Muscles Targeted: Mountain climbers are the perfect bodyweight exercise for strengthening and toning your abdominals along with targeting the muscles of your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, butt, triceps, deltoids and chest. The primary muscle group that’s impacted are the abs which are crucial for developing a strong core. The lower body muscles of the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes are highly targeted when bringing the legs forward and backward. Secondary muscles include the triceps, shoulders and chest which are targeted when holding your body in the push-up position while performing this excellent exercise. The cardiovascular system is also taxed highly when doing mountain climbers which helps to improve endurance and heart health.
Exercise Instructions: Start out the mountain climbers exercise on the ground in a push-up position. The first move will be to bring your right knee up toward your right elbow and then lowering that knee back down and simultaneously raising your left knee up to the same position. There are two slightly different variations of this exercise based on your fitness level. Beginners can touch their leading foot onto the ground at the top portion of the exercise. Advanced individuals who want a more difficult workout can perform mountain climbers by keeping their lead foot in the air which allows for more tension to be placed on the abdominals and also allows the overall tempo to be increased into a much faster pace with this movement. Your hands should be placed at about a shoulder width position on the ground and should be firmly planted in the same position throughout the exercise.
Why This Exercise is Important: Mountain climbers are one of the best bodyweight exercises if you’re looking to tone and tighten your abs. Your core muscles of the abdominals and lower back must be engaged throughout the entire range of motion and when you couple this with bringing your knees upward towards your chest, you create a fiercely effective exercise for your midsection. Along with your abs, the large muscles of your legs are highly impacted with this movement. The quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and butt are all engaged when executing the up and down movements with your legs. To top it off, your upper body is also affected with mountain climbers and comes into play as stabilizer muscles to keep your body in the push-up position throughout the duration of this effective exercise.
Things To Avoid: Form is always critical when performing different exercises but it’s definitely something you need to be aware of when executing mountain climbers. Avoid overly arching or rounding your back and try your best to keep your shoulders back and your chest out. Your legs need to come all the way up to just a few inches from your elbows so make sure you are able to fully stretch before performing this movement to avoid any issues. Tempo is also a key aspect of this exercise so always try to avoid jerky and uncontrolled movements. Keep your rhythm nice and fluid as you transition between legs.
Reps and Sets: Mountain climbers are difficult so don’t be discouraged if you can only do a few repetitions when you’re first starting out. Technique is very important so slow down and perform this exercise slowly before increasing your speed. Beginners can start out with 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps and more advanced individuals can increase the reps to 20-40 for 3-5 total sets. Instead of using reps, you can try to do as many mountain climbers in a specific amount of time like 30 or 60 seconds. For an incredible cardio bodyweight workout, try combining these exercises into your routine:
- Mountain Climbers: 30 seconds
- Speed Squats: 60 seconds
- Burpees: 15 reps
When these three individual exercises are included into one cardio workout you will be able to hit multiple major muscle groups which will help to burn a lot of calories and increase your metabolism while also helping to tone and tighten different areas of your physique! Check out our entire exercise guides database for exclusive access to over 500 muscle building and fat burning exercises!