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When/If to incorporate campusing


Original Post
Paul L · · Portland, OR · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 165

I'm just starting into the second six-week training cycle that I have put together for myself.  My cycle is much less scientific than many of yours, mostly due to my inability to regularly commit chunks of time around other life commitments.  Essentially I am doing two to three days a week of on-wall exercises either lead/TR or bouldering (pyramids, up and downclimb circuits, leapfrogs, intervals, lock-offs, cut-feet exercises, arc, limit bouldering).  I try to structure my on-wall time so I am focused one week on power, another week on endurance, etc, but sometimes if I am short on time or something I will just fill in whatever works for the moment. 

In addition I usually do one regular climb day with hangboarding on light climb or workout days, usually two days a week.  My hangboarding consists of either 3 sets of repeaters on intermediate holds (nothing under half-pad or 3 finger pocket or moderate slope or pinch), or 2 sets of an entry-level or intermediate Metolius work-out, depending how I'm feeling that day.  (https://www.metoliusclimbing.com/training_guide_10_min.html  or https://www.metoliusclimbing.com/training_guide_3d_simulator.html)  I'll add core or cardio on hangboarding days, off-days or during certain on-wall days, with a total of 2-3 core and cardio sessions a week.  

I don't really boulder outside, but my indoor limit is V6/V7 currently and I can make some links on some V8-V9 problems.  My lead/top rope limit is in the 5.12- range in the gym, low 5.11 outside.  I decided to develop a training cycle to try and push into the 5.12 redpoint range as well as just increase my overall confidence and consistency in my current range.  I did as much reading as possible in books, magazines and online and piece-mealted together what I thought would work for my schedule. 

I've been considering dropping one of my on-wall days and replacing it with a light warm-up followed by campus training.  I've done very limited campus training in the past, and recently have only jumped on after a regular climbing day when I was too shot to make any sustained series of moves.  I'm interested in any input on the value of doing this, if any, and if you think there is a guideline to when campusing is actually valuable.  (Like, should I be able to do 5 sets of hangboard repeaters on small edges before thinking of jumping to campusing? or whatever)

Tavis Ricksecker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 4,280

It sounds like you already have enough power for your goals. IMO your time would be better spent in practice on the lead wall.

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 132

If you boulder V6/V7 inside, the only things holding you back from climbing 12c/d routes are technique, head game, and on-route endurance. Focus on these things - give the ones that are the biggest problem the most attention. If your goal is 5.11 outside, then your bottleneck for outdoor climbing is DEFINITELY technique and head game. Get outside as much as you can! Campusing would be an absolute waste of time and recovery ability at this point, based on your stated goals. 12a indoors and outdoors should probably be somewhere between 'flash' and 'three tries' based on your bouldering skill level, although endurance does play a part. The kind of endurance you need will come pretty quickly from attempting routes.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

We climb the same levels indoors, and it's not uncommon for me to hang the draws and onsight into the low 5.12s outside. I'd say just get outside and start pushing yourself and see how things go. 

Imho, campusing isn't super necessary for your goals. I've never been inclined to campus much in general, but I'm also not super training focused. 

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
Paul L wrote:

I've been considering dropping one of my on-wall days and replacing it with a light warm-up followed by campus training.  I've done very limited campus training in the past, and recently have only jumped on after a regular climbing day when I was too shot to make any sustained series of moves.

First I would advise against doing any campus training after you're too shot to climb, especially if you haven't done much campusing before. Doing campus training while fatigued is a great way to injure yourself.

In my opinion, the main benefit of campus training is to isolate the arms and fingers to train for power, which I will define as the ability to apply force (strength) in a short amount of time. So I'm talking about exercises like max ladder or double dynos, as opposed to using the campus board for lock-off, pullup, or endurance training. You learn to pullup explosively and latch the target rung in a split second. But you can also train power by doing proper limit bouldering with dynamic moves, which is more climbing specific and will engage your core and your legs. So if you're pretty good with dynamic movement, you probably don't need to focus too much energy on campus training.

A secondary benefit of campus training is to learn the technique of campusing (yes, technique!). You learn how to generate momentum with the arms, how to modulate the force so you reach the target rung at the perfect deadpoint, and the timing of everything. If you have an overly static climbing style (you always have to reach the next hold in total control), doing some campus training may help you get more comfortable with dynamic moves by breaking down the dynamic movement and focus on just the upper body only. Once you're comfortable with that "just go for it" mentality, then you can do more climbing specific practice with limit bouldering.

