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Home Climbing Walls (Page 1 2)
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  Trusting your life to something you read on the internet is just plain stupid.  Get corroboration from a more reliable source, use your common sense, don't get yourself killed, and don't come crying to us if you do.

How do I build a home climbing wall / bouldering cave?
How do I build a crack machine?
What should I paint my home climbing wall with to provide friction?
How can I make my own holds? / How can I get holds cheap?
Where can I buy holds online?
Where can I buy cheap t-nuts?
How do I clean my holds?
What should I use to cushion my fall? / How can I self-belay on my home climbing wall?
What training program should I use with my home climbing wall?
How do I build and use a finger board, hang board, campus board or HIT strips?
How do I make a glue-up? / How do I glue holds to concrete?
How can I turn a tree into a climbing wall?

How do I build a home climbing wall / bouldering cave? [back to top] [FAQ contents]


Plans for a single panel climbing wall at Climerware and more details on same
How To Build A Climbing Wall from Metolius Climbing
Building a climbing wall from the Climbing Wall Resource
Building Climbing Walls from the Indoor Climber's Resource
Climbing Walls from ClimbUK
How to Build a Home Climbing Wall from Edgewalls
How to Build a Home Bouldering Wall from
Building A Home Climbing Wall from Chockstone
Homewall from Pawn Climbing
Climbing Wall from Inox


Home Climbing Gyms: How to Build and Use by Randy Leavitt, Anthony Scoggins
Building Your Own Indoor Climbing Wall by Ramsay Thomas

See also:

Anyone built their own wall? and its continuation How many t-nuts per 4x8
Q re. stability of adjustable v. fixed home walls - how to make an adjustable wall stable (9/02)
Structural questions on building a woodie - building a wall that can be left outside (7/02)
Home Training Facilities, Part 1 designing a home board by Neil Gresham on Planet-Climbing.

How do I build a crack machine? [back to top] [FAQ contents]

Plans for "Tilt-a-Crack" at Climerware and more details on same

From: Rock & Ice Online

Designs vary but they generally start with stacking two long 2" x 10" boards. Drill 3/8" holes all the way through both boards every few feet and to one side of center. Stagger the holes (one near edge, next near center) if you want to flare the crack. If you want to vary the taper of the crack, make the holes of the moving board slightly larger diameter. Put a washer on a 12" bolt and insert into one board, then secure this bolt with another washer and a nut. Repeat with all holes. Now add a wing nut (facing down) and a washer to each bolt and lay the other board on top so the bolts go through its holes. Use more washers and wingnuts to hold in place. You now have a variable-width crack machine, which I'll leave up to you to figure out how to mount. Do not texturize the wood or you will shread your hands and turn into a slab fanatic.

From: Micah Lauer

The alternative to a texture/friction coating is to leave your manufactured crack unfinished. This promotes a more refined, precise crack climbing technique than climbing a crack where texture/friction can compensate for less than perfect technique. With an unfinished crack, your jams have to be excellent to avoid removal of skin! Try taping first in needed, and then as you get your technique down, climb without tape to work on perfecting your jams.

I almost prefer manufactured cracks without friction for training, because when you get outside into a nice splitter sandstone or granite crack, the friction makes it seem easier. If you're going to build more than one, maybe consider texturing one and leaving the other unfinished.

From: Alexander Cooper

I just recently built a set of varying width cracks. I did the simplest thing I could think of and placed sets of parallel 2x12 boards with spacers between them in a vertical orientation. I deliberately did not try to add texture because I was guessing that this would just lead to a lot of lost skin when hands and feet slip. Besides, as Micah said, if the cracks at home are slippery then this will force good technique and will make real cracks easier.

Two comments that I would make are:

1) make sure the crack walls are very stiff because jams develop quite a lot of outward force. If the crack widens it makes it much harder to get a good jam. If I were to do this again I think I would make I-beams or square posts out of wood and then make the cracks between pairs of these. The full length perpendicular (to the walls) boards should give sufficient stiffness, but the whole thing gets to be much wider.

