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New Year’s Training: Board Climbing Week 1

A wall-focused training plan to help you push your level on the board. We discuss setting and a schedule

From a training perspective, this year has been your god-send, your plateau, or the reason you fell out of love with climbing. Whatever it might have been, you are surely looking to return to the gym, or the crag, and you are staring down the barrel of an overcast winter that is a heck of a lot less inspiring than the sunny days of summer.

Hopefully we will be back to gym climbing more quickly than the last lockdown, but, as cases spiral, it is unclear whether or not that will be the case. In the meantime, let us turn away from our windows and begin considering the vaccinated future that awaits us in these coming months.

If you have been with us since our first Stay-At-Home training, then you are probably aware of the large-scale conditioning and medium-scale finger boarding regimens that we went through in an effort to become strong. These workouts were difficult, but working out is difficult, and, if we are going to be locked down anyway, we may as well spend our time building.

The greatest weakness of the summer’s workouts was in the presumption that every climber is the same. This is not really the case. Though every climber needs some of the same basic strengths, there are no silver bullets to hard climbing except for maybe finger and grip strength. Obviously, not everyone has the same workout gear, which is why, this time around, we are going to divide and conquer.

There will be two workouts for two climbers: the fingerboard focused climber and the home wall focused climber.

If you only have access to only a fingerboard, we are going to focus on strengthening our climbing muscles and only our climbing muscles, excepting the inevitability of push-ups for antagonist muscle training).

If you have access to a fingerboard and a home board, we are going to focus on the home board. If you only have a fingerboard click HERE.

In both cases we will be training climbing specific exercises and we will provide a skeleton, on which you can hang your own training ideas. A training plan is elastic. It is encouraged that you modify the below plan to make for a plan that you want to complete. If the workout isn’t any fun, then you will not want to do it.

With all of this said: let’s begin.

Week 1:

Board Climbing

Board climbing provides a much simpler training platform than hangboarding. There are many things to talk about when it comes to board climbing, but today we will focus on the exercises.

Step 1: Set your board

  • Ideally you have a mixture of wooden holds and plastic holds. The wooden holds should be your larger grips that require pinching, while your thin holds should be the textured polyurethane holds. You can have small wooden holds too, just recognize that a lot of force is required to generate off of thin wooden holds.
  • To that effect, it is good to have a more-or-less equal distribution of grips between the right and left sides of the boards. This does not mean that it must be symmetrical, instead just make sure that you have a similar number of right and left side-pulls, underclings, jugs, pinches, etc.
  • Add footholds. Though many of your problems will probably be built by tracing, it is useful to have footholds. Footholds are small and difficult to stand on, especially at an angle. The Metolius Mini Tech footholds are an awesome addition to any home board due to their durability or a difficulty. Keeping feet on these holds creates a strong core, while cutting loose because the footholds are bad increases the climber’s power. These things are useful.

Step 2: Set problems

  • A great way to do this is to use an app. Stokt is an expensive, but amazing app for spray walls. If you want to do it for cheap, Eat Spray Love is a slightly glitchy, but excellent application. If you get the “white screen” simply swipe to the left until you are back at the main menu.
  • The benefit of setting problems before your session is that your session can be focused. It is an easy way to find projects for yourself. If you are looking to make a hard climb, take a climb that you have made, and substitute the grips out for holds that are nearby, but considerably worse. This is a great way to turn a V4 into a V8 into a V10. Sit starts are also an option if you have a wall large enough to have stand starts.

Step 3: Set moves

  • It is recommended that you start by completing the easiest boulders on your wall first. Today, all of your boulder should be the easy boulders, unless you have been climbing on your wall for some time. If you have experience with your wall, then today you will set ten moves that feel very hard.

Among these moves there should be a range of difficulty. The easiest moves you should be able to establish on the start and somewhat move to the next hold. The most difficult of these moves you should be decidedly further away from sticking the hold. This might mean that you cannot pull on to the start. These moves should be varied in their style. We will call these “the 10 moves” in subsequent articles.

Step 4: Climb

  • These sessions should be no longer than 2 hours. Board climbing is difficult. You must have experience to climb for longer than 2 hours on a board.

Step 5: Antagonist

Push ups:

This is for the antagonist muscle training. It keeps your elbows safe.

  • 100 elbows-back, military-style, push ups. This style isolates the triceps.


It cannot be overstated how useful flexibility is. The more flexible you are, the less strength is required to move your feet up. To that effect, greater flexibility gives the climber a wider range of foothold options. As such there are a few areas that you should stretch specifically, and this is definitely a non-exhaustive list.


  • Hand to toe-hook matches
  • Heel hooks
  • Drop knees

Hip flexors

  • High steps
  • Drop knees
  • Heel hooks

Middle splits

  • Getting your hips into the wall.
  • Middle splits are very useful. Flexible hip flexors are equally important.

Step 6: Schedule your sessions

  • This will mean different things to different people. There are two schedules that are recommended.
  • The first is the three-days-a-week schedule:

Day 1: Climb

Day 2: Rest

Day 3: Climb

Day 4: Rest

Day 5: Climb

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Rest

In this schedule, put your heaviest projecting at the beginning of the week. This will mean trying your 10 moves and whichever boulder problems you deem most demanding of your fingers. As this is board climbing, your fingers are the part of your body at the greatest risk of injury

  • The second is the four-days-a-week schedule:

Day 1: Climb

Day 2: Climb

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Climb

Day 5: Climb

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Rest

In this schedule, you should put your heaviest lifting on Day 1 and Day 4. This will mean, trying your 10 moves on Day 1, followed by projecting, climbing a larger volume of “easier” boulder problems on Day 2, resting on Day 3, and projecting on Day 4.

You may try the 10 moves again on Day 4, if you wish, but it would be better to work on completing an entire difficult boulder problem. On Day 5, climb a larger volume of easier boulder problems.

Day 5 will be the tweakiest of the entire week so be careful. If something feels bad, do not push through the pain. Instead, recognize your fatigue and switch boulders or end the session early.

The double rest day should only be spent resting, stretching and doing mobility exercises. This is not the time to sneak in an extra session.

Any additional exercises for today are up to you. Pull ups have their uses but are less essential than grip and core. If you have never really done pull ups before, it is worth building until you are able to complete 100 pull ups in 10 sets of 10. A base level of power is useful.

Featured Image of The MoonBoard by Basecamp Climbing