Purpose: This Mountain Climber Prep is a surprisingly difficult exercise that combines a static stand, front feet elevated/weight shift to rear and a deeply hip flexed rear foot target. This is a progression of the Rear Foot to Hand Target introduced earlier in the series. And a preparation exercise for Mountain Climber: Expert.
Equipment: Plyo Box, Sitting Platform, Target Stick (optional)
Targets: The work in this exercise includes both the free leg and the grounded leg. The free leg has to lift into a tight hip flexed position and the foot extends forward. This movement works to strengthen the hip flexor and quads concentrically (contracting/shortening phase) with a semi-lengthened lever.
NOTE: The free leg is defined as the one lifting/targeting. The grounded leg is defined as the one maintaining still/load-bearing.
While the free leg is busy doing its job, the grounded leg has to maintain the alignment of the pelvis and spine against the forces generated by the free leg.
Those forces want to do three things…
- Rotate the pelvis
- Shift the pelvis to the side
- Shift the whole system forward
The grounded leg abductors and hip rotators must work hard to maintain a level/neutral pelvis, while the hip flexor (eccentrically/isometrically) and hamstring (concentrically/isometrically) have to prevent the whole system from shifting forward, making this an excellent hip strengthening exercise. Because this exercise strengthens the hip without requiring loaded stifle flexion, this is an especially good exercise for older dogs, or dogs where stifle flexion is contraindicated.
Lastly, for dogs with “weak hocks” and a tendency to carry the pelvic limb underneath the body/hocks in front of the vertical, this exercise can promote strengthening of the deep and superficial digital flexor that supports the tarsus, hock and rear foot alignment. These would be analogous to the arch muscles in a human foot.
- it’s important the pelvis remains level throughout. There’s a tendency for the grounded leg gluteals to disengage and allow the free leg side of the pelvis to rotate forward. If that compensation is observed, it’s likely the rear foot target is spaced too far away from the front foot target.
- Also, the free leg side of the pelvis will have a tendency to “hike” up toward the rib cage if the front foot target is too high. Adjusting the height of the front foot target is important to promote proper muscle recruitment through the grounded leg.
- Lastly, some dogs with a tendency toward laxity through the hip will overly shift weight forward into the forelimbs, bringing the hock forward of the vertical. It’s important to emphasize restraint in hip extension during this exercise to properly strengthen the hip rotators, sartorius, psoas and other core muscles.
- For more help troubleshooting this exercise, check out the Tutorial version of Mountain Climber Prep, where I help RB work through some issues.
- (I wish I hadn’t cut Hot Rod’s head off … But it was a good demonstration of the exercise other than that)