2) for narrow cracks you might want to consider some sort of face holds because climbing shoes don't grip too well on smooth wood and if you can't jam the feet in the crack it gets quite hard. Maybe you just look at this as a way to develop better hand technique :)

From: Kelly Rich

Basically, you create a hand crack that you can do pull-up from. The crack is horizontal, like in a roof. But since it's perfect hands, you should be able to hang and do pulls. Using wood to simulate the crack walls, you will at first have a hard time getting your jams to stick. But soon you'll get the hang of it and after you do sets of pulls for a few days, your hand jams will have more holding power than a #2.5 Friend.

You'll need:
1 6 foot 2X8 wood board (a 2X6 or 2X10 will work alright, too)
4 8" bolts with nuts on the ends
1 drill
A saw
Some spare sling
A place to hang your bar

1) Cut the 2X8 board in in half (you'll have two 3' long boards, not two 1X8 boards or two 2X4 boards, OK?).
2) Cut 1.75" to 2" off the end of each board (same size is best). 1 7/8" is perfect hands for most. These are used as spacers between the long boards, at the ends.
3) Drill 2 holes at the ends of each piece of wood and two holes through each of the spacers.
4) Assemble the crack.
5) Drill holes at the top for the slings and hang the thing.

Landscape view. o's represent the holes for the bolts... 
|                                            | 
|  o                                      o  | 
|                                            | 
|                                            | 
|                                            | 
|                                            | 
|                                            | 
|                                            | 
|  o                                      o  | 

Turn the thing on its side, this is how you'd see it 
looking up at it after you hang it: 
  | |        hands                         | | 
   b                                        b 
OK, this looks pretty bad, but it's as good as I'm going to get it. In the bottom 'drawing', you have two 2x8 boards, you're looking at the 2" side. They are separated by 2", the spacers are poorly drawn at the ends. The b's are the bolts that hold the contraption together. The 'hands" shows where you put your hands to jam.

I swear by these. One time, we made an outdoor gym and made a pull-up bar that had 4 different size pull-up cracks, thin hands, tight-hands, hands, and cupping. There is Nothing like this for improving your jamming techniques, other than actually going out and doing laps on Reeds.

The first one I made, I made the mistake of using two sets of 1"x8" boards. I doubled the boards on each side to get them stiff enough to jam. But the boards flexed like crazy. What a great torture device! you had to jam extra hard just to stick, then when you did pulls, Whoa!

From: Jesse Schomberg

I just finished one yesterday also; used wing nuts on the bolts, and the spacers are just floating, so I can pull them out and adjust the crack width, and make it flaring or constricting on one end or whatever with other chunks of wood. I stuck a strip of 1X2 along the outside edge for a nice little pullup lip too.

From: Chris Kantarjiev

I made an adjustable one about two years ago - four carriage bolts at the corners. There's a nut/washer holding the head side of the bolt to the "back" piece of wood, and a nut/washer and wingnut/washer holding the "outside" piece of wood in place. If I were to do it again, I'd probably use wingnuts on the inside as well as the outside.

At first, I hung it via accessory cord from one of the garage joists. This was pretty much impossible to do anything with, since it allowed me to swing too much. Now that the garage rebuild is close to done, I've bolted it to a big beam next to the finger board, so it's very stable.

See also:

Build Your Own Hand Crack

What should I paint my home climbing wall with to provide friction? [back to top] [FAQ contents]

From: undercling

Metolius as usual has some great web info on building walls, including products with which to do it. They also have a wall coating that you can buy from them.

Basically, they have used a concrete construction industries type of water-based acrylic resin and mixed it with coarse sand. At Pacific Edge, such a mixture has held up for 7 years fantastically under an awesome amount of beginners pawing away every day at it. Mere paint and sand would fail immediately assuming you are planning on actually smearing/scumming on your wall surface.

From: Lowery Lance

I have had a lot of luck using a mxiture of latex paint, elmer's wood glue and sand. Once it dries, it makes great friction. The more glue, the better! It's a little sloppy globbing it on with a brush, just make sure you spread it out thin so it all dries evenly.

