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Category Archives: Rock Prodigy Training Center

Adjustable Mount for the RPTC – New Post on RCTM.com!

Check out my new post on “Adjustable Mount for the RPTC” over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“Ever since I first conceived of the Rock Prodigy Training Center, I’ve been pondering a cheap and simple mounting system that would allow for instantaneous spacing adjustments. Once the RPTC was unveiled I got a number of great ideas from other climbers. Julian Marks suggested a “French Cleat” system in this Mountain Project thread, which uses two pieces of angled lumber to create an integrated hook on the mounting structure that slides along a fixed receptacle…”  Continue Reading

Adjustable Mount for the RPTC

Ever since I first conceived of the Rock Prodigy Training Center, I’ve been pondering a cheap and simple mounting system that would allow for instantaneous spacing adjustments. Once the RPTC was unveiled I got a number of great ideas from other climbers. Julian Marks suggested a “French Cleat” system in this Mountain Project thread, which uses two pieces of angled lumber to create an integrated hook on the mounting structure that slides along a fixed receptacle.

The French Cleat concept: The upper incut board (fastened to a piece of plywood and one half of the RPTC) hooks onto the lower, fixed incut board. This allows the upper unit to “float” freely from side to side along the fixed cleat.

The French Cleat concept: The upper incut board (fastened to a piece of plywood and one half of the RPTC) hooks onto the lower, fixed incut board. This allows the upper unit to “float” freely from side to side along the fixed cleat.

This was exactly the sort of simplicity I was hoping for. Despite the assurances of several folks, I doubted that this method would provide reliable, rigid, and stable support for the RPTC. The mounting structure must be solid to ensure repeatable training loads. A board that wobbles or flexes undermines our ability to track progress and predict the proper increment of increased load between workouts. I decided to build a prototype and was impressed by the results. The finished mount was rock solid, and much easier to adjust than I had ever dreamed. Here’s a short video of the finished product in action:

Below are step-by-step instructions for building the mount shown. If you have any suggestions for streamlining the fabrication process, please share them in a comment!

Required Tools:

  • Drill
  • Circular Saw with a rigid blade
  • Level
  • Several Clamps
  • Tape Measure
  • Gloves, safety glasses

Optional Tools:

  • Electric Sander
  • Table Saw

Materials:

  • 2×6, 2×8, or 2×10 lumber, 5-feet long or more
  • 2×4, same length as 2×6/8/10
  • 1×4, same length as 2×6/8/10
  • A few short pieces of scrap 2×4
  • ~Two square feet of ¾” Plywood
  • 8 – 3” Wood Screws (#8 or larger)
  • 6 – 2.5” Wood Screws (#8 or larger)
  • 2 – 1.25” Wood Screws

I started with an 8-foot long 2×8, because I wasn’t sure how “tall’ the cleats would need to be. I went with 5.5” for the long fixed cleat and 5” for the two floating cleats (so a 2×6 would have worked for either cleat, though in retrospect, 5” for both cleats would have worked too). The first step, and by far the crux of the project, is to make an angled rip cut in the 2x piece of lumber. The cut needs to be as precise as possible, since the surface created by the cut will be the mounting surface between the two cleats. Irregularities in this surface will cause the cleats to “wobble”. For the fixed cleat you need to make a rip cut ~3.5-feet long, and for the two floating cleats you need to make a rip cut ~2.5-feet long. If you are using the same cleat height for the fixed and floating cleats, you can make one 6’-long rip cut (or if you’re using a 2×10, one 3.5′ rip cut would probably do it). Make the cut at least 6” longer than you need because you will want to trim the a few inches off each end of the finished board.

Dimensions of the piece parts.

Dimensions of the piece parts.

I found making the rip cut to be quite difficult, and I failed on my first attempt. A table saw or better would be really nice to have for this cut, but I was able to do it (eventually) with my circular saw. My initial error was using a “speed blade” on my circular saw, which is designed to be thin so that less material is removed while cutting, thus allowing for speedy cuts. Each time the thin blade crossed the wood grain it would flex slightly, causing the cut to veer off course. Once I switched to a thicker blade I was able to make the cut, though it was still difficult.

