Let me guess… you’re a regular climber and have been for some time now. You go to the climbing gym for multiple hours a week in an effort to get stronger and better at your craft. Unfortunately, for some reason you seem to have hit a plateau. No matter how hard you train in the gym, you can’t go up a grade. If this is you, and you are seeking the answer to improving your climbing skills, then it is time for you to buy the best hangboard.
Hangboards are fantastic gear because they can be installed in any home (or sprinter van!) and, if used correctly, they can lead to improved finger strength, hand strength, forearm strength, and back strength. With these new muscles, you will be ready to go up a grade in no time! There are all sorts of hangboards, and many different ways to use them to your benefit. Keep reading in order to figure out which hangboard and which workout is right for you.
Table of Contents
- Hangboard Buyer’s Guide
- How to Properly Use a Hangboard?
- Top 7 Best Hangboards on the Market Review
- 1. Best Wooden Hangboard: Beastmaker 1000
- 2. Hangboard for Overall Training: Metolius Contact Board
- 3. Best Value Hangboard: Metolius 3D Simulator
- 4. Hangboard for Beginners: Boost Board
- 5. Hangboard for 5.12+ Climbers: Beastmaker 2000
- 6. Hangboard for Slopers: Slopeymon
- 7. Best Overall Hangboard: Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center
- In Conclusion
Hangboard Buyer’s Guide
It can be quite daunting to purchase a hangboard and figure out which workouts to do. There are so many different types of hangboards out there, and although some are relatively similar, some serve extremely different levels and purposes. However, you need not fret when choosing a hangboard as long as you have this guide to… well, guide you.
Texture and Material
Most hangboards are made out of polyurethane resin, polyester resin, or wood. The two resins are essentially the same material as your standard climbing hold: slightly rough and grippy, but not so much that it will tear your hands. If you are used to climbing in the gym, then choosing one of the two resins as your hangboard material is generally a safe gamble. Your hands will be used to the feeling, and it will be easy to train on them.
On the other hand, some of the best hangboards are made of wood. Some people are hesitant to use wood because it is seemingly so different from a modern climbing hold. However, the truth of the matter is that wood is actually quite similar when it comes the both resins: it is rather grippy and not rough enough to tear those precious digits. Honestly, when purchasing, one needs to try out both types in order to figure out which material they prefer.
Wingspan and Size
Since people come in all shapes and sizes, it is important that hangboards do so as well. There are really little hangboards, that are essentially portable, and there are really big hangboards with a plethora of holds to choose from. When you are checking out hangboards, look for one that is appropriate to your wingspan. You shouldn’t feel so crunched in the your hand are directly above your shoulders at the widest point. On the other hand, you don’t want to have your hands so far apart that you can’t do a pullup without training your shoulders.
Essentially, for the spacing to be ergonomically correct, your elbows should have a slight bend in them (like at forty-five degrees) when you are doing a dead hang. However, there may be some exceptions to this rule. If you are looking for a hangboard that you can easily travel with, you may end up going for one that is a bit smaller than your standard hangboard.
Speaking of ergonomically correct, some people prefer to have curved hangboards for this very reason. A curved hangboard, as opposed to a straight one, is easier on one’s shoulders and elbows, allowing for longer, harder training sessions without injury occurring. However, note that the curved ones can be harder to install over straight house features, such as doorways.
There are so many different types of holds to choose from when getting the right hangboard for you! To start with, a hangboard can have jugs, slopers, pinches, pockets, crimps, and edges. When looking for the correct hangboard, you need to find one that you can hang off of initially but that will also challenge you so that you can work towards smaller and smaller holds.
You should be able to dead hang from some of the holds, but not all of them. I generally like to go with the 25/75 rule. Initially when getting a hangboard, I like to be able to dead hang from 25% of the holds, so that I have somewhere to start. Then, I like to be able to work my way up to the other 75% as my strength increases.
While you are on the hunt for your perfect hangboard, look for one that has a variety of holds, but also make sure you get one that has your specific weakness. For example, if you are a sloper slapper and need to improve your palm strength, make sure that the hangboard you buy has a sloper on it.
There are quite a few reputable brands out there when it comes to hangboards. For wooden boards, it is hard to beat the Beastmaker brand. They construct a fantastic beginner/intermediate level board and a stupendous expert board as well. Other brands to keep your eye out for are the Slopeymon, Metolius, and, of course, the Trango. You can take a closer look at their best boards in the reviews section!
How to Properly Use a Hangboard?
There is a right way and a wrong way to hangboard. If you do it correctly, you will quickly gain strength and endurance. Frequent hangboard practice can lead to measurable jumps in what difficulty of holds your fingers are able to grasp in order to support your partial or whole body weight. However, if you hangboard incorrectly, you will quickly find that you are experiencing unnecessary pain or injury. Check out these tips and tricks to get started:
1. Install your Hangboard Correctly
Install your hangboard low enough that your feet can reach the ground without you having to drop. You should be able to place feet without falling, so as not to abruptly injure your hands.
2. Hangboard Regularly
Hangboard for at least 3 30 minute sessions per week. Doing regular exercises on your hangboard can lead to dramatic results!
