Repeaters vs Max-hangs

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  • #53173

    Age old question.

    Didn’t see discussions about this on UA. Which is better? Which should come first? Which should be the maintenance work-out? Does it really matter? Are repeaters not even worth doing if you have access to climbing (gym or otherwise)?

    Reviewed the UA articles on Josh’s recruitment fingerboard program (just max hangs), Steve’s endurance fingerboard program (max hangs but for 20sec, shorter rest), the UA/Bouldering Project training plan (starting with repeaters then progressing to max hangs), the Anderson’s book (only repeaters!), as well as the studies by Lopez (max hangs alone are better than repeaters or the combination of both).


Posted In: Climbing

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    David Thompson on #53196

    Age old question, indeed!

    All of this depends on how much acutual climbing someone is able to do in addition to their hang boarding. If someone is able to do a lot of climbing then max hangs a couple times every 10-14 days will work just fine. If not, then hang boarding more often is prudent. The thing to remember is that climbing movement is the best way to apply any finger strength. So decoupling fingers away from what is done on the rock will only make it more difficult to bring that strength in the presence of full body movement when the time comes.

    russes011 on #53225

    Thanks for the response David. What you say makes sense, especially when the goal from fingerboard training is to increase maximal finger strength or force. I don’t really see the advantage of repeaters when you have the access and time to climb routes and boulders. It’s just curious to me that the Anderson brothers, and their very popular book, don’t seem to mention anything other than repeaters for max strength, even when one has access to climbing. They don’t seem to to mention max hangs on their blog either. Anyway, thanks again for your input.

    Anonymous on #53532

    In contrast, the Lattice programs make heavy use of repeaters at all levels of intensity throughout their programs.

    As Dave said, it depends.

    russes011 on #53596

    Thanks for the the follow-up post Scott.

    Both you and Dave highlight the point that once one’s training and/or climbing is good enough to warrant ‘non-climbing’ training like hangboard routines, and eventually power-type training, it’s probably best to get the input of a coach to help guide the athlete based on specific goals and access to actual climbing, etc.

    psathyrella on #54818

    Repeaters and max hangs target different parts of the strength training cycle, so yeah as folks are saying it depends. The standard cycle is transition -> hypertrophy -> max strength/recruitment -> ME; as TFTNA says, you can skip hypertrophy if you’re not trying to absolutely maximize strength in a given muscle (as Scott J is always saying, alpinists don’t need to squat 4x body weight). Repeaters target hypertrophy, and though I once thought otherwise, there is really no kind of climbing that can mimic the intensity of an hour-long focused repeater session. Developing new muscle fibers lays the foundation for long term progression in strength, whereas recruitment works only on the muscle that’s already there — max hangs for sure work very well, especially for people that are newer to finger strength training, but they have a lower ceiling.

    The tradeoff is that repeater phases are vastly more exhausting than max hangs, so you really have to budget in a month of not climbing much of anything challenging for you. That’s only worthwhile if you’re sure you’re failing on your goal routes because you’re not strong enough, rather than a lack of technique.

    Addressing some specific points — the anderson bros recommend only training hypertrophy (repeaters) on the hb because it’s easy to train max strength (recruitment) with campus board or limit bouldering, both of which also help with technique. The hb doesn’t have a technique component. You can train max strength just fine on a hb, as well, but then you’d be spending two phases on a hb (there’s really no way to target hypertrophy with climbing, so that has to be on the hb). Also my understanding is that the lopez study tested how much the hb routines improved recruitment, so… not super informative that the routine that actually trains recruitment would do better — repeaters are for hypertrophy, not recruitment.

    I do agree that comparing-against-other-methods was a weak point in the anderson bros book + blog (i guess they were being polite?), but luckily there’s waaaaay more detail in old threads in their forums.

    Anonymous on #55351

    @psathyrella: Well said. Great summary.

    maass on #59653

    “(there’s really no way to target hypertrophy with climbing, so that has to be on the hb)”

    Could Hyperthrophy be effectivly trained through high volume sub-max climbing i.e. traversing, climb/downclimb, route repeaters? If you are getting pumped through route climbing you are training hyperthrophy and technique as well right?

    Olivia Martinez on #61300

    Thanks for the the follow-up post Scott.

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