If you decide to incorporate campus training in your program, don't focus too much on it. I would do 2-4 sessions of limit bouldering for one session of campusing.

Paul L · · Portland, OR · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 165

Thanks for all the feedback.  

I was thinking of adding campusing more for deadpoint/lock-off gains than pure power.  I'm pretty tall, 6'2", with a 36" inseam and +4 ape index, so I often find that in certain positions I just can't hold moves. (especially if it involves high feet)  I know some of this is core strength (the ability to maintain tension) combined with hip mobility (can't bring trunk in tight), and general technique,  but some of it seems to come from finger/arm strength which I thought campusing may be able to help with.  It sounds like limit bouldering and continued on-wall exercises will be more beneficial than regular campusing, though. Honestly campusing never appealed much to me, but if it was the best means to an end then I would incorporate it.  

The headgame is definitely a big piece for me, I'm pretty good at talking myself out of a tough route or move especially outside. 

Justin Skaare · · CO · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 90

Are you comfortable taking whippers indoors?  If not, that's also probably a good place to start.  

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 132

Limit bouldering would improve that skill much more than campusing. Anyway, your deadpoint and lockoff skills are not limiting you based on your stated goals. If your stated goal was to boulder V8, then sure. But not route climbing at the grades given. Dropping on-wall time for campus training would be detrimental to your goals, especially if headgame is "a big piece" of your problem :) More on-wall lead time is your solution, not less!

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
Paul L wrote:

Thanks for all the feedback.  

I was thinking of adding campusing more for deadpoint/lock-off gains than pure power.  I'm pretty tall, 6'2", with a 36" inseam and +4 ape index, so I often find that in certain positions I just can't hold moves. (especially if it involves high feet)  I know some of this is core strength (the ability to maintain tension) combined with hip mobility (can't bring trunk in tight), and general technique,  but some of it seems to come from finger/arm strength which I thought campusing may be able to help with.  It sounds like limit bouldering and continued on-wall exercises will be more beneficial than regular campusing, though. Honestly campusing never appealed much to me, but if it was the best means to an end then I would incorporate it.  

The headgame is definitely a big piece for me, I'm pretty good at talking myself out of a tough route or move especially outside. 

I have a different opinion on the campus board. 

Deadpoint and lockoff are two different skills, so let's talk about them separately.

For lockoffs, there are things you can do on the campus board like offset pullups and one-hand bumps that can help train lockoff strength. But you can also do lockoff ladders and other movement practices on a bouldering wall or system board that's more specific, so I don't think you really need to use a campus board for lockoff training.

For deadpoint, I do think there is some value in using the campus board to practice. Most think of dynamic moves as "all brawn and no brain". But there is quite a bit of skill involved in doing a dynamic movement well. It's kind of like shooting a basketball, you don't just throw the ball as hard as you can at the hoop and hope it goes in. You need to apply just the right amount of force, not too much, and not too little, in order to get the ball into the basket. That's a skill you get better with practice. Same with dynamic moves, It's not simply "pull as hard as you can and huck it". You need to initiate your movement well, you need to control the movement of your hip and center of gravity, you need to reach the target hold at the right height, you need to fire your core the right way to maintain body tension, you need to hit the hold with precision... there's actually a lot of stuff happening in a very short amount of time. While you can practice dynamic movement on a system board or when limit bouldering, if you're not good with dynamic movement, that's a lot of stuff you need to work on at the same time. The benefit of a campus board is that it eliminates the variable of your core and your legs, and focus only on your arms. So it can be a good stepping stone for someone who is not very good with dynamic movement. I wouldn't include campus training as a regular routine in your program, but I would do a few session of campus training in the beginning to practice deadpoint, and then take what I learned from the campus board and apply it to limit bouldering.

Also, I think whether to make a move static or dynamic depends entirely on the position of the handholds and footholds, the climber's height, reach, strength, and weakness. I don't think there's a particular grade when all of a sudden you need to use dynamic moves. I've used dynamic moves on 5.10s, and I've turned dynamic moves on 5.12s into static moves. It really depends on what feels most efficient to you as the climber.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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