How to get started on the crimpy, steep and powerful style that is the MoonBoard.
You may have walked past it. You’ve seen it’s yellow steepness in your peripheral, trying ever so hard to avoid eye-contact. Rumours of sandbags, dry-fires and microscopic edges that would shutdown even the world’s strongest. As it powers up, the line of LEDs reveal a battalion of edges, pinches and slopers lying in wait for a naive host. You connect and load a benchmark, it doesn’t look very V3… it’s steep… you reach out for the starting holds… wait, is that even a hold???
Okay, we might be playing into the reputation of climbing boards a bit here. The truth is systems boards can be incredibly hard, which makes them particularly useful for training and building strength. These boards emerged in the 80’s, stemming from a sheer lack of training facility and the desire to train climbing-specific moves in the cold winter season. Perhaps the birthplace of these boards was the “The School Room” in Sheffield; a room filled with simple, steep wooden boards littered with offcuts and handmade holds. This exclusive (somewhat elitist) gym manufactured the strongest and best climbers of the day, including the talented Ben Moon. Flash forward 30+ years and along with putting up the world’s first 8C+, Ben Moon created the world’s first ever standardised interactive climbing board – aptly named the ‘MoonBoard’.
The MoonBoard is arguably the pinnacle of hard indoor training, providing you with the moves and problems needed to obtain freakish strength and flawless technique. It is a standardized interactive training wall that connects a global community of climbers through shared problems and competitive performance rankings. The board is set at 40-degrees and has a grid of the latest set of varied holds, making it perfect for climbers looking to build finger-strength, power and body tension. The ability to share and try problems from a global community makes the MoonBoard uniquely polarising, revealing a climbers true level and ability.
Steps For Climbing On The MoonBoard
- To start climbing on the MoonBoard you need to choose a problem. By downloading the MoonBoard (it’s free), or using our iPad, you can access thousands of graded and rated problems. It helps to apply filters to help narrow the selection to a certain grade, benchmark or popularity.
- After you select a problem, connect to the MoonBoard through Bluetooth and press the ‘light’ icon. The problem’s holds should then be illuminated by the LED lights on the board.
- Now it’s time to climb! The board’s LED lights will show the holds you can use, illuminating below the selected hold. The GREEN lights indicate the starting holds (or hold) and the BLUE lights indicate the holds you can use for the climb.
- You can use any of the small chips on the kick board as foot-holds when you start. And feet follow hands up the entirety of the problem.
- To tick the problem you must finish on the holds, or match on the single hold, with a RED light below it – this will be on the very top row of holds.
- Congratulations! You’ve sent your first MoonBoard problem! You can log your ascents in the App and save your favorite problems or projects for later sessions.
Tips for getting started on the Moonboard
1. The Initial Crux
It won’t take long for you to realise that the first crux on any MoonBoard problem is simply getting off the ground. The revered sit-start is somewhat lost in modern indoor climbing, requiring unique technique and muscles. But it’s an essential skill for those looking to head outdoors bouldering, and the secret behind the sit-start… core strength. Without solid core tension and some initial explosiveness those next holds might feel miles away and your feet will cut at every chance. So before beginning on your MoonBoard conquest strengthen your core, this will lead to more controlled and efficient climbing.
2. Use Filters To Find The Perfect Problems
There are pros and cons to having a global interactive and contributing community of MoonBoarders. Obviously you have access to thousands of problems from all over the globe, but unfortunately this also leads to grades that are notoriously sandbagged. It seems that it’s human-nature to downgrade our accomplishments, in climbing this can lead to grades feeling reinforced and extra hard. Mercifully, MoonBoard HQ predicted this situation, creating verified benchmarks and inbuilt filters within the app. The benchmark climbs are solid and accurate for the grade, making them perfect for those looking to calculate their current level. Filters such as ‘most repeats’ or ‘easiest’ should be used when you start MoonBoarding, enabling you to tick some easier problems before increasing the difficulty.
3. Don’t Climb Front On, It’s All In The Hips!
The essence of MoonBoarding is mutating into a strong and powerful climber – but don’t forget to utilise technique and efficiency when you can. Most climbers will approach the MoonBoard front-on and try to muscle their way through the moves initially. Although this method might build strength, you’ll most likely end up getting shut down on every problem you try. Instead, adopt a more versatile approach and imagine yourself climbing through your hips – twisting and turning to reach the next hold. This is a priceless strategy for climbing harder, helping you increase your reach and allowing you to bring your centre of mass closer to the wall.
4. Don't Cut, Keep The Tension
It might be easy to label the MoonBoard as simply a tool for training finger-strength and power, but its benefits extend deeper than that. Due to its steep and explosive nature, the MoonBoard is also phenomenal for building body-tension through a climbers core and posterior chain. You’ll quickly realise that as soon as your feet cut from the MoonBoard you have a higher chance of falling off, demonstrating the importance of body tension and precise footwork. So despite burning abs and strained calves try to maintain accurate technique and rigid body tension whenever you’re on the MoonBoard – eventually these muscles will develop and secure, efficient climbing will become second nature!
5. Decide When Is The Time To Start
Our final tip is short and punctual. Despite how technical of a climber you are, the MoonBoard is engineered to train power and strength. In saying this, there is no better way to train for MoonBoard-ing than simply climbing on a MoonBoard, so when starting out don’t be disheartened if you fall on every problem you try – this is completely normal (and very necessary!).
Alpine Indoor Climbing frequently holds learn to climb courses, workshops, events and competitions that let you push your climbing and meet new people – check out our events page for more details.
Written by Alpine IC
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