If you were told that there was one exercise that would not only help you prepare to conquer Everest but also set you on track for a six-pack, you’d likely scoff. Well, retract that scoff, here’s the mountain climber.
Taking inspiration from Edmund Hillary and co, the mountain climber is a challenge for the entire body, especially if you do it fast enough to act as a cardio workout. Even if you can’t maintain a rapid pace with your mountain climbers, the motion alone will target core muscles. Your legs also take a bit of a pasting, while supporting your upper body ensures that your arms don’t get off scot-free either. Done at pace to gain the cardio benefits, the mountain climber really is a full-body exercise.
Admittedly, even if it becomes a regular part of your workout regime you probably won’t either climb Everest or get a six-pack overnight, but it’s a fine first step. And we’re very big on first steps here at Coach.
How To Do A Mountain Climber
- Start in a press-up position, resting on your toes and with your arms straight.
- From there bring one leg forward so your knee reaches your chest, all the while keeping your core braced.
- Move the leg back to the start position and then repeat with the other leg.
The basic movement works out all manner of core muscles, but to get the fat-burning benefits it needs to be done at pace. Shoot for as many mountain climbers as you can in a minute, each leg movement counts as one rep, while keeping perfect form of course. Coach’s one-minute score? 62.
Mountain Climber Variations
Elevated mountain climber
If you find the traditional mountain climber a little tough on your arms and shoulders, try putting your hands on a raised surface like a bench. This forces your legs to take more of your bodyweight.
Gym ball mountain climber
Supporting your upper body on a fixed surface makes mountain climbers a little easier, but putting your hands on an unstable surface like a gym ball makes them harder. Trying to maintain perfect form while the ball moves beneath you dramatically increases the challenge to your core.
RECOMMENDED: Gym Ball Exercises That Everyone Should Be Doing
Cross body mountain climber
To enlist the obliques in your mountain climber workout, move your knee towards the opposite shoulder when you bring it forwards and twist your torso slightly. You should still be able to maintain a good pace while you do this, but move slightly more deliberately than you do in the classic mountain climber to ensure good form.
Wall mountain climbers
Raise the stakes for your arms and shoulders by taking your feet off the floor and pushing them against a wall. Slowly bring one knee forwards to your chest, then replace it on the wall and bring the other one forward. The pace will be slow, but the rewards will come in the form of greater upper-body strength.