From: John Byrnes

Don't paint it. There's no benefit, and several benefits to not painting.

From: GKF

I too was all eager to paint my wall after I built it. I found a nice non-skid floor paint in a grayish rock color well kind of , when you squint in the dark. Fair enough until I thought "hey I'll add some sand for grip". Learn from my mistakes. If you want a pretty wall paint till your hearts content. But don't add sand! all it does is wear your shoes down and takes skin off faster than a good road rash.

From: Dave Kennedy

As others have said, you really can get away without texturing walls. That said, the best texture I have seem was a home mix consisting of equal parts of a latex adhesive, cement and a fine grit sand. Probably applied with a trowel. I was told it was kind of a pain to put on but the results are very similar to what you will find in some of your better commercial gyms. Not too rough and the wearability appears excelent.

See also:

Texture products from Stone Age

How can I make my own holds? / How can I get holds cheap? [back to top] [FAQ contents]

From: John Byrnes

For training, where your goal is building strength and you don't care if they look, feel or perform like real rock, use a hardwood like oak.

From: Outsd1999

I like to start with wood blocks from simple 2 by 4s that are cut and drilled. I use a grinder, drill, saw, file, etc. to play with the shapes. Next the shaped block is placed on wax paper, covered with epoxy resin, and then covered with sand.

I use a variety of holds: pure homemade resin, hardwood, resin and sand coverd wood, and store bought. I like the store bought the best.

From: Dave Kennedy

A local gym opened several years back on a shoe-string budget. They made many of their holds out of real rock, cutting the rocks with a masonry saw to ensure that the backs were flat, doing some minimal shaping and counter sinking the bolt heads. They did a pretty good job but guess what, the holds still sucked. You had little variety (mostly edges and blobs), the rock polished worse than plastic, they spun, and the textures were not skin friendly (but then again neither were the plastic holds back then). As soon as they acquired more plastic holds, the real rocks were rarely used.

Nothing wrong with making holds. But its unlikely that these will be your favorite training holds. Wood would be my material of choice.

From: John

Wood, while not as flashy or cool as real holds, can be used. I've climbed in a gym where one of the bouldering sections has wooden holds. There's alot you can do with a few blocks, a chisel and sandpaper.

Except for slopers (too slippy) and jibs (too weak) wood can be used for any holds. Much cheaper if what you care about is training, not "check out my wall" bragging rights.

From: Maddog

Wood rules. Wood. Good wood.

I'd hate to just have a chisel and sandpaper, but I guess one could sit in lotus, chant and chisel. Bench sanders and table saws are the ticket.

There are tricks that work for slopers. Take red oak and orient the end grain towards the grip side. Keep sandpaper around to clean the surface every now and then. Grind small ribs (for her pleasure) onto the surface. For jibs, make laminates and attach with wood screws. It works.

From: Mike Yukish

I use wood holds for all of my slopers. How, you ask? After making the slopey hold, I smear it with Elmer's Wood Glue and then dump fine sand all over it. The sand provides just enough friction to make the hold really work for you, but not to tear the skin. They are much more skin-friendly than the Franklin holds, for example.

Another trick is to drip a couple of blobs of glue on the back, and put sand on them. Keeps the hold from spinning.

From: John Byrnes

I agree, wood is probably your best bet. Be sure to use HARDWOOD and not soft pines, etc. Softwoods will break, and you'll end up on your back unexpectedly, or get injured in other ways.

We tried pine (2x4s, 2x2s) for many hand and foot holds. We tossed them all in the fire and remade them from oak.

Mike's right about them spinning. Another alternative is to put a small woodscrew into them (besides the normal bolt).

From: Nathan Sweet

Yet another alternative is to use stair treads on the back of the hold. These are available at Home Centers and look like a long sheet of sandpaper with a self sticking aluminum backing. Peal off the backing and stick it to the (clean) hold. The rough side goes to the wall.