My circular saw, setup to cut at a 45-degree angle. The blade in this picture is the Diablo speed blade.

My circular saw, setup to cut at a 45-degree angle. The blade in this picture is the Diablo speed blade.

In preparation for the cut, I built a jig to guide the saw and make the cut as straight as possible. I fastened the 2×4 to the narrow edge of the 2×8, and then fastened the 1×4 to the inside wide edge of the 2×4 (based on the dimensions of my circular saw’s guide plate, this made the cut 5.5” from the 2x edge of the board; without the 1×4, the cut would be 5” from the 2x edge—so don’t use the 1×4 if you want your cleats to be 5” tall). I also placed some scrap 2x pieces under the entire assembly to protect my precious deck 🙂

Building a guide (aka “fence”) out of a 2x4 and 1x4 to keep the circular saw aligned correctly during the rip cut. The 2x4 is fastened into the 2x8, and the 1x4 is fastened to the 2x4. Once the cut is complete, the 2x4 and 1x4 are removed.

Building a guide (aka “fence”) out of a 2×4 and 1×4 to keep the circular saw aligned correctly during the rip cut. The 2×4 is fastened into the 2×8, and the 1×4 is fastened to the 2×4. Once the cut is complete, the 2×4 and 1×4 are removed.

A few tips on the rip cut: 1) when starting, cut about 2” into the board, then back out the saw and go back in again. Repeat as necessary to ensure the saw’s guide plate is lying flat against the board and flush against the 1×4 (or 2×4) guide rail. 2) The entire time you are cutting, apply firm pressure down, and into the guide rail to prevent the saw from lifting up or veering off course. 3) Take your time! This is not an easy cut to make.

Making the angled Rip Cut.

Making the angled Rip Cut.

Once the rip cut was made I used an electric sander to smooth down all the new edges and the angled surface. This surface will be the mating interface between the cleats so you want it to be as smooth and uniform as possible.

Next I cut the fixed cleat down to size. This cleat is 5.5” tall, and I decided to make it 34.5” long. It could be longer, but this is all I had space for, and much longer than I need. This allows me to vary the spacing of my RPTC halves from 0” to 9.5”.

The cut fixed cleat (before sanding).

The cut fixed cleat (before sanding).

To make the two floating cleats I flipped the 2×8 around, and installed the 2×4 guide fence on the opposite edge of the 2×8, but left the 1×4 off, to create a 5” tall cleat. [Note: This isn’t ideal; I had to do this because I messed up the first rip cut and so half of my 2×8 was essentially ruined.   By shortening the height of the cleat by 0.5” I was able to salvage this half of the 2×8. If I were doing it again I would make one rip cut, ~6-feet long, resulting in a cut 5.5” from the edge of the 2×6/8, and I would use that piece to make the fixed cleat and the two floating cleats.] I cut this piece into two 12.5” long pieces (about ¼” longer than one half of the RPTC). Making these longer would probably increase the stability of the finished assembly, but it would require more mounting space as well.  The 12.5″ length has worked fine for me, but I notice a bit of flex when I’m using the pinch grips.

A finished floating cleat perched above the fixed cleat.

A finished floating cleat perched above the fixed cleat.

Next I cut out two 12.5” by 10” rectangles of ¾” plywood. These pieces will be attached to the floating cleats, and then the RPTC halves will be mounted to the plywood. With all the pieces cut to size, it was time to assemble the contraption.

Make two rectangles of ¾” plywood, measuring 12.5” wide by 10” tall.

Make two rectangles of ¾” plywood, measuring 12.5” wide by 10” tall.

The first step of assembly is to mount the fixed cleat to your mounting structure. Use a level to get this cleat lined up properly. In my case, I was mounting to a long 2×8, so I used a handful of 3” long wood screws to fasten the fixed cleat. If you are mounting to a wall with hidden studs, or some other structure, longer wood screws, lag screws, or bolts may be required. If using wood screws, use at least six, but make sure the fixed cleat is firmly attached to the mounting structure.

