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CAMPUS VIDEO: Power training that doesn't hurt/cause injury.
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By flesh
Aug 17, 2011

player.vimeo.com/video/27422533?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0

My goal was to put as much weight on my fingers as possible without causing injuries. I wanted to add pure power to my fingers, that's it. Unlike many campusing routines this one doesn't push me even close to my limit in terms or my maximum lockoff or the furthest I can reach. Personally, I think there are better ways to train pull power and body tension than a campus board. Also, this has never been a weakness for me. This workout shouldn't get you very sore after doing it a couple different days anywhere except the finger muscles.



This is what I came up with. I like it better than other campus routines simply because when you do doubles, for that second of impact, you put alot of weight on your fingers. However, you can use a largish size rung because it's still hard to hold. In most cases, the smaller the rung, the more your hand will naturally go into a open crimp or full crimp position in the smallest of rungs. I've had 9 finger injuries from crimping so I wanted to stay away from repetitive power crimping. Also, instead of going to a smaller rung as I've gained power, I've added weight using my adj weight vest. It goes up to 20 pounds and at this point I'm using the smallest rung I can while still remaining almost fully open handed. I do this about 2-4 times a month just depending on a number of things and have seen significant improvement in a controlled enviroment. Also, I've jumped 3 v grades since the end of january. It's hard to say how much of that was due to this workout and how much was due to losing 20lbs but I'd guess the 20 lbs was worth about 2 of the 3 v grades. But who knows. I definately know this pushes my open handed finger strength to the very limit everytime I do it. I am failing long before I'm feeling any sort of pump.

In the beggining of the video, you'll see me using large rungs going up then down... quickly. After I boulder well below my limit to warm up for about 30 minutes... I'll campus without weight on the largest rungs to warm up the campus specific muscles/tendons, etc.

You'll see me using a chunk of block chalk to chalk my fingers just on the first pad which is all that touches the rung. The reason for this is because I've found that when i chalk my whole hand it dries out the gap in the finger nail and causes my fingers to split from repetitive doubles. If you split them bad enough, you won't sleep that night. So just put the chalk on the pad and don't reach into a chalk bag over and over. Plus, if you hold your fingers in a curled position and don't stretch them out throughout the routine you'll be less likely to split them.

I've found through trial and error that it's best to shoot for a minimum of 8 reps and a maximum of 10 reps. If you can't do 8 reps...take away weight or use a larger rung until you can. If you can consistently do 10 reps then add a couple pounds till you're back down to 8.

I like to do 10 minutes rests between because I want to have almost a full recovery between sets and I like to do 6 sets total. I think anything more than that is overkill for pure power. It's nice to have a consistent, controlled enviroment as well. It's so easy as a climber to get stuck in a mindset that you're on a plateau or to convince yourself you're not getting stronger anymore. It's difficult to say this though, as alot of you have found, many times it's just in your head. With this, the rungs always stay the same. The distance between them stays the same. The amount of weight you use can be measured. The rest between sets can be timed, etc. Over the course of time you'll no longer be limited to whether or not your fingers are getting stronger, you'll know. I see improvement in either max weight or max reps almost every time I do this.

When I first came up with this idea in februrary, I could only do a max of 7 reps/no weight on the smaller of the two rungs in this video. In the video, the first set you see me do is without weight and I do 14 reps. My personal best is in this video as well. In one of the sets I do 10 reps with 16lbs in the vest. My previous best was only 8 reps with 16 lbs, two weeks ago.

Since not all of you will be able to start on the smaller rungs, at the very end of the video I included what I suggest you do on the larger rungs starting out. It's in black in white, but basically I climb to one rung below the top to start. Next, I'll campus up on rung to the top the skip two rungs on the way down, go up on rung, skip two down, etc.... by the time your at the bottom you should have completed 8 reps. Once you can do 8 reps, add weight. I went up to adding 30 lbs on this larger rung before I went to a smaller rung. I plan on going up to 30 lbs/12 reps on the rung I'm currently using. After that I'm not sure what i'll do, since I'm already using the smallest rung I can stay open on. Maybe I'll have some custom holds made or start down campusing one handed.

