man practicing on a hangboard

7 Best Hangboards of 2024: Ultimate Guide for Climbers

Published on: 03/28/2023
By Owen Clarke

Whether you’ve been climbing for one year or 30, the best hangboards are an excellent component of any climber’s training plan. Hangboards (also known as “fingerboards”) are affordable, compact, and versatile tools that allow you to build strength in your hands, fingers, forearms, and essentially your entire upper body.

Whether you live in a Manhattan shoebox, an LA condo, or a van parked in some random patch of BLM land, chances are you have the space to set up a hangboard in your home. Also, most modern climbing gyms have several hangboards, making it easy to augment your usual rock gym session with a bit of hangboard training.

Gone are the days when there were only a few hangboards to choose from. Today, there are dozens upon dozens of hangboard models. While the right hangboard will offer several different hold shapes, styles, and depths, not all are created equal. You’ll find a vast array of materials, sizes, hold types, and layouts on modern hangboards, not to mention a wide range of pricing, which can make it hard to figure out which one is right for you. This list of seven hangboards is the cream of the crop in 2023.

Our Method

woman training on a hangboard

My name is Owen Clarke (1), and I’m a veteran climbing journalist. I’ve reviewed climbing gear for Outside, Rock and Ice, Gym Climber, and Climbing, among other publications, and have been rock climbing for over 15 years. I’ve personally used the hangboards on this list , whether owning them outright or testing them out at local rock gyms.

Besides my own expertise, as someone who has been in the climbing world for the better part of two decades, my selection is also based on in-depth reviews from friends and online customers. In these hangboard reviews, I’ve done my best to put myself in the mindset of a variety of climbers, from beginners to budget-conscious to van-lifers.

Our Selection of the Best Hangboards for 2023

Comparison Table

Best for Beginners
Metolius Simulator 3D

Metolius Simulator 3D

  • Pockets, Edges, Jugs, and Slopers
  • Polyester Resin
  • 28″ x 8.75″ (71 x 22 cm)
  • 12 lbs (5 kg)
Best for Experienced Climbers
So iLL Beastmaker 2000

So iLL Beastmaker 2000

  • Advanced Slopers, Pockets, and Small Edges
  • Wood
  • 22.8″ x 5.9″ (58 x 15 cm)
  • 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg)
Budget Pick
Metolius Light Rail Training Board

Metolius Light Rail Training Board

  • 38mm, 18mm, and 13mm Edges + Jug Grip
  • Wood
  • 18″ x 3″ (46 x 8 cm)
  • 1 lb (0.4 kg)
Best High-End Hangboard
Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center

Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center

  • Edges, Pockets, and Jugs
  • Polyester Resin
  • 12.1″ x 9.1″ (31 x 23 cm) each (2 pieces)
  • Weight: 9.9 lbs (4.5 kg)
Best Value
Metolius Wood Grips II

Metolius Wood Grips II

  • Edges, Slopers, Jugs, and Pockets
  • Wood
  • 4″ x 6.2″ (60 x 16 cm)
  • 5.6 lbs (2.5 kg)
Best for Apartment
Metolius Project

Metolius Project

  • Jugs, Slopers, Edges, and Pockets
  • Polyester Resin
  • 24.5″ x 6″ (62 x 15 cm)
  • 7 lbs (3.2 kg)
Best Portable Hangboard
Metolius Rock Rings 3D

Metolius Rock Rings 3D

  • Edges and Pockets
  • Polyester Resin
  • 24″ x 6.2″ (60 x 16 cm)
  • 4.1 lbs (1.8 kg)
BONUS: Slopers and Pinches
So iLL Iron Palm

So iLL Iron Palm

  • Slopers, Pinches, and Edges
  • Urethane
  • 27″ x 11.5″ (68 x 29 cm)
  • 9 lbs (4 kg)

1. Metolius Simulator 3D: Best Hangboard for Beginners

Metolius Simulator 3D

Important Specs

Price: $$
Dimensions: 28″ x 8.75″ (71 x 22 cm)
Material: Polyester Resin
Weight: 12 lbs (5 kg)

The Metolius Simulator 3D is as tried and true as hangboards come. This sucker has been around, and improved on, for many, many years. In fact, I may be a little biased here, because it was the first hangboard I bought, shortly after I started climbing back in 2008. Today, the Simulator remains one of the best all-around hangboards on the market. This is particularly true in terms of a beginners hangboard, for climbers just starting to improve their finger strength. At $100, it’s a bit pricier than barebones options but still budget-friendly, and it also comes with a training guide (a real advantage for newbie hangboarders). Its wide design also reduces strain on your elbows and shoulders.

