Guys, let's face it, climbing up mountains is hard work. Honestly, the best way to train your legs for climbing a mountain is to well.... go out and spend time climbing a mountain.
This is all well and good, but often brings up the question “How do I train my legs for mountains if I live somewhere flat?”
Don't worry we've got you covered.
If you want to get your legs in shape for climbing mountains, you’re going to want to hone in a few specific exercises. In this article, we cover three great leg exercises that will build up your climbing muscles and help you prepared for the terrain, and a workout to get you started.
BEST EXERCISES TO PREPARE FOR MOUNTAIN CLIMBING
#1 CALF RAISES
Calf raises seem to be a fairly underutilized exercise. However, when you’re climbing a mountain the calves are often one of the first muscle groups to get fatigued. With this in mind, it just makes sense to add in calf raises to your mountain prep workouts.
Calf raises tend to do well in high rep sets of 50+ repetitions. Doing high rep sets will certainly help your calves build endurance for longer mountain hikes.
One way to make these harder is by hanging the backs of your feet off a small step. This will allow you to work the calves through a longer range of motion, thus making the exercise a bit harder than normal.
#2 LEG BLASTERS
Almost certainly if you get to the top of a mountain you’re going to have to hike back down it, right?
The decent portion of a hike usually causes quite a lot of eccentric stress on your quads. In plain English, the decent portion of a hike forces your quads to constantly stay in “braking mode”, which is why they tend to get so sore afterward.
So, in order to build up your quads to tolerate the downward portion, I highly recommend a sinister little exercise circuit known simply as “The Leg Blaster”.
One full leg blaster circuit is equal to:
- 20x air squats
- 20x walking lunge steps total (10 per leg)
- 10x jump squats
- 10x jumping lunges (total)
Think these look easy? Well, they’re not.
Try doing between 3 to 10 rounds with 30 seconds rest between rounds and then tell me how your legs feel. They’re pumped up, right? Unless you have knee or hip problems I highly recommend adding in a steady dose of leg blaster exercise into your mountain workouts.
#3 CLIMBING STAIRS
Running, climbing, and carrying things up and downstairs can’t replace the feel of a pure mountain hike, but it can at least get you in the ballpark. Utilizing stair workouts still goes a long way towards strengthening and conditioning your legs for the mountains.
When it comes to finding long staircases near you, however, you may need to look outside the box here. A few good places to start looking include:
- Local sports stadiums
- Multi-level parking garages
- Hotels with external staircases
All of these places usually offer nice long sets of stairs that you can use for workouts. If you really can’t find any stairs to use, then just use the stair climber machine at your local gym. This is better than nothing.
DON'T FORGET TO ADD WEIGHT
If you’re planning to carry any sort of weight up and down the mountains, you’re preparing for then I suggest wearing a weight vest or rucksack while doing the aforementioned exercises. Adding external weight to your leg workouts will only help you better prepare for the rigors of actually carrying weight up and down mountains.
If you are adding weight to your workout, you should know how to properly ruck before setting out on your journey.
Get yourself prepared by adding these exercises to your workouts. Try the sample workout below moving immediately from the first to the second to the third exercise with no rest between.
If you want to add weight, do the following with a 30lb weight vest or rucksack.
5 Rounds of leg blasters with 30sec rest between each round.
50 calf raises
20 minutes of climbing up and down whatever stairs you have access to
Ideally, if you’re preparing for mountains, the best thing you can do is actually do train on mountains. However, if this isn’t an option, then you can fall back on the three exercises suggested in this article. And lastly, remember that if you’re going to be carrying weight up and down the mountains, you’ll benefit greatly by adding external weight using a weight vest or rucksack.