The typical built of a rock climber consists of wide lats, strong forearms and juicy biceps. The quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, chest and triceps are usually undeveloped. Undoubtedly, slim legs make the activity easier. When you are climbing, you constantly pull yourself up and hang. A pair of tree trunk legs will fatigue you quickly and limit your flexibility.
Should rock climbers squat?
As a rock climber, you are not required to squat, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Squatting does not equal tree trunk legs despite what the uninformed people think. The fact that you squat does not mean that you will need a new pair of jeans every two months.
Even if you were to perform a crazy amount of volume, your legs will not grow as much as you think unless you are eating a lot and/or taking steroids.
Truth be told, most of the leg growth attributed to bulking routines built around squats is in the form of fat, not muscle. Since the legs are a place where the body tends to store a lot of extra fat cells, people brainwash themselves into believing that all gained weight is muscle. Therefore, if you don’t overeat, you are unlikely to acquire a set of super heavy legs even if you squat. Moreover, following extreme squat routines is completely unnecessary when you are a climber, for the fact that they will deprive you of energy needed for climbing.
It’s all about diet, isn’t it?
The best way to keep your size in check is to have a good diet and a low body fat percentage, which is a must for a rock climber.
Many people falsely assume that once they start doing a certain exercise, they will become massive and lose their ability to fit in a car. Don’t worry! There are Olympic gymnasts who squat with a barbell weighing two times their bodyweight even though the strength elements in their sport are hurt by extra leg mass.
What about bodyweight exercises for the lower body?
Bodyweight exercises could work well for rock climbers since the movements develop not only strength but also balance, coordination and skill. Furthermore, bodyweight exercises cannot produce nearly as much size as regular training with weights because the resistance is too low.
What about calves?
The muscles around the ankle joint are particularly important for rock climbing. Your calves and shins are under constant tension during climbing. You could strengthen those muscle groups by doing exercises like calf and shin raises.
Conclusion: Leg training is not essential to the sport of rock climbing, but completely neglecting your lower body could hinder your performance and even health. If you make a small investment in leg training, you will not regret it.