There's no denying the power of this exercise to challenge your core and elevate your heart rate. The most important thing to remember while doing the mountain climber is to ensure your core is properly engaged and movement of the legs is initiated by the Psoas and Abdominal muscles. If you are feeling an excessive load at the shoulders and/or in the quadriceps you are distributing to much weight away from your core. This will cause an overload in the shoulder and hip joints diminishing the benefits of the exercise. Initially Mountain Climbers should be done at a slow rate of speed to ensure the movement is properly engaging the core. If an excessive load is transferred to the quadriceps and/or shoulders the exercise should be stopped until the core has adequately recovered and can resume effective stability. As the core becomes stronger and endurance increases the exercise can be done at a greater rate of speed and with more power.
Assume a straight arm plank position - hands on the ground, or on an alternative surface, shoulder blades pulled into the spine and down towards the low back. The pelvic floor and abdominal muscles should be engaged and drawn in towards the spine. The low back muscles should be contracted and draw in towards the spine. Your gluts should be engaged and your pelvis should be in a neutral position; that means the gluts should not be in the air, but in line with the shoulders.
- Moving from your spine (your Psoas) draw one knee towards your chest making sure to keep your hips in line with your shoulders. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. If you cannot keep the hips in line with the shoulders during each movement increase the angle of the body by placing the hands on a raised flat surface such as a bench or step.
- Perform 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions. A repetition is one complete cycle of movement.
This exercise is quite challenging when performed correctly and has a direct effect on the core muscles of the torso, as wells as helping to improve endurance in the shoulders, chest, arms and legs.