Sunday, 23 August 2009

Youth Rock Jock Corner

Hi guyz,
As you can see Ratho Coach Robbie Philips has been offering some awesome training tips and motivation for training and using our facilities to improve your climbing and fitness. Please beware though that many training techniques for experienced adult climbers are not always suitable for younger climbers wanting to improve their fitness levels! We at EICA: Ratho strongly advise that any climbers under the age of 18 years avoid using footless training aids such as Campus boards or finger boards (i.e. Beastmakers) within their training. Training on these aparatus put tremendious amounts of strain on your joints, in particular your fingers, elbows and shoulders. Training like this when your body is still growing and developing at a fast rate can have serious consequencies! These sorts of training are best left until you have stopped growing and have already built up a wealth of time climbing.


  1. Nonsense. We'll never get a scottish adam ondra with that advice. The young body can take a lot of punishment especially considering that most youths are v light. Try telling ondra not to climb harder than 8b coz his young body can't take it

  2. p.s You'll find that pretty much every world class climber that ever was has done a lot of this type of training before the age of 18. Avoid heavy powerlifting maybe but don't skimp on the campusing/fingerboarding. If you dont fit a lot of this stuff in at a young age (and doing hard routes on the hydraulic wall is equally 'damaging') then you are seriously lowering your chances of being as good as you can be. Kids, ignore Neils advice but make sure you back off if anything feels sore. Ever had to slap for a hold on a route? This puts as much or more strain on your body than campusing will. We need Scottish champs, go for it!

  3. I'm sure I read an interview with Tyler Landman which said that he started campus boarding when he was like 6 or something. I know, he's a mutant and maybe not reflective of the hordes of useless punters everywhere but I think that training safe is safer than lobbing spasmodically at the dirty crimpfests at the wall. For a start you always pull on in control on smooth, flat edges, and if something hurts you can just stop, not to mention the fact that you can train around injuries more easily when you're systematic, identify weaknesses more effectively, etc.
    I do however agree that most beginers should prioritise routes and endurance until they're not completely rubbish so they can learn to move well and efficiently.

  4. Agreed Sam. Maybe the yoof should lay off the campusing until they can climb 7b on routes consistently or do font 7a boulders? After that they've reached a good level of conditioning and can move onto something that will turn them into mutants. The idea that campusing etc is more harmfull to the young body than routes or bouldering is based on the false notion that it's some super intense stength training method akin to olympic lifting or something!

  5. That's a fair comment. But just wondering, if campussing and fingerboardong isn't an intense training regime, why do all the top coaches say not to train this more than 3 times a week due to it's high intensity? I definitely think it's far more intense than a bouldering session, maybe you guys aren't doing it right? But I can't really talk when it comes to cutting the fingerboard training down considering I'm on the bloody thing almost every night of the week...

    At the end of the day, most kids, with the exception of some (Adam ondra) aren't used to pulling on tiny edges. Even if they are great climbers like some of the youngsters coming through the BRYCS, they aren't pulling on finger intensive holds the same way a fingerboard will train it. It's better to build up to that stage of grip strength through climbing I think rather than throwing them on a beastmaker or similar fingerboard/campus board.

  6. You shouldn't be working any muscle group to exhaustion more than three times per week, if that. The reason that you are able to use your fingerboard, do routes or boulder more than that is because you're not going to exhaustion. For example if you were to do several sets of bench press to failure then there's no way you could recover from that in less than 3 days unless you were on steroids. If you look at the effective training load of most peoples routes sessions you'll find that the load is actually not that big compared to a good campus session etc. Think of the actual time spent at your limit when your doing routes. Thats why campusing/ fingerboarding delivers a more effective training load and requires more recovery time.

  7. Hi guyz,
    Thanks for your feedback. Great to see that people are actually taking an interest in our blog. Some really helpful points regarding training responsibly and using footless training aids, espescially your opinions of what grade you should be climbing before considering training on campu/finger boards.

    I do agree that 9 times out of 10 injury occurs as a result of irresponsible use of equiptment rather than the equipment itself. However, with regards to advising juniors. Our opinions of when it is appropriate in terms age is actually based on climbing specific research regarding the impact of training in relation to growth spurts within young climbers. It was carried out by a sports science PHD and coach of the national senior and junior climbing teams. The findings of this research is also strongly backed up by similar studies in to the impacts of campus training in juniors carried out by the German National Junior team.
    I do agree that there are exceptions to the rule (i.e. Tyler or ondra). However, there are just as many examples of young climbers, who have managed to cause damage to themselves as a result of this kind of training. Not every persons body has the same capacity to cope with loading.

    Here is an interesting bit of info from the very good 'Growing Pains' article wrirtten by Aurdy Morrison for the BMC Summits Magazine;
    "This final growth spurt is no time to begin campus boarding, intensive bouldering or any intensive finger strength training. In, fact the UIAA's medical advisors have suggested that climbers under 16 should not undertake any intensive finger strength training, and have stated that they cannot participate in international bouldering competitions.
    Fingers stop growing at around 17years. There is growing body of evisence to suggest that the repeated micro traumas that can result from over training or inappropriate intensive training, can damage finger growth and function."
    Check out the rest of this article if you can as it has some very interesting info on the potential impact of training on young climbers.
    I accept that people may have differing opinions and that there will always be exceptions to the rule. However, it is far more important to more important to me that all of the kids that come through ratho's youth clubs, hopefully do not do any damage to themselves in terms of injury that might effect them in later years of climbing, than we help produce 1 world champion.

    If you are really psyched to see a Scottish world champion, we are not really that far awy from it at junior level. There are 2 Scottish kids in particular that have already come pretty close and there are lot coming through. Which, suggests that in future years, our impact on the senior level of international competition might improve dramatically! If you want to offer them some encouragement, come along to the Edinburgh European Youth Cup at Ratho on the 19th & 20th Septmber. Should be quite a weekend!

    Neil McGeachy

  8. I think the original post regarding the dangers of campus/fingerboard to young people was a sensible health warning to 99.9% of Ratho's young climbers. Considering most young climbers are operating within grade 5 and 6, there has to be appropriate training advise given.

    It would be simply iresponsible to let young people break themselves by letting them train on devices that are not suitable for there given strength levels.


  9. Goes without saying Buz. I thought we were talking about the Ratho mutant kids though, the ones like Johnny Stocking who can crank out one-armers and onsight 8a's. Obviously kids need to reach a good strength level before its worth them using these training devices. No point in swinging about straight armed on a campus board if your too weak to use it correctly, you'll just get hurt