But the real boon here is the massive array of holds. The Simulator has a whopping three rails of pockets and edges, coupled with deep two-fingers up top, jugs, and slopers. All told, there are close to 25 different individual pockets, some with varying depths in the same pocket. There’s so much here to explore that this board really deserves awards for budget and value, too. One thing to note is that resin boards like this are a bit rougher on the skin than wooden boards. But that’s a small hiccup. All told the Metolius Simulator 3D has everything you could ask for in a beginner’s hangboard.


  • Large variety of hold shapes, sizes, and depths
  • Excellent value
  • Wide, ergonomic design reduces injury
  • Superb edges and pockets


  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Abrasive texture

2. So iLL Beastmaker 2000: Best Hangboard for Experienced Climbers

So iLL Beastmaker 2000

Important Specs

Price: $$$
Dimensions: 22.8″ x 5.9″ (58 x 15 cm)
Material: Wood
Weight: 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg)

The So iLL Beastmaker regularly tops the lists of “Best Hangboards,” and has achieved fame as Alex Honnold’s go-to training board. All this acclaim isn’t without merit. This wooden hangboard really is a stellar product, and you’ll see Beastmakers in rock gyms across the country. The wood is skin-friendly, and the overall frame is lightweight and compact, but this board offers a wide variety of advanced slopers, edges, and pockets. When it comes to hangboards for advanced and elite climbers, you can’t do better than the Beastmaker 2000.

The drawback here is that this board doesn’t have much to offer the average weekend warrior. The Beastmaker was designed with input from truly elite climbers, some of the best rock fiends in the world. It shows. There are no jugs, the edges and pockets are small & shallow (for those with truly superhuman crimp strength), and the slopers tend to be aggressive, up to 45 degrees. If you’re a 5.12+ climber or a V7-8+ boulderer who feels like you’re hitting that mid-grade plateau, then the Beastmaker is a solid purchase to attack weaknesses and up your game. However, if you’re just getting into hangboarding, you’ll probably want to look for a friendlier (and more affordable) hangboard as you’re building finger strength.


  • Wooden grip is skin-friendly
  • Aggressive slopers, micr0-edges, monos, and other holds catering to advanced climbers
  • Lightweight & compact
  • Easy to mount


  • Offers little for beginner & intermediate climbers

3. Metolius Light Rail: Best Budget Hangboard

Metolius Light Rail

Important Specs

Price: $
Dimensions: 18″ x 3″ (46 x 8 cm)
Material: Wood
Weight: 1 lb (0.4 kg)

This pick might turn a few heads, because the Metolius Light Rail isn’t just ultra-budget, it’s barely a hangboard at all. But I’m a huge fan of this little guy. Lately, it’s been the only hangboard I use, because I travel and live in rental properties for most of the year. At $39.95, this single rail costs far less than most monthly climbing gym memberships, and barely more than the average Walmart pull-up bar. It’s a steal, and it’s also a great on-the-go tool, thanks to an included cordelette that lets you hang the board just about anywhere. I’ve hung the Light Rail underneath the stairs on my second-story apartment, clipped it to the outside of a porch railing, slung it from a tree branch, and clipped it to the bottom bolt on a project for a crag warmup.

As I said, the Light Rail is barely a hangboard though. There isn’t a lot to work with here, just a single, reversible wooden rail offering four holds (two edges inside the rail and each side of the outer rail itself). It’s definitely not going to work as a do-it-all training board for a serious climber. But for the budget-conscious climber who prefers to climb and train on real rock whenever possible and is often on the move like me, the Light Rail lets you bust out some hangs and pull-ups just about anywhere, and you get the quality & forgiving texture of a wood board for an incredible price. It’s the perfect tool for keeping your finger strength up while on the go. You can also drill it into the wall like a normal hangboard.


