How to Do Mountain Climbers: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do mountain climbers to build whole body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

mountain-climbers

Cardio and whole-body strength training in one exercise? Yup. That’s what mountain climbers can do for you. They get your heart rate up while also strengthening your arms, shoulders, core and entire lower body — and boosting your overall fitness. Oh, and you don’t need to aspire to hoof up Kilimanjaro (or even the hill near your house) to do them. You can get the benefits from this exercise even if you’re new-ish to movement. If you have a little bit of floor space you’re good to go. So let’s give them a try.

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Are Mountain Climbers?

Mountain climbers are like a moving plank: You start in a raised push-up position and hop your feet forward, one at a time, toward your chest. It’s that motion that gives you a great cardio workout that burns calories and promotes heart health. Mountain climbers also work the major muscles in your body that support countless activities, from climbing steps and boosting yourself out of a chair to playing fetch with your dog. 

What Muscles Do Mountain Climbers Work? 

Here’s a rundown of the primary muscle groups that mountain climbers work. But what we love about this move is that it strengthens your entire body — so it’s about as close to a one-and-done exercise as you can get. 

  • Pectorals (aka your chest muscles) move and rotate your arms at the shoulder joint. 

  • Deltoids. These muscles cap your shoulders and work with your rotator cuff muscles to stabilize your shoulder joints and allow you to freely move your arms. 

  • Triceps. The muscles on the back of your upper arms are important for pushing your body up.  

  • Hip flexors. These muscles help you flex at the hip (thus the name) when you walk and do other activities that require lifting your legs. 

  • Glutes. The three different muscles in your butt (the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius) help you extend your and raise your legs out to the sides

  • Quadriceps. This powerful thigh muscle is one of the largest muscles in your body. You can thank them for enabling you to walk, run, jump, squat down and — well, the list goes on.

  • Rectus abdominis. This sheet of muscle — often called the "six-pack" muscle — spans the front of your abdomen and allows you to do things like flex forward at the waist.

  • Transverse abdominis. Located underneath your rectus abdominis, this muscle runs parallel to your pelvis and wraps around your midsection to your back — acting like a corset, keeping your core tight and strong, and protecting your internal organs. 

  • Erector spinae are muscles that run along either side of your spine, and help with back extension, rotation, and stabilization. They’re one of the most powerful muscles in your back.

Benefits of Mountain Climbers

Here are some of the perks of this do-it-all move:

  • Strengthens all of your major muscle groups, especially your core. 

  • Encourages a comfortable posture. Forget what you’ve heard for so long about needing to stand up straight. Perfect posture is a myth. But working your core can help you find positions that feel good and are more ergonomic — taking some of the strain off of your muscles and joints in places like your legs, back, and upper body.

  • Makes pushing and pulling movements easier. This could be any activity from pushing your grandkid’s stroller to weeding your garden. 

  • Reduces back pain. Improved core strength has been shown to lessen back pain

Mountain Climbers: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers

To do mountain climbers:

  • Start on your hands and knees with your arms straight and hands placed directly under your shoulders. 

  • Extend your legs back behind you, supporting your body on your hands and toes. Your body should form a straight line from the back of your head to your heels (like a regular, raised push-up position or plank). 

  • From here, hop one foot toward your chest, and then quickly switch legs, as if you’re running. Try not to let your hips hike up as you move. Maintain that plank position.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your core, shoulder, and arm muscles working, as well as your butt, thighs, and hips.

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify this exercise to meet your needs. 

Tap into pain relief. Anytime, anywhere with our app.

Get exercises from a licensed physical therapist and more to relieve your pain. All right from your phone. At $0 cost to you.
Start your app tour

Mountain Climbers Modifications

Mountain Climbers Modifications

Mountain Climbers Modifications

Mountain Climbers Modifications

To make mountain climbers easier:  

  • Start on your hands and knees, rather than a raised push-up position. Then bring your knees, one at a time, toward your chest. 

To make mountain climbers harder: 

  • Place an exercise band just above your knees to add resistance as you do this move.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

Looking for pain relief? Check if your employer or health plan covers our program

Hinge Health is available to over 1,600 companies and benefit plans!

References

  1. Quad Muscles: Function and Anatomy. (2022). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22816-quad-muscles

  2. Smrcina, Z., et al. (2022). A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Core Stability Exercises in Patients with Non-Specific Low Back Pain. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, vol. 17, no. 5, 1. doi:10.26603/001c.37251

  3. Da Silva-Grigoletto, M. E., et al. (2019). Functional Training Induces Greater Variety and Magnitude of Training Improvements than Traditional Resistance Training in Elderly Women. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 789–797. PMCID: PMC6873136

  4. Sherrington, C., et al. (2020). Evidence on Physical Activity and Falls Prevention for People Aged 65+ Years: Systematic Review to Inform the WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 17, no. 1. doi:10.1186/s12966-020-01041-3

mountain-climbers

How to Do Mountain Climbers: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do mountain climbers to build whole body strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Nov 17, 2023
mountain-climbers

Cardio and whole-body strength training in one exercise? Yup. That’s what mountain climbers can do for you. They get your heart rate up while also strengthening your arms, shoulders, core and entire lower body — and boosting your overall fitness. Oh, and you don’t need to aspire to hoof up Kilimanjaro (or even the hill near your house) to do them. You can get the benefits from this exercise even if you’re new-ish to movement. If you have a little bit of floor space you’re good to go. So let’s give them a try.

