I sure am glad I do a lot of lunges in the gym.

Last weekend I was invited ice climbing with some friends. We headed up toward Hyalite Canyon as much needed fresh snow piled up around us. The trail up to the icefall was not easy. Like a rookie, I left my trekking poles at home, and before I decided to put my crampons on, I was either slogging through deep snow or slipping on steep trails with icy footing. Even when I finally put crampons on for grip, I was still ending up in a variety of positions where I needed to balance, stabilize, and pull myself upward on one leg.  I kept thinking, “I sure am glad I do a lot of lunges in the gym.”  I could add that I’m glad I also do a lot of squats and step-ups. It turns out that the actual ice climb was the easy part! The trail to get there was where the real work was!

Functional Training has become a buzzword of sorts in the fitness world over the last several years. Functional Training usually refers to resistance training and movement patterns that mimic how our bodies work in real life. Rather than “isolating” muscle groups, our bodies are designed to work as units pushing things, pulling things, lifting things, and yes, locomoting over a variety of terrain.

If you play outdoors, especially in the winter, doing lower body strength and stability exercises can help your performance and reduce your risk of injury, especially when you get into those awkward positions you have to use your strength to get out of. Lunges, squats, and step-ups should be a staple of your weekly exercise.  Lunges and Step-ups can be especially useful because they help us find balance and stability on one leg, something we have to do daily in the real world.

Check out the video below for a quick lower-body complex using these movements. Use this as a warmup, or add some resistance to make it into more of a workout!

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