Ah, lockdown. The land of existential crises and YouTube rabbit holes. If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably taken a dive headfirst into the world of at-home training tutorials. There is so much valuable content out there that can make a real difference in your climbing performance, but it can be tough to know where to start or how to stay motivated without the psych and variety offered by the gym. Luckily, strong man and climbing YouTuber Emil Abrahamsson and his brother Felix have put together a dead simple hangboard routine that has yielded incredible results for both climbers.
Before we dive into the training routine, it’s important to note that all of our bodies are unique, and what works well for one person may not give you the results you are looking for. Listen to your body, be patient and chat to a training training or sports science expert if you have any questions.
The Abrahamssons’ hangboard routine is rooted in scientific research, with Felix basing the programme on an academic paper by Keith Baar titled “Minimizing Injury and Maximizing Return to Play: Lessons from Engineered Ligaments”. This article explores the repair of ligaments and tendons by unpacking experiments conducted on clone samples of ACL tissue, which subjected the tissue to strain of different intensities and frequencies. Contrary to what you may think, these experiments found that the tendon’s molecular response was independent of changes in frequency and intensity. Furthermore, it was found that, regardless of the intensity or frequency of strain, the tendon’s molecular response reached its maximum after about 10 minutes. Finally, the study reports that the tendon needs at least 6 hours to recover before further exercise. Put simply, you do not need to rely on intense strain or countless reps when it comes to strengthening your tendons.
This is especially important in hangboarding as it is incredibly easy to damage your tendons by going too hard, too fast. The one drawback of this type of training is that you may not feel like you are actually making progress or building strength since the exercises may feel too ‘easy’. The key here is to maintain consistency; you will likely only see results after at least a month, so keep at it and try not to feel discouraged.
With all of the fancy pants science out of the way, let’s look at the Abrahamssons’ routine. Emil decided to do what are called “no hangs”. These are similar to dead hangs (which involve simply hanging on a grip with straight arms), except that you keep your feet on the floor and progressively load your fingers. In other words, you will never be loading your fingers with your entire body weight, but rather you will be using 30–80% of the effort it would take to lift yourself off the ground (depending on the type of grip). This severely decreases the risk of injury.
For his programme, Emil selected six hangs of various difficulties and performed short hangs on each for one to three reps according to the difficulty of the grip. Each session lasted approximately 10 minutes, and he did this twice a day for 30 days. The routine is laid out as follows:
10 seconds on, 50 seconds rest for each hang.
1. Four finger crimp on 14mm edge, 3 sets. (70-80% effort of what it would take to lift from the ground)
2. Three finger-drag in deep pocket, 3 sets. (70-80% effort of what it would take to lift from the ground)
3. Middle two finger-pocket, 1 set. (50-60% effort of what it would take to lift from the ground)
4. Front two finger-pocket, 1 set. (50-60% effort of what it would take to lift from the ground)
5. Middle two finger-crimp, 1 set (stretch pinkies during rest). (30-40% effort of what it would take to lift from the ground)
6. Front two finger-crimp, 1 set (stretch pinkies during rest). (30-40% effort of what it would take to lift from the ground)
Emil, of course, selected these hangs based on his own training apparatus and history, so you can customise this according to your own resources.
At first, the routine seems far too chilled out to produce any significant results – it doesn’t even involve any actual hanging, for goodness’ sake. However, following 30 days of the programme, Emil found that his finger strength had increased dramatically. Prior to starting the programme, he timed himself on a number of challenging hangs. While he was previously only able to hang for 11 seconds on a 8mm crimp, after his training he could hang for a whopping 27 seconds. Furthermore, he could now go for 7,5 seconds on a 6mm crimp – a hold he had never previously been able to hang on. These may seem like small improvements, but they are monumental in the world of climbing. Those few extra seconds could be the difference between a send and another fruitless projecting session.
To get all the details about Emil’s training and performance improvements, watch his video below:
If you’re feeling inspired and interested to see what results this routine may yield for you, take the next step and invest in your very own portable climbing wall! Mountain Mail Order offers a wide range of hangboards and other training accessories that allow you to keep on crushing at home or on the road…
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Save: Metolius Simulator
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