Quick summary

Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol

The Hangboard Moving Hangs (HMH) climbing training protocol was described by Eric Hörst in his book Conditioning for Climbers [1][2]. Because the intensity of the exercise is rather low, even beginner climbers with a couple of months of training under their belt can give it a try. The great thing about the protocol is that it makes it possible to easily control the difficulty by changing the hold size, the placement of the feet support, or the pace at which the hands are moved around the hangboard. This facility in load control makes it possible to train either anaerobic endurance or aerobic endurance, depending on how the intensity is related to the climber’s Critical Force (CF).

The Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol is a perfect introduction to hangboarding, because it’s safe, it puts less strain on the shoulders than typical dead hangs, and it’s easy to do. I started hangboarding with the Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing endurance protocol myself, and I would recommend it to beginners. 

Simple and safe method of training both aerobic and anaerobic endurance. Suitable even for beginners!

Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol details

  1. Mount the hangboard, and support your feet on a chair, or some screw-ons on the wall.
  2. Start moving your hands around the hangboard, changing the hold every 3 – 5 seconds.
  3. After a while, you will start to develop a pump in your forearms. If so, try to shake out on some jugs.
  4. Continue moving around the hangboard for a total time of 5 – 10 minutes.
  5. Dismount the hangboard, rest for about 10 – 20 minutes, depending on set duration.
  6. Perform 2 – 3 sets.

Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training routine remarks

  • You can increase the intensity by moving the chair further behind the hangboard.
  • If you want to train aerobic endurance instead of strength endurance:
    • Choose bigger holds to avoid getting pumped, and increase the number of sets,
    • Reduce the inclination – move the feet support closer to the hangboard.
  • Once you improve, try to reduce the size of the holds on which you shake out.

Table 1: Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol summary.

Hangboard Moving Hangs
MVC-7 load (unilateral)15 - 95%
Sets2 - 3
Positions3 - 10
Hang time [s]3 - 5
Set duration [min]5 - 10
Rest betw. sets [min]10 - 20
TUT/arm [s]375 - 750
Total time [min]30 - 90

Hangboard Moving Hangs anaerobic endurance training demo session video

In the video, you can watch an example demo session of the Hangboard Moving Hangs protocol. I set the difficulty to reach exhaustion around the 5-minute mark. This means that I operate mostly in the anaerobic regime and train strength endurance.

Maximum Voluntary Contraction and Critical Force

You can use the hangboard to develop both aerobic and anaerobic endurance, but how to tell which one you are training? For any intermittent hangs protocol, such as the Hangboard Moving Hangs, we can define what is called the Critical Force (CF). To make things very simple, we can say that the Critical Force is the load at which equilibrium is struck between the energy used by the muscles during the work period and the energy replenished by the blood flow during the rest period. The ratio of the work period to the rest period is called the duty cycle [3]. In theory, at Critical Force load, the exercise can be carried out indefinitely. In practice, this is not the case, but 20 minutes should be easily manageable.

To train aerobic endurance, the hang load on either hand should not exceed the climber’s CF. Interestingly enough, it was found that the best results are achieved when the hang load is exactly CF [4]. To train anaerobic endurance, the loads must exceed CF, which usually is the case, e.g. Hangboard Repeaters [5]. The concept of CF is closely related to the original idea of Critical Power, which is more appropriate to sports such as cycling. You can find more information on Critical Power in [4][6][3]. More detailed information on Critical Force in climbing can be found in [7][8]. You can also easily calculate your CF with the Critical Force Calculator tool [9].

Aerobic endurance is most efficiently trained exactly at Critical Force load.

Critical Force can be expressed in newtons, but it is usually more convenient to relate it to the Maximum Voluntary Contraction (MVC). The MVC is the maximum load with which the climber can hang for a given time on a given hold. The measurement time usually lies between 5 seconds (MVC-5) to 10 seconds (MVC-10). In this blog, the 7-second MVC (MVC-7) is typically assumed, which is consistent with [10]

The MVC is usually determined for two arm (bilateral) hangs. In the case of the HMH protocol, one arm is mostly used (unilateral). For simplicity, we will assume that the MVC for one arm hangs is precisely 50% of the two