Next I placed the floating cleats onto the fixed cleats, and lined them up in the locations I expected to use them the most. I then attached the first plywood rectangle to the first cleat using two 2” wood screws (longer screws will penetrate the mounting surface and defeat the purpose of this entire enterprise). I lined up the rectangle so the lower horizontal edge was flush with the lower horizontal edge of the fixed cleat (this meant the top of the rectangle protrudes about 3/4” from the top of the floating cleat). Once I had the first screw in place, I used a level to get the lower edge of the rectangle level. Install the second rectangle in the same way. It helps to have a clamp for this step.

The two plywood rectangles attached to the floating cleats. Use two 2” screws for each plywood piece. More screws will be added later.

The two plywood rectangles attached to the floating cleats. Use two 2” screws for each plywood piece. More screws will be added later.

Next install each half of the RPTC onto the plywood rectangle. I installed mine flush with the lower edge of the plywood rectangle, and I used a level, placed under the edge that runs between the Thin Edge and the beveled three-finger pocket on each RPTC half, to ensure each side was installed at the correct angle (horizontal for me), and to ensure the two halves are installed at the same height. It helps to have a clamp to fine tune the alignment before installing any screws. Once aligned, use the screw lengths specified in the below pic to ensure you don’t penetrate the mounting structure or fixed cleat:

Use the screw lengths specified here when attaching the RPTC halves to the floating mounts.

Use the screw lengths specified here when attaching the RPTC halves to the floating mounts.

Once all the screws are installed, test your installation. You should be ready to rock! I suggest attaching or scribing a ruler onto your fixed cleat to allow for quick and repeatable adjustment of your RPTC spacing. Note the spacing used for each grip position in your Hangboard Log Sheet for future reference.  I’ve been training on this mount for the past two weeks now, and I’m really happy with it.  I’m looking into ways to streamline the construction of this type of mount, so if you have ny ideas, please let me know!

Hangboard Resistance Data Analysis

As promised, here is some hangboard resistance data from my recently concluded Strength Phase.  This was my first full phase using the Rock Prodigy Training Center.  I thought it would take a while to get the loads dialed in correctly but I was able to get pretty close to the right resistance during the first workout.

RPTC Grip Identification

I trained the following grips, in the order listed below, performing 3 sets of reps (7 reps for the first set of each grip, then 6 reps, then 5), except where noted.

Grip Order Table

The below chart shows the resistance added to body weight during the final set of each grip (the Large VDER is omitted since this is a warmup grip and the resistance rarely changes). 

This chart shows the resistance added (to body weight) for the third set of each grip, for each workout.

This chart shows the resistance added (to body weight) for the third set of each grip, for each workout.

If I complete every rep of all 3 sets for a given grip, I add 5 lbs (to each set) during the next workout.  For example, during the first workout, MR 2-finger resistance was:

 -10 lb. for the 1st set,
    0 for the 2nd set and
+10 for the 3rd set.

During the first workout, I completed all reps of each set of that grip, so for the next workout the goal resistance was:

   -5 lb for the 1st set,
  +5 lb for the 2nd set and
+15 for the 3rd set. 

So you can infer from the above chart that if the 3rd-set-resistance increased between workouts n and n+1, then I succeeded in completing the prescribed sets (at the prescribed resistance) during workout n.  If the 3rd-set-resistance did not increase, you can infer that I failed to complete all reps during workout n.  I almost always complete the first two sets of each grip, so one can further infer that if I failed to progress, I failed on the third set.

Some interesting “conclusions” can be drawn from this data. 

