We always here that climbers should train fingers, upper body and core. The lower body tends to be neglected. Is it for fear of adding too much muscle mass? Maybe it’s because the typical climbing gym doesn’t have much equipment available for training the lower body? More likely it’s because strength training for climbing is relatively new and various aspects of training have not received much focus. If you are not already training lower body, here are 3 reasons you should start.
The Hike – For most crags or bouldering spots, you may find yourself hiking quite a bit and carrying your gear or crash pad. Those legs are taking on quite a bit of work as you hike across rocks, up and down hills and often times a little up or down scramble. Stronger legs will result in less energy being exerted for the approach, saving you extra energy for climbing!
Save the Fingers – It is true the fingers need to be strong, but during the act of climbing, your fingers are not the only thing holding you on the wall. Your legs are balancing quite a bit of your body weight and as a result are taking a significant amount of weight off your fingers. The key here is that the stronger the lower body, the more efficient it will be at redistributing weight away from your fingers. Surely you have done climbing exercises where you focus on weighting your feet and toes and holding the grip softly. As you begin to strength train your lower body, the climber will be able to translate the recruitment patterns on the wall.
Power – Climbers often focus on campusing to train power. However, so much of power when climbing involves generating power through the legs and glutes. A stronger muscle has the capacity for more power. If you are not trying to gain strength in you lower body, campusing will only get you so far. By adding in some strength training for the legs, hips and glutes and focusing on power exercises that involve using the lower body, significant gains in climbing will take place.