My Cart


Training: Campusing to victory

Posted on February 05 2015

 In the previous training article we covered(albeit briefly) fingerboarding and how it can be used as an alternative tochipping in our quests to conquer random pieces of rock. We alluded to some of the drawbacks of hanging out (literally) in basements or garages with other guys and the possible resulting lifelong loneliness. If this hasn’t put you off training entirely then maybe this next article will. Here we are going to look at campus boards, the possible benefits from getting strong enough to do ‘1,5,9’ as well as the necessary sacrifices. 

Campus boards have been around since 1988 when Wolfgang Güllich discovered that even he had to get stronger in order to send Action Direct. Now almost all climbing walls will contain an overhanging piece of ply-wood with some wooden batons screwed horizontally across it, to aid us in red-pointing our own Action Directs. The size of these batons or ‘rungs’ along with the distance between them is totally arbitrary and thus the easiest way to fast gains is to find a wall with nice fat in-cut rungs that are close together. Whilst this is the most logical way to attain the mythical 1,5,9 (starting matched on rung 1, moving to rung 5 with one hand then slapping to rung 9 with the other), you may still find yourself struggling on AD. 

Obviously you are training and a campus board is merely a training device. Unfortunately the old idiom stands true, and if you cheat you really are only cheating yourself. Whilst the holy grain may be 1,5,9 its rather like a 100m sprinter aiming for sub 10 seconds race. It is physically possible but probably not for everyone. Whilst you may never achieve the zenith of campus boarding don’t despair, there are many potential gains to made in your climbing from simply getting strong on really small holds (who’d have guessed!). 

Strength vs Power:

According to metolius, ( (who I am assuming have researched this stuff), power and strength differ in that strength is a static measure whilst power is involved wherever there is movement. This means that whilst fingerboarding may make us stronger, campus boarding will give us more power. Whilst its great that we can have both this does mean we have to do both. Time to find another weaker friend to bolster your ego. 

Power throws: 

This is the simplest and most obvious thing to do on a campus board. Start on rung 1, throw one hand to a higher rung, then pull through to a higher one again, match and drop off. Start by covering small distances before throwing a 1,5,9.


Any guesses? unsurprisingly named yet surprisingly difficult throw, a double dyno. Again start by covering small distances on big holds.


This was a name coined by someone watching soviet athletes prepare for athletic events. On the face of it It, soviet training methods might be something you’d wish to avoid but apparently there is method to the madness. Its all about turning downward force into upward force. Drop down from a starting rung with both hands, latch a lower rung, absorb the impact and spring back up as fast as possible. This is the preserve of the strong, if you mess up the drop and fully extend the elbows its going to hurt. Injury likelihood: High.

Slow it down:

As any of those guys who like lifting heavy stuff in front of a mirror will tell you, its all about ‘form’. Basically its better to do 2 good sit ups than 10 crap ones where your head never gets further than 2 inches from your knees (apparently that’s what the mirrors for). Whilst you will benefit from the contact strength and accuracy gained from dynamic campusing a lot can be gained from static training, slowing down and controlling your movements.


Undoubtedly the best thing about campus training is that you need to do it when your fresh. This means that unlike fingerboarding where you only have a 3 seconds rest, you can rest for ages, up to 10 minutes apparently! (plenty of time to fit in a sly half and a cigarette). It also means that you should be campusing AFTER a rest day. Excellent news if most of your days are rest days.


Whilst 99.9% of us will never climb 9a, if you want to get stronger, improving your power is a good place to start. Campus boarding is the oldest and best know climbing specific training you can do and if Wolfgang invented it it probably works. The downsides to campus training are not dissimilar to those of fingerboarding; although injury risk is also high, the likelihood of meeting a member of the opposite sex are probably higher at a climbing wall than in your cellar.

Thomas King

Bespoke Ski Holidays | Custom Ski Holidays Descent Travel

Overhang Ltd


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to receive our monthly email and get 10% off your first purchase.

My Cart

Subtotal: £0.00

Your cart is currently empty.