  • You can see where I started to plateau, between the 6th and 7th workout.  After the 7th workout I struggled to make progress between workouts on most grips.  I’ve experimented with trying to burst through this plateau by performing more and more workouts, but it never seems to work.  Usually by the 10th workout or so I won’t see any more improvement (I’ve done as many as 12 workouts in a phase)                          
  • The earlier grips in the workout progressed much more than the later grips.  The most improvement over the course of the phase was seen in the Mono, Thin Crimp, and MR 2 Finger (the first 3 grips completed).  The least improvement was seen in the Pinch, IM 2 Finger and Small VDER (the last 3 grips).  This is typical in my experience, and this is why I suggest working the most “important” grips early in your hangboard workouts.  Here is another way to look at this phenomenon:
This chart shows the total improvement in Third-Set-Resistance over the course of my Strength Phase.  The grips are shown in the order performed.  As you can see, for the most part the grips performed early in the workout improved the most, and the grips performed at the end improved the least.

This chart shows the total improvement in Third-Set-Resistance over the course of my Strength Phase. The grips are shown in the order performed. As you can see, for the most part the grips performed early in the workout improved the most, and the grips performed at the end improved the least.

  • The Pinch grip was a disaster!  After the second workout I flatlined, then after the 6th workout I actually got worse! This is somewhat exaggerated because after the 6th workout (and several straight workouts of failing on the third set), I purposely reduced the resistance in the hopes of jump starting this grip.  That worked once (workout 7), but then I plateaued at a lower level.  Part of this is because this is the last grip of the workout.  However, you might expect that I would at least get better at managing fatigue, and thus would show some improvement.  You certainly would not expect that I would regress.  So what is going on here?  Each workout is a little bit harder (overall) than the preceding workout.  This is because initially the loads applied are conservative, so early in the Strength Phase many sets are completed with relative ease, leaving more energy for the later grips in the workout.  Later in the Phase, the loads applied are much closer to my limit, and I really have to scratch and claw to complete each set of every grip.  Thus I’m much more tired when I arrive at the last few grips of a given workout.  The amplitude of this effect increases each workout within a phase.  So while the loads applied in this example are more or less constant, the apparent difficulty of completing three sets at those loads is increasing each workout.  A question worth asking is, does training this grip improve my pinch strength, or would I be better off ending my workout after 5 grips?  I don’t know the answer to that question, but I think it does make me stronger (or at least better at managing fatigue), even though the accumulating fatigue prevents me from capturing that improvement “on paper”.

Moving on, the first chart I posted illustrates only the load applied during the third set of each grip.  There are many other ways to slice the data.  During each set, I strive to perform a certain number of 7-second dead hang repetitions (7 for the first set, 6 for the second set, 5 for the third set).  Often I reach the end of the third set, having completed each rep without failing.  In these situations I usually try to perform a 6th rep at the end of the third set (in rare instances I will add extra reps to the second set, but only if it feels really easy).  On the other hand, often I fail to complete all of the prescribed reps.  For example, I might complete the first 4 reps of the third set of a given grip, but my fingers fail 5 seconds in to the 5th rep.  Capturing these variations and plotting them provides slightly more fidelity into apparent plateaus:

This chart shows the total "Time Under Tension" (TUT) for the 2nd and 3rd sets of the Pinch grip for workouts 2-6 (I omitted the 1st set TUT because it was a constant 49 seconds for each workout).  The load applied (-5 lbs for the 2nd set, +5 lbs for the 3rd set) was constant for these five workouts.

This chart shows the total “Time Under Tension” (TUT) for the 2nd and 3rd sets of the Pinch grip for workouts 2-6 (I omitted the 1st set TUT because it was a constant 49 seconds for each workout). The load applied (-5 lbs for the 2nd set, +5 lbs for the 3rd set) was constant for these five workouts.

The TUT for each workout in the above chart “should be” 42 seconds for the 2nd set (6 reps times 7 seconds per rep) and 35 seconds for the third set.  As you can see, there was a good deal of variation between workouts despite a constant applied load.  The problem with looking at the data in this manner is that it only works when the load applied is constant.  Another option is to look at the “Volume” of a given set.  Qualitatively, Volume = Intensity x Duration.  However, coming up with a practical quantitative Volume formula can be challenging. 

