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Campus board vs Moon board


Original Post
Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549

Curious if anybody has some thoughts on their relative merits.

I tend to hit a plateau pretty quickly on the campus board and have never really been convinced it helps my climbing. Although I do enjoy it.

I can finally get off the ground on the Moon board and was thinking about dropping  campusing for it.

Don't think I have enough recovery ability to do both.

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 1,546

I've largely replaced campusing with a Moon Board, mostly for skin issues (the campus board consistently splits my skin).  They both train power, though the Moon Board I'd argue is more specific to climbing.  Be mindful of left-right balance and find problems which complement each side.

The campus board is great if you have a hard time just "letting go" during your climbing, and it's very easy to quantify progress.

In a perfect world, a mixture of both is probably a good idea.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130
Mark E Dixon wrote:

I can finally get off the ground on the Moon board and was thinking about dropping  campusing for it.

I have not been on one for a while, but last I did, it felt like a perfect sport-specific power workout. Really wish we had one around here.

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 55
Nivel Egres wrote:

I have not been on one for a while, but last I did, it felt like a perfect sport-specific power workout. Really wish we had one around here.

Rumor has it the new Steep Rock location will have a Moon Board. I'm not sure the validity of that rumor, but I've heard it from more than one person.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130
David Kerkeslager wrote:

Rumor has it the new Steep Rock location will have a Moon Board. I'm not sure the validity of that rumor, but I've heard it from more than one person.

The one by Columbia University? Nope, it does not. 

Peter Beal · · Boulder Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,740

The Moon Board is just a small woodie with okay holds. Nothing particularly magic about it. A campus board is a specific tool for a purpose. Consider them basically unrelated.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130
Peter Beal wrote:

The Moon Board is just a small woodie with okay holds. Nothing particularly magic about it. A campus board is a specific tool for a purpose. Consider them basically unrelated.

Obviously, there is nothing magical about a Moon Board, it's just a standardized woody. The standardized bit is nice. It has 1000s of problems created and reviewed by route-setters globally. Loads of people have done these problems and the ratings are consensus. That makes it a convenient tool for tracking progress. Most importantly, it made my gym sessions independent from the whims of a handful of route setters (who frequently are not very good at what they do). 

So now let me rephrase the original question. For a human with a limited recovery ability, what would be a better tool for training sport-specific power and contact strength?

  1. limit bouldering on a steep woody, exemplified in this case by a Moon Board
  2. sessions on a campus board 
Ryan Palo · · Bend, oregon · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 595

I'll 2nd Peter Beal on this one. The campus board serves a purpose: Max Rec. I really dont know of a better method for that. I will say the moonboard if used in a systematic manner is amazing. I've been careful to note each of the types of moves that have caused me issue while climbing on the MB. I take each of these and save them in a related list, targeting a specific weakness. For instance, I noticed that my left undercling is fairly weak vs my right. Confirmed that with weights later on. Then incorporated this into my training regime. 

John Bigroom · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

I just started to do both. 

Campusing once or twice a week with biggest rails.

Very first I was campusing the 0-2 and 2-0 moves separately. Felt very very hard and Icould just slap the target rail. Second session and I could catch and match the moves. On third session the 0-2-0’s went pretty easy and I could done it five times on both sides. Fourth session and moves went with 5kg weight vest on! Whoa!

Well, I think all that progress was just first lessons how to coordinate my existing strength on campus. Now starts the real work I guess. 1-3-1 anyone?

I have been climbing on MB for awhile and 6B+s goes now pretty well and I could flash several already. The first 6C+ went a few weeks ago. I haven’t tryany of those original school hold problems yet. Feels still way too fingery.

Lets see if campusing help me to send Hard times 7A benchmark problem with in this year.

evan h · · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 310

I use both. While the MB is obviously more sport specific, the throwy-ness and constant high feet and hand-foot matches are a little less specific than some standard gym problems. However, the movement style is generally highly powerful, and because the problems are nails hard, actually forces limit bouldering for me.

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125

Campusing gives me medial epicondylitis and MBing irritates my finger/wrist extensors & both irritates my finger joints.

I'm not convinced campusing is much more than a specialized technique wrapped around pull (+some push) & finger strength: it really isn't that useful to do very often.

MB does train a (reasonably large) subset of steep climbing movements and will exercise your pull strength plenty. The holds may not be that special, but being able to off-load the brain cycles of making up problems that targets a weakness you may not even know existed is quite valuable. 

Peter Beal · · Boulder Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,740

@Nigel "the ratings are consensus" hahahaha, not even close. I wish! MB ratings are all over the place.