  • Wooden grip is skin-friendly
  • Lightweight & compact
  • Included cordelette makes for easy on-the-go hanging
  • Extremely affordable


  • Few hold options

4. Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center: Best High-End Hangboard

Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center

Important Specs

Price: $$$
Dimensions: 12.1″ x 9.1″ each (2 pieces) (31 x 23 cm)
Material: Polyester Resin
Weight: 9.9 lbs (4.5 kg)

While the Beastmaker 2000 is my top pick specifically for the advanced climber, the Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center is the best all-around hangboard for beginners and advanced climbers alike… As long as cost isn’t a factor.

At $160, this is one of the most expensive hangboard systems on the market, but it shows. There’s a reason why so many gyms have this board drilled up. It’s one of the most popular models in the world for all ability levels. Designed by Michael and Mark Anderson, authors of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual, the Rock Prodigy Training Center is a unique two-piece hangboard, allowing you to customize the width of the board to suit your shoulder width and preference.

On top of this, an ergonomic design (like the inward-facing jugs and slightly tilted edges), further reduces stress on your joints and encourages proper form. You’ll also find an excellent difficulty progression here, with the tapered edge sizes becoming shallower as you move down and across the board (making it easier to train to failure).

This board is designed to be used along with the highly-regarded Climber’s Training Manual, so if you’re looking for an all-in-one hangboard and training regime, this is one of the best. It’s not a cheap board, but the Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center offers the best hangboard training for climbers of all skills. If you’re looking for a single board that can keep up as you progress from gumby to the lofty land of elite climbers, this is the one.


  • Versatile dual-piece build
  • Wide range of hold shapes, sizes, and varying depths
  • Best offering for all skill levels
  • Ergonomic, form-focused design


  • Expensive
  • Large & difficult to mount

5. Metolius Wood Grips II (Compact): Best Value Hangboard

Metolius Wood Grips II Compact

Important Specs

Price: $$
Dimensions: 24″ x 6.2″ (60 x 16 cm)
Material: Wood
Weight: 5.6 lbs (2.5 kg)

At $90, the Metolius Wood Grips II is about as budget-friendly as it gets when shopping for full-size wooden boards, while providing a nice array of beginner and intermediate-friendly holds, a variety of edges, slopers, jugs, and pockets. If you’re an entry-level climber who likes the aesthetic appeal (or the grip and comfort) of wooden hangboards, you’ll find a solid product here. Just keep in mind that wooden hangboards do require some maintenance. You need to keep them dry or the wood may split, and you also may need to sand the edges over time to maintain grip and texture.

That said, the Wood Grips II comes out of the gate with strong value for mid-range climbers. The rounded edges and smooth wooden finish offer excellent grip, and the board clocks in at a mellow two feet wide. This provides a bit of width to reduce strain on your shoulders, without the bulk of larger boards like the Simulator 3D above, which can be difficult to find space for in cramped apartments. Like other Metolius boards, the Wood Grips II comes with a helpful training guide to get you started.


  • Good assortment of holds for beginner & intermediate climbers
  • Skin-friendly texture (wood)
  • Affordable for a full-size wooden hangboard
  • Excellent grip


  • Limited options for advanced climbers

6. Metolius Project: Best Hangboard for an Apartment

Metolius Project

Important Specs

Price: $$
Dimensions: 24.5″ x 6″ (62 x 15 cm)
Material: Polyester Resin
Weight: 7 lbs (3.2 kg)

The Metolius Project sits in a similar league to the Wood Grips II (Compact) above. Both boards are about two feet wide by a half-foot tall, so they thrive in tight spaces. These are both great options for those living in apartments or anyone without a ton of room to install a hangboard.