The most simplistic method is to simply multiple the hang duration (TUT) for a given set by the load applied.  However, the load applied is only a fraction of the load on your fingers.  It makes sense to add body weight into the formula (so Volume = (Body Weight + Load Applied) x Duration.  The below chart shows this data for the 3rd sets of the IM 2 Finger grip.

This chart shows Volume, defined as Volume = (Body Weight + Load Applied) x Duration, for the 3rd set of the IM 2 Finger grip for the entire Strength Phase.

This chart shows Volume, defined as Volume = (Body Weight + Load Applied) x Duration, for the 3rd set of the IM 2 Finger grip for the entire Strength Phase.

The problem with the above metric is that it “values” duration much more than load.  It’s easy to achieve a high Volume figure by using lower loads and performing extra reps.  For example, during the first 5 workouts of this phase, I managed to complete all 5 reps of each 3rd set, and then at least attempted a 6th rep.  During the last five workouts I only completed the 5th rep once and never attempted a 6th rep.  As a result, the “Volume” on the left side of the chart (the first five workouts) is greater than the Volume on the right half.  This is not what we want to strive for as athletes.  We want to strive for higher loads, more so than extra reps, so it would be nice to use a Volume formula that “rewards” higher loads.  Another option is to consider the Volume of the entire grip, not just the Volume of the 3rd set.  This method gives you “credit” for the extra load used later in the phase in the first two sets of each grip.

This chart shows the sum of the Volume for each set of the IM 2 Finger grip.  The formula for this chart is Total Grip Volume = [(Body Weight + Set 1 Load Applied) x Set 1 Duration] + [(Body Weight + Set 2 Load Applied) x Set 2 Duration] + [(Body Weight + Set 2 Load Applied) x Set 2 Duration].

This chart shows the sum of the Volume for each set of the IM 2 Finger grip. The formula for this chart is Total Grip Volume = [(Body Weight + Set 1 Load Applied) x Set 1 Duration] + [(Body Weight + Set 2 Load Applied) x Set 2 Duration] + [(Body Weight + Set 2 Load Applied) x Set 2 Duration].

The Total Grip Volume method of calculation is an improvement.  The Volume for workouts 7-10 is greater than that of workouts 1-3, but it still implies that my workout 5 performance of 5 reps of 7 seconds and 1 rep of 6 seconds at +30 lbs. is “superior” to my workout 10 performance of 4 reps of 7 seconds and 1 rep of 4 seconds at +40 lbs.  Maybe it is, but I can tell you the latter seems much more difficult to do, and it would be nice if the “Volume” calculation captured that.  So there is room for an improved Volume formula.

Finally, for the “fun” of it, below is the Total Workout Volume (the sum of the above volume calculation for each grip):

This chart shows Total Workout Volume = [((BW + S1AL) x S1D) + ((BW + S2AL) x S2D) + ((BW + S3AL) x S3D)]Grip 1 + [((BW + S1AL) x S1D) + ((BW + S2AL) x S2D) + ((BW + S3AL) x S3D)]Grip 2 + ... + [((BW + S1AL) x S1D) + ((BW + S2AL) x S2D) + ((BW + S3AL) x S3D)]Grip n.

This chart shows Total Workout Volume = [((BW + S1AL) x S1D) + ((BW + S2AL) x S2D) + ((BW + S3AL) x S3D)]Grip 1 + [((BW + S1AL) x S1D) + ((BW + S2AL) x S2D) + ((BW + S3AL) x S3D)]Grip 2 + … + [((BW + S1AL) x S1D) + ((BW + S2AL) x S2D) + ((BW + S3AL) x S3D)]Grip n.

At least it seems the Volume is more or less increasing each workout, and this shows some indication of a plateau appearing around the 9th workout.

I know I’m not the only spreadsheet nerd out there, so if you have a novel way of analyzing your training data, please share in a comment below!

RPTC Install and First Impressions

I permanently installed my Rock Prodigy Training Center last week, and I’ve done my first few hangboard workouts of the new season.  To install the RPTC, I took a bunch of measurements of my old, sprawling setup, and used those figures to optimize the spacing of the RPTC.  In the end I settled on 4.5″ between the interior edges of the two halves (YMMV!).  I have the halves oriented horizontally, and so far this is working well for me.

