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Build Max Strength, Injury Free: Part2

Repeaters are the most commonly practiced exercise on a hangboard, however, they give you a “pump”, thus activating power/endurance system

On to the exercises!

(Read PART 1 if you haven’t)

Repeaters are the most commonly practiced exercise on a hangboard, however, they give you a “pump”, thus activating power/endurance system – that is not the aim of these protocols.  These exercises will NOT give you a proper pump, if you do then you are doing it wrong!

Rule of thumb, when finishing each session, you want to feel like you could do more.

“Minimum Edge” Protocol (for beginners) – by Eva Lopez-Rivera (2012)

Start by finding the right holds:

Aim: improve finger strength. If you have never hangboarded before, you will see significant progress. Make sure that you rest the full 3 minutes!

Find holds that you can hang on for approximately 15 seconds (Actual training hangs should terminate a few seconds before failure of the grip).

Exercise: Hang for 12 seconds: start by training the half-crimp or open-crimp grips. If you feel that it is necessary, you can eventually add in some open-hand pocket and pinch grip training (Eric Horst, “Training for Climbing: Third Edition 2016”)

What to do:

  •  Do a series of 5; 12 second hangs with exactly 3 minutes rest in between sets.
  • Rest between sets: always rest five minutes between sets.
  • Each hang should be near maximal (9 out of 10 on a self-perceived scale of effort). Don’t hang to failure.
  • The number of sets: 2- 5 sets.
  • This exercise will produce little or no pump.

*Remember, these are NOT fingerboard repeaters, which exercise power/endurance.

Choosing the correct grips: choose holds that you cannot hold for more than 15 seconds.

Minimum Edge Hangboarding:

Hang Rest Hangs (per set) No. Sets Rest in-between sets Intensity
12 seconds 3 minutes 5 2-5 5 minutes At your limit


When it becomes too painful or you do not feel like you are working hard enough, move to “Maximum weight” protocol.

Maximum weight “7 53” protocol – by Eric Horst

Aim: larger, more comfortable holds, but with added weight to create sufficiently high intensity for maximum-strength adaptations.

Hold size: The ideal size edge for weighted fingerboard hangs is between 14mm and 20mm (⅝ to ⅞-inch), or a little less than one finger-pad depth—this moderate depth lessens skin pain, reduces strain on the distal (DIP) joint, and has been proven effective to develop maximum-strength gains that will carry over to different-size edges on the rock (Eric Horst, “Training for Climbing: Third Edition 2016.”)

What to do:

  • Choose a weight that would cause failure at 10 seconds.
  • Grip options: open crimp and half crimp.
  • Hang for 7 seconds and rest for 53 seconds in between hangs.
  • The number of sets: 2-5.
  • Rest in between sets: 5 minutes.
  • Intensity must be at your limit but it must not bring you to failure.
  • Reduce weight if you cannot complete the hang or you cannot complete the exercise.

Maximum Weight “7 53” protocol:

Hang Rest Hangs (per set) No. Sets Rest in-between sets Intensity
7 seconds 53 seconds 3 2-5 5 minutes At your limit


How-to: Hang and hold the RIGHT WAY

Attention: Never use full-crimp (with thumb lock) grip.


Left: Good hangboard technique:
Eric Horst. Training for Climbing ©
• Shoulders back & looking forward
• Slight bend in elbows
• Open or half-crimp
• Engaged
Right: Bad hangboard technique:
• Hunched
• Straight arms (i.e. hanging on your skeleton)
• Fully Crimped
• Unengaged and pap!

For more information about healthy shoulders read: HANG RIGHT: SHOULDER MAINTENANCE FOR CLIMBERS  by Esther Smith

Read Part 3 for the Mobility and warm-ups: Watch this space! 

For customised online and in-person training programs and assessments go to

Kai Fitchen Training: Train Smart

Follow Kai: @kaifitchen

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4 years ago

So on the “Minimum Edge” protokol, 1 set takes 5 hangs x12s+4 rests x3min = 13min ?
So one serie of 4 sets takes 4 sets x13min + 3 rests x5min = roughly 1h15
what the hell do you do during all the 3 min rests ? read a book ? or mix with exercise on other body parts like core ?
cheers !

Chris F
Chris F
4 years ago

It says “Open Crimp” in the bullet points under Horst protocol, then shows a picture of “Open Hand” are they the same thing?

2 months ago
Reply to  Kai Fitchen

I disagree. There are two types of full crimp: Open crimp is a full crimp without the thumb whereas close crimp would be with the use of use the thumb.

4 years ago

Warm-ups in part 3!?!? Should started with those…

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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