- Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training routine
- Low-intensity exercise, suitable for beginner climbers
- Difficulty can be easily controlled
- Can be used to train both anaerobic and aerobic endurance
- A great introduction to hangboarding, because it’s safe and simple
- Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol details
- Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training routine remarks
- Hangboard Moving Hangs anaerobic endurance training demo session video
- Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training summary table
- Maximum Voluntary Contraction and Critical Force
- Hang intensity determination for the Hangboard Moving Hangs
- Climbing training anaerobic endurance training adaptations
- Climbing training aerobic endurance training adaptations
- Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol conclusions
- Powerful, versatile and easy to use method
- Suitable for both beginners and elite climbers
- More climbing-specific than dead hangs – engages the entire body
- Gentle on the shoulders, because the feet are supported
- A must-have in any climber’s training toolkit
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 . 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.
Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol details
- Mount the hangboard, and support your feet on a chair, or some screw-ons on the wall.
- Start moving your hands around the hangboard, changing the hold every 3 – 5 seconds.
- After a while, you will start to develop a pump in your forearms. If so, try to shake out on some jugs.
- Continue moving around the hangboard for a total time of 5 – 10 minutes.
- Dismount the hangboard, rest for about 10 – 20 minutes, depending on set duration.
- 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%|
|Sets||2 - 3|
|Positions||3 - 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 . 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 . To train anaerobic endurance, the loads must exceed CF, which usually is the case, e.g. Hangboard Repeaters . 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 . More detailed information on Critical Force in climbing can be found in . You can also easily calculate your CF with the Critical Force Calculator tool .
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 .
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 arm hangs MVC. It is, in fact, a bit higher than that, owing to the phenomenon of bilateral deficit. Research studies have shown that for isometric contractions, the average bilateral index lies in the range – 8.6 ± 8.5%, which means that the force produced by two limbs simultaneously is, on average, about 8.6 ± 8.5% lower than the sum of the forces generated by single limbs separately. This difference is likely to be negligible for our investigation, and it is not taken into account here. The phenomenon of bilateral deficit for one arm hangs is schematically depicted in Figure 1 below .
Figure 1: Illustration of the bilateral deficit phenomenon according to .
Hang intensity determination for the Hangboard Moving Hangs
The hang intensity for the Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol depends on the hold size and the supporting wall inclination. The inclination is controlled by how far behind the hangboard you place the feet support. The effect of supporting wall inclination on hang intensity was thoroughly discussed in . Based on a simple analysis of the mechanical system involved and some very rough measurements, we can state that the load typically lies in the range between 30% – 70% of the climber’s body weight (BW), depending on the type and position of the feet support used . The experiment is illustrated in Figure 2 below.
Figure 2: Climber’s weight distribution during the Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol at vertical (left) and overhung (right) hang angle.
Let’s assume that a climber whose bodyweight is 66 kg carries out the protocol on a set of three different edges. The respective MVC-7 values for bilateral (two arm) hangs, and unilateral (one arm) hangs are given in Table 2 below.
Table 2: Example load values for the Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol with respect to unilateral and bilateral MVC-7, at overhung and vertical position.
|Edge||20 mm||14 mm||10 mm|
|MVC-7 bilateral||108 kg||94 kg||88 kg|
|MVC-7 unilateral||54 kg||47 kg||44 kg|
|Load in overhung position||50% BW/33 kg|
|% MVC-7 bilateral - overhang||30%||35%||38%|
|% MVC-7 unilateral - overhang||61%||70%||75%|
|Load in vertical position||30% BW/20 kg|
|% MVC-7 bilateral - vertical||18.5%||21%||23%|
|% MVC-7 unilateral - vertical||37%||42%||46%|
Now, let the climber switch hands every 5 seconds, with the switch time equal to one second. At a moderately overhung inclination, 50% of the climber’s body weight is supported by the feet, and 50% rests on the fingers. The instantaneous load for a single hand is plotted in Figure 3 below.
Figure 3: The hang intensity during the Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol with respect to the one arm MVC-7. Even elite climbers with a high CF threshold are likely to enter the anaerobic regime.
