• Coming Back From Injury
  • Get Trip-Fit Fast
  • Systems Wall and Symmetrical Training
  • Coaching Climbing - How To Train Juniors with Care and Caution
  • Grip Trainers - Gimmicks, or Worth the Money?
  • Hangboarding for Endurance: Not Just for Power
  • Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do
  • Planning a Year's Climbing
  • Portable Training Rigs - How to Stay Fit on the Go
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Suspension Training for Rock Climbing
  • Eat Fat, Climb Harder - The Ketogenic Diet
  • Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance
  • Mental Training Made Simple
  • Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 2
  • Endurance Training Tips for Winter
  • Five Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 1
  • Staying Power - How to Last All Day at the Crag
  • Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting
  • Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter
  • Training While Injured
  • The Hard Way, Easier: How to Cope with Redpoint Nerves
  • Climbing Literacy - Get Better Instantly by Reading Routes
  • The Numbers Game - How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
  • Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong
  • Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
  • The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard?
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock - Three Strategies to Prevent the Pump
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 - Strength and Power II
  • The Training Effect - Steve House and Scott Johnston
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Gutbusters - Core Exercises for Rock Climbing
  • Rest ... or Else
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Crank Like a Russian - How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • How to Improve Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • How to Use a Hangboard
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
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    Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers


      Campus boards and hang boards are great tools but the risk of injury is high. Smart use is not just about warming up and maintaining good form—age and experience should determine the required level of training. Juniors should never do dynamic exercises and should train predominantly with feet on and under supervision of a trained climbing coach. Beginners should not use hang or campus boards, and should instead work on climbing technique.

    1. KNOW YOUR LEVEL > Every climber should boulder for at least a year to develop technique and strength before using campus boards or hang boards. Juniors must always follow each progressive stage, regardless of the age they start climbing (i.e., a junior who starts at 14 must still gain four years bouldering experience before following stage 4). Juniors are advised to reduce the volume and intensity of strength training during growth spurts. Parents and coaches should monitor growth with a chart.

    2. WARM-UP > Always start by raising the heart rate, jogging or skipping rope for 2 to 5 minutes. >Spend 20 minutes doing easy traverses on lower- angled walls. Do mobility exercises (e.g., arm circles) while resting. Move on to easy boulder problems and build up through the grades. Do 2 to 3 hard boulder problems to recruit peak strength before moving on to campus and hang boards. >Alternately, warm up on the largest rungs with your feet on a chair or door frame for assistance. Rest. Swing your arms. Use gradually less assistance with each set.

    Click to enlarge. 3. MAXIMIZE QUALITY & USE GOOD FORM > Only train when feeling fresh and recovered. Never use hang or campus boards after long, hard boulder sessions or route climbing. >Use smooth, controlled movements. Maintain stable posture by tensing your core. >Don’t kip violently with your body (this isn't cross-fit). >Never drop onto straight arms. >If training with a half-crimp grip, do not allow your fingers to open.

    4. DO A SECOND WARM-UP > Even after warming up, you should still do an “easy” set of each exercise (e.g., with a foot for assistance or on a larger hold and with fewer reps).

    5. REST SUFFICIENTLY > For strength and power training, 2 to 3 minutes rest between sets will maximize performance and prevent cooling off. Longer rests will be required after power-endurance sets. 

    6. HALF CRIMP > The half crimp is the safest grip for training and builds strength for other grips (full crimp and hang). Hold the fingers at 90 degrees and rest the thumb alongside the index finger. Do a small and strategic amount of hanging (fingers fully open) and full-crimping (fingers fully closed and thumb locked over index finger) to build specific strength. 

    7. NEVER HOLD DEAD HANGS OR LOCK OFF FOR LONGER THAN EIGHT SECONDS > It is extremely damaging to hold any dead hang or lock off for more than 10 seconds. This is also pointless for sport climbing and bouldering.

    Click to enlarge.  8. DON'T OVERDO IT > The number of sets will depend on your level or whether you have bouldered first. See above.

    9. AVOID FULL LOCK-OFFS > Full lock-offs (with arms completely bent) are extremely injurious to the elbows. If you must do them, never hold contractions for more than 2 or 3 seconds. Lock-offs at 90 degrees can be held for longer dura- tions (up to 8 seconds). The best climbers do not need to hold full lock-offs.

    10. DON'T OVERTRAIN! > Hang and campus boards work the same muscles as climbing, so do less climbing when you are training on them. Low intermediates should train no more than 3 to 4 times a week (including climb- ing and hang board/campus board); high intermediates 4 times, and advanced climbers 5 times a week.

    11. STRUCTURE YOUR TRAINING > Do more intensive training on the first day and volume-based training on the second day (e.g., bouldering and campus board on day 1, and routes or easy bouldering on day 2). Split your training into phases (usually 1 month in length) where you focus on strength and then endurance (e.g., in strength phases, train strength 2 or 3 times a week and endurance once). Make sure you have a full rest week every 2 months and a week break twice a year.

    12. BALANCE THE BODY > Finish every session by training the antagonist muscles. Do 3 sets of 20 reps of push-ups and reverse wrist curls or finger ex- tensions with a rubber band. 

      13. BUILD A BASE > Beginners are advised to follow a supportive weight- training and core-conditioning program (as well as doing a minimum of 1 year of bouldering) before using the apparatus.

    14. WARM DOWN > Last, do easy climbing (or gentle hangs) followed by a short pulse-raiser and some gentle static stretching for the arms and upper body.



    Neil Gresham has been training climbers since 1993. Check out his training DVDs at climbingmasterclass.com.


    WATCH Neil Gresham's Freakshow 


    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 206 (December 2012).

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