The mountain climber is a core training staple that can help build a strong core and get you moving, but are you sure you’re even doing the exercise correctly?
For this movement, you shouldn’t settle for anything other than perfect form—especially because it’s such a simple, essential exercise that should serve as one of the centerpieces of your training plan. Let Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. and associate fitness editor Brett Williams guide you through the mountain climber’s subtleties, saving you from the bad habits that are keeping you from unlocking your fitness potential.
Before you get down into plank position and start pumping those legs, take note that it’s extremely important to pay attention the movement here. Your back’s positioning and posture are essential to make sure you’re not putting ab gains at risk—so let’s break down everything you need to know.
Eb says: The most common mistake in the mountain climber: Your butt starts to rise higher than your shoulders. This happens as you fatigue, or if you’re not being disciplined with your core. Focus on keeping your hips, at their highest, level with your shoulders.
The mountain climber, inherently, is a plank with movement, and when you do a plank, you never want your hips higher than your shoulders.
Eb says: Keep your hands directly below your shoulders. It’s common to see people’s shoulders drift behind the hands on mountain climbers, especially as they get tired, but that can become a position that’s less than ideal for shoulder health if you’re dealing with fatigue.
Losing that position is also going to destroy the core focus of the mountain climber, too, leading you to raise your butt higher into the air and lose core tension.
Eb says: Drive your knees up powerfully on every mountain climber stride. Make each stride count. Don’t simply go through the motions and lift your feet off the ground. Your goal, overall, in the mountain climber is to maintain a tight core as you drive your knees up powerfully.
This position actually mirrors the front end of a sprinter’s stride, with high, powerful knee drive, and that’s the underrated usefulness of the mountain climber; through your torso, it’s a sprinter’s position. Take advantage of create strong knee drive.
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