Why you shouldn't build a campus board

Thinking of building a campus board? Please read this...

My article How to build a campus board is the most popular piece of content on my site. It drives more traffic to Upskill Climbing than any other article. And I feel bad about that. Why?

Because you shouldn't be campussing.

Wolfgang Gullich was climbing 8c+ and pushing world standards into 9a when he developed the campus board. He needed to develop specific levels of recruitment for the one and two finger pockets of Action Direct and other pocketed Frankenjura testpieces. And we all idolize Wolfy. So climbers around the world saw him build a board, and we copied him.

The issue is that Wolfy identified his prime weakness (recruitment) and built a device to train this. For him, this was the right thing to do. But for you - I doubt it. As a climbing coach, I can say that I have not met one climber in the last three years for whom recruitment is their prime weakness. Campus boarding will not help.

The repetitive movements do not transfer well to real climbing. And campussing is dangerous to boot. It's about the most dangerous training method there is. Most people think it's the fingers that suffer, but in most cases it's the elbows and shoulders.

What should you do instead?

If it's finger strength you're after, build up slowly on the hangboard, or do short, steep bouldering. Bouldering is useful because the moves incorporate real climbing, where you develop technique as well as strength.

It's time to turn our backs on the campus board. Unless you climb 8c and are gearing up for the Frankenjura!

See also:
The four things you need to train and aren't
What do I need to train? And how!?


siempreparriba said...

could be...

Henry Connor said...

Hi, thanks for the article. I have a question. You said that you base your training periodisation on the Rockprodigy article you have linked on your site and I'm wondering what your ideas are for the recruitment phase. Rockprodigy claims that the campus board is the favorite tool to train recruitment. Any other ideas?

Lee Cujes said...

Fair call Henry. I have listed campus board as a prime tool for training recruitment, then go on to tell you not to use it.

The big point to make is that for MOST people, recruitment isn't the thing they need to train. This is the key. So many climbers out there simply need to be working on their power endurance and yet are wasting their elbows on the campus board. Just plain unnecessary.

But if you are that elite level roped climber or intermediate to advanced boulderer who finds that they are struggling to latch holds, then recruitment training could be the ticket (for a few weeks at a time max). In this case you have a few options:

1. The dreaded campus board :)
2. Maximum effort short power problems (1-4 moves)
3. Eccentrics (lowering with big weight)

All of these things will improve recruitment in your muscles. Bouldering is the MOST specific and probably most helpful of these, followed by campussing and finally specific exercises with weights.