The pelvis is overlooked and under loved, but this weight bearing center of your body is integral to your core. You may not have noticed, but movement in your pelvis creates movement in the spine. Therefore, maintaining correct hip placement is essential to the alignment of the spine, as well as your overall core strength. Performing exercises and climbing routes involve a combination of demands on the body. Maintaining correct hip placement will allow you to carry out these movements with good posture, reducing pressure on the spine and reducing the chances of injury.
I agree that the last paragraph didn’t create a roller coaster of excitement for the humble pelvis, but it is the functionality in the pelvis that enables us to perform flexion movements. Sit ups, V ups, sprinter sit ups, and stick crunches are just a few of the exercises that rely on the mobile characteristics of the pelvis. Deep inside the core are the hip flexors, which are made up of Psoas minor and major, as well as Iliacus. These hip flexors control the flexion in the hip, and thus strengthening them is hugely important when training the core.
Hanging leg raises
Keeping the above information in mind I have picked hanging leg raises for exercise number five. Leg raises are essential to climbing, as they imitate the specific movements that we rely on. There are numerous variations of this exercise, so go crazy!
1. Hang from a pull up bar with feet together. Engage the core and keep your body still.
2. Pull up and lock out, then slowly bending from the hips, raise your straight legs up using your core to control the movement until your hips and legs are at a right angle.
3. Hold the position briefly, then use your core to lower your legs back to starting position.
There are many ways to progress the hanging leg raise. Adding weight, hanging from rings, or trying alternate single leg raises are a few methods. In the picture, I am performing single leg raises, by touching and holding small foot holds with my feet.
Although this exercise does not directly work the hip flexors, it does increase hip flexibility whilst working the stabilizing muscles of the spine; Erector Spinae and Multifidus.
1. I’m using a core bag, but a weighted barbell works fine. Position the barbell or core bag behind your neck, keep soft knees and a neutral spine.
2. Under control, bend forward at the hips, not the waist. With this pivoting action, slightly bend the knees and lower yourself as far as you comfortably can.
3. Breathing out and pushing with the core, return slowly back to starting position.
A big thank you to Cold Mountain Kit for helping with the photos, and The Reach Climbing Wall for letting me loose in their great training room.