From: daniel.d.eubank

Some tips for drilling your natural rock holds: Start with a 1/8" masonry bit and work up to the 3/8" in your hammer drill, then route out the 3/8" hole till your bolt slides through it. A 1/2 " countersink onto a larger rock hold will allow the allen head to seat into the hold. On smaller ones use a washer and just let the head extend out.

Sandstone is rather soft and tends to crumble as foot placements on a wall. I have a few up higher for handholds only that work pretty well. Be careful when you torque your allen head bolts on sandstone holds; tighten enough to hold, but not so tight that the holds break. Use a large washer to distribute the pressure from the bolt.

For a while I was picking up one rock of suitable home gym size/shape at every crag that I climbed at and was putting them up on my wall. I have sample rocks from such places as Yosemite, Owens River Gorge, and Red Rocks. Not only are they functional holds, but they remind you of your great climbing trips!

From: Karl Lew

If you absolutely must take something from the wilderness, please take out trash that you find. Leave the rocks for the next person. Yeah, just one rock doesn't matter, but your decision, repeated millions of times, is actually devastating.

From: Sam Shank

Check out my website for making holds out of concrete. It is possible to make them using only sand and portland cement.

From: David

I was looking at the bottom of a two liter coke bottle the other day and thought it would make a cool climbing hold - that's where I got the idea. There are five bulges at the bottom so it will stand up. Take a razor and cut the bottom 2 and a half inches off the bottle and voila - ready made mold for a cool climbing hold. This can be further enhanced by denting or distorting the plastic to make an incut on one side.

I mixed 6 parts bondo polyester fiberglass resin, 4 parts general all purpose sand, added hardener, mixed well and poured it into the mold. I hot glued a peg to the bottom before pouring to make the hole for the bolt. An hour later I used a razor to cut away the plastic bottle and presto - new climbing hold !!!

Once I knew it worked I raided the recycle bin and started cutting up all kinds of empty plastic bottles. Mouthwash bottles, Gatorade bottles, cleaning fluid bottles, etc. In short order I cranked out my first batch of resin holds.

Another idea I had which also worked great but actually costs a few bucks was to use aluminum tins used for baking. Picked up one in the shape of a stocking and another in the shape of a clover. Two dollars each but reusable over and over. Yields holds a little over an inch thick with great contours allowing them to be used at a variety of positions.

From: Sean Canavan

The recipe I found said to use 2 parts bondo to 1 part playsand. I've found that this makes the holds a bit rough so I probably use 3 parts bondo to 1 part sand (I have garden sand, not playsand, so this may be the reason). You can make about 20 - 25 medium size holds with a 1 gallon can of bondo. Oh, and it's autobody bondo. The cheapest place I've found it is at Kmart for $13/gal. For more info, here is the url for the site where I learned how to do this:

I will add one note. I tried adding food coloring to the bondo to make different colors, but all it seemed to do was compromise the strength of the holds. Apparently you can get bondo dye, but I haven't been able to locate any yet. Luckily, broken holds can be repaired by adding more bondo to them, which seems to adhere to the older stuff with no problems.

From: Tab

Make your own if you're really trying to go cheap. Go to Bare Metal Foil Company and buy some Klean Klay, some mold release spray and some Poly Latex 60. Then go to Home Depot and get some Portland cement and sand. Then go to your local concrete contractor and buy some superplasticizer and silica fume.

Use the clay to mold your hold (this is really fun). Mold it on a piece of plywood so you have a flat side (which will mount against your wall). Be sure the make your bolt hole perpendicular to the back (flat side) of your hold. Once you like the shape of the hold take some steel wool or a rough towel and lightly press some roughness/texture into your hold. Once the hold looks good, mix up your Poly Latex 60 and brush it on (it's like mayonnaise). Make sure you get it down into your bolt hole, watch for air bubbles down there. Do about 3 coats of this (should take you a weekend or so). After the rubber is completely cured peel it off your clay hold. Get a bucket full of sand and place your rubber mold into it so that the sand surrounds the mold (this will ensure that the rubber is supported when you pour the concrete into it). Mix up the concrete using the correct ratio of cement, sand, superplasticizer, and silica fume (look around on the internet or ask the guys at the concrete supplier). Spray the mold release into the rubber mold. Pour the concrete into the mold and let it harden in a cool damp place (the slower it hardens the stronger it is). When it's hardened peel the rubber mold off and you've got a hold! The rubber mold is reusable for 50 or so times. The key is to make a bunch of different molds so you end up with half a dozen or so holds for every batch of concrete you mix.

