Ben Gilmore mountain guide and alpinist
Ben Gilmore, mountain guide and alpinist

Mountain Fitness Tips: Hammer Hip and Leg Strength

You may not be a pro skier or climber, but at least you can train like one. Mountain sports coach Rob Shaul and his students share how they prepare for the peaks.

Ben Gilmore mountain guide and alpinist
Kim Havell

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In the mountains, everything begins with the legs. My pro athletes already have the endurance for long days in the mountains; what they lack is the raw strength to keep them injury-free. We work to build hip and leg strength without significant weight gain by using high loads and low volume. Our favorite all-around hip and leg exercises are classic back squats and loaded walking lunges. —Coach Shaul

ATHLETE: Ben Gilmore, mountain guide and alpinist

MA TRAINING: 4 years

SUCCESS STORY: First ascents in Alaska, New Hampshire, Patagonia, Nepal, Newfoundland, and Arizona.

As a mountain guide, I thought I had strong hips and legs, but Rob’s workouts hammer the lower body even more than climbing the Grand Teton in a day. I used to be plagued with lower back spasms, due to overdeveloped muscles from a life spent rock and mountain climbing. MA’s routines target poorly balanced muscles I barely use, which has drastically reduced the strain on my lower back. That equals less pain and more gain for me in the mountains.