The MoonBoard is a phenomenal training tool used by some of the worlds best climbers. MoonBoards have made their way into many commercial climbing gyms so more and more climbers of all levels are becoming familiar with these magnificient training tools.
Is the MoonBoard for you? Is it going to help you surpass your current plateau? In this article we’ll take a deep dive into when to start MoonBoarding as a climber.
What is the moonBoard and what is it for?
The MoonBoard is a standardized training board that is found in many commercial climbing gyms and many athletes swear by. Being standardized, the MoonBoard allows climbers from all over the world to try the same boulder problems. Climbers can set their own boulder problems and try those of others. All of this occurs on the MoonBoard app.
There is a real community behind the MoonBoard. Not just in the gym, where climbers will often challenge each-other but also online. Through the app, climbers have a way of showcasing their sends and sets. Others can rate problems, add their own comments, add a beta video, and even downgrade or upgrade it if they feel the original setter might have been wrong about their subjective grading.
Furthermore, the app comes with a leaderboard which provides some healthy competition as well.
While standardized, the MoonBoard does have a couple of different versions. There are currently 3 different renditions of the MoonBoard: 2016, 2017 and 2019. The original board is set to 40 degrees and the latter two can be set at both a 25 and 40-degree angle. The 25 degree angle allowing for easier problems and thus more beginner-friendly.
Those who swear by the MoonBoard tend to have dedicated training sessions where they only use the MoonBoard (kind of like how some climbers swear by hangboarding).
Are you ready to start training on a moonBoard?
If the MoonBoard intrigues you, I’m going to assume that you are not afraid of small holds and overhung walls. I’ll also assume that you have been bouldering for a while.
After all, who wants to use a training tool when they have only just started doing the sport? I can understand the instinct behind grade chasing amongst new climbers, but using training tools too early (MoonBoard/hangboard/campusboard) can only be described as injury chasing.
As an injury chaser myself, who started looking at serious climbing training after just 8-months of climbing, take it from me that it’s not worth it to start too early.
Surprisingly, chasing injury does actually lead to injury. Who would have thought? And 2-months off-climbing because you sustained a pulley injury is not something I recommend if you actually like to chase grades. In fact, I don’t recommend it at all.
Advice for my younger self aside, MoonBoarding can be dangerous when performed too early. Now I’m not saying you can’t touch the MoonBoard at all, but any serious training using the MoonBoard should be avoided until you have at least 1 year of climbing behind you.
And if you intend to start training seriously using the MoonBoard (and for some reason adhere in my authority) in order to progress in bouldering, than let’s ask ourselves some questions first.
Questions to ask yourself if you are ready to MoonBoard
are you old enough to start MoonBoarding?
While there is little information to find about the age requirements of the MoonBoard, the official website mentions the MoonBoard is not intended for children. Additionally, the training areas of climbing gyms (where the MoonBoard is found) are often restricted to anyone under 18 years old.
This is to ensure young climbers don’t unnecessary injure themselves by using training devices before their finger growth plates are fully closed. I’d say the same rules from the hangboard should apply to the MoonBoard. To be on the safe side, don’t use the MoonBoard before you are 18 years old.
how long have you been climbing?
Using a training board such as the MoonBoard is only effective if you actually have the need for it. And unless you have been climbing for at least a year, I doubt you really will see benefits from using the MoonBoard. Furthermore, starting any climbing training too early (hangboarding, moonboarding, campusboarding) could lead to injury.
For hangboarding, for example, Dr. Eva Lopez  (who wrote her Phd thesis on finger strength) recommends 2 years of climbing experience, with at least 1 year of consistent climbing. This is because structures within your hands and forearms (tendons, ligaments, etc) can take years to adapt to climbing.
This information is something I would have liked to know when I first started climbing as it probably could have prevented some injuries in my initial years. Instead, I didn’t do my research and listened to my climbing buddies which tend to have advice along the lines of “you can moon/hangboard after 6 months of climbing”.
While muscles adapt to climbing this quickly, as confirmed by Dr. Lopez, other structures do not and take much, much longer.
Be careful out there. Watching your friends climb while you recover your fingers from an injury is not something I would recommend.
do you climb at least v4?
MoonBoard problems are notoriously sandbagged compared to gym grades. So if you don’t climb above the minimum bouldering grade of your gym’s MoonBoard, it is unlikely that you will send any problems on the board.
For reference, the original 2016 MoonBoard starts at V4/6B graded boulder problems. The 2017 and 2019 models each come with V2-V3 graded boulder problems on the less step 25-degree version of these boards.
So in theory you could start MoonBoarding around V3-V4 level proficiency on the 25-degree MoonBoard and V4-V5 on the 40-degree MoonBoards. But again, these problems are going to feel much harder than problems graded inside your gym. And being on steep walls with small holds, might take more strength than you are used to.
Especially climbers who are used to big holds in commercial gyms might find themselves shut down by the MoonBoard rather quickly.
So if you want to avoid dissapointment or having our ego-crushed by the benchmakrs, it’s best to refrain from using the MoonBoard until you are ready.
are you comfortable climbing dynamically?
Unless you are extremely tall, many MoonBoard problems will have long reaches that require a dynamic move (deadpoint) to reach the next hold. Since the holds on the MoonBoard are so small, you might want to consider whether your fingers are used to this kind of movement.
If you are not used to doing dynamic reaches, especially towards small crimps, you might want to get comfortable with that first before using the MoonBoard.
Are you willing to sacrifice a climbing day?
You love climbing. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. But do you love climbing enough, to sacrifice one of your beloved climbing days to spend a day training on the MoonBoard? After all, you should not use the MoonBoard before or after a climbing session. This is a surefire way to get yourself an overuse injury.
Using the MoonBoard should be reserved for its own training day. This is a day where you warm up on some easy bouldering routes (at least 20 minutes) and spend the rest of the session on the MoonBoard. Not only will this get you the most out of your training as you will be climbing at peak performance, you also limit the risk of injury.
MoonBoarding – FAQS
should i MoonBoard before or after climbing?
MoonBoarding should mostly be reserved for it’s own training days. That being said, you can do some light MoonBoarding before your climbing session but never after. The MoonBoard holds are likely to be a lot worse than those found within your current climbing grade so using the board after an extended climbing session could lead to overuse.
how often should you use the moonBoard?
How often you use the MoonBoard will depend upon your training schedule and your experience climbing. Provided MoonBoarding sessions are supplementary to climbing, someone who is new to MoonBoarding should not use the board more than once per week. However, if a climber ONLY use the MoonBoard to train they could use it up to 3x per week with enough rest inbetween sessions.
- Fingerboard training guide (I) preliminary evaluation. Eva Lopez Blog (link)