Total cost: About $150, but if you end up with 400 holds you've more than made up for the investment.


Having been the homemade route and back again, I can safely say that if you are thinking that you will save yourself a lot of money it will be in the LONG run. The experimentation phase is what costs so much. Once you've got it down you can whip them out quickly and cheaply, however, prior to that, the experimentation will cost ya at least $100.00 or more. Of course, it could be less if you are more adept at this stuff than I. Good Luck.

From: The Climbing Wall Resource

Making wood holds
Making bondo holds
Making plastic holds

From: Gary Clark

You might try ebay. There are always lots of holds posted there. Some new, some used, but you can name your own price.

From: Runxoverruny

Ask Santa.

Seriously, my advice for family and friends is not ties for presents. Instead I have provided cataloques with climbing holds. This is easy for people to order, they have a wide price range, and you get plenty of random holds.

From: Kris Benson

Just got a quick addition for the climbing faq for home gyms:

Q: What size wrenches do I need for bolt-on holds?
A: 7/32" and 5/16".

See also:

Making Climbing Holds from the Indoor Climber's Resource
Jim Cormier's hand-shaped hold making method on Google Groups
Making Polyester Resin "Plastic" Climbing Holds from Stephen Williamson

Where can I buy holds online? [back to top] [FAQ contents]

Hold manufacturers online:
Entre Prises
Franklin Climbing
Nicros (no online ordering at this time)
Stone Age

See also:

Where can I buy cheap gear online? on Tradgirl. Some of the vendors listed also sell climbing holds.

Where can I buy cheap t-nuts? [back to top] [FAQ contents]

From: D B FRAZ

I think the cheapest I've heard of is 7 cents per nut in bulk. Anywhere from 9 to 13 cents would be a great price. At least I think so.

From: Bobby

Depending on where you live try looking up Bolts and Nuts in the yellow pages. In So Cal there are several bolt specific company which are a great source for t-nuts. I found t-nuts at ABABA Bolt for $ 0.10 ea. in the San Diego area. This was for a 100 / package.

From: Chris and Nancy Trautz

Be sure to take a good look at the t-nut you're buying. Lousy ones will spin out on you after just a few hand hold changes. Home Depot will sell you that type, at least in my neighborhood. You want nice long tines (the part that grips the back side of the plywood.) I got good quality, six-tined nuts from Stafast Corp., a thousand for $36.00

From: Michael Creel

use 5/16" t-nuts - they are "more compatible" with holds that take special bolts

From: Sean

You can get 5/16th tee nuts from McFeely's for about 6 cents by the thousand.

From: Dave Condit

For T-nuts, i recommend the four or six prong varieties. Don't wast money by buying them from a climbing shop or hardware store. Look in the yellow pages for a bolt or fasterner supplier and buy in bulk.

See also:

Industrial Hardware
McMaster-Carr Supply Company
MSC Industrial Supply Co.

How do I clean my holds? [back to top] [FAQ contents]

From: trashcan

You could try blasting them at the quarter car wash - or if you have access to a pressure washer. I've also seen good results from industrial type sanitizer/dishwashers, too.

From: Scott Grimes

I've got a small home wall with a bunch of old Franklin/Metolius holds. (4-5 years old). I used to put the hold in the dishwasher with regular dishwashing detergent but they didn't clean up as good as I wanted them. Found that hydrochloric acid diluted with warm water works best. (bought at a swimming pool supply store) I fill a 5 gallon bucket with warm water and add about a cup or two of acid mix and add the hold, shaken not stirred. Let soak for a couple of minutes then stick a hose in the bucket and let the hose run to neutralize the acid and rinse the holds. You've got to rinse the holds becasue they have a tendency to come out a little slimy. The acid however, does corrode the washers that are inset on some of the holds but, it hasn't been a real problem.

