Written by: Dawn Glanc, Chicks Girly Guide
Many think that ice climbing is all about the power. Swinging your tool and kicking your crampons in will only get you so far. To take your ice training to the next level, try this amazing balance progression exercise. This will take time but be patient and stick with it. This can be done at home or in the gym, all you need is a Bosu Ball (the thing that looks like a yoga ball cut in half and placed on a black platform).
Phase 1: Place the Bosu Ball flat side toward ground. Put right foot on ball and try to stand on that foot. Make sure you are standing straight and not leaning forward. This will help awaken your glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors and core. Balance for 2 minutes and then switch feet.
Start with just 10 reps on each side. The idea is to make you aware on how to fire those muscles.
Phase 2: The next progression is flipping the Bosu Ball so the platform is up and the ball side is down. Try to stand in the center of the flat on one foot at a time. Once you get this down, try a yoga pose (like tree) for count of ten.
Phase 3: Ditch the Bosu Ball and bust out a medicine ball. Yes, I just said medicine ball. I assure you this is possible. Try the 10 pounder – it’s a little squishy. Start with assistance, like a broom handle, to help you stand with balance. Practice standing with TWO FEET.
Once you can stand for 5 minutes. Start doing squats. Then after that, the world is your oyster! Try moving up to a 12 pound medicine ball (less squishy) or adding more squats. I have found this is best thing to help me with my balance and my muscle awareness. This translates to an overall improvement with my footwork and is very noticeable when I’ve had to stand on a foothold in a precarious way.
These exercises help your brain store muscle memory about how you need to push off your foot and transfer power up your leg into your glutes. That’s where we want the power coming from while climbing. In addition, the balance portion of the exercise activates the tiny muscles in your feet, ankles and calves, which keep your legs from tiring quickly.
Yoga and Pilates can also help you build your muscle and body awareness which means you can start to move with grace and efficiency on the ice instead of perfecting the kickin’ chicken.