Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Campus Board Training: A Perspective

When I first started out climbing about 5 years ago, I aspired to climb the really hard routes and boulder problems because of the strength required would be rewarding to work for.  I wanted to climb hard because I knew I would always have to push past limits and plateaus to achieve these goals.  I knew this would not be an overnight success to climb really hard routes or problems.  I knew there would be a ton of training.

I decided to train like a marathoner would train for their 26.2 mile run, which is to start out slow and not try to "run 26.2 miles in one day".  I actually did not start training until I was able to boulder v8 and climb 5.11/12 in the gym and outside.  The training I decided to perform for the last 6 months was a progressive style of training on campus rungs at a local gym called Prime Climb (where the toughest climbers in Connecticut train!).

Note: The first campus board was set up at a university gym called The Campus Centre.  This is where the term "campus" came from in which one climbs with only hands and arms and was subsequently given the name to the style of climbing (wikipedia).

I decided to use campus rungs for training after researching what would be the best way to train.  I came across the invention of the campus rungs by Wolfgang Gullich and read about how he created the campus rung training regimen for his route Action Directe(world's first 9a in Frankenjura, Germany).  Since a lot of the problems that I want to work on involve explosive movements, I figured this would be the best style of training for me.  When I started training I started with making small movements on the easier campus rungs while slowly making advanced movements as I felt stronger and more confident in the moves.  Through all of this work I was able to achieve my goal of sending a v10 boulder problem.

My training routine was inspired by multiple sources, but a good place to begin would be at this article I found on the Moon Climbing website.   I use the half crimp approach when I perform my campus rungs training routine.  Open hand can be performed but involves use of only 3 fingers and can be painful!  This is my typical routine when I head to the climbing gym:

1.  Extensive warming up on boulder problems until I feel slightly past my peak performance.

2. Move to campus rungs and perform 2 sets of 1x1 movements up and down.

3. Perform 2-3 serts of 2x1 campus movement

4. Perform 2-3 sets of 2x2 campus movement

5. Perform 2 sets (with switched hand start to total 4 sets) of 3x1 campus movement

6. Perform 2 sets (with switched hand start to total 4 sets) 1,3,6 campus movement

7. Perform 2 sets of "double-ups" power campus movement

8. 2 Endurance sets: mix small movement sets back to back without coming off the rungs

9. Perform progressive lock-off movement.

10. 2 Power/endurance sets: mix hard movements with easy movements back to back without coming off rungs.

11. Rest for 5 minutes and then move to most difficult of rungs and perform progression routines ("typical burn-out period and is usually not performed extensively).

12.  Cool down by climbing a hard boulder problem then progress downward to easier problems until at the easiest.

This routine usually takes up to 3 hours which includes warming up, rests, hydration and socialization periods.  This also is just my perspective of training and may not be acceptable or suitable to others' standards of training.  All caution should be taken before performing any of these routines, especially campus rung exercises.  Listen to your body, if an exercise hurts, don't do it!  Most importantly, stay safe and have fun with your training sessions!

Campus Board Training Sessions Video:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Getting Over the Fear After a Fall

Falling Climbers ~  Rock Climbing Sign Post Cards 
(image from www.zazzle.co.uk)

Getting over a fear, in general, is probably one of the toughest things to do.  About midway through 2012, I was working on a v9 highball (Filter, Great Barrington, MA) became pumped at the top and came off the problem.  Upon coming down, I missed the pad and my left legged slid down a rock and rolled my right ankle with all my weight (instant numbness!).  I didn't immediately look down at my legs, mostly in fear that I would see one of them at a wrong angle.  Panicking, I started feeling my legs frantically making sure no bones were out of place.  With relief everything was where it should be...except my heart which was up in my throat from the adrenaline rush!  I was lucky enough to make it out on my own weight back to my car to get home.  The next few days were not so lucky due to the excruciating pain.  Crutches became my closest friend after that.

The Damage

An X-ray later showed no damage to anything in my ankle (damn lucky!), only a sprain.  The only thing I could think of was getting back on the wall climbing again.  So I decided to get on the net and find some rehab workouts.  I did ankle ABC's, range-of-motion exercises, and stretches all throughout the week after I took the fall.  I still managed to work out at the climbing gym doing pullups and finger board workouts.  The Friday after the fall I was able to walk full weight on my ankle and able to run up and down stairs with ease.

Determination or Stupidity? 

I made the trip back up to Barrington that weekend to try the problem again.  My ankle still was not 100% but I decided to give it a try anyway.  Upon getting to the warm up spots, I noticed a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I normally didn't have.  I warmed up but still felt a nagging anxiety biting at my ear.  Upon getting to Filter my heart was racing and my hands were sweating.  I started the problem with relative ease but when I would get to the jug crux, my muscles seemed to not work right, almost unwillingly.  I couldn't do it, the fear was paralyzing me.  I packed up my things and walked out.  It was probably for the better though, with my ankle not being fully healed yet.  The next couple of days I knew I had to find a way to get rid of the fear.

Back on the Horse

I started at the gym that week determined to shake the fear.  I got on some boulder problems but still felt the anxiety and fear.  This kept going throughout the week.  Fortunately though, my ankle was back at 100% after all the rehabbing I did for it.  I figured the only way to get rid of the fear was to conquer the problem that gave me the fear.  2 weeks had gone by and I was back at Filter again, this time with a resolve that wouldn't waiver.  I got back on Filter and worked up to the jug crux.  At this point I was having flashbacks and premonitions of falling at the same time.  As I worked to the left of the jug crux to the top my heart was racing, my muscles trembling.  When I got to the top and hoisted myself over I sat up at the top for a few minutes admiring the view with a feeling of my confidence being given back to me.  Happy for the ascent, I swore never to climb that problem again!


I felt normal again.  I wasn't afraid anymore when I was at the gym or on the boulders.  I had my confidence back to keep trying highballs and hard problems.  The weight off my shoulders was gone and I was ready to move forward.  I learned some valuable lessons from all of this: One, always have the end in mind, don't climb a route that you can't climb in your head first; Two, fears can be shed if you work at it; Three, don't show your wife a video of you getting hurt and expect to get sympathy, it won't happen.

Below is the video of the fall and the send! Enjoy the video, it made it onto Climberism online magazine due to my fail!