Mountain Climbers Exercise: Benefits, Muscles used, How to


Mountain climbers are the full body exercise that works on your whole body (legs, arms, as well as the abdominal muscles). This exercise can be used in any workout routine as it helps to burn calories and you can also use it to warm up your body.

When done at high intensity, it helps you burn maximum calories, improve your endurance and aerobic capacity. However, exercises such as mountain climber does not require any equipment, but very effective for improving your body shape.

Mountain Climbers Muscles Worked

This exercise effectively target different muscle groups such as, calves, biceps, quadriceps, abs, shoulders, and hip flexors.

  • Core muscles - The abdominal also plays an important role. Contraction of the abdomen is part of the exercise and helps to maintain body stability. Often, this exercise is recommended for building core strength. It also help improve the endurance in mid-section so, you will able to hold plank for maximum duration.
  • Upper Body - It consists of most important muscle groups that are strengthened by this exercise. The muscles of the arm, triceps, forearm and shoulders are effectively targeted during the whole movement, as they are the main support which help balance the body.
  • Lower Body - Calves, quadriceps and gluteus maximus muscle are strengthened the most since they perform the main work and provide the stability. However, variation can be used, to target different muscles altogether.

Mountain Climbers Exercise Benefits

This exercise has many advantages:

  • It is a great cardiovascular exercise, which improve your heart function and help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
  • Help burn enough calories in short time, as the whole movement involves the major muscles that require more energy. However, intensity play important role; you can increase the speed while reducing the rest duration.
  • Tone your muscles, since it burns fat and increases the muscle definition. So, your muscles will appear sharper especially arms, shoulders, legs and core muscles.
  • Build explosive strength in legs, if you want to jump higher then, you must do this exercise.
  • Strengthen the core muscle, it help balance the whole body, and prevent lower back pain. During this exercise your body also goes into plank position.
  • Good for joints, mountain climbers are totally safe which help improve the joints and tendons.
  • Best for hiit workout, you can combine it with your hiit workouts for maximum benefits. If you want to tone abs and legs, while burning fat, mountain climbers are for you.
  • Can be done anywhere, anytime and does not need much space.

How to do Mountain Climbers

This is a very simple exercise and anybody can do this.

  • Begin with plank position and legs extended behind.
  • Your legs and arms should be straight, and hands in shoulder width, in a push-up position.
  • Make sure your body must be in straight line, abs and buttocks contracted, while looking at the ground.
  • Bend your right knee (move forward) towards your chest, while keeping left knee straight.
  • Then return, and do with left knee, the movement should be continue with your both knees.

Mountain Climbers Variation

Progress in the exercises will help prevent boredom and allow you to get better results. Once the exercise is no more challenging, it is time to add more difficulty. Some of these variations make it possible to focus greater intensity on other muscles.

Medicine ball mountain climber

This variation will require enough strength as well as more stability in the arms. Here, you hands will be placed over ball and not on the ground.

Decline mountain climber

Here, you have to place your feet on a bench or an object, which increases the difficulty and greatly targets your arm. It is important that the height is not too high to prevent back injuries.

Cross mountain climbers

Bend right knee in toward left elbow, then return to starting position. Bend left knee in toward right elbow, then return to starting position. It is great for oblique and abs.

How many Sets and Reps

Beginner: 2-3 sets of 10 reps with 30 second rest, at low intensity, Your total duration could be 3-5 min.

Intermediate : 5 sets of 14 reps with 20 second rest at medium intensity, Your total duration could be 5-7 min

Advanced: 5 sets of 20 reps with minimal rest, at high intensity, rest duration: 10-15 sec.

You can even do 100 mountain climbers a day for 30 days to improve your core and lower body strength.

When to do this exercise?

  • You can do this before the workouts to warm up your body at a moderate intensity, mountain climbers are ideal for full body warm up.
  • During workout, you can do this in your circuit training.
  • After the workout as a cardio exercise, the mountain climbers are perfect cardio exercise which also stretches your leg muscles.
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