So you hate burpees, join the club! But did you know that a burpee isn’t the only compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups and works up a sweat. Mountain climbers are a great core exercise, which also targets your shoulders, back, hips, quads and glutes. Below we have advice on how to do a rock climber, the benefits of the exercise, and the modifications you can try.
Before you dig out your hiking boots, you don’t have to be near a mountain to reap the benefits of this practice. Instead, all you need is an exercise mat (we have the best yoga mats which also serve as exercise mats here), and your body weight. Mountaineers are suitable for all abilities and we’ve found some of the best adaptations for complete beginners below.
Looking for more training inspiration? We picked the hand-picked best abs exercises here and the resistance band exercise that targets all the muscles in your legs.
How to do mountain climbers?
The easiest way to explain rock climbers’ movement is to run in plank position. To do a rock climber, start in a plank position, with your hands shoulder-width apart, your back flat and your core engaged (remember to suck your belly button into your spine). From here bend your left knee and bring it as far towards your chest as possible. Pause, then extend your leg back to the starting position and bring your right knee under your body. Keep repeating this move, building up speed until you let your knees walk in and out.
As you move your legs, remember to keep your core engaged and your hips still to avoid putting pressure on your lower back. It’s easy to shift your weight back slightly with the movement, but be sure to stay in a plank position rather than downward dog.
What are the benefits of mountain climbers?
Mountain climbers are a compound exercise, meaning you work multiple muscle groups at once, much like burpees. This means they increase your heart rate and give you more of a full-body workout than other core exercises.
While they do a lot more than just your core, rock climbers can often be found in abs because it’s a great abs because your core is supposed to help stabilize your body as you move. Strong abs are far from just an aesthetic goal, they can help you run faster, lift heavier, improve posture and reduce low back pain.
How to make mountain climbers easier or more difficult?
If you find rock climbers too difficult, slow down the movement and instead of running, just bring one knee at a time under your chest, alternating sides. You can also reduce the strain on your wrists and shoulders by performing rock climbers on a step or bench — this can be helpful if you’re still working on your upper body strength but want to reap the benefits of this move.
If you’re looking to challenge yourself, here are a few mountain climber customizations to add to your workout:
To slide rock climbers, you’ll need some sliders, or dish towels if you don’t have them. Place your toes on the slides as you assume the plank position, then slide your leg under your body, without lifting your toe off the floor, slide it back to your starting position and repeat on the other side. You should find that this works your stabilizer muscles and quads harder than normal mountain climbers.
Crossbody mountaineers target the oblique muscles in the abs as well as the hip flexors. This move is similar to a normal rock climber, but as you bring your legs up to your chest, bend it under your body by tapping your left knee against your right elbow. Then repeat on the other side. Think about making an X with your knees and elbows.
This one is a killer to the core. In spin mountain climbers, instead of bringing the knee under the body, move it to the side by tapping your left knee against your left elbow. Pause at the beginning of the movement, before extending your leg back to the starting position and repeat on the right side.
Next one: When you’re done here, learn how to do lateral squats and how to do plank jacks and how to do a glute bridge.