Mountain climber: what it is, execution and variants

Mountain climber: what it is, execution and variants

Let's find out how it is performed and what are the benefits of the mountain climber, an exercise that strengthens the whole body


  • What is it, how to do it, precautions
  • How to enter the Mountain Climber
  • Variants and benefits

What is it, how to do it, precautions

It is a highly training exercise that involves the whole body, many muscle groups at the same time and, combined with good breathing, really brings many benefits. In fact the name derives from the fact that it is like climbing but a horizontal surface that represents the floor. This simulation starts from a rhythm that has nothing to do with the rhythm of the climb and that stresses the whole body a lot. The body also remains in a horizontal position, a line of total energy from the heels to the nape, a "triumph" of joint stabilization and balance.

We start from the plank position, then with the wrists below the level of the shoulders and the feet against the floor, with the toes pushing well. The abdominals are active, from the superficial rectus of the abdomen to the deep transverse and also the external and internal obliques. The back and shoulders do not sag. The knees are brought, alternately, to the chest and this movement simulates a climb. The knees are brought towards the chest in a rhythmic way until the end of the exercise. It is absolutely necessary to avoid hyperextending the elbows so as not to suffer injuries to the upper limbs. The same goes for the control that one must maintain over the movement of the knees, between the phase in which they come back and push forward. The gaze always remains downwards, at a central point between the two hands, in order to be sure of not giving problems to the neck and to keep it long and free.

The key to the whole exercise lies in the relationship with gravity which creates a useful resistance to activate all the muscles. Involved are the muscles of the abdomen, quadriceps, buttocks, hip flexors. The balance in the plank requires a lot of work on the deltoids, pectorals, back and lumbosacral muscles around the spine. A harmonious execution must be found through practice to combine the three phases of work well: from the plank with outstretched arms up to flexing the knees towards the chest alternately and then returning to the plank with outstretched arms and consequent return to an upright position. Fundamental: breathe. It becomes easy in the first executions to go free diving instead should be avoided with caution. Keep the breath long and deep.

How to enter the Mountain Climber

This bodyweight exercise burns a lot of calories and has no particular risky contraindications once you understand the preparation and execution. The great work takes place on two fronts: the body is supported by the arms and the knees are moved rhythmically. A static and a dynamic part. The core is always active, throughout the execution.

Used as a warm-up exercise, the mountain climber immediately activates the whole body as it is a multi-joint exercise. The breath is also quickly lengthened and blood is pumped throughout the body. Even at the end of training, the mountain climber counts as an "icing on the cake", as it allows you to burn a lot of fat in the final phase. Within a work sheet, the Mountain climber becomes a real key element for an important metabolic impact. Intense training also helps to develop coordination skills.

You should choose footwear that has a good grip on the ground to facilitate the agile movements of the legs in order to facilitate the search for balance that is totally achieved by the muscles of the abdomen. In fact, uncomfortable or tight or unsuitable shoes can destabilize the hips and arch the back, creating unstable executions that make everything difficult and risky. If the exercise is included in a yoga or Pilates practice and you find yourself barefoot, make sure you have strong ankles and feet, paying attention to your toes.

Variants and benefits

The first way to create a variant is to increase the speed of execution of the exercise, keeping the legs very light, making them move almost automatically, until they touch the ground for a very short time with the toes. To train the mountain climber in a functional way you have to dedicate yourself to the plank. Start with 30 seconds to continue to 1 minute. Add variants in which you detach the legs for 5 seconds alternately, in order to stress the muscles of the abdomen a lot. Strengthen your wrists well before proceeding and also alternate with low plank standing on the elbows so as not to have problems of excessive load when you go in Mountain Climber.

To increase the work you can tie the ankles to a machine with cables or use elastic bands; in many functional training programs the mountain climber joins TRX and Bosu (for the upper limbs). If you combine this exercise with the burpees, varying the two executions, you get a very dense, very dynamic and strengthening work. You can add arm bends to greatly increase the workload or use anklets to increase the work of the lower limbs. The crossed Mountain Climber is also very training, where one knee alternately rises towards the chest on the opposite side and vice versa, intersecting the center line of the body.

Read also

  • Plank: execution, correct position and muscles involved
  • Push ups: what they are for, muscles involved and execution of the exercise
  • Burpees: what they are for, muscles involved and execution of the exercise
  • Basic abdominal exercises
  • Abs circuit to do at home
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