“Boulder Campusing” Power Endurance Training for Climbers
Boulder campusing is a popular indoor training exercise among advanced climbers. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun if you’re strong enough to do it right. The goal is to ascend a section of overhanging wall by simply climbing hand-over-hand with no aid from the feet.
This exercise is similar to campus board laddering. And the same injury warnings apply. Boulder campusing with straight-arm “catches”, shrugged shoulders, and a caved-in chest will get you injured, sooner than later.
Boulder Campusing to Train Maximum Power
Training max power is best done on a campus board, where you can focus on doing straight-forward, high-speed movements near your very limit. That said, if you want to train maximal power on an overhanging boulder, you should select a three- to five-move route with medium- to large-size holds that you can engage with an open-hand or open-crimp grip.
The perfect route would be void of small or tweaky holds, awkward arm positions, and reaches that are so long you can’t help but use (dangerous) straight-arm positions. Climb fast! If it takes you more than 6 to 8 seconds to ascend the sequence, then the moves are too big and powerful for you—select an easier problem, or better yet, go use the campus board instead.
Do three campus ascents of the boulder with 3 to 5 minutes of rest in between. Super strong climbers can do three ascents of three different problems. Either way, always rest completely between ascents. Remind yourself that “quality over quantity” is the training secret to developing higher power!
Building Power Endurance
Whereas maximum power is developed by brief bursts (<10 seconds) of near-limit, high-speed movements (like campus boarding 1-4-7-10), power endurance must be trained with a rapid succession of near-maximal bursts of power for a duration of between 20 seconds and 60 seconds. On a campus board, you could simply “campus ladder” up and down (1-3-5-7-9-9-7-5-3-1 and repeat) for around 45 seconds. Boring, but effective.
Much more interesting and fun is campusing a long section of overhanging wall for 10 to 20 hand moves (15 to 35 seconds). Even using juggy handholds, this is a very advanced training method. That requires good kinesthetic awareness of scapular positioning. And, of course, strong enough scapular stabilizer and rotator cuff muscles to maintain proper form throughout the ascent.