Here's the short version my workout.

-warm up 30 minutes bouldering way below your level taking care never to get very pumped, rest 5 minutes.

-do a warm up campus well below your max either using a larger rung or no weight etc., rest 5 minutes.

SET #1-do a second warm up at maybe 85% your limit. You can do this by either using your smallest rung but with no weight or by using a larger rung with weight.
Take note, every SET is until absolute failure and you better try so hard your guts want to explode or your not trying hard enough! In my video, my first set is the one I start on the smaller rungs but without any weight, I still go until failure, but I don't have any weight on so it's not as hard on my tendons. Rest ten minutes.

Set#2 - In this set I believe I do 10 reps and to warm up my tendons further I do it with a total of ten pounds. Rest ten Minutes.

Set#3- In this set I do 8 reps with about 16lbs. Rest ten minutes.

Set#4- In this set I do 10 reps with 16 lbs, my best so far, rest ten minutes

Set#5- 8 reps, 16lbs, rest ten minutes

Set #6- 10 reps, 10 lbs (I was pretty sure I wouldnt' be able to do 8 reps min with 16 lbs so I lowered weight for last set)

I don't know if this is true but I've been told that if your goal is to build pure power, you don't want to get your arms full of lactic acid because it inhibits your bodies ability to build raw muscle. This workout doesn't build up the lactic acid much because your failing long before the pump sets in and resting long enough between to totally depump. After this workout I don't do any other climbing at all and usually just take one day off after.
The best part? I always know if I'm getting stronger and it never hurts my fingers! PURE POWA lol


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Aug 17, 2011

My first thought is: If your goal is to train power, why are you doing sets where you reach failure at ~8-12 reps?


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By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Aug 17, 2011

Will S wrote:
My first thought is: If your goal is to train power, why are you doing sets where you reach failure at ~8-12 reps?


My thoughts too, but flesh's very first sentence was "My goal was to put as much weight on my fingers as possible without causing injuries."

Perhaps flesh's meaning of "power" is just the simplistic version from any dictionary: "The ability or capacity to perform or act effectively."

In this case, his act is to use as much weight as he can in his specific act, without injuring himself.


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By Benjamin Chapman
From Small Town, USA
Aug 17, 2011
old 1/4" bolt.

flesh...looks like a very rigorous routine, if your tendons can handle it, but Eric Horst (training guru) suggests taping your fingers to support the tendor/pulleys, and what I noticed was those guys were obsessive about chalking up, but not one of these guys taped up. I'd really suggest taping up before doing this routine. Also, try Eric Horst' H.I.T. system (Hypergravity Interval Training) or just email Horst and ask his option (try www.Nicros.com for contact info.) Good luck.
ps.. try Tincture of Benzoine (order it in 1 oz. bottles at a pharmacy) for the split tips.


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By inboulder
From Boulder
Aug 17, 2011
Mogotes, Vinales Cuba

"My goal was to put as much weight on my fingers as possible without causing injuries."

Proceeds to do sets of 8-10 reps of bouncing double dynos (and without taping up)....


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By flesh
Aug 17, 2011

Seems like you folks believe that this will cause injuries compared to other power training?

How would taping help when campusing open handed?


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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Aug 17, 2011

Taping your fingers has no proven preventative effects for finger injuries.

Good summary here

The HIT system was designed to take climbers from 5.11 to 5.12, but no further. My personal experience was that the holds were way too big for proper training purposes.


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By flesh
Aug 17, 2011

Also, why is 8-10 reps to much/little for power? When body building this is more than perfect, however, when body building one rep takes more time that going from one rung to another. It terms of elapsed time it's comparable to 4-6 reps bodybuilding.

I did my first 5.12 in 1998 fyi. This is for 5.13+ training. Or if you use the larger rungs, for 5.12 climbers.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Aug 17, 2011

This is a little beyond the scope of what I want to get into in a forum but the short version:

Power is work/time. The was we use it in athletics is basically "explosive" power,...technically if you ran around moving 10lb plates from one side of the room to the other for an hour, then did it next week and was able to move 100more total lbs in that time, you'd have increased your power output, or if you move the same amount in less time you'd have increased power output.