3. Warm Up!
4. Workout Correctly
5. Follow a Workout Plan
Top 7 Best Hangboards on the Market Review
1. Best Wooden Hangboard: Beastmaker 1000
This hangboard has it all: great style, ample hold variety, perfect texture, and level variability. Because the product is hand sanded and wooden, it makes for a great subtle addition to any home. The wooden texture is also great for the hands because it provides grip but doesn’t damage those precious money makers. It is clear that the product was well thought out and built for progression. This board can be used for all types of climbers, but is especially fantastic for those in the moderate range. Download the Beastmaker app to begin progressing today!
This lightweight board can be taken anywhere and allows for the user to do any type of workout they desire. The amount of finger spaces and sloper dimensions make this board very diverse, allowing for great progression among the user. It is clear to experts that the designers knew exactly what they were doing when they created this board: all aspects of it are very intentional.
2. Hangboard for Overall Training: Metolius Contact Board
This hangboard is extensive, making it perfect for beginners, intermediate, and advanced climbers. There are tons of training options to keep your workouts unique and varying. You can progress on this board from the start of your climbing career until you are well into climbing. Get ready to be able to crush rocks with your undeniable grip strength after using this hangboard.
This board has everything: pockets, pinches, slopers, edges, and jugs. Whether you can’t do a pull up yet or your breaking into 5.13’s, this board is worth your time and money (especially because it’s relatively cheap -under $100- for a hangboard). Not only does this board have great variety, but it also has a slight curve to it that is ergonomically correct and has a great, grippy texture that isn’t hard on the paws. Both of these features allow for longer, harder training sessions.
3. Best Value Hangboard: Metolius 3D Simulator
Metolius does it again with a nicely textured, sloped style hangboard that has become a bestseller on Amazon. Users noted that they saw measurable improvements in their finger, hand, and forearm strength. This hangboard is especially great for intermediate climbers because it will boost them through to the next grade.
This hangboard is very popular, and not just because it is cheaper than the others. It holds up against the best of ‘em, with an easy to follow, user friendly progression of edges and pockets. Especially if you climb between 5.11 and 5.13, then this hangboard is the perfect companion to help you get up to the next grade.
4. Hangboard for Beginners: Boost Board
This board is perfect for newbies or those who easily injure themselves because it has an easily comprehensible progression of holds that start with jugs on the top and get shallower as you go down. Therefore, you can measure your progress simply by moving from the top to the bottom as you improve on your strength. What’s more, the board is fabulous for tender hands because the plastic used to create it isn’t rough. This board isn’t the best for more experienced climbers because there are no difficult slopers and no pinches.
5. Hangboard for 5.12+ Climbers: Beastmaker 2000
This board should come with a warning label: “Not meant for beginner climbers”. Or even intermediate climbers, for that matter. In fact, this board contains no jug holds, so if you can’t do a pullup and your fingers can’t hold you on a tiny pocket dead hang, don’t even bother. Even if you are capable of three finger dead hangs, then get ready to up the ante: this board doesn’t have matching three finger pockets, only individual three finger pockets. Which means…. That’s right, you guessed it: You have to dead hang on one arm. Burly, big named climbers should watch out, because if you are ready to start training on this board, then you are about to jump from 5.13 to 5.14 real quick like.
Many experts agree: this is the hangboard for experts. Don’t be fooled by it’s smooth finish, it’s a rough go. There are many one and two finger pockets that are meant to challenge good climbers to become great climbers. In fact, the Beastmaker 2000’s warm up holds are the most difficult holds on other hangboards. If that isn’t enough to convince you of the beast within the Beastmaker, you should know that Alex Honnald used it when he was training for his free solo of El Cap . . . because El Cap wasn’t hard enough.
6. Hangboard for Slopers: Slopeymon
This board is definitely not for beginner climbers, as it takes a significant amount of practice and training to be able to grip slopers at all. However, if you are a moderate to advanced climber and you would like to improve your ability to hang on to a sloper, then this board will get you there.
Training on this board will evolve your climbing ability by honing in on that which may be the bane of your existence: Slopers. Many people struggle with slopers more than any other hold. You may be the queen of crimps, the princess of pinches, but if slopers are your weakness, then this is the hangboard for you!
7. Best Overall Hangboard: Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center
Although the set up can be difficult, it is worth it for the individualized workouts one can construct. Getting to choose the width is ideal, and there are so many different holds to choose from! Users especially loved how the depth changed on the rails as you moved horizontally, meaning that there is even more variety in workout options.
This hangboard (which is actually really a hangboard set) was designed by training experts, and the expertise shows. Out of many different hangboard models, the Trango has the most diversity in hold options and potential usage. Since the left and right side are separated, you can install them as close or as far as you want from each other, meaning you will get the perfect spread for your wingspan size and ensure ergonomic correctness. Although the mount can be really challenging, once you get it up there it is worth the struggle. Besides the split structure calling for diversification, the actual holds are also varied, with a great progression from beginner to intermediate to advanced.
Although it may seem like there are endless hangboard options, the truth is that you will know the best hangboard for you when you see it. Well, you will know the right hangboard when you hang on it, at the very least. Ask yourself whether you want wood or a type of resin, what your wingspan is, what your grip weaknesses are, what your climbing level is, and whether you want a portable or stationary board. Once you know the answers to these questions, finding the best, most beneficial hangboard for you will be a piece of cake!