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Should I Hangboard Before or After Climbing?

Hangboard workouts are a great addition to a climbing session. You can utilize them to achieve various training goals, most commonly improving finger strength. If you are at the point in your climbing where you are thinking of adding in hangboarding sessions to help progress your finger strength, then you might be wondering when the ideal time to work in a hangboard session is.


Ideally, you want to use a hangboard before climbing. The biggest reason is injury prevention. Hangboards are fantastic for improving finger strength because they isolate the load on the fingers. However, if you wait until after you've climbed for hours and then try to hang, you could ask too much of tired tendons. The last thing you want is a ruptured or strained pulley.


Likewise, you don't want to start a hangboarding workout before you've warmed up your fingers. 

Many professional climbers utilize one or multiple hang boards to warm up before a climbing session because it provides a controlled manner to load the finger tendons. However, it is essential to note that using a hangboard for warming up and hangboarding to build finger strength are two different applications. The former often includes using the deepest edges of the pull-up jugs and keeping your feet on the ground to lessen the weight. The latter application entails using smaller edges and your entire body weight or adding extra weight. While you can use a hangboard to warm up for a climbing session, it is equally essential to warm up for a hangboarding workout. Below is a sample warm-up.

            Example Warm-up for Hangboarding

●     Shoulder Shrugs: Hanging from a bar or jugs on a board, perform three sets of 10 shoulder shrugs. Try only to activate and move your scapula.

●     Finger Flicks: Extend your arms straight in front of you. Touch your thumb to your fingers (as if you were pretending your hand was a talking mouth) and open and close your fingers from this position 20-30x.

●     Progressive Loads: Using the hangboard, start on a large edge and hang. Keep your feet on the ground and use them to take 50-60% of your weight out of your fingers. Hang for ~ 10 seconds. After you rest or perform another warm-up exercise, perform another hang. You can stay on the large edge, offset less weight through the feet, or move to a smaller edge. Repeat 5x with each hang increasing in difficulty.

●     Finger Pushups: Assume a tabletop position. Press your fingers into the floor, raising your wrists and palms off the ground but keeping your fingers touching the floor. Move your hands closer to your knees for an easier variation. Perform 20-25x reps.

Once warmed up, fingers included, it is then safe to use a hangboard for training purposes. There are many hangboard protocols for all levels across the internet. It’s also worth noting that you can hangboard on a day you don’t climb. The two are not synonymous with each other, and while you want to hang before climbing for safety purposes, you don’t have to plan on climbing afterward to reap the benefits of hangboarding. Your fingers will likely get more out of the session if you hangboard on an off day. Remember that if your tendons are tired, achy, or slightly painful, it’s better to back off than push through. Your fingers are precious as a climber, and training smart is essential. 


Have fun hanging out, but when you opt to hangboard, warm up thoroughly and do it before climbing. There’s a lot of versatility to a hangboard, and adding it to your routine will help improve your finger strength. If you have any other questions related to this topic that you would like answered, drop them below!

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