But in athletics we focus on extremely short duration actions. So power essentially comes down to recruitment (sprinters and the like may face other issues with speed of limb movement limiters). Basically, how many of your muscle's fibers can you get firing at once. And the best way we know of to train recruitment is with exercises where you are around 90% max which tends to see failure around ~3 reps.

An actual kinesiology or exercise science person can likely pick my explanation apart and give you a true scientific answer with accurate numbers and the latest research behind it, but the gist of it is accurate.


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Aug 17, 2011

I think 8-10 reps is on the high end of what you want to do for power, but it's not unreasonable. Many of my campus board sets are in that range.

In general, I think this is a very interesting training method. In theory, weighted campusing is the perfect way to train power for climbing, but I think most (if not all) climbers to this point have avoided it for fear of injury. Here we have someone who has actually tried it, and thinks it is effective, so I welcome the new data point. It's hard to say if his climbing improvements are directly caused by this training method, but they are at least correlated. I may try something like this in my fall cycle. Usually it's my elbows that I need to worry about, though, not my fingers.


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Aug 17, 2011

Benjamin Chapman wrote:
flesh...looks like a very rigorous routine, if your tendons can handle it, but Eric Horst (training guru) suggests taping your fingers to support the tendor/pulleys, and what I noticed was those guys were obsessive about chalking up, but not one of these guys taped up. I'd really suggest taping up before doing this routine. Also, try Eric Horst' H.I.T. system (Hypergravity Interval Training) or just email Horst and ask his option (try www.Nicros.com for contact info.) Good luck. ps.. try Tincture of Benzoine (order it in 1 oz. bottles at a pharmacy) for the split tips.


"Donny, you're out of your element!"


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Aug 17, 2011

flesh wrote:
Also, why is 8-10 reps to much/little for power? When body building this is more than perfect, however, when body building one rep takes more time that going from one rung to another. It terms of elapsed time it's comparable to 4-6 reps bodybuilding.


Keep in mind that bodybuilders are not interested in "power" per se, they are interested in getting big muscles, which is hypertrophy, or "strength" as climbers often call it. For pure power training protocols, we're probably better served looking to powerlifting, or sprinting/jumping sports. That said, I don't think it's unusual for sprinters to do plyometric exercises, such as jumping up and down onto and off an elevated platform in excess of 3 reps in a row...maybe as much as 10, or even more.

I believe it's the intensity of the repetition that will determine if the desired recruitment training benefit is achieved, not the number of reps, per se. I would suspect (and in my experience, this is true), that if you attempt too many reps of this type, you will simply be unable to do them as you exhaust local ATP stores in the muscles. The long term effect of this is that you won't be able to do as many sets in the workout.

The big detrimental factor to too many reps is that the quality of work you do will suffer as the workout drags on. Ideally you would get as many reps as possible at the highest intensity, and thus greatest quality. More sets with fewer reps per set may give you more overall quality reps than vice versa. However, I often don't hit my stride until the 3rd rep or so on a campus exercise so 5-6 reps might be ideal for me.


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By flesh
Aug 18, 2011

Initially, when I thought I'd try this method, I thought the same thing, 6 reps. After doing it a couple times, this didn't seem right, of course, I don't have any measured scientific explanation for this.

It has to do with the inconsistency you have when you have so much weight on (ive tested up to 30lbs) or the rungs are so small you have to three finger to stay open. For example, if my goal was 6 reps till failure... sometimes I would only get 4 even though I had just done 6 and four didn't seem like enough. Using a ten minute rest between every time. This probably has to do with the fact that the up campus is harder than the down campus. My sets usually end on the up campus almost never on the down.

Once I set the target at 8, but always went until failure, I could get consistent results. Also, my brother, who lifts 5 days a week for the last 7 years or so, timed how long it takes him to do 4-6 bench presses or curls until failure, the amount of time it took him was consistent with the amount of time it took me to do 8-10 reps.

I've had nine finger injuries, one that took me out for three years, all of them from crimping except one from a mono. This workout never hurts at all. In fact, I usually do it when my fingers are sore from bouldering every other day for a couple weeks to give them a rest. Compared to bouldering at my level, this workout is easier on my fingers than bouldering.


