5 At-Home Exercises for Climbing (Lower Body and Core)
If you want to improve your climbing, you should always think about how your non-climbing exercises incorporate climbing movement. Some of these are obvious. For instance, pull-ups will increase your upper body pulling strength in a way that will translate to climbing. But can you design a leg day routine that is just as beneficial? There are plenty of exercises you can do at home that translates directly to climbing. By incorporating these exercises into your workout routine, you will start to see improvement on the wall as well as off.
Pistol squats closely simulate the common climbing movement of shifting your weight to one leg and standing up. Not only do pistol squats increase strength in your glutes, quads, hips, and hamstrings, but you must engage your core to maintain balance on one leg. If you cannot complete an unassisted pistol squat, start by using a chair or table to assist you on the way down and slowly decrease the amount of assistance over time.
Your legs can get pumped as well as your arms! Lunges are a great way to increase resistance to lactic acid-induced pumps. Lunges also simulate stemming, which involves pressing your legs against two opposing walls while climbing. While there are many lunge variations, they all improve flexibility, work your outer hip muscles, and force abdominal engagement. Try to focus on workouts with increased volume to work up to more of a pump!
Catcher squats are a great exercise to simulate "toeing in" on a hold while climbing. Climbers will often use their calves to flex their foot on a hold to create more friction, especially when on overhanging walls. Catcher squats similarly work the calves and is a must-do exercise for climbers on leg day. If you find catcher squats difficult, use a chair or table to assist each rep, slowly decreasing the amount of assistance over time.
Hanging Leg Lift
When it comes to abdominal exercises, climbers want to focus on exercises that are suspended or require body tension to complete. So while crunches may be incorporated, they do not necessarily translate to the way you will use your core on the wall. Hanging leg lifts involve a climber hanging on a pull-up bar and lifting their legs. There are many variations including knees to chest, side to side, L-lifts, and others. Any of these variations will easily translate into climbing. When climbing, you are supporting your weight and activating your core to lift your feet to the wall. Utilize leg lifts to train this motion and always be sure to do this exercise until failure.
Planks, on the other hand, simulate the way a climber activates their core when their feet are already on the wall. You must maintain a rigid body through the core to keep your feet from slipping off, especially on an overhang. Planks best simulate climbing when performed with some kind of instability. Try placing your forearms on a Bosu ball or another uneven surface, or suspending your feet in gymnastic rings or TRX bands. This increased instability will force you to constantly engage your core to keep from swinging or falling in much the same way you do on the wall.
It can be difficult to design a workout routine that helps improve your climbing, especially for the lower body and core. Utilize these exercises in your at-home workout to see results on and off the wall!