Campus Board

A campus board is in many ways similar to a finger board.  It is used to improve finger strength as well as upper body strength.  A traditional campus board hangs above the ground at an angle usually between vertical and 20 degrees.  Small wood rungs are fixed to the board with a large gap left in between.  Each wooden rung is numbered, with number 1 starting at the bottom of the board.  There are a number of training methods used when campus boarding. 

A typical campus board.

The most common methods of training on a campus board are:

Laddering.  This involves climbing up the board footless, either using all the rungs, one at a time.

Power Throws.  Again this involves climbing up the board, however this time rather than using different rungs, the aim is to miss out rungs each time.  so rather than climbing from rung 1 to 2 to 3 as above, the aim is to go for maybe 1-4-8 or 1-5-9 or even 1-2-6.  There are many different combinations and each will help to strengthen your fingers and develop explosive upper body power.

Plyometrics.  This is done by dropping with both hands from a higher rung, down to a lower one and back up again, in a fluid movement.  It can be very hard to do and can be very hard on the ligaments.  These moves are really for the more experienced climber.

Using a campus board is deceptively hard and requires a high degree of both finger and upper body strength.  Although campus boards are a great way to improve strength it is worth noting, especially when starting out, that it is also a very easy way to injure yourself and therefore it’s worth having at least a years climbing experience under your belt before attempting to train on a campus board.


Sonnie Trotter using a campus board (remember it’s no where near as easy as Sonnie makes it look!) .