Training Guide - Contact Training Board


Fingerboards are most effective at training contact strength and general upper body strength. Contact strength, also referred to as finger strength, is simply the ability to hold onto the holds (as opposed to the ability to move between the holds). It is the single most important type of strength for a climber to have. If you can't even hold onto the grips, there is no way you will be able to move between them.


Ten Minute Sequence

The 10 minute sequence consists of a series of tasks performed each minute, with the remaining time used to rest until the start of the next minute. It is an excellent format for training both strength and stamina in the same workout, for improving your recovery, or just for warming up. It is also a great way to simulate the demands of your current project. We have included three sample routines (beginning, intermediate & advanced), but the ten-minute sequence is most effective when you custom tailor it to your own personal needs. Be creative and don't limit yourself. It could be five minutes or thirty minutes; you could do it in 45 second cycles or two-minute cycles. Experiment with your training and keep it as varied as possible.

Contact Training Board with numbers

Time Entry level routine Intermediate routine Advanced routine
1 pull-up outer jugs (1)
10 second hang center edge (17)
3 pull-ups outer jugs (1)
20 second dead hang deep three finger pockets (6)
6 pull-ups round slopers (2)
20 s. dead hang deep two finger pockets (4)
2nd minute 1 pull-up deep four finger edge (3) stay on - 10 s. bent arm hang (90°) stay on - 1 more pull-up 10 s. bent arm (elbows at 90°) hang round sloper (2) -
stay on - 2 pull-ups - stay on 10 s. bent arm hang (elbows at 110°)
15 s. bent arm hang (elbows at 90°) round sloper (2) - stay on -
4 pull-ups - stay on - 15 s. bent arm hang (elbows at 110°)
2 offset pull-ups (1 arm each) outer jug (1) & deep three finger pockets (6) 4 offset pull-ups (each arm) outer jugs (1) & deep three finger pockets (6) 6 offset pull-ups (3 each arm) round sloper (2) & deep two finger pockets (4)
10 s. dead hang medium edge (18)
6 s. L-hang on any holds (bend knees if needed)
5 s. dead hang pinches (11)
10 s. L-hang on any holds
10 s. dead hang on pinches (11)
15 s. L-hang any holds
(hold good form)
15 s. dead hang on pinches (11)
10 s. dead hang flat sloper (15)
5 knee raises outer jug (1)
10 s. offset hang, deep center edge (17) & med three finger edge (9) reverse holds - repeat 10 s. dead hang - extra shallow three finger pockets (13) - stay on -
campus to med three finger pocket (9), campus to round slopers (2), hold 15 s.
16 s. offset hang (8 s. per side) deep edge (17) & med pocket (7) 15 s. offset hang pockets (3) & (13)
reverse holds - repeat
15 s. one arm hang
center edge (17) - rest 20 s. - repeat other arm
3 pull-ups any hold 4 pull-ups deep center edge (17)
10 knee raises any holds
5 L-sit pull-ups (bend knees if you have to), jugs (1)
20 s. bent arm hang (elbows at 90°), deep two finger pockets (4)
10 s. bent arm hang (elbows 90°) deep four finger (3) 15 s. dead hang, two finger pockets (7) - rest 10 s.
10s. hang three finger pockets (9)
10 s. hang center edges (16, 17) reverse holds - repeat
3 power pull-ups (use weights or helper for resistance, should just be able to complete final rep.)
1 offset pull-up, jug & pinch (1 & 11) change hands & repeat
10 s. dead hang deep four finger pockets (3)
10 s. one arm hang jugs (1) - repeat other arm
4 pull-ups center edge (17)
20 s. slight bent arm hang, two finger pockets (7) - stay on -
bump to round slopers (2),
20 s. dead hang
10th minute 2 pull-ups any hold
dead hang center edge (17) till failure
Fight hard & don't let go!!
4 pull-ups flat sloper (15)
bump out to round sloper (2) & dead hang to failure
Fight hard!!
8 pull-ups flat sloper (3),
bump out to round sloper (2),
and dead hang to failure
Fight hard!!

