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How to Use a Campus Board for Indoor Rock Climbing

Learn how to use a campus board for indoor climbing from rock climbing expert Cliff Simanski in this Howcast video.


Hey everyone, this right here is what is called a campus board. So I'm going to show you some basic techniques for how to use it, couple of exercises and just so you know what's going on, these are just some simple wooden rungs. It's a pretty standard size. They're attached to an overhanging face at a standardized distance apart. And this type of training is great for building more strength and more power. Lots of other great techniques that you're going to use for climbing.

So I'm going to highlight five different exercises for you that are a great way to start using a campus board. One of the exercises and a great way to start is to simply pull onto the campus board and just practice hanging on one of the rungs first. So just to clarify the hand position and how you want to hold one of these campus rungs, try to get all four fingers on in what's called an open crimp. I don't want to wrap my thumbs, which would be called closing the crimp. So just all four fingers, the thumbs as well. Rather than trying to pinch the rung itself, I'm just going to leave the thumbs kind of off to the side. One of the few occasions where you're not actually engaging that thumb. So when you're hanging on the rung, it will simply look like that.

Once you're comfortable there, then you can add some motion. And a great way to start is by doing basically, a latter. You're going to climb one rung, match your hands on the same rung and then move that hand to the next rung, match your hands on that rung, and continue up the board that way always trying to down climb on your way back down.

The second exercise that's great to do, is the similar to the first one except instead of matching, you're just going to skip rungs. So you'll move from one rung to a higher rung and try to pull all the way through past that rung to the next one. You can increase the difficulty by skipping more rungs and so on and so forth.

Another exercise is going to be to move both hands at the same time. Bumping from one rung up to the second and you can also come back down. Once again, skipping rungs to increase the difficulty. A fourth exercise would be to be grabbing the rungs and moving one hand at a time but moving it multiple times from one rung to the second to the third to the fourth, adding rungs for difficulty and then bumping that hand back down to the same rung that you started on. Making sure that you do all these exercises symmetrically, so moving the left hand the same number of spaces and back down the same number of spaces after you've done the right hand or vice versa.

So one thing to be careful about is campus boards are fairly advanced. So make sure that you start really easy. It's not a good type of exercise to do right off the bat before you're warmed up. Make sure you've been climbing for a little while. It puts a lot of strain on your fingertips, on your tendons. So you want to be really careful. As great of a toll as this is for training, it's also a great way to injure yourself, so you got to be really careful.

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