Mountain climbers are an explosive compound bodyweight exercise that targets the full body, especially the arms, shoulders, core, and quads. This exercise has a cardio component to it which will develop your muscular endurance as it requires you to begin in a plank position, and alternate between bringing one knee to the chest, and back out.
Although mountain climbers seem basic, they will have your heart rate pumping, therefore, burning calories, and helping you to achieve more definition in your core region! This exercise is readily accessible at your convenience whether it’s at home, in the office, in the hotel room, or in the parking lot.
According to research, core strength training is better effective than standard resistance training for alleviating chronic low back pain. Moreover, no special equipment is required to train your core as there are many bodyweight variations, and individuals and independently practice core strength training at home.
The mountain climbers work on several muscles groups at once, targeting both the upperbody and lower body muscles which enables you to have a full-body workout. The primary muscles worked are the abdominals, glutes, and hip flexors. The secondary muscles worked are the anterior deltoids, quadriceps, hamstrings, triceps, and calves.
This is a beginner-level level exercise because they are simple to do, and don’t require any equipment. Mountain climbers are a good cardio alternative to running, it will develop your core, and promote fat loss, especially in the lower abs without irritating your back pain. Pretty AWESOME for a simple exercise!
Begin in a plank/push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart with your shoulders stacked directly on top of your wrists. Your core and glutes are engaged, your back is flat, and your body is in a straight line. This is your starting position.
Explosively pull your right knee towards your chest as far as you can without letting your right feet touch the floor. Keep your core tight and your body in a straight line.
Alternate by bringing your right leg back out to the starting position, and bringing your left knee in towards your chest. Keep your hips down and interchange both knees in and out and create a "one-two" tempo. Switch between inhaling and exhaling with each leg change.
Repeat this movement between 20-100 repetitions for each leg for 4 sets, 3 times a week (see the recommended reps and sets ranges below).
You should move on to harder variations once you have achieved your reps and set goals.
Another workout style you can practice is called the Tabata workout. This is a high-intensity interval training (HITT) workout. Usually, you would do a Tabata workout for 20 minutes. It has the following structure:
An example of the Tabata workout would be:
If you want to burn your belly fat and get shredded abs, then mountain climbers should be included in your training regiment. This compound exercise is a mixture of cardio, core, and muscular endurance training. It will especially target your lower abs which is usually the stubborn part of the abdominals that is the hardest to get rid of! If done at a high intensity and supplemented with a good diet, you will definitely get 6 pack abs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to lose weight and keep it off, you will need a high amount of physical activity unless you adjust your diet and reduce the number of calories you're consuming. They suggest that people follow a weekly exercise regimen that consists of one of the following:
Full Body Exercise
Mountain climbers are a great full-body exercise as you will work several muscle groups to execute the movement, which makes it a fantastic compound exercise. Mountain climbers are a productive way to strengthen your arms, core, shoulders, back, and legs.
For starters, mountain climbers require you to begin in a plank position, which, alone is an abdominal exercise that develops core stability. The movement path is driving your knee towards your chest which activates the core stabilizer muscles (transverse abdominals, pelvic floor, and multifidus).
This exercise requires no jumping, which makes it a great exercise for those who have joint pain and any form of movement constraints as a result of mobility or previous injuries. Most common high-intensity exercises such as burpees, jumping lunges, jump squats, and jumping lunges is a high-impact exercises that could cause knee pain due to squatting. Therefore, mountain climbers are a great alternative for these exercises.
Cross-body mountain climbers are a great core strengthening exercise that works on your entire core region, especially the obliques and hip flexors. Rather than bringing your knees straight up towards your chest, you would bring them across to the opposite side of your body creating a twisting motion. To perform this, you will:
This variation has the same movement path and has the same benefits as the traditional mountain climbers. However, the only difference is that you will bring your right knee towards your right elbow, and your left knee towards your left elbow, one knee at a time. To perform this, you will:
Spiderman mountain climbers are great for burning calories as they are a good bodyweight cardio exercise that is effective for strengthening your core, especially the lower abs and obliques. This movement is also great for hitting your secondary muscle groups such as the triceps, shoulders, and chest.
The wall mountain climber is a challenging exercise that targets the shoulders and abdominals. This is an intermediate-level exercise that is performed at a high intensity, and works on your cardiovascular endurance, with a twist of being upside down! To perform this, you will:
Beginners should try to perform mountain climbing for 30 seconds and if you find this difficult you can position your body at an inclined slope by placing your hands on an elevated surface such as a chair. This will reduce the load on your arms, shoulders, and core. Intermediate should work between 45 to 60 seconds. and the advanced should do 60 seconds or more. Progress onto harder variations once you find the standard variation easy.
Mountain climbers will provide you with many benefits from the day you start practicing them. This could be your go-to exercise if you really want to sweat and it can be added to your usual cardio routine and paired with other cardio exercises (HIIT workout). Once you've mastered the mountain climbers, you can try out other exercises that target the core and cardio:
My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.