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Tahoe Bouldering


Grip Training
Real Bouldering Crew

Serious Training


Not all of us can climb Vbadmonkey without some serious, focused, and specific training.  I have found fitness training extremely helpful in my pursuit of climbing performance.  By fitness I mean the type of characteristics that can be improved with proper physical training and diet (fuel).  Running and weight training compliment my time actually bouldering.  My goal is to do as much as possible of the things that will make me improve the fastest.


My choice of training regimen is based on my assessment of my weaknesses and my strengths.  I boulder as much as possible but I am limited by my skin, stamina and recovery time.  I dont have perfect fitness or elite climber body fat so these are obvious weaknesses for me to improve.  Thats why I run, do some calisthenics (pushups, crunches, stretching, etc.) and try to minimize extra calories (at least on weekdays).  My strategy seems to be working so far.


I don't believe in only training my weaknesses.  I weight training to compliment and maintain my strength.  For me, weight training is mainly heavy bench press building up to singles, pull-ups with weight and/or giant rubber band resistance for low reps, and some additional special exercises.

Specific Training

Practicing the sport is still the fundamental method for improvement in any sport. Training should be sport specific for best gains although all training programs should include some of the same basic exercises. Strengthening weaknesses and prioritization of training emphasis is needed to make optimal gains. It is important to compare the risk involved with different methods of training against the possible benefits. Realize some goals may conflict with each other.

I think desire and confidence are primarily responsible for the success or failure of an athlete. Not just in the moment of play but also in all the preparation time leading up to the performance. Success doesn't generally happen without a conscious effort to achieve it. Basic keys to athletic success such as focus, determination, desire, confidence, control, diet and training are controlled by psychological factors. These and other mental aspects effect the ability of athletes to tap into and utilize their potential.

The body's natural movement is controlled by the nervous system. Even things that seem purely physical, such as reaction and power generation are controlled by the mind.

Conversely even things that seem completely mental have a physical element. Thoughts are not completely void of form. Chemical and electrical processes in the brain give life to the mind. In essence, even thoughts are physical in nature.

Considering the interconnectedness of psychological and physical processes, it becomes clear both need to be optimized for attainment of maximum achievement.

Campus Training

Campus board training can be an effective ways to develop finger power. For those of you not familiar with the "campus board" let me explain. The campus board is relatively inexpensive and easy to build. It is just wood and you don't need any fancy tools; a saw, hammer, and screwdriver will do. It is a framed sheet of plywood, usually 4 by 8, with small wooden rungs attached every 9" or so. The board is hung from a wall or tree at an angle approximately 15 degrees past vertical. The rungs are usually small, approximately " thick by 16" long, and are used as hand holds. The first rung should be at about head height. The idea is to climb the wall without using your feet. You pull from hold to hold working your way to the top. This exercise necessitates an explosive grip; you have to grab the next hold before you fall off. Advanced trainers can campus with only two fingers, hop up with both hands at the same time, drop from a high hold and catch a lower one, skip rungs, etc. Campusing also develops pulling power, body tension, reflexes, and timing.

This type of training is intense. Campus training poses a high risk of injury. If you decide to have at it, you will figure out what you can and can't do by trying. At the beginner level you may need to practice with some dead-hangs then matching but with intelligent training and sufficient desire you may be skipping rungs with both hands, throwing double dynos, and catching holds on the way down. You do have to be careful to avoid injury by remaining within your physical abilities and by resting properly between workouts. Power workouts tax the body heavily so remember to recover fully before enjoying another power session (minimum 72 hours). Lowering and dropping into holds places tremendous stress on the joints and tendons. It is a good idea to use feet for lowering if you are weak or tired. Remain tight enough to avoid overextension, particularly in the elbow and shoulder joints. Injuries can strike fast so always be focused and alert. Stop instantly if you feel an injury. Be creative, you can invent many challenges. I motivate myself by setting and breaking records as frequent as possible. Train explosively. The idea is to generate maximum power by pulling as hard and fast as possible. You can also reach statically from rung to rung to build and test strength but I think it is more fun and productive to swing and throw like a madman. If you want to see expert examples of campusing watch Ben Moon and Jerry Moffat in the movie The Real Thing.

A good source of campus training information on the web can be found at:

Power and Force

Campus board training and hard dynamic climbing require an explosive grip. Sometimes the only way to succeed is to grab the hold quickly and reach maximum grip as soon as possible. This type of instant gripping strength is an expression of power. Climbing also requires static gripping strength. So my answer is yes there is a difference between force and power in the expression of gripping strength. Basically, power is increased when the speed of the application of strength is increased.

Power and force are very important for hard bouldering. Most climbing movement doesn't require tremendous power but instead the ability to apply just enough force. On the other hand, hard bouldering is primarily crux moves and my favorite types of limit moves generally require a big dose of power, i.e. latching a small hold after a big throw.

Tips for heavy climbers

1. Loose Weight (running and diet are good for this)

2. Be Strong

3. Be Flexible

4. Hone your technique (flow, use your feet, utilize momentum, believe in yourself, etc.)

5. Make sure you have lots of excuses why you couldnt do the move other than "Im too heavy" or "I suck". Some examples are:

a. I drank too much last night

b. I didnt drink enough last night

c. Its too hot

d. Its too cold

e. My coffee wasnt strong enough

f. I could have sent if I was fresh

g. Its a high gravity day

h. My lady kept me up all night with her sweet lovin'

Pull down