Quick summary

Hangboard Repeaters strength endurance protocol

The knowledge as to who exactly invented the Hangboard Repeaters strength endurance protocol is lost in the darkness of history, but it’s probably the first structured hangboard protocol ever developed [1]. It’s designed to mimic the grip and relax sequence that is characteristic of climbing. The loads applied are generally low, compared to Eva López’s MaxHangs protocol, or to the Eric Hörst’s “7-53” protocol, which makes it safer for intermediate climbers [2][3]. The rest times between hangs are on the other hand very short, typically just 3 seconds. This means that your body will have to tap into both the alactic energy system, burning the creatine phosphate (PCr) stored in the muscles, but also to the lactic energy system, where anaerobic glycolysis is contributing to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. Enhanced blood flow will be induced to enable lactate and hydrogen ions removal, which will in turn inevitably lead to muscle pump. While Eric Hörst doesn’t consider fingerboard Repeaters to be the best strength endurance protocol, he still thinks it can be useful as a pre-season preparation for lead climbers [1].

The 7/3 Hangboard Repeaters strength endurance protocol details

  1. Choose three to seven different grip positions. Consider including:
    1. An open crimp
    2. A full crimp
    3. A three-finger pocket
    4. Two-finger pockets: index-middle (IM), middle-ring (MR) and ring-pinkie (RP) – advanced
    5. A sloper
  2. For each grip position determine your MVC and the respective hangboard training load.
  3. For each grip position:
    1. Hang for 7 seconds, rest for 3 seconds.
    2. Complete a total of 6 hangs.
  4. Rest 2 – 3 minutes and switch to the next grip position.
  5. The set is finished once all hangs for all the chosen grip positions are complete.
  6. Rest 12 – 15 minutes between sets.
  7. Complete a total of 1 – 3 sets.

Table 1: The 7/3 Hangboard Repeaters summary table.

7/3 Repeaters
MVC hang test time [s]5 - 10
MVC-7 load (beginner)40 - 50%
MVC-7 load (advanced)60 - 80%
Sets1 - 3
Positions/set3 - 7
Hang time [s]7
Rest betw. hangs [s]3
Rest betw. pos. [min]2 - 3
Rest betw. sets [min]12 - 15
TUT [s]126 - 882
Total time [min]7 - 105

Fingerboard Repeaters climbing workout remarks

  • For the maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) determination use 5 – 10-second test hangs.
  • The load for Hangboard Repeaters strength endurance protocol should be equivalent to 60 – 80% of your MVC.
  • Beginners should start with 40 – 50% of their MVC and do no more than two sets.
  • The last hangs are supposed to feel hard, and you should get pumped.
  • You should be able to complete all the hangs – use a pulley system to adjust the load.
    • If you can’t complete all the hangs, reduce weight.
    • If the hangs are too easy, add weight.
  • Alternatively, you can try doing Fingerboard Repeaters till failure (Endurance Repeaters).
  • If you want to experiment with the hang times and the rest times, you can try:
    • 6 seconds hang, 4 seconds rest
    • 5 seconds hang, 5 seconds rest
    • 5 seconds hang, 2 seconds rest

You will need to devote one or two fingerboard training sessions to determine the optimum loads for particular hang positions. It is impossible to give one general rule, as the loads will depend on the number of sets you choose to execute, the rest times between sets and hangs, and even the sequence in which you order the grip positions in a set. The time for the MVC measurement is not strictly defined, but it is normally assumed between 5 – 10 seconds [4][5]. Throughout this blog, the 7-second MVC measurement is generally used for consistency (MVC-7). 

The exact determination of the hang loads for Hangboard Repeaters climbing strength endurance protocol, or “intermittent isometric contractions” is a science in itself, and touches on the subjects of “critical force” (CF) and the “energy store component” (W’) [4]. But you don’t have to be that precise – as long as you get pumped and you’re able to complete all the hangs, you’re probably on the right track. If you want to shift the balance of the exercise more towards strength or simply adjust the intensity, you may choose a different version of Fingerboard Repeaters, such as the 6/4, 5/5, or 5/2. Another concept you may explore is doing Hangboard Repeaters till failure (Endurance Repeaters), as it was suggested by Tom Randall in the TBP interview [5][6].

The exact load determination for each grip position may be tricky, but as long as you get pumped in the end and still manage to complete all the hangs, you're on the right track.

In Figure 1 below, my example exercise logs for the 7/3 Hangboard Repeaters strength endurance protocol are shown. The routines were done on the Moon Fingerboard for six different hang positions: 3-finger sloper, 3-finger pocket, two 2-finger pockets (index-middle, middle-ring), full crimp, and half crimp [7]. First, a 30-second hang test was done for each grip position, corresponding to roughly 80% MVC-7 intensity [8]. For each position, the added/subtracted weight was recorded and subsequently adjusted. However, because of the large variety of holds used, which lead to a relatively high exercise volume, it was impossible for me to complete the routine. I recalculated the hang intensity and reduced it to 75%, based on the MVC-7 measured for each hold