The Project is $10 cheaper than the Wood Grips II, and offers the durability and more aggressive texture of a polyester resin board, so it may have more appeal for climbers on the lower end of the experience & skill scale. If you live in an apartment and are just getting into climbing, and you aren’t sure you want to shell out extra cash for a wood board, (or if you aren’t keen on sanding your board’s edges and otherwise maintaining it), the Project provides excellent value. The Project contains a good basic array of holds: two jugs, slopers, two rails with six edges each, and a pair of pockets for two fingers up top. This isn’t a ton to work with, but for the price, you can’t find much better. For a board that might offer more consistent training stimulus as you progress, try the Rock Prodigy or Simulator 3D.

One nitpick is that many of the most commonly used edges, at least for the typical intermediate climber, are found on the wide central pockets and the duo/monos next to them. This does away with what little width the Project offers, jamming you up in the shoulders. Small-framed climbers may not have a problem with this, but broad-shouldered individuals who still want a small, compact, and affordable board may prefer the layout of the Wood Grips II (above).


  • Compact size
  • Durable, long-lasting polyester resin
  • Decent variety of holds for size
  • Affordable


  • Poor edge placement

7. Metolius Rock Rings: Best Portable Hangboard

Metolius Rock Rings

Important Specs

Price: $
Dimensions: 7.5″ x 6.5″ x 2.5″ (19 x 16 x 6 cm)
Material: Polyester Resin
Weight: 4.1 lbs (1.8 kg)

Metolius Rock Rings are another tried and true climber training tool. These guys have been around for a long time, and it’s almost impossible to be a climber for more than a few months without seeing them at the climbing gym or at a buddy’s house. They’re my top pick for a portable hangboard because no other boards can compare to their compact size. At merely 6.5 inches (16 cm) wide, you can stow a pair of Rock Rings in a drawer or in the glove box of your car without a second thought. There is no other hangboard-style training tool that is as compact.

The flipside of their compact size is that they’re quite heavy. At over 8 pounds for both holds, these aren’t the sort of hangboard training system that you want to bring with you to the crag for warmups. Rock Rings are 8X heavier than the Light Rail, and even heavier than the Metolius Wood Grips (5.6 lbs/2.5 kg).

That said, the polyester resin is much more durable than either of the above products. Rock Rings can really take some serious abuse, making it an excellent choice for van-lifers and others who live on the road. The included cordage lets you hang these rings anywhere, whether from a tree branch, ceiling beam, or some bolts at the crag. There isn’t a ton of variety here, just three different sizes of pockets and a jug up top. There are also no slopers at all. So high-quantity pull-up training is the best way to use your Rock Rings. For dedicated climbers looking for a real “hangboard” experience, you’ll run out of progression pretty quickly.


  • Uber-portable
  • Instant setup
  • Durable polyester resin
  • Affordable & compact


  • Limited hold options
  • No stationary mounting option
  • Heavy

DISCLAIMER: For me, portability is all about size. It’s about where I can stash the hangboard. I almost never carry hangboards in my pack. For others, portability is about weight. If weight is your main concern, then the Light Rail (2) might be a better choice than the Rock Rings. The Crag Life Burrito Grande (3) is another excellent value portable hangboard. This little tubular board weighs just 2.5 lbs and is around 10 inches long.

Bonus: So iLL Iron Palm: Bonus Pick, Best for Slopers & Pinches

So iLL Iron Palm

Important Specs

Price: $$
Dimensions: 27″ x 11.5″ (68 x 29 cm)
Material: Urethane
Weight: 9 lbs (4 kg)

Shaped by pro climber Jason Kehl, the So iLL Iron Palm lives in a world of its own. There’s no other hangboard quite like it. The Iron Palm is too sloper & pinch-specific to give it an overall award here, but it’s truly a stellar product that will appeal to certain climbers more than any other hangboard out there. While the other hangboards on this list focus on pockets and edges, the Iron Palm (as the name suggests) is centered around slopers and pinches, and is far and away the best hangboard for training those hand positions. Two slopers dominate the top shelf of the board, and it houses two sets of pinches on the bottom flanks, which can be mixed and matched to create up to three different sizes, dramatically boosting your pinch grip strength.

