Mountain Climbers are an easy and effective body weight exercise that can be done at home, at a park, or in the gym. They provide a full body work out for strength building as well as a great cardiovascular workout – Warning: this exercise might cause excessive perspiration! Using all four limbs at the same time, upper body stability is required to propel the legs back and forth, up and down, flexion to extension, all while the core maintains postural integrity.
Full body workouts are usually more “functional” as they don’t focus on building hypertrophy to just one muscle, they require numerous muscles working together at the same time to build muscle strength and endurance. Some of these specific muscles that are worked during the exercise include deltoids, biceps, triceps, pecs, obliques, rectus abdominals (the 6 pack muscle), lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi, quads, hamstrings, and the psoas (hip flexors).
Cardiovascular benefits include strengthening the heart and lungs, increase blood flow, calorie burning, and a boost to the metabolism to increase fat burning. The more reps performed at high speeds leads to increased amount of energy expenditure, resulting in more calories burned. Muscle toning and fat burning, wrapped up into one simple low cost exercise.
How to perform Mountain Climbers:
1. Start in a plank position with hands flat on the floor directly under the shoulders and toes of both feet holding the lower body up so the body is in a flat starting position.
2. The right foot comes off the floor and the knee comes up towards the chest, as close to your body as possible. At this point, there is a three point contact and the core is fighting to keep the body in a straight line – core workout!
3. Extend the right hip back to the starting plank position without bobbing the hips to maintain a straight line from shoulders to the feet. As the right foot is coming back to the floor, the left foot lifts up and the knee is flexed up towards the chest as described above.
4. Ensure the shoulders are moving as least as possible from the position over top of the hands on the floor.
5. Mountain Climbers can be done slowly, with short intervals of both feet on the ground at the same time, but they are often sped up so there is a moment in time of neither foot on the ground as one hip is flexing up towards the chest and the other is extending back towards the ground. To increase the cardiovascular workout, speed up the leg motion.
6. 20 reps is a good amount, but depending on level of intensity and fitness, more or less reps can be performed while providing good health benefits.
When not to do Mountain Climbers
If you are experiencing low back pain, or radiating pain down the leg, Mountain Climbers may lead to longer duration or increased intensity of low back pain or leg pain. Do not continue to perform Mountain Climbers if you have moderate low back pain during the exercise, or if a mild level of low back pain persists the day after performing the exercise.
Have a great day,
Dr. Lucas Tisshaw
Vancouver Chiropractor and A.R.T provider