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A Staggeringly Successful New Hangboard Routine

A brand new hangboard regimen consisting of two sessions per day, everyday, without ever leaving the ground

Finger strength is the most hotly debated topic in climbing training. Experience teaches the climber that finger strength is important. If you want to hold small holds, you need strong fingers. If you want to pull hard, you need strong fingers. Finger strength is the “easiest” way to progress quickly.

How do we make our fingers strong? Well, anything that stimulates collagen synthesis should make our tendons more robust. How do we do this? We have used the hangboard, the rock wall and the climbing gym. Though they are each effective in their own way, they each appear to require a large amount of rest due to the magnitude of the load. In other words, hangboarding is tiring.

What happens if we reduce the load and increase the frequency? Felix and Emil Abrahamsson decided to find out.

The premise is based on an article by Keith Barr called “Minimizing Injury and Maximising Return to Play: Lessons from Engineered Ligaments.” It is built around artificially produced, though very much “alive” sinews taken from human ligaments. Note: ligaments are not the same as tendons, however they are both made of sinew.

His study showed that these sinews became “refractory” to stimulus after 10 minutes of activity. This is to say that the sinews would not respond to any further synthesis than that gained over those 10 minutes. He also found that this period was best advantaged after a minimum of six hours rest. For those that train already, this might not seem surprising. It is often recommended by climbing coaches to separate hangboarding from the regular climbing session.

The experiment consisted of two categories of tissue samples. One was exercised continuously for five days while the other was exercised minimally, for 10 minutes. This second sample was then left for six hours to rest. Barr said, “After 5 days, the engineered ligaments that had undergone the intermittent activity protocol produced more collagen than those that were exercised continuously.”

He continued, “Clinically, these data suggest that limited range-of-motion exercises even if performed with a light weight should be effective at increasing collagen synthesis in a developing or regenerating tendon or ligament.”

So what does this mean for us? After some interpretation, the Abrahamsson’s came up with an unprecedented training method.

The Conditions:

  • This method is to be completed every day, twice a day.
  • Hangboard sessions are to be separated by at least 6 hours.
  • All hangs are to be completed as no-hangs: no hangs are the same as dead hangs except your feet remain on the floor. The progressive loading of the fingers creates a molecular response.

The Training Program:

Half Crimp on 14-millimetre edge:

  • 3 sets of 10 seconds on, 50 seconds off
  • Engage about 80% of the weight it would take to lift off the ground

Three-finger drag on large edge:

  • 3 sets of 10 seconds on, 50 seconds off
  • Engage about 80% of the weight required to pull off of the ground

Middle-and-ring finger open-pocket position:

  • 1 set of 10 seconds on, 50 seconds off
  • Engage about 70% of weight

Pointer and middle finger open-pocket position

  • 1 set of 10 seconds, 50 seconds off
  • Engage about 70% of weight

Middle and ring finger half-crimp position

  • 1 set of 10 seconds on, 50 seconds off
  • Engage about 70% of body weight.

Pointer and middle finger half-crimp position

  • 1 set of 10 seconds on, 50 seconds off
  • Engage about 70% of body weight.

The Results:


Previous Max:

  • 14-millimetre crimp: 3 seconds at Body weight (BW) + 48 kg.
  • One-arm hang: Right and Left: 0.5 seconds
  • 6-millimetre crimp: 0 seconds
  • 8-millimetre crimp: 11 seconds

After one month:

  • 14-millimetre crimp: 5.8 seconds at Body weight (BW) + 67 kg.
  • One-arm hang: Right: 14 seconds; Left: 7.0 seconds
  • 6-millimetre crimp: 7.5ish
  • 8-millimetre crimp: 27 seconds
  • 10-millimetre crimp: 0 seconds


10 kg increase on two-arm hang

Further Consideration

This is an unproven study, with many variables unaccounted for. Everyone’s fingers are different, and Emil is a very strong rock climber. With all of that said, it is interesting that such a method appeared to work at all, especially without collagen supplementation.

It should also be noted that he hung for a total of 1 minute and 40 seconds per session. It would be interesting to see what would happen if this method were continued through to complete the full 10 minutes, however, it is possible that this would stress overload the fingers. Though this is far from a professional study, these results are staggering.

Featured Image of Felix Abrahamsson by Emil Abrahamsson.