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Aug 18, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

grayhghost wrote:
Taping your fingers has no proven preventative effects for finger injuries. Good summary here The HIT system was designed to take climbers from 5.11 to 5.12, but no further. My personal experience was that the holds were way too big for proper training purposes.


+1 You beat me to the punch.

There's no conclusive evidence that supports taping. What i mean by this isn't that there is no evidence, but for every bit of "evidence" that taping supports fingers, there is another study that says otherwise. Inconclusive evidence at best.


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By Ceebo
Aug 18, 2011

Evan Sanders wrote:
+1 You beat me to the punch. There's no conclusive evidence that supports taping. What i mean by this isn't that there is no evidence, but for every bit of "evidence" that taping supports fingers, there is another study that says otherwise. Inconclusive evidence at best.


Would it not actually increase risk?, trying to think mechanically.. i would assume taping up the fingers would restrick internal movement, similar to the result of taking a fall on a 2 foot pice of dynamic rope.


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By Peter Beal
From Boulder Colorado
Aug 18, 2011

My 2 cents on this is that repeated double dynos on the campus board, weighted or not, fail to isolate individual arms and hands which I find is the weakest link in most climbers. I incorporate doubles in my campusing but only as a small part.

For a better measure of finger strength, try hanging one-handed on a single pad edge for say 5+ seconds. If you can do that, add a bit of weight. If you can't easily hang one handed on an edge, I would recommend working that or maybe better, spend the time bouldering power instead.


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By flesh
Aug 18, 2011

Peter Beal wrote:
My 2 cents on this is that repeated double dynos on the campus board, weighted or not, fail to isolate individual arms and hands which I find is the weakest link in most climbers. I incorporate doubles in my campusing but only as a small part. For a better measure of finger strength, try hanging one-handed on a single pad edge for say 5+ seconds. If you can do that, add a bit of weight. If you can't easily hang one handed on an edge, I would recommend working that or maybe better, spend the time bouldering power instead.



If your a mutant that's a good strategy. One handed edge hangs does increase power quickly, it's also what caused me to take 3 years off of climbing, my worst climbing injury ever was from one handed edge hangs on a hang board. It's the last thing I'd recommend someone do.


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By Peter Beal
From Boulder Colorado
Aug 19, 2011

Three years off is a long time. Sorry to hear it. I am not a mutant by any stretch and I find that working one-hand strength is key to handling hard moves. Why do you think this training method injured you?


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By flesh
Aug 19, 2011

Peter Beal wrote:
Three years off is a long time. Sorry to hear it. I am not a mutant by any stretch and I find that working one-hand strength is key to handling hard moves. Why do you think this training method injured you?


I can't think of anything harder on your pulleys/knuckles than one handed open or closed crimp hangs, can you? I did it for about 6 months, once a week, then one day, POP! In the middle knuckle on my middle finger, it hurt just walking around for years. I know it works, I did it, but it also is the most likely thing to injure you. I don't think it should be recommended on a forum. When people find out they can do something to make quick gains, they'll do it and get injured. Nothing slows progress more IMO then injury.

Sorry if that came off the wrong way... being the person who had nine finger injuries from crimping and one so bad that 10 years later it still hurts a lil, I'm biased no doubt.

IMO, one hand hangs are fine, just not in the crimp position. There are people, some who I climb with, who seem to be more or less impervious to injuries from crimps. One of my friend warms up on v11 crimp problems. He's never had an injury in 13 years of climbing, not one.

My philosophy and the reason I came up with this workout is that at a certain point, us mere mortals, simply cannot continue to progress by training crimping without getting injured. For me it started when I broke into v10 bouldering 10 years ago. Injury after injury after injury. It was so frustrating, at the time, I climbed with two other friends who did exactly what I did in terms of days climbing what we climbed on etc and they never got hurt.

In order for me and I suspect most, to maintain a v9+ bouldering level consistently over years of time, you simply cannot power train crimping, if you can, your lucky.

