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Introduction to Campus Board Training

Learn the basics of campusing in this introductory guide!

The long, hot days of Summer are coming to an end. Luckily, in most areas of the country Fall is prime sending season––the temperature drops, cool winds blow in, and the stone gets sticky. Time to focus in and get some work done!

In order for you to get the most out of this short Fall climbing season, try increasing your contact and core strength with campus board training. Learning how to use the board properly will help prevent injury and get you ready to send. Ease into it and check out a few introductory campus board techniques below!

Introductory Campus Training Techniques

Follow along below as FrictionLabs Athlete Tyrel Fuller demonstrates four basic campus exercises to get you started.

 

Although these are introductory campusing techniques, campusing itself is not an introductory climbing technique. It’s hard! Here are a few things to keep in mind before you start:

– Most well-designed boards feature baseboards with rungs for your feet. Use them to take away a significant percentage of your body weight and make things easier.

– You won’t be able to campus as high with your feet on, but you can easily modify the above exercises to accommodate yourself. Choose a foot rung, keep your legs straight and your core tight, and complete the exercises forwards and backwards (up and back down).

– Once you strengthen your fingers and upper body this way, you can start trying to campus without your feet.

The video assumes you’ll be starting your campus training on the largest rung. DO NOT campus on the smaller rungs until you have confidence in your finger strength and campus technique. Injuring yourself is easy; healing is hard.

We recommend starting with a “2-2-2” training set: 2 sets of 2 reps for each exercise, with 2 minutes of rest between sets. If you feel strong, go for four reps of each.

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How It Works

A campus board is a slightly overhanging, suspended wooden board with a variety of different-sized “rungs” (i.e. edges) in evenly-spaced vertical increments. The term “campus” implies pulling up on holds without the use of your feet. Technically, you can practice this technique on any campus-friendly route in the gym, but the campus board is specially designed for training. As you can imagine, performing controlled pull-ups on small edges massively increases your finger strength––not to mention your core muscles and deadpoint accuracy.

Campus board overview

In the overview photo above, you can see the board’s increments (1-10, with half rungs in between) and three differing rung sizes (increasing in difficulty from left to right). For the viewer’s sake, we’ve given each exercise in the above video a simple title to match its physical characteristics. Follow along!

Proper Campusing Form and Technique

Before you start pulling wildly on the campus board, it’s important to realize just how easy it can be to suffer an injury while using it. You’ll be putting most of your body weight on your fingers and performing dynamic movement––so pay attention to form.

Proper grip position
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As you can see from the above photo, you want to keep your hands halfway between fully crimped and completely open. Focus on keeping your shoulders engaged throughout the exercise (as opposed to straightening them between pulls) and your elbows slightly bent at all times. As you can see in the video, a large portion of campus technique involves utilizing your momentum between pulls––this will seem foreign at first, but will become more familiar with experience.

Using your momentum and maintaining a consistent upper-body engagement throughout your campus routine is hard. But proper form and technique will help prevent injury and lead to the most beneficial gains. Just remember: when you’re learning a new, difficult exercise for the first time, do your absolute best to start small, use correct form, and stay in physical control. Your future un-injured self will thank you for it.

If you have any favorite beginners campus workout that you love, let us know about them in the comments!

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