Measuring the spacing between halves of the RPTC.

Measuring the spacing between halves of the RPTC.

So far the RPTC has worked out even better than I’d hoped.  One thing I really like about it though, is that before I was using four different “stations” to complete my workout.  This required a ton of space, but moreso it required a lot of moving from place to place throughout each workout.  It made the rest periods stressful as I raced to get in position in time to start the next set (not to mention all the time I spent taping various fingers to protect my skin from overly-sharp holds).

My old hangboard setup.  A ridiculous amalgamation of modified hangboards, holds, rock rings and system tiles

My old hangboard setup. A ridiculous amalgamation of modified hangboards, holds, rock rings and system tiles.  Switching grips meant moving my stopwatch, chalkbag, toothbrush, pulleys and platform from one set of holds to the next. 

All the other nonsense replaced by a single, streamlined unit

All the other nonsense replaced by a single, streamlined unit.  Now what to do with all the extra space?

That is all a distant, unpleasant memory now.  I can do my entire workout in one place, I don’t need to move weights and platforms all around between sets, and best of all NO MORE TAPE!  I haven’t had to use a single piece of tape since I switched to the RPTC.  I used to end each workout with a massive pile of used tape.  I would regularly go through 1-2 rolls of athletic tape each season, just for hangboard workouts!  Good riddance.

A typical tape job for my old hangboard workouts (!)

A typical tape job for my old hangboard workouts (!)

That said, the texture on the RPTC is not one-size-fits all.  Most of the folks I’ve talked to really like it as is, but more advanced climbers (those using smaller holds, with more resistance) will probably benefit from sanding some texture down in certain areas.  It only takes a few light passes to make a difference, so take it easy and check your work frequently.  I used 150-grit sandpaper on the following surfaces:

-Sloper
-All pinch surfaces
-The radius of the thin crimp
-The radius of the shallowest Index-Middle pocket
-The radius of the shallowest Middle-Ring pocket.

Usually 3 or 4 light passes with the sandpaper is enough, so don’t over do it!  Its much harder to add texture than it is to remove it.

So far I’ve been using these grips, in this order:

-Large Variable Depth Edge Rail (VDER), with outside Position Index Bump (PIB) between my Middle and Ring fingers.
-Shallowest Middle-Ring pocket
-Thin Crimp
-Mono, using outside part of shallowest Index-Middle pocket (#4 below)
-Shallow VDER, with outside PIB between Middle and Ring Fingers
-Shallowest Index-Middle pocket
-Medium Pinch

RPTC Grip Identification

When I finish my Strength Phase in a few weeks I’ll post some charts showing the resistance I used from workout to workout so we can compare notes. 

One more note, Trango is now offering a pulley kit which you can install under your hangboard to facilitate removing weight.  If you aren’t using pulleys, you probably should be.  As explained here, you should train on hold sizes that are typical of your goal routes.  For most climbers, that will mean at least a few small holds, with weight removed.

Get ‘em While They’re Hot!

The Rock Prodigy Training Center is now available for purchase from Trango’s website!  The initial manufacturing run produced a modest number of units, so order right away if you want to be the first climber on your block to have one.

Packaged RPTCs ready to ship to YOUR front door!

Packaged RPTCs ready to ship to YOUR front door!

This ground-breaking hangboard was designed by me, with help from my brother Mike and Lamont Smith.  In my humble opinion, this is the best hangboard on the market, and is a big leap forward in hangboard design.  This board will help beginners unlock the amazing power of hangboard training, by eliminating the top barriers to hangboarding and starting them on the fast-track to finger strength.  In my experience, these barriers are pain and risk of injury.  This board is exceedingly comfortable, and was built with ergonomics in mind first and foremost. 

Two-Piece desing -- your joints will thank you.

Two-Piece design — your joints will thank you.

