it would be too wide.

FLAG
By slim
Administrator
Jan 10, 2014
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
in terms of width, i think it will greatly depend on how tall you are and/or how long your arms are, as well as how wide your shoulders are, and what is comfortable for you.

mine are pretty far apart, due to my body dimensions (tall, long arms). i think they are maybe 11" apart or so. i might think about moving them closer together about an inch, not sure yet.

the blank slate is fairly wide, so i think it would probably work. if you exclude the pinches and just look at the backing of the RPTC, i think each panel is approximately 8" wide. if you include the pinches, the overall total width of each panel is around 13" or so.

so, for me to mount mine to a blank slate would require the slate board to be around 27" or so, and the total width from tip to tip of the pinches would be around 37" (which is useful to know if one side of your doorway is really close to a wall).

the overall height is just under 10" tall.

hope this helps.

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By JASON A.
Jan 10, 2014
Just being badass
Dan Cast wrote:
has anyone had any experience mounting this on a blank slate? im curious if it would be too wide.


You can always drill mounting holes on a piece of plywood, replace the blank slate board with the plywood, and then screw the RPTC onto the plywood. The countersunk bolts will "sink" into the plywood with enough force.

FLAG
By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Jan 10, 2014
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
Has anyone played around with mounting this in a way that allows for adjusting widths in between sessions?

(my girlfriend and I each have vastly different shoulder widths)

FLAG
 
By Dan Cast
From New York, New York
Jan 11, 2014
Thanks Slim and Jason. I have about 4 weeks till I'm on that phase so I'm going to shop around for a deal and give it a try.

FLAG
By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
Jan 11, 2014
Courtright Reservoir, September 2013

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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Jan 12, 2014
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
Mono, when is your book coming out?

FLAG
By slim
Administrator
Jan 13, 2014
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
Jon Zucco wrote:
Has anyone played around with mounting this in a way that allows for adjusting widths in between sessions? (my girlfriend and I each have vastly different shoulder widths)


that's a good question. my wife is wanting to start a program, but she is a lot shorter than i am. this means figuring out a different height and different width. if i had known she would be interested i would have set it up different.

my recommendation would be to mount both of the hangboard pieces on 3/4" plywood panels that are big enough to provide a 2" border around the HB pieces. then, drill a 3/8 inch hole at each of the 4 corners.

then, i would take a piece of 3/4" plywood, maybe 14" tall and 36" wide. mount this up to whatever you are using for a frame. i would set the height of this based on the taller person so that they have leg room to work with.

then, figure out what the optimum HB separation is for both of you and drill the holes in the main piece of plywood. this will allow you to move the panels closer together for her and further apart for you.

then, make a removable platform for her to stand on while she is doing her workout. make sure it is wide and stable so she doesn't twist her ankle, etc.

with a drill and a socket you could change the panel separation really quickly.

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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 13, 2014
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.
slim wrote:
that's a good question. my wife is wanting to start a program, but she is a lot shorter than i am. this means figuring out a different height and different width. if i had known she would be interested i would have set it up different. my recommendation would be to mount both of the hangboard pieces on 3/4" plywood panels that are big enough to provide a 2" border around the HB pieces. then, drill a 3/8 inch hole at each of the 4 corners. then, i would take a piece of 3/4" plywood, maybe 14" tall and 36" wide. mount this up to whatever you are using for a frame. i would set the height of this based on the taller person so that they have leg room to work with. then, figure out what the optimum HB separation is for both of you and drill the holes in the main piece of plywood. this will allow you to move the panels closer together for her and further apart for you. then, make a removable platform for her to stand on while she is doing her workout. make sure it is wide and stable so she doesn't twist her ankle, etc. with a drill and a socket you could change the panel separation really quickly.


That sounds reasonable. Note that one half could be permanently fixed, and then you would adjust only the other half from side to side. Maybe you said this and I missed it (you may want an extra eyebolt below the board so your pulley system can be centered for both users).

I thought if I were to do this I would build a track, like for a sliding door or window, out of some kind of lumber, with the moving half mounted to a piece of lumber or plywood that would slide in the track. That would allow for nearly infinite width adjustment.

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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jan 13, 2014
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.
Jon Zucco wrote:
Mono, when is your book coming out?


Good question! I'll let you know when I know :)

FLAG
By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Jan 13, 2014
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.
I'm not the best at conveying visual information and concepts, so bear with me.

With regard to adjustability for both height and width, I had this thought:

Make inset tracks on the back of whatever you're mounting to. It shouldn't be that hard to find a couple brackets that are long, rectangular, and have a space in the middle through which screws could pass.

So, you could drop a saw blade from a circular saw, or use a jigsaw or whatever, and cut six parallel grooves all the way through your mounting surface. On the backside of your mounting surface, you could mortise out enough depth for your tracks to recess into your board (woodworkers will know what I'm talking about).

The angle of the cuts, and thus the mounting of the tracks is determined by the two holes closest together (from pics, I see only four mounting holes, which is great). If you use those holes to determine the angle of the tracks on each respective side, once it is all done, you should have a diagonally mounted track with which you can adjust height and width simultaneously.

You could use instead of screws, a bolt with a nut and washer on the backside. The nut and washer would naturally rest on the metal track that is mortised into the backside of the mounting surface. You could even cut small position grooves in your track at predetermined widths so you just click it into place.

Here's a shitty pic I drew that might help describe what I'm talking about. It seems like a bit of work to begin with, but if you have a need for constant adjustment, it may save you some time and effort over the long run.

Again, forgive the rudimentary nature of my drawing.


tracks/holes
tracks/holes

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By slim
Administrator
Jan 13, 2014
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
Monomaniac wrote:
That sounds reasonable. Note that one half could be permanently fixed, and then you would adjust only the other half from side to side. Maybe you said this and I missed it (you may want an extra eyebolt below the board so your pulley system can be centered for both users). I thought if I were to do this I would build a track, like for a sliding door or window, out of some kind of lumber, with the moving half mounted to a piece of lumber or plywood that would slide in the track. That would allow for nearly infinite width adjustment.


i was thinking the same thing about keeping one half fixed and using a second eybolt (but was short on time when replying). this would be a pretty good way to do it.

i had originally thought of using two horizontal pipes with clamps so you could slide them together or apart. that would be pretty cool. it would also be a good setup for a climbing gym.

FLAG
 
By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Jan 13, 2014
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
What about having 2x4s run along the top and bottom with a groove or tongue routed out that created a groove when mounted against the back board. You could mount each half on independent 3/4" boards like you mentioned, slim. Then mount those to the sliding boards to make them flush with the 2x4 runners. The two base boards could slide freely within those grooves. You could drill some holes in each 2x4 for a couple hand knobs/screw clamps to hold each board in place when you've gotten the right width.

but may be more complicated than it's worth.


independent sliding mount boards
independent sliding mount boards

FLAG
By Lanky
From Portland, ME
Jan 13, 2014
You could try a French cleat system with clamps or bolts to lock the boards in place. French cleats are dead simple.

FLAG


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