Mountain climbers are an amazing, quick and nifty way to get your heart rate up, which is why they’re so loved by group training instructors. “You can add them to any workout between resistance sets to keep your heart rate elevated; it’s not the kind of exercise you want to do in isolation,” says biokineticist David Fabricius, owner of Cape Town’s Kinesthetic Wellness. They’re also one of personal trainer and Next Fitness Star 2016 finalist, Aneeka Buys’ signature moves because they engage critical muscles.
“Your core, chest and triceps will be doing most of the work here,” says Buys. To reap all its benefits, make sure you do it right, otherwise you risk shoulder strain, she cautions. To start off, get down on all fours – you want to have your hands directly under your shoulders, arms fully extended and fingers facing forward, slightly spread apart. Keep your back straight and head in line with your spine, says Dayna Kendall-Ball, a biokineticist at JVO Biokinetics. This ensures that you work your upper and lower abs. With lats and core engaged, drive your knee to your chest, alternating legs.
Avoid if you’re pregnant or suffer from lower back pain and especially if you can’t keep your spine neutral throughout the movement. None of these issues? Try these variations and get more from your set…
Hook your feet into TRX cables to engage more of your stabilising muscles. – David Fabricius, biokineticist
Mountain Climber Push-Ups
Do six mountain climbers then lower from plank position to just above the ground and push up again. – Aneeka Buys, personal trainer
Mountain Climber Combo
Do 20 to 30 seconds of mountain climbers, then transition into high plank for another 20 to 30 seconds. Feel. That. Burn. – Sanchia du Preez, boxing trainer (pictured)
Signs You’re Doing It Wrong
Your butt is in the air. “Most often, women don’t stay low in the plank. You want to keep good joint alignment throughout this movement,” says Buys.
You’re rounding your neck. “Maintain a ‘long’ spine and straight neck through your crown,” says Fabricius. Look at a point just in front of your hands.
You’re arching your back. “Make sure you keep a neutral spine,” says Fabricius. Engaging your core will help you keep a straight back.