From: Stone Age's website

Holds can be cleaned easily in a regular dishwashing machine and will come out looking like new. Warm soapy water, simple green, or any other citrus based cleaner can be used with a nylon scrub brush to clean holds also. Remember to rinse holds in fresh clean water and dry before use.

What should I use to cushion my fall? / How can I self-belay on my home climbing wall? [back to top] [FAQ contents]

From: Karl Lew

Old mattresses work well.

From: Larry Lindeman

I bought a bunch of fairly dense closed cell foam from a wholesaler. I threw a carpet remnant on top of that. The result is as good (in my opinion) as any gymnastic crash pad. This padding covers a 10ft by 14ft area and cost under $200.

If you live near a fairly large metropolitan area, you should be able to find a wholesaler willing to sell to you. I just looked in the yellow pages under Foam.

From: Sam Shank

Ouch! That's one nice pad, but you can go a LOT cheaper...

Just look up upholstery places in your yellow pages. Tell them you want their foam trash and remnants. They'll more than likely be happy to let you haul it out of their place for free. One place even offered to pay me to take it out!!

It's mostly foam from couch and chair coushins that are getting re-done at their shop. It's fine. I had my mommie sew me 2 king size sheets together and I stuffed it full 'o the pads. Very nice. And CHEAP. And you can let your wife choose the pattern on the sheets.

From: Micah Lauer

Check your local second-hand furniture/mattress shops and Goodwill/Salvation Army stores for good deals on "crash pad" mattresses. If you're really into no-cost scumming for padding, look near dumpsters at apartment complexes - people are always tossing out old mattresses. The mattresses you may find scumming, however, might be scarier than taking a back fall onto your stairs!

From: miso

My advice would be to make the wall shorter (10 - 15 feet high) and wider, put gravel or something else "soft" at the base, and skip the rope. Bouldering is way hip these days, dude.

Seriously, the rope sounds like more trouble than it's worth.

From: Christian

Spend the money on fatter padding.

See also:

How do I top-rope self-belay? on Tradgirl
Which bouldering pad should I buy? on Tradgirl

What training program should I use with my home climbing wall? [back to top] [FAQ contents]

Metolius Climbing's 10 minute sequence
Metolius Climbing's Power and Endurance
Woodie wisdom: Avoid training errors in your home gym from Climbing Magazine
Home Climbing Gyms: How to Build and Use by Randy Leavitt, Anthony Scoggins
What training program should I use to get stronger? on Tradgirl
How do I build and use a finger board, hang board, campus board or HIT strips? on Tradgirl

How do I build and use a finger board, hang board, campus board or HIT strips? [back to top] [FAQ contents]

From: Mark Bockmann

Short answer: don't use a hangboard.

Longer answer: use a hangboard if all of the following apply: you are an advanced climber, know how to avoid injury, have no access to a climbing gym or real rock, need some way to "train", and mind- numbingly boring exercises don't bother you.

In particular, I would strongly advise a beginner such as yourself to avoid using hangboards at all costs. Even if you use it properly, you're just going to develop finger strength that you'll misuse. You may not believe me, but being too strong just KILLS your technique if you're a newbie climber. If you really want to advance your skills, right now you should focus 100% on technique. Don't even THINK about trying to get stronger. The strength will come like magic as you climb more. Once you're climbing mid 5.11 or so, if you feel like your strength is really holding you back, then look into some strength- specific ways to train. But I doubt hangboards will be the answer for you even then.

From: David Paul

The fingerboard should come with a suggested workout if you buy it new. it you got it used write to the mfg. for a sheet.

The problem is they increase stress beyond normal climbing levels, especially fee-hanging for long periods on the board's punier holds. You can hurt the tendon connections at the shoulder.

If you push to muscle failure then wait 48 hrs until you do it again.