On top of the pinches and slopers, the Iron Palm has four long edges on the central rails, although there are no normal “pockets.” The edges offer decent variety, but there aren’t the micro edges or monos you’d find on a board like the Beastmaker 2000, so there’s a reduced appeal for advanced climbers. At 27″ (68 cm), it’s one of the wider boards on the list, and as I mentioned before, there are positives and negatives here. The wider size is harder to find space to mount, but it’s also more ergonomic, easier on the shoulders and elbows.

At the end of the day, the So iLL Iron Palm may not be right for everyone. But if your specific goals revolve around sloper or pinch strength, then this is a truly great hangboard. If crags with challenging slopers like Fontainbleu, Horse Pens 40, or Maple Canyon are on your radar, the Iron Palm is a solid purchase to get you ready to crush once you hit the rock.


  • Superb for sloper & pinch strength
  • Durable urethane build
  • Wide frame for joint support


  • Limited hold options
  • Expensive

How to Find the Perfect Hangboard

Metolius Simulator 3D climbing hangboard
©️ Metolius

A hangboard is a small wooden or plastic board containing a series of climbing holds, spaced about shoulder-width apart and hung around head height (or slightly higher). Most hangboards are stationary, designed to be drilled into the wall, commonly above a doorframe.

Other hangboards are designed to be freehanging, like the Metolius Light Rail (which I take with me just about anywhere I travel for fast & easy hang sessions). Hangboards allow you to practice pull-ups, deadhangs, transitions, one-hand techniques, and more, simulating much of the upper body movement and technique you’ll use on the wall. The best hangboard is an excellent tool for building hand and finger strength (and even core strength), but they do put a lot of stress on your body. Proper hangboard technique is crucial.


Most hangboards are either made from wood or polyester resin (plastic). Each material offers unique benefits and drawbacks. Plastic hangboards are usually cheaper and more durable, making them a good hangboard of choice for beginner or budget-conscious climbers. In some cases, they can also provide better grip texture (though this ultimately comes down to individual manufacturers and climber preference).

Wooden hangboards offer a natural, warm grip and more-forgiving texture, less likely to cause flappers & skin tearing. Most advanced climbers prefer the grip and texture of wooden boards. However, wooden hangboards require more maintenance and care. You need to keep them dry, and they require sanding over time to maintain texture.

man using wooden hangboard for climbing

Hold Types

Except for side pulls and underclings, you can find just about every type of climbing hold on a hangboard. Pretty much every hangboard has a variety of edges and pockets, from deep 0.75″ pockets to micro edges all the way down to 6mm (0.2″) or less! Most hangboards also offer slopers and jugs, and a few, like the So iLL Iron Palm, include pinches. Let’s go into more detail about the different types of climbing holds.


Jugs are pretty simple. These are large, easy-to-grab holds that you can fit most of your hand around. They’re ideal for warmups and for cranking out pull-ups.


You’ll find edges on pretty much every hangboard. Edge depths can range from deep enough to fit the full length of your finger to extremely shallow, barely able to support a fingertip. When grabbing an edge, keep your hand open. Don’t close your thumb or index fingers over the edge in a crimp, instead, hang loose with your fingers almost fully extended. You can practice proper edge form by pretending you’re slapping a wall and slowly dragging your outstretched hand down it until your fingertips “catch” on the edge.

climbing hangboard edges


Pockets, also referred to as “finger pockets,” are essentially edges that have a top and sides. The main difference between finger pockets and edges is that a finger pocket limits the number of fingers you can fit into it (hence the name), and allows you to benefit marginally from friction on the sides of the pocket. Depending on your finger size, some finger pockets will only fit three fingers, some two, some only one. You can experiment with using different fingers inside a given pocket. Again, keep an open hand grip. Don’t curl your fingers into a crimp.


Slopers, like jugs, are pretty self-explanatory. These are downward-angled surfaces, sometimes slightly rounded, sometimes completely leveled, without an edge or lip for your fingers to catch on. Slopers require full-hand strength, in the palms as well as the fingers. Place as much of your hand on the sloper as possible and pull down (not out).


