Tree Climber Exercises

Tree Climber Exercises

If you like to exercise and enjoy being outdoors, a tree-climbing workout can help you do both at once. Tree climbing offers a total-body workout that can strengthen arm, shoulder and calf muscles, plus pretty much everything in between. To prepare for your tree climbing excursions, strengthen key parts of your body that will help you rise to the top.

Strengthen Your Legs
Professional tree-climbing instructor "Wild Bill" Maher advises climbers to rely primarily on leg strength to propel themselves upward, from branch to branch. To strengthen your hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves, perform exercises such as squats, lunges and calf raises with a barbell across the back of your shoulders or while you hold dumbbells in your hands. Do leg presses and leg curls on machines, stiff-leg deadlifts with a barbell and step-ups while you hold dumbbells. Perform eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise, using sufficient weight to tire your muscles within 12 reps.

Arm Yourself to Climb
Even though your legs do much of the heavy lifting, the need for strong arms and a firm grip while you climb is obvious. Additionally, if your legs slip, you may have to rely on your arms and hands to maintain your balance. Do a variety of biceps curls to work your biceps and forearms, such as dumbbell supinating curls, preacher curls and hammer curls. Beef up your triceps with close-grip pushups, kickbacks and dips. Work your upper arms, your grip and your upper back and chest with pullups or lat pulldowns. Additionally, pullups help you get used to literally pulling up your own body weight. Do eight to 12 reps of each exercise, using a weight that challenges your muscles during the final reps of the weighted activities.

Strong to the Core
Strong core muscles in your abdomen, lower back and hips help keep you stable and well-balanced as you climb. Exercises such as deadlifts, lunges and squats work your lower back and hips. Strengthen your abdominal muscles with a variety of crunches, such as the bicycle crunch, and do leg-hip raises while you hold yourself erect in a captain’s chair machine or a similar apparatus, such as dip bars or parallel bars. Perform at least five minutes of intense core exercises per workout.

Remember the 300
Competitive tree-climber Mark Chisholm recommends that prospective climbers do a variation of the "300" workout, named for the fitness routine performed by actors in the movie of the same name. Perform 30 pullups, 50 barbell deadlifts and 50 pushups. Chisholm does the workout three times a week leading up to a competition, but typical climbers may wish to limit themselves to once per week.

Safety Considerations
Even a short fall from a tree can result in a serious injury. Consider taking a tree-climbing class before you try to scale a tree on your own. The class will teach you how to use the proper equipment and to climb safely. Also, be sure to warm up your muscles before you climb or exercise your climbing muscles by doing five to 10 minutes of light cardio.