Next, let’s change the inclination to vertical, so that 70% of the climber’s body weight is supported by the feet, and only 30% rests on the fingers. The instantaneous load for a single hand is plotted in Figure 4 below.
Figure 4: The hang intensity during the Hanboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol with respect to the one arm MVC-7. Only beginner climbers with a low CF threshold operate in the anaerobic regime.
From this simple case study, we can conclude that for the moderately overhung inclination, the climber executing the protocol is most likely to operate predominantly in the anaerobic intensity range. On the other hand, for the vertical position, even a beginner climber is expected to work in the aerobic intensity range.
In Figure 5 below, the sources for energy production are plotted in function of time. We can see that at very high exercise intensities, reaching 100% the anaerobic-alactic energy system is used, and ATP produced from creatine phosphate (CP) is utilized as the energy source. After about 5 seconds, the ATP and CP become exhausted. At this point, the anaerobic-lactic energy system kicks in, and ATP is produced from carbohydrates, but after about 7 – 10 seconds, it is no longer possible to maintain the maximum intensity muscle contraction. This is why MVC test hangs should last between 5 – 10 seconds.
Climbing training anaerobic endurance adaptationsLet’s take a look at the climbing training adaptations resulting from the Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs protocol executed above the Critical Force threshold. Based on the definitions given by Holloszy, at loads above CF we can classify the Hangboard Moving Hangs as a form of anaerobic interval training . The protocol increases adenosine monophosphate protein (AMP) levels, triggering mitochondrial growth, and enhanced vascularization of type II muscle fibers, induced by hypoxia. What is even more important, the activity of enzymes involved in anaerobic metabolism is boosted. Further, resistance to lactic acid is enhanced, while the A-VO2 difference increases. PCr recovery rates are also improved, and the total PCr levels in the muscles are heightened . Finally, muscle hypertrophy is expected, owing to anabolic hormone secretion, caused by lowered blood pH, and fast-twitch muscle recruitment .
The adaptations listed above mostly concern the anaerobic energy system and are supposed to enhance the energy store component W’, but not CF, which is more related to aerobic metabolism . Thus it seems that the Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol done above the Critical Force threshold is a typical strength endurance training method, and is less likely to trigger improvements in the aerobic energy system.
Climbing training aerobic endurance adaptations
If the Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol is executed below, or better yet, precisely at Critical Force load, it becomes very similar to Endurance Repeaters . The goal of aerobic endurance training is to increase the vascularization, enzyme activity and the number of mitochondria in slow-twitch muscle fibers, which in most sport disciplines is done using high-volume training at low intensities of up to 40% MVC . In route climbing, the goal of such training is to increase the athlete’s Critical Force (CF), allowing performing without fatigue at intensity levels, reaching as high as 60% MVC. High CF makes it possible to save more energy for the crux sequences and facilitates recovery on large holds .
Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol conclusions
The Hangboard Moving Hangs is a simple to use climbing training protocol, which can be utilized to develop both strength endurance and aerobic endurance. The intensity can be easily adjusted by using smaller holds, or moving your feet support further behind the hangboard. The workout can be used as an excellent introduction to hangboarding for beginner climbers. It can let them get familiar with the holds and to slowly get used to the high loads on the fingers.
The Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol can also be effectively used by advanced and elite climbers, as a replacement for the Hangboard Repeaters (anaerobic version), or the Endurance Repeaters (aerobic version). The Hangboard Moving Hangs method is likely to produce slightly different stimuli than the dead hang techniques, and engage the entire body, particularly in the overhung position. On top of that, it naturally forces a 50/50 work to rest ratio, as opposed to the 70/30 duty cycle used mostly with the Repeaters protocols. The above, in my opinion, makes the Hangboard Moving Hangs slightly more climbing-specific. Finally, because the feet are supported, the method is much gentler on the shoulders than dead hangs, making it safe for beginners. To sum up, the Eric Hörst Hangboard Moving Hangs climbing training protocol is a powerful and versatile technique for developing forearm endurance, and it is worth including in any climber’s training portfolio.
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