Do you let out an audible groan when a fitness instructor tells you to do mountain climbers? (Sorry about that…) But this often-dreaded move actually packs a ton of benefits. They work your entire body, especially your core. That is, if you do them correctly (and a lot of people don’t). I’m a NASM-certified personal trainer and head coach at Tone House—and I’m here to help you master mountain climbers once and for all.
Instructions And Form Tips
How to: Start in a high plank, shoulders over wrists, pelvis tucked, and ribs drawn toward hips. Drive your right knee toward your chest, then the left. Pull your right knee back toward your chest and pause. Repeat the pattern starting with the left knee. That’s one rep.
Mountain climbers work your core, glutes, legs, triceps, and shoulders.
Sets/reps for results: I recommend doing timed sets for this move. Try completing 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat for eight sets. Alternatively, you could do 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest, then repeat for three sets. For a beginner, I recommend another option: starting with 10 to 15 reps on each side, for three to four sets.
Form tips: Tuck your hips under is the biggest piece of advice I can give. Basically, you want to make sure your pelvic floor is engaged (get your kegel on)—and don’t let your butt and hips sink or go up in the air. Imagine you are a table and someone has a hot bowl of soup on your back—that will help you keep your form in good shape. Also, make sure your shoulders and wrists are stacked and in line with each other.
Benefits Of Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are truly a full-body move—they work your glutes, legs, triceps, and shoulders. And they’re a real superstar when it comes to strengthening your core. They allow you to truly work your entire core in a dynamic way, as opposed to, say, crunches, which only work part of your abdominal muscles. They are also a lot easier on the spine than abs exercises that require you to lie down, and they force you to engage the stabilizing muscles in your shoulders. Bonus: They give you a nice dose of cardio at the same time.
Want to try a full core-focused workout? Check out this routine:
Make Mountain Climbers Part Of Your Routine
If you’re now convinced that mountain climbers deserve a place in your workout, there are a ton of great ways to add them to your current routine:
- Do them as a warm-up: Mountain climbers make a great start to any workout since they get your heart rate up and literally get your body warm.
- Do them between strength moves: You can also use them as mini cardio bursts between your sets in a strength-training routine. For example: Complete three sets of 10 reps of shoulder press, then follow it with one minute of mountain climbers, then continue to the next strength move.
- Do them at the end of your regular workout: A round of mountain climbers works great as a finisher to a strength-training session.
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