Few of even the best hangboards have pinches, and pinches aren’t a hold you need to mess with until you’re a more advanced climber. In general, you grab a pinch with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. The thinner the pinch is, the easier it is to grip (usually). Fully vertical pinches are the most difficult to hold. Some pinches may be angled slightly, making for an easier hold.

Mounting a Hangboard

Metolius wood grips II climbing hangboard
©️ Metolius

Standard Setup

Setting Up a Hangboard without Drilling

There are a few ways to get a hangboard set up without needing to drill holes. Nobody likes a bunch of screw holes in their wall—and some of us have security deposits (!) The easiest way is to use a freehanging system, like the Metolius Light Rail or Rock Rings (above). These tools come with cordelette, allowing you to put ’em up anywhere, from a tree branch, a bolt in the gym or at the crag, or perhaps over a beam in your attic or garage. I currently live on the second floor of an apartment building, and I hang my Light Rail underneath my staircase.

Alternatively, you can set up a stationary hangboard without drilling. You’ll need:

  • Hangboard
  • Wooden 2″ x 8″ board
  • Door frame pull-up bar
  • 4x Bike Hooks
  • Wood Screws
  • Drill/Screwdriver
  • Saw (Power or hand)

The process is pretty simple. Keep in mind that it’s best to choose a small, compact hangboard like the Metolius Project or Wood Grips II. Here’s a step-by-step how to mount your hangboard without drilling into the wall.

1. Purchase Mountable Pull-Up Bar

To start, you’ll need to buy a mountable pull-up, one that hangs in the doorway from the lintel and backing.

2. Attach Hangboard to Wood Backing

Next, cut your 2×8 board so that it’s just a tiny bit wider than your doorway. Then screw your hangboard onto the board, just as though you’d attach it to a wall normally (see above). Try to mount the hangboard as high as possible on the wooden board, because you’ll lose some height due to the pull-up bar already hanging underneath the doorframe (instead of above it).

3. Attach Bike Hooks to Wood

Drill four pilot holes into the top of your 2×8. Be sure to drill straight in – too much of an angle will weaken the setup. Then screw the hooks into these holes.

4. Mount Your Hangboard

Hang your pull-up bar in the doorway, then hang your bike hooks over it to mount the board. Before you start training, consider putting furniture pads on the sides of your doorframe, as the wood backing can damage the frame over time.

Training with a Hangboard

So Ill beastmaker 2000 in use
©️ So Ill

Do’s and Don’ts

You might not take a 20-foot whipper or snap your ankle crashing down onto a pad like you can when rock climbing, but hangboarding isn’t without its risks. You can easily injure yourself if your training plan isn’t focused. The below list has a few things to keep in mind as you begin your training sessions.

Hangboard with a certain goal in mind.

Maybe it’s sending a certain boulder or maybe it’s completely the sequence of a lead route in your gym. Think about the movements and holds that you’re struggling with.

Keep your training simple to start.

Begin training with bodyweight hangs and other low-intensity exercises before doing pull-ups on edges, and certainly before adding weighted hangs. Use all four fingers on edges before transitioning to one and two-finger pockets.

Rest days matter!

Chill for at least a day or two between sessions to avoid injuring your hands and tendons. After all, the real goal is to improve as a climber, not a hangboarder. It makes no sense to go so hard on your hangboard that you injure yourself and scrap your chances on your project!

man doing pull ups on climbing fingerboard

Remember, finger strength training isn’t just taking place on your hangboard.

You’re naturally building finger strength when you’re climbing outside and in the gym. Try to use your hangboard as a focused tool, limiting your training program to a few weeks, instead of training on a hangboard for months and months on end.

Set your hangboard at the proper height.

You should be able to reach all the holds, even the two slopers up top, without jumping. It should also be high enough that you can comfortably hang, arms fully loose, without touching the ground, with your knees slightly bent, lower legs and feet tucked behind you if needed.

While hanging, avoid locking your elbows or “shrugging” your shoulders.

Heep your shoulder blades back and engaged, away from your ears.

