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Hangboard Ladders strength training routine - your thoughts?

Original Post
A. Bandos · · Broomfield · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 190

I was immediately attracted to this training plan from Steve Bechtel since it is easy to stick with and something you can complete while still simultaneously climbing hard.…

I'm not a exercise scientist, but I'm sure a typical periodization plan would provide better results. However, I have easy access to rock and getting out climbing is more important to me then spending 2 months on just training. I actually enjoy training, but don't think I climb hard enough to warrant that. I'm hoping to receive good results with this routine, but have some concerns.

My questions/thoughts:

Bechtel says in the article that, "Several studies on isometric strength have shown that the total volume of load (time hanging) is more important than the degree of load (weight)".

1. I've already heard that longer load times equates to endurance, not strength? Am I right on this?

Another interesting comment: "Similar studies showed that it’s possible to gain just as much strength at slightly reduced loads (65 to 75% of maximum) as one might gain while training at maximum (more than 90%) effort."

2. I like this for reduced recovery time. Why in the world would we add max weight (repeaters) to result in failure if it's just going to tax our tendons and put us up for injury if we can use less for more?

3. Has anyone used a routine like this for any length of time to give any insight? Thanks.

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 564

If you are new to hang boarding, any program that you actually follow, as long as you don't get hurt, will make your fingers stronger.

That being said, I have a few concerns with this one.

First, two thirds of the grips are crimps. This seems like too much for a novice HBer. Too easy to get hurt. Furthermore, you calculate your hang weight based solely on open hand strength. Crimp strength can vary a lot from this, so the two crimp sets may be too easy or too hard depending on your individual strength variances.

Second, I am always suspicious when a trainer quotes "scientific research" as justification for a program, but doesn't include the citations. Maybe the research is on some bogus site like Livestrong.

Third, if duration is just as important as intensity, then why even have a 9 second hang? Why not 3 six second hangs? Or 6 by 3 seconds?

The way I read a pyramid like this, the early hangs just pre-fatigue the working muscles so that you actually reach failure on the last rep. A common strength training practice, but no support for pyramids in the literature, AFAIK.

The total volume is quite low, so recovery should be pretty quick. But honestly, if you just did 9 total reps of max hangs you'd recover pretty quickly too.

Give it a try and see how your body responds.

I would suggest substituting open hand grips for the crimps for a while, then slowly adding crimps later on, if your fingers are up for the extra stress.

A. Bandos · · Broomfield · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 190

Thanks for the comments. I've done the rock prodigy thing before, but injured myself in the power phase since I'd sneak in additional climbing. Ive tried it at least one other time but struggled to commit. When I get to the power endurance phase I just want to either hangboard or get on real stone. I'm going to give this a go and see results for me.

I was hanging open handed for 8 seconds with 40 lbs doing repeaters. I've since switched down to only 10 lbs to try this. Hopefully reducing the load will allow for more time under tension and also lower recovery time. I will keep the two crimps since having a few years of training I feel solid. Let's see what happens.

Andrew Southworth · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 45

If you haven't listened to him on the power company podcasts I would recommend them. He is very knowledgeable and interesting, even when talking about exercises I'm not even remotely interested in trying. He's been on a few times and during one of them I vaguely remember him talking about the 3-6-9 ladder. I'm sorry I don't remember which episode its in, maybe someone else can.

From what I recall he does say it's more of a year round program that works to build finger strength long term. So possibly very much what your after since climbing regularly is most important to you.

Peter T · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 10

I just started this training plan a couple weeks ago because I really need to strengthen my crimp. I was initially worried because I've read a lot about training with an open hand only to avoid injury, so that's how I've been training on the hangboard until I found this workout. Training with an open hand has not helped my crimp though so I started this. So far I haven't felt like I've been at risk for an injury with this workout. I can feel some tension in my fingers after the workout but by the next day I'm recovered. I also like that this workout is short and allows you to climb on weekends which fits with my lifestyle. Ill try to post an update in a few weeks when I see how it's going!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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