autumn 1991 the late Wolfgang Gullich redpointed Action Directe, a very
steep route with shallow finger pockets. At 8c+ (34?), it was the
hardest sport route in the world. Gullich’s training for the route:
climbing using only one finger of each hand, feet hanging free, on an overhanging
ladder of wooden first-joint finger edges. This was the original
campus board (named for its location in the Campus Gym at Nurnberg, Germany)
boards, says Jerry Moffatt, are best used for increasing power, “which
is what we all want and need”. Moffatt has been training on campus
boards since 1987 and continues to do so today. Although campusing
could also be used for endurance, Moffatt feels its not the best way, plus
the repetitive easy moves endurance training requires could be injurious,
boring and give you blisters.
Karn believes that campusing is best used for working on specific weaknesses:
If you’re poor at locking off open-handed, practise open handed lock-offs
on a campus board. If your problem is long dynos, do long dynos.
If you can’t identify specific weaknesses, or if you want to improve your
all-around power, Karn believes bouldering on short powerful problems is
of greater benefit than campusing.
are two basic ways your muscles get stronger. One is by increasing
fibre size; the other is by teaching your nervous system to recruit more
fibres into single contractions. Campusing primarily improves the
latter. As your hands hit the rungs the sudden loading teaches your
nervous system to fire more muscle fibres at a time. Thee result:
Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym Campus Board
modelled on the “School Room” board used by Jerry Moffatt, Ben Moon and
others in Manchester, England. It has nine rungs with 22 cm spacing,
with three sizes of rung.
to use open-handed grips as much as possible. Crimping is more likely
to injure your fingers. When used correctly, a campus board can actually
strengthen your tendons to prevent injury. Placing heavy loads on
your tendons causes them to grow and strengthen, but there’s a fine line
between training that stimulates tendon growth and that which causes injury.
up adequately first. As well as your normal climbing warm up, boulder
hard for at least half an hour before campusing.
to Use It
you workout into sets and reps. Jim Karn does six reps per set, three
each on each hand. Rest between sets, with longer rests to emphasise
explosive power and shorter rests to work power endurance.
up and down rungs using an open-handed four finger grip without any support
from the feet. To emphasise finger power, use increasingly smaller
edges. To increase lock off power, skip rungs and try to do moves
with both hands on a rung. Pulling as fast as possible, touch, but
don’t hold, a higher rung then immediately drop back to the first.
Without pausing, repeat with the other hand, aiming for about 12 high speed
up two hands at a time instead of one.
at the top and descend. Depending on your strength compared to the
size of the edge, you’ll either come down slowly or have to snatch as fast
as possible between rungs. The former increases muscle size, the
latter trains recruitment. When you plateau on one, move to the other
to the top with as few moves as possible, starting with both hands on the
bottom. Going 1-5-9 on the smallest rungs was a popular project with
Ben Moon and Jerry Moffatt.
any of the above.