The most obvious innovation in ergonomics and injury prevention is the two-piece design.  I really don’t understand why nobody has created a two-piece board already (though production cost may be one reason).  Two independent pieces are absolutely fundamental and essential to safe hangboarding.  First, they allow each climber to adjust the hold-spacing to their own shoulder-width, so Jane doesn’t have to do an Iron Cross on Bruce’s board, and Bruno doesn’t have to press his elbows to his ears to use Julie’s board.  Second, they allow the two halves to be rotated independently, so the holds on the board can be properly aligned with the climber’s fingers, accounting for variations in finger lengths, and eliminating unsafe strain on the climber’s wrist. Also, nearly every one piece board has a bunch of holds in the center that are useless (for two-arm hangs).  This board eliminates that wasted plastic and distributes it where it can be used safely.

Skin friendly, large-radius lips on all holds.

Skin friendly, large-radius lips on all holds.

All the holds on the board have large-radius, skin-friendly lips to maximize comfort. The board has three textures (completely smooth, medium texture, and rough texture) to give a secure feel on positive surfaces without wrecking your skin. The board includes multiple size options (usually three sizes or more) for all of the most important grip positions, ensuring that climbers of all abilities will find Goldilocks Holds-those that are just right for maximizing your finger strength.  Furthermore, the size options provide a built-in ladder of progression that will make the RPTC a valuable training investment for years to come.

While I’m certain the above features will help beginners break into hangboarding, this board was wihtout-a-doubt designed with hardcore training fiends in mind.  I’ve been hangboarding seriously for nearly twelve years.  By that I mean, three or more seasons per year, with 8-12, 90-minute hangboard sessions per season.  That’s literally 100′s of hours spent hanging from all manner of hangboards.  Mike has another 15 years of his own experience that went into this design.  We wanted to develop a board that would help extremely experienced hangboarders push to the next level, by minimizing all the little annoyances that inhibit your hangboard training sessions (like skin irritation, joint pain, features that encourage cheating, unrealistic shapes and impractical hold sizes). Even if you aren’t a hangboard connoisseur, you will benefit from the thought and attention to detail that went into the design, and you won’t outgrow this board once you become fanatical about training.

Finally, I was determined to develop a practical yet functional means of progressing to smaller grips, without the need to constantly buy more and more hangboards as the climber improves.  Often once your hangboard does its job – making you stronger – there is nowhere to go except to a new, expensive hangboard. I’ve gone through five different hangboards over the years, not counting a hodge-podge collection of bolt-on holds I’ve used to supplement my insufficient hangboards.  No more! This vicious circle had to stop. The Variable Depth Edge Rails on this board provide an almost limitless ladder of progressively shallower edges to train from.  These features, along with the “Position Index Bumps”, allow tremendous variation in hold size without taking up too much space on the board (or resulting in a fragile design).  Each climber will be able to find a spot on the Edge Rail that is perfect for their finger size and ability, and then as their fingers strengthen, they can incrementally progress to smaller holds by shifting their hands outward, using the Position Index Bumps as a reference point for repeatable training.

Variable Depth Edge Rails, and Position Index Bumps provide incrementally progression in a practical, compact design.

Variable Depth Edge Rails, and Position Index Bumps provide incrementally progression in a practical, compact design. (right half shown)

Slide your hand outward, using the Position Index Bump as a reference point, to incrementally increase difficulty.

Slide your hand outward, using the Position Index Bump as a reference point, to incrementally increase difficulty. (Left half shown)

For moving pictures that further describe the features of the RPTC, please check out the “Using the Rock Prodigy Training Center Video” below.

That’s a Wrap!

The Lazy H, all cleaned up with a temporary hangboard mounting structure installed.

The Lazy H, all cleaned up with a temporary hangboard mounting structure installed.

Last week the Lazy H Barn was the star of its own film.  A big part of launching the Rock Prodigy Training Center is creating a few short videos about the board (describing the key features of the board, how to install it, and how to use it), and Trango decided to use the Lazy H for the shoot location. She was very excited, so I spent some time getting her in tip top shape for the camera.

