Key hip strengthening exercises for every climber Blog Feature

By: Katelyn Grue

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Key hip strengthening exercises for every climber

Training for Climbing | Fitness and Yoga

Fun fact: some of the largest muscles in your entire body surround the hip, which means your hips can produce quite a bit of power and force!

You use your hips a lot to go up and down steps, to walk, to run, and to jump. In climbing, hip strength and stability help you step up onto really high footholds.

Your hips also allow you to generate power for a jump motion, say for a dynamic move. They’re also incredibly important for helping to keep your trunk or pelvis closer to the wall when you're climbing on steep terrain on overhanging routes.

So that’s why today we are going to share some hip strengthening and stabilizing exercises. Here are three warm up exercises and three strengthening exercises you can do to strengthen your hips.


High knee hugs

This exercise is a dynamic stretch to get the joints open and loose. It also stretches out any tight tissue that you may have from sitting down all day.

Start in a standing position. Then, bring your right knee up towards your chest, and hug it until you feel a little stretch along the back of your thigh and up into your glute area. Next, bring your right leg down. Repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating your legs until you feel like you're warmed up.


Body weight squats

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Start with your feet about shoulder width apart, or maybe just a hair wider than shoulder width. Next, initiate movement from your hips and drive your hips backwards. Make sure to keep your knees stable over your feet until you’ve dropped down about 90 degrees or whatever depth is comfortable for you to squat. Then, return to a standing position.

It's important when you do your squats, that you make sure that your knees don't rock forward, past your toes. Also, you want to keep your heels in constant contact with the floor.

Do 10 squats.


Alternating lunges

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When doing lunges, it’s important to make sure your knee doesn’t slide forward past your big toe. First, start in a standing position. Then step right foot in front of you, then drop your left knee down towards the floor. Again, make sure that your front knee does not rock past your toe and it doesn't flare out to either side.

Next, push your leg back up and bring them back together in a standing position. Then alternate your foot and repeat the same motion on the other side.

Do 10 lunges on the right leg and on the left leg.

Strength training exercises

Single Leg Bridge

Lay down the floor on your back. There are three basic steps to a single leg bridge. First, tighten your core, which will cause your back to flatten against the floor. Second, squeeze your glutes. A bridge should be an exercise that uses your legs, not your back muscles, so you want to make sure you squeeze your glutes first.

Third, stick one leg out and use the other leg to push down through the floor. These movements will cause your hips to lift up. Then, bring your hips back down. Make sure your pelvis stays level--you don't want is one hip to go higher than the other.

To make this exercise a little bit harder, you can simply hold it for longer.

Next level of progression is to use a step or a block to elevate your foot that is on the ground. This version of the exercise is really helpful for climbing on overhanging terrain. It teaches you to toe into the wall and really use the back of your legs to throw your hips into the wall. This keeps you from relying mostly on your arms.

3 sets of 8-12 reps. Repeat on with other leg.


Bulgarian Split Squat

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First, you’ll want to prop your foot on something—either a couch, a box, a stack of books (make sure whatever you prop your foot up on isn’t going to slide around or away from you)

Next, do the same thing that you did for the squat or lunge you did in your warm-up. Imagine driving your hips backwards or dropping this back knee towards the ground. Sit back and then stand back up, making sure to really squeeze your glutes as you do.

You want to feel the back of your leg working. Keep your knees from moving past your toes as you go down. Also make sure that your torso isn’t leaning too far forward.

The next progression is to add weight. You can hold the weight over your head, down by your side, or up at your chest.

3 sets of 8-12 reps. Repeat with other leg.


Single Leg Deadlift

For you yogis out there, this exercise will feel very similar to the Warrior 3 pose.

Start in a standing position. Slightly bend your right knee and then hinge your hips and lift your left leg off the ground behind you. Reach your hands down to the floor as you hinge forward. Then, stand back up.

The slower you move, the harder this exercise will be. Also if you have weights, you can use them to add some difficulty to this exercise.

3 sets of 10-15 reps. Repeat with other leg.

Learn more hip strength and stabilizing exercises in one of fitness classes. Find your gym's website, click on the calendar, and look at all of our upcoming fitness classes.


Katelyn Grue is a personal trainer at our Columbia gym located in Maryland. For more fitness tips and classes from Katelyn, check out the fitness calendar at your local gym.