Building A Strong Power House For Your Next Climb

July 13, 2016

Building A Strong Power House For Your Next Climb

There are so many benefits to having a stronger core. Aside from improving your posture, balance and preventing lower back issues, a strong core also acts as the power house for maintaining good form and stability during each climb. This is because all the moving parts of your body are integrated through the core and therefore rely on it for support and balance. So what is the core? We all refer to it, but do we actually understand what makes up the core, and why is it so integral to our general structure?

Your core is made up of a complex network of muscles in your back (erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, trapezius), your lower body (gluteals, hip flexors), your pelvic floor muscles, and of course your abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques). Together with the spine and the hips, these units all work together to maintain the structural integrity of the body. We may not consciously realize, but every movement we make, be it walking, running, sitting or even standing, requires the core muscles to work in unison with the muscles of the limbs and neck to generate that movement and prevent the body from collapsing. When you add a load to the movement, such as carrying an object, a person, or in this case your climbing pack, the role of your core in maintaining the body’s structural integrity becomes even more significant. This is why people tend to have injuries stemming from poor core activation or weak core muscles. Just like one weak player in a team can cost the entire game, muscular imbalances can result in other muscles overcompensating to bear the load. Given that the opposing muscles to the abdominals are the muscles in the back, lower back issues tend to be the most common in people with weaker abdominals due to the S-shaped curvature of the spine.

 To help you with building a strong power house for your next climb, we have put together a set of exercises that will strengthen the various components of your core complex. In these exercises, you will get to really feel how important it is to maintain spinal stability (and neutrality) throughout the movement of the exercise. By creating instability (through rotational movements), you will strengthen the core as you try to regain or maintain that spinal stability. Best part is, these exercises can be performed anywhere, and without any equipment so all you will need is 15 minutes of your day to build a stronger centre.

1. Full Extensions

  • Lie on your back with knees bent into chest
  • Exhale and curl into ball, lifting head and shoulders off ground and reaching arms beside legs
  • Inhale to extend arms overhead and legs outstretched
  • Ensure that navel is pulled into spine throughout exercise and spine stays in a neutral position (lower back is not arched)

 2.  Plank Swivels

  • Start in plank position, forearms on the ground and hips in line with shoulders
  • Keeping abdominals engaged, tilt hips to one side, bringing them towards the ground
  • Tilt hips to the other side and repeat to swivel hips



3. Side Plank Rotations

  • Start in a plank position
  • Pivot feet, turn the body and rotate to one side
  • Open the chest and extend the top arm
  • Return to the plank position and repeat to the other side


4. Plank Pike

  • Start in a plank position
  • Draw the abdominal muscles in to lift the hips up
  • Stretch the spine and extend upwards into a pike position
  • Return into a plank position, bringing shoulders over the elbows


 5. Leg Circles

  • Lie on your back with both legs extended straight up
  • Pull the navel in and maintain a neutral spine position
  • Separate the legs and stretch them outwards in an arc towards the floor
  • Meet the feet together at the bottom of the arc and draw the legs up
  • Ensure that navel is pulled in throughout movement



6. Frog Leg Extensions

  • Lie on your back with the knees bent
  • Flex the feet, keep heels together and knees bent opened to the side
  • As you exhale, stretch the legs until backs of the ankle and knees meet
  • Ensure that navel is pulled in throughout exercise and spine does not arch




 Blog written by ‘Eat Train Love’, who are helping ATC members prepare for their up and coming mountain climbs.

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