Once I realized my body simply couldn't handle it, I had to realize that in order for me to progress beyond v10, I would have to focus on open handed climbing/problems. If I climb a crimpy problem, it's never in the gym, never on a hangboard, are rarely outside. Only in a competition where I have to or outside if I can do the problem quickly without working it (one or two tries). I only power train or project open handed climbs. By doing this, my fingers don't hurt, I never get injured and the progress is consistent. Also, I've found by only climbing open handed, even on crimps, I can climb more and at a higher level consistently simply because nothing ever hurts. So I'm comfortable pushing myself and my body responds.

When I discuss this with my friends who never get hurt, they think it's silly. This is a way for us who aren't blessed with connective tissue that can handle the upper levels of climbing to make progress.

The proof is in the pudding. Since I started this campus routine, only climb open, and lost some weight, I've jumped 3 v grades in 5 months. No plateau yet.

I posted this a way that's proven to me to safely power train at the upper levels of climbing.

I suspect the likelihood of getting injured is strongly correlated to the length of your fingers and your body weight. If you weight 130 lbs, you'll have less problems with crimping than if you weigh 180. If you fingers are half as long as mine, the amount of leverage is decreased significantly.


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By Peter Beal
From Boulder Colorado
Aug 20, 2011

Thanks Seth. I would never recommend training static one-hand hangs in the crimp position, only open-handed. I agree that training crimps can be dangerous. I will do a limited amount of that only on a fingerboard and only when well warmed up. Typically I will climb open-handed.

Hanging one-handed can be done relatively safely in the open-hand position, especially on a generously sized edge with a rounded radius.

Good to hear that you figured out a strategy for training that has good results for you and feels safe!


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Aug 20, 2011

Wow, it sounds like you have quite a history. I climb with closed crimps, and train that group as well, but my strategy is different. Since I focus more on sport climbing, im only training finger strength on a hang board for about 4-5 weeks per season, which works out to 3 times a year for a total of 12-15 weeks a year. That, and an obsessive icing routine has prevented injury for mgr so far. I can definitely see that if I were more focused on bouldering, it would be hard to avoid injury.


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By JohnWesely
From Red River Gorge
Aug 20, 2011
Gunking

FWIW, I did one session on Flesh's workout and saw pretty substantial results. The session after the workout I did a 15 move problem first try that I could not even do all the moves on the previous session. Also, my fingers felt much better at the end of the campus session than at the end of a typical boulder session.


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By Peter Beal
From Boulder Colorado
Aug 20, 2011

I would caution anyone thinking of trying the methods in the video to watch their elbows very carefully. Mike A mentions this above but I would like to add that the eccentric effort of catching an edge while dropping and wearing a weight belt could really do some damage to the medial epicondyle. It helps that the load is spread between two arms but the impact of a falling climber's force on elbow tendons is very substantial. If you can avoid that problem, I could see how you could gain power and even power endurance quickly, in fact maybe too quickly.


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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
Aug 20, 2011

I recall reading that because eccentric muscle loading - negative reps - is so stressful, the recovery period should be longer than the recovery period following concentric reps. The source for that info. is several peer-reviewed journals, but the info. is several years old and may be out of date. Also, the exercises shown in the video may not qualify as eccentric loading/negative rpes. However, If you are doing those campus exercises, it might be wise to check around and see if it's true.

Also, plyometrics may be a good way to recruit (I don't know if yes or no), but is it really a good way to increase strength?


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By flesh
Aug 21, 2011

Peter Beal wrote:
I would caution anyone thinking of trying the methods in the video to watch their elbows very carefully. Mike A mentions this above but I would like to add that the eccentric effort of catching an edge while dropping and wearing a weight belt could really do some damage to the medial epicondyle. It helps that the load is spread between two arms but the impact of a falling climber's force on elbow tendons is very substantial. If you can avoid that problem, I could see how you could gain power and even power endurance quickly, in fact maybe too quickly.


Yep, watch the elbows. I don't do it more than 2-4 times a month.....

Strengthen the top of the forearms with reverse wrist curls and do some push ups regularly for those tri's!

Warm up slowly as well.

I had elbow tendinitis three times... but haven't had it in ten years... this workout hasn't caused them to hurt... maybe it's because I'm not going very far up or down... it's mostly for fingers.


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