Adjusting the lights and positioning the camera crane to shoot the RPTC.

Adjusting the lights and positioning the camera crane to shoot the RPTC.

Trango pulled out all the stops for the shoot, sending out Ben Fullerton and Travis Ramos to direct and film the videos.  These guys were super-professional; I was totally blown away.  They had all sorts of fancy equipment, including boom mics, camera cranes, adjustable light stands and this thing they called a “slider” to get super-smooth panning closeups.  They even had a “slate” for marking down the scene and take (with a clacking hinge for shouting “action!”). This was easily the highlight of the day for Adam (that, and trying to find a restaurant that would deliver to the middle of nowhere).      

Ben (L) and Adam Sanders (Trango Product Manager and RPTC Brainchild) prepping the first shot of me walking into the barn.
Ben (L) and Adam Sanders (Trango Product Manager and RPTC Brainchild) prepping the first shot of me walking into the barn.

It was really interesting seeing the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of modern climbing film-making. You have no idea how much work goes into making a really professional film until you participate in the process.  We shot for 8 hours straight, and the end product will probably be around 5-7 minutes of video. Ben and Travis did a great job of arranging the shots and coaching me on my acting skills. I got my first taste of what to expect on the first shot of the day, a straightforward shot of me walking in to the barn.  We did 5 takes of this, varying my pace, what I was looking at, and even how I opened the door, until I got it right.  I had no idea I was such a bad walker–it takes practice to nail the perfect pimplimp 🙂  Keep that in mind the next time you’re watching a climbing film with a shot of climbers casually strolling to the crag.

Ricky Bobby

The whole experience was a blast, with lots of goofing around.  A hot topic was what I should be doing with my hands during the narration, and we kept joking about the scene in Talladega Nights when Ricky Bobby is being interviewed for the first time and keeps lifting his hands up by his ears. 

Filming the on-screen narration
Filming the on-screen narration

The narration was fun but exhausting.  I was expecting to do voice over, as opposed to on-camera narration, so I didn’t have any of the lines memorized. The script was extremely wordy, with phrases like, “A good selection for an intermediate climber might include the Warmup Jug, Large Open-Hand Edge, Deep 2-Finger Pocket, Small Semi-Closed Edge, Shallow 3-Finger pocket, Wide Pinch, and a Sloper.”  Everybody was extremely patient as I fumbled the lines over and over again. 

Reading the voice-over. This part was a breeze, and apparently the Lazy H has stellar acoustics.

Reading the voice-over. This part was a breeze, and apparently the Lazy H has stellar acoustics.

Once the on-screen narration was filmed, I did a straight voice-over read of each script.  This will be used to lay over the action shots.  This part was much easier because I could simply read the script.  Also there was no need to re-load the camera memory cards, so this process went really quickly.

With all the sound captured, we got to do the fun part, filming the ation.  This part was much easier, but we still had to do certain steps numerous times to get different camera angles and so forth. 

Travis manning the slider while Ben gets the wide shot.

Travis manning the slider while Ben gets the wide shot.

I was amazed by how much work it was to set up a single shot.  Lights had to be moved around, then constantly tuned (in terms of position and brightness) to get the right look.  Sometimes it might take 30 minutes to set up for 2 minutes of filming (of which only 10 seconds will make the final cut).  At the end of the day, I was blown away by the professionalism of the people involved.  They did an amazing job and I can’t wait to see the final product; I’m sure its going to be stellar. [Ed. Note: The final videos will be hosted on Trango’s site. I’ll post a link from my blog once the final videos are up and running.]

Finally, this was my first opportunity to try out the production version of the Rock Prodigy Training Center. It’s literally a pleasure to hang from.  I’m almost tempted to cut short my season so I can start hangboarding again as soon as possible 🙂 

The RPTC ready for action.

                                                  The RPTC ready for action.

The vision for the Trango athlete team is to find climbers who embody our brand’s values and support them in their climbing endeavors. We focus on the character of the climber, their passion for the sport, and their desire to contribute to the community.

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