Total pull-ups = 12
Hang time = 1 minute 17 seconds + final hang

Total pull-ups = 25
Hang time = 2 minutes 35 seconds + final hang

Total pull-ups = 32
Hang time = 3 minutes 35 seconds + final hang


More Exercises

Cyclic Periodization

We would next like to introduce cyclic periodization as a method for planning a year of training. As an overview strategy, cyclic periodization allows you to be at your peak when you want to be. Properly done, chances of injury and mental burnout are minimized. Also, the amount of time you spend stuck at conditioning and strength plateaus tends to decrease.

Our version of cyclic periodization consists of five major cycles, which are sequentially organized to cover an entire climbing/training year. The five major cycles are as follows:

Conditioning Cycle

During this cycle, you should train at 60 to 70% of your maximum effort (if you can hang fully rested for one minute, then 65% intensity would be hanging 40 seconds). The volume of work should be moderate, with long hang times and many repetitions. Spend one to two days a week in the gym during this cycle. Do not push yourself to absolute failure.

This period serves as a warm-up and active rest cycle. As a warm-up, the conditioning phase prepares the body for the intense training to come. As an active rest phase, it assures that no major de-conditioning occurs, while providing a mental and physical break from strenuous workouts.

Load Cycle

During this cycle, you should train at 70 to 80 % of your maximum effort. The volume of work should be moderate to high with long hang times and many repetitions. Three to five days per week should be spent in the gym.

The load cycle builds endurance, connective tissue and some muscle strength and provides specific movement. During this phase, work in micro cycles of a hard day, easy day and moderate day. Then, repeat the micro cycle with more weight and/or longer hang times. During the last part of the load cycle, you will actually be weaker than in the middle of the cycle due to the high volume. In this endurance-oriented phase, you should only occasionally be pushing yourself to your absolute failure point. Strenuous climbing days may occasionally be substituted for time in the gym.

Recovery Cycle

During the recovery cycle you should train lightly at 50 to 60% of your maximum effort. The volume of work should be low, with short hang times and few repetitions. Spend no more than one to two easy days a week in the gym during this phase. The recovery phase prepares your body for the upcoming intense.

Peak Cycle

During the peak, you should train at 80 to 100% of your maximum effort. The volume of work should be low with high resistance, low hang times, and few repetitions. Two to three days a week should be spent in the gym during this phase.

The peak cycle produces maximum strength and power (muscle hypertrophy). As in the load cycle, work in a hard/easy/moderate micro cycle. In this phase, you should usually be pushing yourself to your maximum. Many climbers will need to hang weights from their waist to keep the hang times short. Unlike the load cycle, climbing days cannot substitute for gym days during this phase.

Off Cycle

During the off cycle, you should spend no time in the gym whatsoever. Your body will now be peaked to climb very hard.

Now comes the tricky part — combining these cycles with your climbing time. You must be sure to spend enough time on the rock during your training to insure that you will be climbing well when your peak arrives. Ideally, this should occur just as the weather begins to improve.

The following table shows what gym and climbing time might look like using cyclic periodization to plan a year of training at our home area—Smith Rock. We will start at the end of the usual climbing season in early November.

Climbing Time Per Week
11/1 to 11/15
1 to 2
11/16 to 2/1
1 to 2
2/2 to 2/15
1 to 2
2/16 to 3/15
1 to 2
3/16 to 4/1
4 to 5
4/2 to 6/1
4 to 6
6/2 to 6/30
1 to 3
7/1 to 7/31
1 to 3
8/1 to 8/15
1 to 3
8/16 to 9/15
2 to 4
9/16 to 10/31
4 to 6

These are only general guidelines. The specific variables are up to you. For example, how will you alter your late peak cycle training to accommodate serious redpoint attempts? How much climbing do you want to do over the entire year? This adapting of cyclic periodization to fit your own needs results in a training schedule you'll be much happier with. GOOD LUCK!

Warning All Training Board Users: Training on a hangboard carries risk of injury to fingers, arms, shoulders and the joints connecting them. Take every precaution to avoid damage to yourself; warm-up, stretch, don't overtrain and listen to your body. Remember, even under the best of circumstances, injuries can occur. In addition, however you mount your board, be sure that it cannot move in any direction. There should be no possible way for the board to come down while training.

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