Quick summary

Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routine

The Maximum Hangs (MaxHangs) protocols were developed and popularized by Eva López, a Spanish elite climber, coach, and sports scientist [1]. The training protocols are low volume and high intensity. When first introduced, the MaxHangs hangboard routine was faced with some skepticism, because of the relatively short time under tension (TUT), compared with, e.g., Hangboard Repeaters or Steve Bechtel’s 3-6-9 Ladders [2][3]. However, despite the program’s low volume, Eva López was able to prove the extreme effectiveness of her routines scientifically.

Since then, MaxHangs have become widely accepted in the climbing community [4]. Eva’s findings are in line with the results of recent research, which show that a low volume routine can be just as effective as a high volume one while being significantly more time-efficient [5]. The protocol can be executed in two versions, the minimum edge with no added weight (MaxHangs MED) and with added weight (MaxHangs MAW). Both methods trigger neural adaptations through short TUT and high loads (75 – 103% of MVC) [6].

Trigger neural adaptations efficiently through low volume, short time under tension, and high loads.

Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routine details (MED)

  1. Choose an edge on which you can hang for only 6 – 20 seconds.
  2. Hang for 5 – 15 seconds (leave a 1 – 5-second margin), rest for 3 – 5 minutes.
  3. Complete 2 – 5 sets.
To follow this protocol you will need a hangboard with progressively small edges, like the Progression and Transgression hangboards, developed by Eva López, or the adjustable Fingerschinder portable wooden hangboard [7][8]. Still, it should be reasonably easy to make your own board with different size wooden edges. The way I do it is that I insert 2 mm thick cardboard strips into the edge slots of my Zlagboard, as you can see in Figure 1 [9].

Figure 1: Cardboard strips in the edge slots of the Zlagboard, to adjust edge depth.

Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routine details (MAW)

  1. Choose a grip position to train.
  2. Add enough weight to be able to hang for only 6 – 20 seconds.
  3. Hang for 5 – 15 seconds (leave a 1 – 5-second margin), rest for 3 – 5 minutes.
  4. Complete 2 – 5 sets.

Table 1: MaxHangs protocol summary.

MaxHangs
Hang test time [s]6 - 20
Margin [s]1 - 5
MVC-7 load75 - 103%
Sets2 - 5
Hangs/set1
Hang time [s]5 - 15
Rest betw. sets [min]3 - 5
TUT [s]10 - 75
Total time [min]3 - 21

Eva López MaxHangs strength training protocol remarks

  • Always warm up properly before doing the MaxHangs hangboard routine.
    • Perform three to four sets with increasing added weight or decreasing edge depth (50 – 90% of the previous session’s load) [4].
  • The number of MaxHangs sets can be varied between 2 – 5.
    • Beginners should start with two sets.
  • The hang time can be varied between 5 – 15 seconds.
    • Typical hang time: 10 seconds
  • The margin is also called the effort level (EL)  and may be varied between 1 – 5 seconds [10].
    • Leaving a margin leads to similar results as reaching failure, but reduces the risk of injury.
    • Typical margin: 3 seconds
  • The rest time between sets can be varied between 3 – 5 minutes.
    • Typical rest time between sets: 3 minutes
  • For the MaxHangs MED protocol, an edge between 5 – 10 mm is usually chosen.
    • During each set try to assess the time margin you have left on the hangs.
      • If you feel like your margin exceeds 3 – 5 seconds, decrease the edge depth by 1 – 2 mm, according to the perceived effort.
      • If you feel like your margin approaches zero, increase the edge depth by 1 – 2 mm, according to the perceived effort.
  • For the MaxHangs MAW protocol, an edge between 8 – 22 mm is usually chosen, but you can do it for any hold.
    • Typical added load: 5 – 55 kg
    • During each set try to assess the time margin you have left on the hang.
      • If you feel like your margin exceeds 3 seconds, add 2 – 5 kg for the next set, depending on bodyweight.
      • If you feel like your margin approaches zero, subtract 2 – 5 kg for the next set, depending on bodyweight.

Eva López MaxHangs finger strength training results and discussion

Since its introduction, the MaxHangs hangboard routine became widely known, and today it is the hallmark of hangboard strength training. What is interesting, in one of her studies Eva reports that an 8-week cycle of her MaxHangs program also resulted in a 34% average strength endurance improvement, apart from the apparent finger strength gains, which is a bonus and confirms that strength endurance is directly related to strength [11].

Because Eva López MaxHangs hangboard routines are characterized by low volume, they are designed to constitute only a part of a training session. In order to notice improvements, the routines should be performed from two to three times per week, depending on the amount of other training you do. To maintain a stable level of strength, it should be enough to execute the MaxHangs hangboard routine once a week. Execute the drills