Burpees may be the exercise move most loved by personal trainers (and dreaded by exercisers), but mountain climbers give burpees a run for their money when it comes to producing results. Are you wondering what mountain climbers are and why they’re a beneficial part of any workout regimen? Here’s the 411 on mountain climbers, along with four reasons to integrate them into your fitness routine.
What Are Mountain Climbers?
If you don’t have a mountain in your back yard, no worries. You don’t need one to do mountain climbers. No experience or special equipment is required for this type of exercise. What, exactly, is a mountain climber? Says The Guardian, “A mountain climber is basically a plank where you run on the spot.”
More specifically, mountain climbers begin in a high plank position with the hands placed shoulder-width apart like you are going to do a pushup. Making sure your core is engaged and your head is in alignment, draw your right knee into your chest before extending it back out again, then repeat with your left leg. Continue this alternating pattern as quickly as possible in brief bursts, AKA intervals, in order to get the most powerful workout.
(Pro tip: Sign up for a personal trainer session to learn more about proper form and how to get the most out of mountain climbers.)
4 Benefits of Mountain Climbers
If mountain climbers sound like hard work, that’s because they are. The good news is that you’ll be glad you stuck with them when you start seeing and feeling the amazing benefits, including the following:
1. They are incredibly efficient.
As a compound exercise, mountain climbers work multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time. In other words, they deliver serious “bang for your buck,” targeting core muscles, such as back, hips, and abs, as well as glutes, leg muscles, and even your shoulders.
2. They improve mobility.
The dynamic nature of mountain climbers makes them great mobility boosters. Every time you repeat the mountain climber motion, you loosen up your hip and knee joints, improving range of motion and enhancing overall function. In doing so, you also reduce your risk of injury.
3. They support heart health.
Most people think of mountain climbers in terms of their lower-body strength training benefits. However, the quick, constant leg switching also gives your heart rate a boost. As you grow stronger and pick up your pace, the cardiovascular benefits compound.
4. They promote functional fitness.
Mountain climbers are also a form of functional training, described by the Mayo Clinic as “train[ing] your muscles to help you do everyday activities safely and efficiently.” If your goal is to improve your coordination, the quick feet and tricky timing of mountain climbers can help you become more agile, an attribute which carries over to many aspects of life, both inside and outside of the gym.
Here’s one last thing to keep in mind. As any avid real-life mountain climber will tell you, there’s always a new mountain to climb. The same goes for mountain climbers in the gym. Once you’ve conquered basic mountain climbers, there are a number of different variations aimed at adding to the challenge, including sliding mountain climbers, foot-switch mountain climbers, and running mountain climbers.
Meanwhile, if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, modified mountain climbers, a slower, lower impact alternative, can help you get in on the mountain climber action without overdoing it.
Want more compound exercises that will challenge you? Check out our Fitness & Fireworks event on July 18th. Each Brick Bodies/Lynne Brick’s club is featuring FREE classes for members and guests. Take a look at our lineup here.