Use them like you would on rock, doing fingerholds for brief intervals

From: Randy Dinnison

Here is a whole bunch of campus info I received from posting the same question last year:


rungs 200mm apart, angle approx30 - 35 degrees seems to work well. Wooden rungs, three sets if possible, one slopey, one incut from 32mm by 50mm PSE then depending on how strong you are, one set from 25 by 50mm PSE. you will need at least nine sets of rungs, numbered one to nine. Train with long rest periods between, every third day is good. If you make the board more vertical it makes it harder. Make sure you take the edges off the rungs well, otherwise you will tear skin ex quickly.


The definative angle is 12 degrees
Rung spacing 22.5 cm
Rung length about 300 - 350 mm
Three sets of 8 rungs would be ideal.
The smallest set should be no smaller than about 16 mm wide planned to so they are slightly 'incut' (angled in) with well rounded edges.

The largest set should be about 50 mm wide with rounded edges and flat (no inclination). Which are good for warming up on and gaining lock off power.

These rungs are the most fun, since you can do the most things with them. With the middle set you can do what you like. Some have them about 30 mm wide, slightly inclined with rounded edges.

1st rung should be about chest height so that you can hang down fully extended and your knees won't touch the mattress.

Don't make the mistake of making the rungs too small. I've seen a few boards which have really small rungs and they are unusable. (Take a look at the campus board in the Office in the Foundry if you want an example of a board that is too low and has rungs which are too small.)

Beside if you have never campused you will not be able to do much with 16mm wide rungs.


Angle = probably 15 degrees is all. But, you want the angle steep enough so that you can't dead hang from one arm.
Rung spacing = 200 - 250mm.
Rung width = 400 - 450mm
Beginning rung depth = 40 - 50mm, with very round edges (20mm radius).
This means you can both open hand and cling grip the board.
8 rungs if you can manage it.
Ideally the bottom rung should be mounted at chest high or higher. Make sure you have plenty of space to swing your feet.

Basically, you campus when you are feeling fresh (after a long warmup). Because the campus board is for building power, you want to try exercises near your limit. Usually, when you are doing this, you'll burn out after several goes, your performance will drop off, and you can start warming down.

It's really quite easy to figure out how to train, because you'll just be trying to attain goals. For example, start by trying to go up one rung at a time without matching. If you can do that, then go down again without stopping after getting to the top.

Once you can do that basic exercise in a controlled manner, trying going two rungs at a time (1-3-5-7). If you can do that, try 1-4-5-8. Then do this exercise on the other arm. Try all sorts of variations like 1-4-6-8, 1-5-6-8, or 1-5-7. These exercises are hard cranks, and will definitely improve your grip, lock, and pull. Concentrate on intense effort and speed.

So, now you're bored with singles. Time for doubles, and this is where the power fun really begins. Start by trying to go from 1-2 moving both hands at the same time. A lot of people find this really hard to get the hang of, but really it is just matter of speed and aggression. If you can do one - try continuing all the way to the top.

One you can do 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 doubles, try 1-3-5-7. Drop back down 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Then combine it (this is really good fun) 1-3-2-4-3-5-4-6-5-7-6-8. Master this and then try 1-4-2-6-3-7-4-8. Try 3-4-3-4-3-4-3-4-3-4-3-4-3-4-3-4 as fast as you can etc. etc. etc.

Once a week should be heaps, but listen to your body. Sore tendons or elbows (very common) - don't even consider it.

By the way, Metolius had an excellent flyer about campus board use and construction. I highly recommend that you try to get hold of it, since there isn't many questions it doesn't answer.


>1. How steep should the board be inclined
Go for 12 degrees overhanging (use a protractor if necesarry)

>2. How wide and how far apart the rungs should be
About 8" top of rung to top of rung works well. It allows you to reasonably skip rungs for routines on good holds and to make at least a couple of moves on bad holds.

