Tips for Dead-Hang training: By Matt Lloyd

Jun 19, 2018 | By Matt Lloyd,


Why prioritize dead hangs over other types of accessory climbing training?

The evidence shows climbers who can dead hang longer climb proportionately harder grades. That may seem obvious, but another way to look at it says, you don’t need to train pull-ups as much, there has been no correlation found there.


“Hand’s fingers flexor muscles grip endurance in continuous and intermittent exercises are the muscles that have more influence in sport climbing performance. In this regard, we have found significant differences between elite and recreational climbers. “
View the Study



Your Hand Position Matters

Most people should use Semi crimp position while training (B) – the exception is if your climbing goal primarily contains slopey or heavily pocketed holds, then use an open handed grip position (A). Closed hand crimping (C) increases your odds of injury and should be avoided during training.


Keep Sessions Short & Intense

Long sessions cannot maintain required intensity for proper muscle stimulation. i.e Don’t worry if your whole dead hang workout lasts only 20 minutes.. that’s plenty if you don’t rest too much!


Use the Time Parameter of a Particular Workout to Properly Select the Proper Hold Size/Difficulty

Try this rule of thumb. If the workout requires a 10 sec hang (:10/:05), find the smallest hold you can hang onto for :15-:20 seconds before reaching failure (when you’re fresh). This might be different from climber to climber so take care on your first couple workouts to figure out which size holds works best for you. Start big and get smaller, don’t start small and then not finish the workout.



Failure should be reached or nearly reached on the last rep of a given set, not before.

Adjust the size of the hold accordingly during the workout to make sure you only fail on the last rep. If you need to skip a round during a dead hang workout, do so. Its not the end of the world!

  • Evidence supports that added weight training should be done before minimum edge training. So… remember, big holds with added weight then little holds without weight.


How Good are You at Dead Hangs?

Here is How the Numbers Show It

Find a 14mm edge and hang on it as long as possible :30 sec = 25th Percentile

:43 sec = 50th percentile
:51 sec = 75th percentile
:56 sec = 85th percentile
:75 sec. = 100th percentile

(25th percentile means you can hang on longer than 25% of climbers and shorter than 75% of climbers)


Recovery is Key.

Some Forearm Recovery Favorites


Forearm Crush: Open and close hands while applying weight from your knees.



Recovery Device Roll-Out: Use a commercial device like the “Arm Aid”.



Forearm Roll-Out: Use a lacrosse ball to roll-out the forearm. This is one of my favorites!


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A source for a lot of ideas and concepts explained today come from the excellent research of Eva Lopez, check her work out here