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Hangboard micro-cycle over the holidays: worth it?
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By JCM
From Golden, CO
Dec 11, 2012

Hello to all ye mountainproject training gurus:

I'm going home (Maryland, then a quick stopover in Vermont) for the holidays, and am contemplating how to use this time, from a climbing/training standpoint. I'll be gone from Colorado for about two weeks. While in the East, I will have no access to rock or to a climbing gym. I will, howover, have access to a really good hangboard setup that I put up in the family basement, way back when. In addition to the hangboards, there is a decent free weight set in said basement.

As such, I am considering the possibility of doing some sort of hangboard mini-cycle over the holidays. I am picturing some sort of 4-workout mini-cycle over 1.5-2 weeks. Would such a short cycle be of any value, even if only for basic strength maintenence? Or would I be better off just taking the two weeks off from climbing and letting the body recuperate from whatever tweaks it has accumulated over the Fall season?

If I do some sort of mini-cycle, how should I structure it and what should I focus on? I am already fairly familiar with the ideas behind the Anderson/Palo approach to hangboarding; just wondering if there was a useful way to adapt there to a mini-cycle.

A few notes that may be relevant:

-I am not currently in any sort of formally periodized program. Right now I am switching over from late-Fall sport cliimbing mode to a cycle of wintertime bouldering (need to get the power back up).

-I do not have a good or comparable hangboard setup available here in Golden (working on it, though...nowhere to install one in this apartment), so starting a hangboard cycle in MD and then coninuing it in CO is not an option.

-Current sport climbing level is in the low 5.13 range.


So, use the hangboard over Christmas? Or just rest the body and try to avoid the cookies?


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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Dec 11, 2012
You stay away from mah pig!

Hey Jon,

It wouldn't hurt to do a quick cycle, but if you haven't hungbored in the past, and are not familiar with how much you can hang each grip (weight added and your failure point), it will take one or two sessions to figure that out. Then, given that your forearms will be so fried that you'll be hangboarding only once every 3 days, that only gives you maybe 3 or 4 productive sessions.

If you're not doing anything else during the holidays, and the weights and board are all set up, you may as well do it.


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By JCM
From Golden, CO
Dec 11, 2012

Camhead, your assumption is correct; I don't really have any idea what sort of weight to add, etc. I've been spending to much time traveling around climbing the last few years, and I haven't had the chance to learn a damned thing about how to use a hangboard!

So, I understand that I won't be able to hit the ground running, and that I'd waste the first two workouts just figuring out what the hell I was doing, and then would only have two productive sessions. As such: worth it? Or just a waste of a chance to get some good rest?

Alternatively, would there be a good hangboard-for-dummies version, as opposed to the very focused and specific Anderson protocol? Perhaps some excercies that wouldn't be a true hypertrophy program, since that doesn't seem practical is such a short period of time, but instead would just be a way to use the hangboard to maintain fitness.

Basically, I'm not neccesarily looking to do a true hangboard procedure, since my two weeks and lackluster knowledge are not enough to make this possible. Instead, am looking for a short term strength/maintenence program; it just so happens that the hangboard is the tool that I have available.

So is there even any point in trying to do a proper hangboard procedure? It might be useful as a learning experience, so as to figure out how the the whole weight-adding ystem works. Or should I just do a basic program of lock-offs, core work, etc?


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Dec 11, 2012

There's a difference between productive & optimal. You'll need a couple sessions to find a semi-optimal weight set, but that doesn't mean they are wasted effort. On the other hand, if you do have finger achiness, just rest up. With global warming, we now have true year-around climbing in CO, so you'll need to force yourself to take breaks anyway. I don't know what a fitness hangboard session would be like, but you'll likely really be hungbored.


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By JCM
From Golden, CO
Dec 11, 2012

reboot wrote:
On the other hand, if you do have finger achiness, just rest up.


No achiness now; grad school ensures adequate rest, even in peak season. Rest would be pre-emptive.

reboot wrote:
With global warming, we now have true year-around climbing in CO.


Yeah, after 60 degree temps all November and into the first week of December, I'm starting to think that this global warming thing is pretty OK.


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By Paul Semen
Dec 11, 2012

www.highinfatuation.com/blog/fingerboard-training-101/


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By AdamB
From Charlotte, NC
Dec 11, 2012
Black Boulder Problem, sent after a generous skin donation

If it's there, I'd say use it, if for no other reason that to maintain finger strength. Something is better than nothing, and you might benefit from a more focus finger strength plan as oppposed to cranking in the gym. I'd say go for it, even if it's just bare minimum maintenance work. At least that way you wont lose anything.


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Dec 11, 2012
Pulling a small roof at 2/3 height on Mission Impossible.  Adam Sanders photo.

My two cents...I think just about anyone can benefit from a forced two week breat, especially when it comes at a time of natural transition such as this.

That said, this could be a great opportunity for you to learn more about how to use a hangboard. This is one of those rare moments when you literally have nothing to lose. Don't think you'll see dramatic, sustained improvement in 2 weeks, but you will see enough to make an informed decision on whether to pursue this training method further in the future.


