Hangboard Training Program – Sam

Samantha is a super experienced lead climber, who has traveled worldwide and climbed rocks on almost every continent. She likes climbing bouldery routes, with short cruxes and good rests in between, but since her aerobic endurance is excellent, she can comfortably project longer routes as well. 

Sam’s Critical Force to MVC-7 ratio is high, reaching almost 50% (Table 1), so it is no surprise that she established her 5.13b (8a) personal best in Red River Gorge [1]. Because of that, we decided to emphasize strength development, to help her improve on overhanging and powerful routes. Sam trained diligently throughout May 2020 and significantly improved her finger strength, strength endurance, and aerobic endurance, as can be seen in the progress plots below.

At the moment, Sam is climbing mainly outdoors, so we reduced the training volume accordingly, but strength training remains the cornerstone of her hangboard program.

Photo: Samantha cruising up a powerful vertical route.

Here's what Sam says about the Program:

When COVID hit, and all the gyms closed down, I knew I needed something more than the standard repeaters method that I had been doing on my hangboard for years. I took to the internet and was immediately overwhelmed by how much information was out there and the conflicting schools of thought. I am the type of person that works best when someone tells me exactly what I am supposed to do, but after spending a bunch of money on websites, books, and programs, all I had was a bunch of information to sort through and no detailed plan. I came across the StrengthClimbing website and was immediately drawn to how organized the information was and how thoroughly Jędrzej analyzed and explained various training methods. I messaged Jedzej to ask him about some of his research, and I was so impressed with how quickly he responded and the amount of information he provided. I have been training with him now for around 7 months. His programs are always so easy to follow and specifically designed for my needs and style of climbing. He is constantly communicating with me, tweaking my plans, reassessing, testing, and ensuring that I am on the right track. His programs range from complex to quite simple. If you have tons of time or barely any time at all, he will be able to find something that suits you. It's easy to remain motivated when I have someone to report to, and the programs switch frequently enough that I am never bored. If you want to get stronger and remain motivated, I strongly recommend training with Jędrzej
Samantha (5.13b/8a)
Sport Climber (Canada)

Results after Cycles 1 – 4 (1 year of program)

After one year of training with my Personalized Hangboard Training program, we found that Sam’s relative finger strength increased significantly, from 127% to slightly over 140% of her bodyweight. Her aerobic endurance remained at the 50% MVC-7 level, which is an excellent result, even among proficient lead climbers. However, we managed to greatly improve her anaerobic alactic and anaerobic lactic endurance relative to the MVC-7, which can be seen in Figure 2.

The fantastic progress Sam made is even better visible in Figure 3, where the endurance curve is plotted in relation to her body weight. I firmly believe that if all goes well, Sam will enter the 5.13c level this season! 

Table 1: Hangboard Training Program progress.

 Beginning (04.2020)After Cycle 1 (06.2020)After Cycle 3 (12.2020)After Cycle 4 (03.2021)
Previous cycleMixedStrength /EnduranceStrength /EnduranceStrength /Endurance
MVC-7 (20 mm) [kg]73.476.676.681.4
Body weight [kg]58585858
MVC-7 (20 mm) [%BW]127%132%132%140%
CF [%MVC-7]49%47%53%50%
CF [%BW]64%61%70%71%
CF [kg]37
Bouldering level predictionV4 (6B+)V4 (6B+)V4 (6B+)V4 (6B+)
Current bouldering levelV6 (7A) V6 (7A) V6 (7A) V6 (7A)
Lead level prediction5.13a (7c+)5.13a (7c+)5.13b (8a)5.13c (8a+)
Current lead level5.13b (8a)5.13b (8a)5.13b (8a)5.13b (8a)

Figure 1: Sam’s general progress in terms of MVC-7 and Critical Force, expressed as absolute loads in kg.

Figure 2: Critical Force as percentage of MVC-7 – progress plots.

Figure 3: Critical Force as percentage of bodyweight – progress plots.


  1. mountainproject.com, Red River Gorge Climbing, July 10, 2006. (link)