As you progress, be sure to alter both your training AND your resting times.

Increasing hang times is important, but shortening rest times is just as important and can help you build strength just as much as increasing your training intensity.


woman using climbing fingerboard
©️ Metolius

Training Programs

There are a plethora of training options available on even the most basic hangboard, but before you jump into adding weight, one-hand hangs, and other advanced techniques, build up to it with easier workouts.

Here is a basic training plan most climbers will benefit from:

  1. Grab a matching pair of holds using all four fingers with an open-handed grip. Hang here for 10 to 15 seconds. If you can easily hang for more than 15 seconds, transition onto smaller holds. If you find 10 to 15 seconds too difficult, then use bigger holds. Remember to target your training session around specific goals. If you’re working a slopey boulder, use the slopers, for example.
  2. After each hang, rest. for one minute, then hang again. Repeat four times. That’s one set.
  3. After each set, take a longer rest session, for about five or six minutes. Then do another set of hangs, either on the same holds or on a similar group. Do four sets in all. That’s a session!

Next steps:

You can proceed like this for the first three weeks of your hangboard career. Then, increase the difficulty by switching to holds you can only hang onto for five to eight seconds. This interval is the best zone to build serious finger strength, particularly crimp strength. As you continue to improve, start adding different holds to each set. Once you feel comfortable with these training techniques (and you’re training without pain), add a weight vest to up the intensity.

NOTE: Hangboarding puts a lot of stress on your body, particularly on small muscles and tendons that aren’t commonly used to that level of intensity. Listening to your body is key as you progress. It’s the only way you’ll improve your workouts without injuring yourself. If you can’t finish a set, stop your session. If fingers or elbows become sore, take a break for a week. Make sure you’re using good form and start training again in moderation, once you can do so without pain.

climber using fingerboard in a climbing gym

Recommended Books

As your climbing ability level increases, you may want to have an on-hand resource for in-depth climbing training advice. Learning from more advanced climbers in your gym or crag is certainly a viable strategy, but the best training books can offer valuable insight as well. My favorite is:

The Rock Climber’s Training Manual, Michael L. Anderson Ph.D. and Mark L. Anderson

This tome is perhaps the most famous training book in climbing, credited with popularizing much of the commonplace hangboard techniques we use today. The book is known for its “Rock Prodigy Method,” championing periodization to prevent plateauing. If you’re looking for one book specifically focused on hangboard workouts, this is the one.

Below are a few other excellent training books to check out. Most of these are about climbing training in general but do touch on the best hangboard training.

  • The Rock Climber’s Exercise Guide: Training for Strength, Power, Endurance, Flexibility, and Stability, Eric Hörst
  • Unstoppable Force: Strength Training for Climbers: Steve Bechtel and Charlie Manganiello
  • Beastmaking: A Fingers-First Approach to Becoming a Better Climber, Ned Feehally
  • 9 out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes, Dave MacLeod
  • Training for Climbing: The Definitive Guide to Improving Your Performance, Eric Hörst
  • Rock Climbing Technique: The Practical Guide to Movement Mastery, John Kettle

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

climber using so ill beastmaker 2000
©️ So Ill

Should beginners use a hangboard?

Beginners can definitely use a hangboard. A hangboard is a useful, compact, and affordable training tool for climbers of all skill levels. However, when you’re a new climber you’ll see more benefits simply by spending time on the wall. Once your technique and form improve and your tendons and pulleys grow stronger, you’ll get more use out of hangboarding (and be less likely to injure yourself).

At what level should you start hangboarding?

Six months to a year into your climbing career is a good time to begin hangboarding, but it varies depending on how often and hard you climb. As a beginner climber, it’s better to train on the wall as much as possible, building strength and stamina. Whenever you feel your strength is beginning to plateau, whether it’s after nine months of climbing or three years of climbing, it could be a good time to hop on a hangboard. Just do so in moderation! It’s very easy to injure yourself on a hangboard.

How deep should a hangboard be for a beginner?

As a beginner, look for hangboard edges and pockets that are at least 0.5 to 0.75 inches deep. You can also practice on jugs until you build up your contact strength.