>3. How best to avoid injury using the board
The best way to avoid skin injury is to avoid the temptation to carve wood rungs that are incut. It may seem at first that you are too weak to use some rungs if they are left straight. But this is why the board should not hang more than 12 degrees (15 MAX) past vert. It makes it possible to stick those slopey wood holds (after some practice). Incutting holds will tear your skin right off.

To avoid tendon or pulley damage, warm up well. Stop while you still feel strong (you will be feeling it later in the day) and do it no more than 2x per week.

From: Kelly Rich

As a side, with my PowerFinger board there came a small guide to using it. They outlined a couple of 10-minute work outs, which one you used depended on your strength.

Each minute you did an exercise, followed by a hang. For example, the first minute was a sort of warm up:
4 pulls on Jugs
15 sec. hang on slopers
(Rest until min. Two starts)

Minute two:
5 pulls on crescent edge
20 sec. hang on razor edges.
(Rest until min. Three starts)

On and on, for 10 minutes. I worked out my own sequence, and modified it as I got stronger. They suggested it as the finishing touch to a work out. I found it to be a finishing touch no matter when I did it. 10 minutes at a time, and boy, the Pump!

From: Ken Cline

I've used both Horst's HIT and Pusher's System holds, and in my experience these are far, far better than random wooden and/or plastic holds for the sort of repetitive strength training you are talking about. For one thing you focus on open grip contact strength and avoid crimping altogether. I've suffered bad tendonitis in the past, but can train to failure on the HIT/System wall without serious tweaks or sore fingers. No holds will prevent injury if you are sufficiently determined to hurt yourself and ignore warning signs, but these are well designed and much more likely to help than hurt.

Of course, the HIT strips/pinches offer a limited set of grip types (big pockets and pinches). Sooner or later you'll want to train other grips, too.

From: Larry, 7/11/2002

You want really cheap and does the job? Get a small piece of 4 x 4 lumber (18" )and drill some holes in the front (router would do better but I don't have one so 1" bit in a drill had to do) , bevel the top a little( I used a skil saw with angle set to 45) and 4 large screws or lag bolts to attached it to the wall studs and you have a board that will torch your forearms as well as a commercially made board.

From: Al Downie, 7/9/2002

Or even buy a bit of 3/4" plywood and get a few pairs of bolt-on holds. That way you get to choose the features you like to train on, and you can rotate them/swap them whenever you get bored?

From: Bob Wightman, 7/11/2002

Note that in modern houses most lintels are of one of two designs: There is the Catnic metal box section style which is then covered by plasterboard before final finishing. The other style is reinforced concrete, these are usually 100x70mm or so and contain several tensile steel rods so drilling into these can be awkward.

If you live in an old house then the lintel is likely to be of stone so drilling into this should not be a problem, other than the racket while you are doing it!

If you live in a modern house and the internal wall is studding covered by plasterboard (sounds VERY hollow when you tap it) then the "lintel" above the door is nothing of the sort. It is more likely to be a noggin of 100x50mm timber with the shorter dimension being aligned top to bottom like:

|              |
|              |
Even worse, the lintel is normally fixed by nailing from either side rather than being properly jointed so it is not designed to take any substantial weight. Hanging from this kind of lintel may distort the door frame :-(

Usually in modern houses the most substantial thing to be able to hang from is the underside of a staircase if it is exposed. In this case drilling through one of the risers and bolting the finger-board on is easy, though you should use large washers to help spread the load.

Obviously people do fix fingerboards above doors but the above should help you understand what is required.

From: Al Downie, 7/11/2002

My first flat was the cheapest Barratt thing I could buy, and I had a fingerboard above one of the doors. I was a bit concerned about the flimsy walls, so I put a small plywood board on either side of the wall, and secured the fingerboard with long threaded rods which went all the way through to the other side. It wasn't pretty, but it was very strong. I suppose the one advantage of the plasterboard walls was that it was very easy to build, and also very easy to invisibly mend when you remove the fingerboard.

See also:

Fingerboards and Foot-off boards by Neil Gresham
How to Campus from Metolius Climbing
Which fingerboard or hangboard should I buy? on Tradgirl

Home Climbing Walls: Page 1 2

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