Hangboard Timing in a Session

I personally have noticed a big difference in how I can perform on the hangboard when I schedule it immediately following my warm up as opposed to at the end of my session.

I’ve seen this recommended from Lattice for sure, and that’s how it was programmed in the Proven Plan I did last fall.

Anecdotally times when I’ve programmed hangboarding this way I’ve seen the biggest gains and felt the strongest ability to apply my strength in climbing. Even immediately following hangboarding I’ve noticed I feel stronger.

I’d love to hear thoughts on this. It would make a great Breaking Beta topic… but I doubt this has been studied!

Definitely a good breaking beta topic!

I believe it would be better for my finger strength for me to hangboard just after warmup, but in practice I never want to do that bc I think I’ll climb worse after the hangboard workout, and I always want to climb my best from session to session.

Come to think of it, some podcast episodes have mentioned trying to let climbing do most of the work and making sure training is just supplemental - so from that line of reasoning, wouldn’t it generally be best for your body/climbing overall to do hangboard after climbing? Or am I just justifying my habits? Hah

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I’ve seen Tom Randall say the same elsewhere, but in this video he recommends hangboarding first because you need to perform at 100% intensity. STOP Making This Training Mistake! - YouTube

In Allison Vest’s interview on the Nugget, she says she always used to hangboard before climbing for that reason, but that’s changed since she moved to Utah. Now what she’s worried about is just trying hard not that she’s always performing her best on the hangboard. That said, her finger strength is an outlier I’d guess!

My hope is there there’s some physiological right answer, but I’m sure it depends!

I’m sure it depends on a number of things: maintenance vs progression, or the specific energy system in focus. Like I wouldn’t do repeaters before climbing because I’d be fucked for the rest of my session.

The general rule is probably to move whatever is most important to the beginning of your session. Hangboarding for strength should probably be at the beginning for that reason. However, I’ve recently injured my finger and my physiotherapist now recommends hangboarding at the end of the session. He says I’m allowed to climb, but ONLY with open hand. He wants me to be fresh so I can control the movements and not do anything stupid. Then at the end of the session, I can do a very light hangboard session in half crimp, just to promote recovery.

I think there are a lot of coaches who would argue that climbing is the most important part of your session, but I’m also sure that there are some physiological principles about developing strength that could help guide decision making.

Another thing I’ve thought about is the recommendation to end strength and power sessions feeling fresh. When I hangboard at the end of my session, I don’t feel I’m doing this as hanging feels harder than when I hang before hard climbing.

Maybe the most important thing is what feels better to the athlete. In that case I’ll just stick with what I’m doing!

Depends on you, and as far as I know it hasn’t been studied formally.

I’ve done both methods, as well as hanging entirely separately. I’ve seen gains in all methods. I’ve had clients who never make gains hanging before climbing, but do after, and vice versa.

I think a lot of it depends on the effectiveness of your warm up and how hard you climb in your session. I don’t see many climbers get fully warmed up to try really hard until we’ll after their warmups, so it’s entirely possible that post climbing is better for them.

We have to remember that hanging isn’t the only way to get stronger fingers. It certainly isn’t the most specific, and may not even be the most effective for climbing. It’s likely the most effective to improve at hanging, but how much of that transfers to what you’re doing on the wall?

I’ve removed hangs from lots of clients programs and seen their hang numbers go up. Particularly if finger strength isn’t a big concern for them, I like this method.

Focus on what you most need to do to improve at climbing. Then reevaluate.

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How do you diagnose finger strength not being a big concern? Is that from an assessment stand point or from a personal stand point? (Someone already has the finger strength they need to achieve their goals vs. Someone just doesn’t care about training finger strength on a hangboard)

Do you think there’s a physiological difference between those who see better gains from hangboarding before or after their session? Or do you think it’s a difference of approach that allows both to work?

A rule of thumb from strength training is doing the most neurologically demanding thing first after having warmed up.

In the weight-room, that’d mean that a squat goes first before an overhead press if both are done in the same session.

When cross-training, that means that climbing would go before strength training if doing both in the same day (i.e., climbing in the morning, hitting the weights in the afternoon).

In climbing, intra-session, I’ve adhered to the same rule and will hangboard after warming-up.

I’ll deviate from the rule however if I’m climbing and hangboarding as separate sessions on the same day.

This is a personal choice, as I’ve discovered that if I wake up and hangboard, I feel “dry” in my fingers and don’t really feel “safe”. I’ll have to spend a lot of time warming up and wake up very early to hydrate. I’ve found that, for me, climbing in the morning and hangboarding in the afternoon is more time-efficient (measured as time spent dedicated to climbing-related activities within a given day) as if I’ve climbed in the morning I’ll need just a short warm-up for the hangboard in the afternoon.

Another observation I’d like to share is that if I climb in the morning and hangboard in the afternoon I won’t be able to train as close to my max on the hangboard. I see this as a positive thing as I have a propensity to overdo things, and this consequence acts as a regulating safety or speed-limit if you will.

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Nice, good perspective to add! I’ve been thinking about that too.

In 9 out of 10 climbers, Dave Macleod suggests progressing from strength/power work to power endurance and then aerobic climbing, which is maybe the same principle you’re referring to. I think that’s the reason why I prefer hangboarding before I climb, especially given the power endurance nature of so much climbing in gyms. Maybe it’s a sign I need to change my approach to limit bouldering in the gym!

Absolutely. It’s also common in skill training to put the elements requiring most skill first and the elements requiring less after.

So if fingers aren’t the focus, I err on not making them a priority, and instead putting the skill work first. OR using extremely low volume hanging as a method to get the fingers recruited to a point of being able to express the skill.

Not all hangs are created equal. Not all of them are mostly neural response. Many are more structural, so shouldn’t necessarily be treated the same or programmed the same.

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I think that hangs after a workout would work great In a perfect world where people end their projecting with plenty of energy left and enough time to not have to rush out the door. The problem is that we get stuck wanting to give “one last try” on our project until we are smoked and can’t give a good effort on hangs.

I personally do much better with hangs at the end of my session. As a coach, I tend to program them after the warm ups though because it guarantees that people have the time to do them and that they won’t be exhausted going into them. My guess is that the main benefit people get out of doing hangs early is that they are more consistent with them over the course of a training cycle. Saving energy and time to hang the end of the session requires a high level of self-control. Hanging right after the warm up doesn’t

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In the Allison Vest interview, I believe her approaches were in the opposite order. At 1hr 18min she says that she used to train under Christian Core and he had her always hangboarding after climbing even if she was tired and couldn’t hang with as much weight. She says she credits him with a lot of her strength gains. However, now that she’s in Utah she is splitting her sessions and hangboarding in the morning and climbing in the evening.

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Oops, my bad, I should have checked the source!

My personal experience (N=1) most hangboard sessions after the warm up don’t work cause most programs are too long, and you are diminished for the climbing sessions. Short and focused hangboarding session at the beginning of the session work (and saves skin). Hangboarding at the end of the session doesn’t work cause of what Nate said. You are always too tired and short on time. Personaly having never seen hangboarding translate to actual better performance outside , I am currently trying something different.

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