Power Up Your Fitness Level with Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers sound like a tough exercise. It’s true! They’re no walk in the park. But, with challenge comes change and greater fitness. That’s the goal, right? Mountain climbers have you covered on all accounts. What is this powerful exercise and how can you add it to your fitness routine?
An Equipment-Free Movement
All you need to do mountain climbers is an exercise mat and a sturdy pair of exercise shoes. In the beginning, you can place your hands on a low riser or bench as opposed to the floor. Elevating the hands makes the exercise a bit easier. Here’s how to do a mountain climber:
•Stretch out on the floor with your feet. Your body should be in a straight line in a standard plank position. Keep your weight on the ball of your feet.
•Flex your right knee up toward your chest and bring it back down.
•As you bring the right knee down, quickly flex the left knee toward your chest and bring it back down.
•Keep switching the leg you bring toward your chest as quickly as possible.
Mountain climbers is an exercise that mimics the task of quickly climbing a mountain. The good news is you don’t have to leave home or find a mountain to do it! Yet, you can still get some of the fitness benefits of tackling an incline.
What Are the Fitness Benefits of Mountain Climbers?
You might wonder why you want to do mountain climbers in the first place. It’s a multi-faceted exercise. As little as 20 seconds of mountain climbers will quickly elevate your heart rate. Assuming you maintain a quick pace, mountain climbers qualify as a cardiovascular exercise. You may not start out at a super-fast pace, initially, but you can work up to faster speeds. As your fitness level increases, switch your legs back and forth in an explosive manner to further enhance aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
Mountain climbers also work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. You’re constantly moving your lower body as you switch your legs back and forth. With each leg switch, your hamstrings, quads, and glutes get a workout. Your deltoids, chest, and triceps are also targeted isometrically as you hold the plank position. Plus, the all-important core muscles contract to stabilize as you do the movements. So, it’s a total body workout.
Improve Agility and Mobility
One fitness attribute we sometimes fail to emphasize enough is agility. Mountain climbers require coordination, quick reaction time, and stamina. Doing them regularly also improves agility. This can improve your performance in sports that require quick movements and changes in direction. You can be strong and have good stamina, but if you lack agility, you’ll have a hard time excelling at sports like volleyball, soccer, basketball, and rugby. They can also make you a better mountain climber!
Mountain climbers will also improve your hip mobility. Most of us have tight hip flexors from sitting too much during the day. When your hip flexors are shortened and tight, it throws off postural alignment and can trigger back pain. Mountain climbers are also an ideal exercise for increasing the mobility of your hips. Hip mobility is often a limiting factor for other exercises, especially exercises like kettlebell swings that use a hip hinge movement.
Mountain climbers improve multiple aspects of fitness, including muscle endurance, agility, speed, power, and coordination. It’s a dynamic exercise that’ll get you in shape fast. But, as with all exercises, you’ll get more out of them and reduce your risk of injury if you use good form. Don’t get so caught up in making the movement fast and explosive that you let your hips or back sag and don’t maintain proper alignment. Always keep your weight balanced between your two feet. If possible, have someone snap a video while you’re doing the exercise and make sure you’re doing the exercise with good form.
With mountain climbers, you can combine strength training and cardio. Just do 20 or 30 seconds of mountain climbers in between your strength training moves. Mountain climbers are a low-impact exercise that doesn’t place added stress on your joints as long periods of running can. Take advantage of this dynamic and highly efficient exercise and make mountain climbers part of your fitness training routine!
Movement as Medicine. “4 Hip Mobility Drills to Improve Your Squat”
Stack.com. “Why You’re Doing Mountain Climbers Wrong and How to Fix Them”