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By Optimistic
From New Paltz
Dec 11, 2012



Hi Paul:

Have you (or others) had good success with Steph Davis' approach? How long have you been using it?

(for efficiency for others reading this: the workout is basically
1) 6-8 pullups on big holds on hangboard
2) drop down in hold size a bit, drop the pullup reps by one
3) repeat, aiming for ending the set with one pullup on a very small hold, total of about 5-6 different holds
4) rest for 2-3 min
5) repeat steps 1-4 about 5-6 times
2) do this about 2x/wk

Note all the hyphens in there...she describes the workout using a lot of ranges, suggests you kind of need to follow your nose a bit as you go.

The pullup aspect makes intuitive sense to me over just hanging, and I've felt some nice improvements via doing jug pullups, but a lot of awfully good climbers seem to favor dead hangs, so I'm curious to hear what folks have to say about that.

Cheers,
David


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By Nate Reno
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Dec 11, 2012
Ellingwood Point Summit, Little Bear in the background.

My experience as a hangboard noob:
After reading all of those "don't hangboard before you can climb 5.12, or you'll shoot yer eye out, kid!" type comments, I went into my 1st hangboard cycle with a bit of an injury avoidance mindset. So, I started with what I thought were fairly easy weights, and even then only increased the weight I used with each grip by 2.5lbs or maybe 5lbs per workout/grip at most. I'de have to look at my notes, but I think it took me at least 2 weeks worth of workouts before I found the right weights to use for my workout.
I use a pulley setup ala Mono's, and find the ability to precision control the workouts to be very beneficial.
Being a much higher level climber, you could have a much better idea of what your fingers are capable of right off the bat, but I wouldn't be surprised if it wouldn't take most of your away time worth of workouts to dial it in (and probably a few more once you have a different setup at home)

I'de agree with Mono that you don't have anything to lose. If you plan on doing structured hangboard workouts sooner or later after you get back, I think the away time could be well-used to start to dial in a workout (which will also be maintenance), or as a rest/reset period.


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By Tipton
Dec 11, 2012

Since you're ending your sport climbing season and entering a bouldering season another option might be to do a maximum recruitment style hangboard workout. Focus on one rep max with a few different grips - getting weights perfect is much easier than with a hypertrophy workout.

I've done the Taylor Roy workout at the bottom of this link when I didn't have a campus board and was very surprised with the increase in my one rep max after just a few sessions. I wasn't wild about the small edge pull ups that it mentions but otherwise I thought it was worthwhile.


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 11, 2012
Sure, I can belay

I'm definitely not a guru, so take my advice for what it's worth.

First, there are several good gyms in Maryland, so maybe bouldering isn't really out of the question. I don't know about Vermont.

Secondly, whenever I've started back on hangboarding after a long lay-off, the first month or so is great, because you see rapid progress. It may all just be neural adaptation, but it's rewarding to keep adding weight to the hangs. When progress tapers off, and I get tired of hanging in the basement so much, I find it gets a lot harder.

Injury is your biggest concern, I would think. Seems to me it would be safer to do repeaters, rather than max hangs.

Finally, I would suspect that shorter (say 30-60 minute) sessions repeated more often (say every 48 hours) would fit in better with family fun obligations. Plus maybe less taxing. And if you haven't recovered after 48 hours, just wait a little longer.


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 11, 2012
Sure, I can belay

I forgot to say
Go for it!
Hangboarding is fun in its own perverse way.
Just don't get hurt.


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By Tipton
Dec 11, 2012

Mark E Dixon wrote:
I'm definitely not a guru, so take my advice for what it's worth. First, there are several good gyms in Maryland, so maybe bouldering isn't really out of the question. I don't know about Vermont. Secondly, whenever I've started back on hangboarding after a long lay-off, the first month or so is great, because you see rapid progress. It may all just be neural adaptation, but it's rewarding to keep adding weight to the hangs. When progress tapers off, and I get tired of hanging in the basement so much, I find it gets a lot harder. Injury is your biggest concern, I would think. Seems to me it would be safer to do repeaters, rather than max hangs. Finally, I would suspect that shorter (say 30-60 minute) sessions repeated more often (say every 48 hours) would fit in better with family fun obligations. Plus maybe less taxing. And if you haven't recovered after 48 hours, just wait a little longer.


Regarding the bold part above I agree that injury is always a concern. I would guess that repeaters are probably safer than max hangs but he is sport climbing in the 5.13 range already so I suspect that he has a good level of fitness already.


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 11, 2012
Sure, I can belay

Tipton wrote:
he is sport climbing in the 5.13 range already so I suspect that he has a good level of fitness already.


Good point


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By Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Dec 20, 2012
OMG, I winz!!!

Holiday travel combined with no daylight prompted me into a hangboarding cycle as well. At first I intended it to be a mini cycle of 4-5 workouts (I already had my starting weights and progression figured out from before) but I'm going to play it by ear and see how my fingers respond. It's only my second round of doing rock prodigy style repeaters but I saw pretty significant gains from the first round and I started out not far off my previous max weights.


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By Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Dec 23, 2012
OMG, I winz!!!

2 sessions in and I am seeing good progression plus I sent my project. Now off to St.Louis for the holidays and some finger rest! Back at it in a few days.


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