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Are Mountain Climbers?

Mountain climbers are like a moving plank: You start in a raised push-up position and hop your feet forward, one at a time, toward your chest. It’s that motion that gives you a great cardio workout that burns calories and promotes heart health. Mountain climbers also work the major muscles in your body that support countless activities, from climbing steps and boosting yourself out of a chair to playing fetch with your dog. 

What Muscles Do Mountain Climbers Work? 

Here’s a rundown of the primary muscle groups that mountain climbers work. But what we love about this move is that it strengthens your entire body — so it’s about as close to a one-and-done exercise as you can get. 

  • Pectorals (aka your chest muscles) move and rotate your arms at the shoulder joint. 

  • Deltoids. These muscles cap your shoulders and work with your rotator cuff muscles to stabilize your shoulder joints and allow you to freely move your arms. 

  • Triceps. The muscles on the back of your upper arms are important for pushing your body up.  

  • Hip flexors. These muscles help you flex at the hip (thus the name) when you walk and do other activities that require lifting your legs. 

  • Glutes. The three different muscles in your butt (the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius) help you extend your and raise your legs out to the sides

  • Quadriceps. This powerful thigh muscle is one of the largest muscles in your body. You can thank them for enabling you to walk, run, jump, squat down and — well, the list goes on.

  • Rectus abdominis. This sheet of muscle — often called the "six-pack" muscle — spans the front of your abdomen and allows you to do things like flex forward at the waist.

  • Transverse abdominis. Located underneath your rectus abdominis, this muscle runs parallel to your pelvis and wraps around your midsection to your back — acting like a corset, keeping your core tight and strong, and protecting your internal organs. 

  • Erector spinae are muscles that run along either side of your spine, and help with back extension, rotation, and stabilization. They’re one of the most powerful muscles in your back.

Benefits of Mountain Climbers

Here are some of the perks of this do-it-all move:

  • Strengthens all of your major muscle groups, especially your core. 

  • Encourages a comfortable posture. Forget what you’ve heard for so long about needing to stand up straight. Perfect posture is a myth. But working your core can help you find positions that feel good and are more ergonomic — taking some of the strain off of your muscles and joints in places like your legs, back, and upper body.

  • Makes pushing and pulling movements easier. This could be any activity from pushing your grandkid’s stroller to weeding your garden. 

  • Reduces back pain. Improved core strength has been shown to lessen back pain

Mountain Climbers: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers

To do mountain climbers:

  • Start on your hands and knees with your arms straight and hands placed directly under your shoulders. 

  • Extend your legs back behind you, supporting your body on your hands and toes. Your body should form a straight line from the back of your head to your heels (like a regular, raised push-up position or plank). 

  • From here, hop one foot toward your chest, and then quickly switch legs, as if you’re running. Try not to let your hips hike up as you move. Maintain that plank position.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your core, shoulder, and arm muscles working, as well as your butt, thighs, and hips.

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify this exercise to meet your needs. 

Tap into pain relief. Anytime, anywhere with our app.

Get exercises from a licensed physical therapist and more to relieve your pain. All right from your phone. At $0 cost to you.
Start your app tour

Mountain Climbers Modifications

Mountain Climbers Modifications

Mountain Climbers Modifications

Mountain Climbers Modifications

To make mountain climbers easier:  

  • Start on your hands and knees, rather than a raised push-up position. Then bring your knees, one at a time, toward your chest. 

To make mountain climbers harder: 

  • Place an exercise band just above your knees to add resistance as you do this move.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

Looking for pain relief? Check if your employer or health plan covers our program

Hinge Health is available to over 1,600 companies and benefit plans!

References

  1. Quad Muscles: Function and Anatomy. (2022). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22816-quad-muscles

  2. Smrcina, Z., et al. (2022). A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Core Stability Exercises in Patients with Non-Specific Low Back Pain. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, vol. 17, no. 5, 1. doi:10.26603/001c.37251

  3. Da Silva-Grigoletto, M. E., et al. (2019). Functional Training Induces Greater Variety and Magnitude of Training Improvements than Traditional Resistance Training in Elderly Women. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 789–797. PMCID: PMC6873136

  4. Sherrington, C., et al. (2020). Evidence on Physical Activity and Falls Prevention for People Aged 65+ Years: Systematic Review to Inform the WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 17, no. 1. doi:10.1186/s12966-020-01041-3