How many times a week should you hangboard?

Most climbers hangboard two to three times per week for thirty minutes per session, unless training for a specific competition or goal. Any more than that, and you’re risking injury.

Should I hangboard before or after climbing?

It’s best to schedule hangboard workouts on your climbing “off days,” especially as a newbie hangboarder. There’s really no reason to put in a full, hard climbing session and add to it with hangboarding. But if you want to train on the wall and hangboard during the same session, the order in which you train comes down to your goals.

If you’re focused on low-impact, endurance training, like hangs, then it’s best to hangboard after your climbing session. Hangboarding is very intense and puts a lot of strain on your fingers and tendons, so it’s nigh impossible to come off a serious hangboard session and expect to hop on the wall and send your project. (This also makes sure that you’re warmed up once you hop on the hangboard).

If you’re trying to strength train on the hangboard, it’s more effective to hangboard before climbing, when your muscles are still fresh. Just expect to have a mellow climbing session post-hangboarding. Either way, listen to your body and train in moderation to avoid injury.

Does hangboarding improve climbing?

Hangboarding will certainly improve your climbing ability, but it can cause injury if not performed in moderation, or if you dive into hangboarding while still a new climber. Wait to hangboard until you have some experience on the wall. Even then, use caution and hangboard in moderation.

man climbing indoors on artificial wall

Are hangboards worth it?

Hangboards are worth it if you have progressed enough as a climber (see above), and if you’re climbing regularly and pushing hard against your project grade.

If you’re someone who only climbs once a week, or if you mostly climb for fun and don’t project, then it doesn’t make sense to purchase a hangboard. The same is true if you mostly climb 5.10 or below. In those cases, focus on climbing in the gym or outside whenever you can. If you’re pushing into harder grades like 5.11+ and beyond and you need an extra edge, hangboards may provide it.

Which hangboard does Alex Honnold use?

As one of the strongest climbers in the world, Alex Honnold has a variety of different hangboards for different situations, but he is commonly associated with the So iLL Beastmaker 2000 (4). This wooden hangboard, designed for advanced and elite climbers, has two main rails of nine pockets each, along with a top sloper rail with two pockets.

Which is the best hangboard?

There is no “best” hangboard for everyone. The seven hangboards on this list are the best available on the market today, depending on who you are. If you’re looking for the best budget hangboard, try the Metolius Wood Grips II (5), a steal at only $90. If you’re looking for the best hangboard no matter the cost, the Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center (6) is a superb choice. See the full list above for more.

Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center
©️ Trango

What material is best for hangboards?

Modern climbing hangboards are either made from wood or plastic (i.e. polyurethane, commonly called polyester resin boards). But neither material is “better” than the other. Each offers benefits and drawbacks in cost, grip and texture, durability, and weight. See below for more info.

Is a wood or plastic hangboard better?

It depends on your goals, experience, and preference. Plastic hangboards are usually cheaper and more durable, with less maintenance required.

Wooden hangboards are more expensive, but many climbers find they offer better, more natural grip, as opposed to the often aggressive artificial texture on plastic boards. (However, this ultimately comes down to preference. Other climbers don’t like the low friction of wooden boards). Wood boards do have a much more skin-friendly texture, making them less likely to cause flappers and other skin injuries. They are also lighter than most plastic models.

What is the most effective hangboard training?

The most effective hangboard training, at least for beginners, focuses on dead hangs. Grab a matched pair of holds with an open grip and hang for 10 to 15 seconds. If you can hang longer, move to smaller holds. If you can’t last 10 to 15 seconds, move to bigger holds. Rest after each hang, then hang again, until you’ve completed four hangs (one set). Rest post-set, and do four sets total.

After a few weeks, increase the difficulty by moving to holds you can only grip for five to eight seconds. This is the best hang window for building finger strength. See “Training with a Hangboard” above for more info.


Owen Clarke

Metolius Light Rail Training Board

The Crag Life Burrito Grande

So iLL Beastmaker 2000

Metolius Wood Grips II

Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center