I am not a huge fan of the moon board because the holds are not that great, the board is tiny and the lack of feet reduces everything past roughly V6 to jumping and hand-foot matching.  IMO, part of the popularity of them is the decline in effective power problem setting in gym bouldering with the new emphasis on slopers and parkour setting. Takeaway: if you like a certain style of bouldering you're going to like a Moon Board

A campus board OTOH is a much more systematic, measurable and potentially effective training tool for a specific and very useful kind of strength.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130
Peter Beal wrote:IMO, part of the popularity of them is the decline in effective power problem setting in gym bouldering with the new emphasis on slopers and parkour setting. 

That and the fact that the problems are there forever and you can track the progress (even if there ratings are off, if you can do now something that you couldn't before, it's a sign of progress). 

You're right, I guess it all boils down to bad route setting and inadequate gyms. Especially true in the NYC. Somehow, 40-50 degrees overhanging walls are not popular with gym owners here. It's either roofs with jugs or vertical(ish) walls. 

Brendan Blanchard · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 590

Agreed with Peter and Evan. The Moonboard is a very particular style and for some reason, the focus is almost entirely on long moves with out of the way, or hiked/matched feet, which just isn't as common or efficient as you'd think in real climbing. If you need to execute the least number of moves with the least holds, it'll certainly help you with that, but aside from finding it demoralizing and frustrating, I think it compromises on sport specificity from limit bouldering, and compromises on max recruitment training from campusing. 

Needless to say, I'm not a very big fan and I'm still pretty salty that Movement Boulder dismantled their systems board (great for technique and targeting exact movement weaknesses, per Ryan's post), and put up a Moonboard in it's place. That said, if you were to have a single training (for bouldering) item in a limited space, it would be a good value on that end. But, assuming you go to a regular gym with all these available, I think campusing and limit bouldering offer a better overall training experience/gain.

Dana Bartlett · · CT · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 890
Peter Beal wrote:

@Nigel "the ratings are consensus" hahahaha, not even close. I wish! MB ratings are all over the place.

I am not a huge fan of the moon board because the holds are not that great, the board is tiny and the lack of feet reduces everything past roughly V6 to jumping and hand-foot matching.  IMO, part of the popularity of them is the decline in effective power problem setting in gym bouldering with the new emphasis on slopers and parkour setting. Takeaway: if you like a certain style of bouldering you're going to like a Moon Board

A campus board OTOH is a much more systematic, measurable and potentially effective training tool for a specific and very useful kind of strength.

Peter, you wrote (in part) ". . . a specific and very useful kind of strength." 

What type of strength are you referring to?

Peter Beal · · Boulder Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,740
Dana Bartlett wrote:

Peter, you wrote (in part) ". . . a specific and very useful kind of strength." 

What type of strength are you referring to?

The ability to lock off a flat edge relatively independently from your lower hand and then reach as far as possible to a higher hold

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
Peter Beal wrote:

The ability to lock off a flat edge relatively independently from your lower hand and then reach as far as possible to a higher hold

On a near vertical wall without any feet? Not to mention people who are good at it (on the campus board) fully utilizes the lower hand. Still, I'm not sure how it's specialized in ways besides having strong fingers and enough 1 arm pull strength.

Peter Beal · · Boulder Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,740
reboot wrote:

On a near vertical wall without any feet? Not to mention people who are good at it (on the campus board) fully utilizes the lower hand. Still, I'm not sure how it's specialized in ways besides having strong fingers and enough 1 arm pull strength.

"Still, I'm not sure how it's specialized in ways besides having strong fingers and enough 1 arm pull strength."


That's exactly what I want. I can't imagine anything more useful for hard rock climbing

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
Peter Beal wrote:

"Still, I'm not sure how it's specialized in ways besides having strong fingers and enough 1 arm pull strength."


That's exactly what I want. I can't imagine anything more useful for hard rock climbing

Me too (well the stronger fingers part). I guess what I'm trying to get at is you can train those 2 aspects independently.

Peter Beal · · Boulder Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,740
reboot wrote:

Me too (well the stronger fingers part). I guess what I'm trying to get at is you can train those 2 aspects independently.

You could do that but I think linking them together in a measurable way is very useful. I tend to be weaker in the lock-off side of the equation so I need to get schooled on a regular basis :)

Dana Bartlett · · CT · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 890
Peter Beal wrote:

The ability to lock off a flat edge relatively independently from your lower hand and then reach as far as possible to a higher hold

That makes sense. 

This is is just belaboring the unanswerable question of the importance of technique versus strength - but do you look at campusing as primarily a movement training tool or a strength exercise? 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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