Mountain climbers are a full-body, calisthenic exercise that builds muscle and improves cardiovascular fitness. The primary muscles used when performing mountain climbers include the abdominal, gluteus and leg muscles. Secondary muscles, such as the shoulders, arms and spine, also get a workout from the intense exercise. Talk to a personal trainer or health club employee to learn the proper form and technique of a mountain climber.
Mountain climbers target your core, building lean abdominal muscles. The exercise is performed from a pushup position with your hands directly below your shoulders and the balls of your feet on the ground. Engage your abs and move into a lunge position by pulling your right knee toward your chest. The ball of your right foot rests on the ground. Keep your core tight and quickly switch feet so that your right leg is now extended and your left leg is up near your chest. Your hands remain on the ground throughout the exercise. Continue alternating legs for up to 60 seconds. Pulling your legs up toward your chest works your upper and lower abdominal muscles.
Mountain climbers shape and tone the glutes as the exercise moves through the lunge position. The gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your backside, help move your hips, thighs and legs. During the exercise, keep your glutes tight and stable to protect your lower back.
Quadriceps and Hamstrings
Your quadriceps are one of the largest muscle groups in your body. Mountain climbers shape and tone your quads by engaging the muscles as you alternate legs. The full-body exercise also strengthens and improves flexibility in your hamstrings. Building lean muscle mass in your hamstrings and quadriceps helps protect your knee joint.
Although there are several primary muscles targeted when performing mountain climbers, secondary muscles also benefit from the exercise. Your shoulder, arm, chest and upper back muscles work to stabilize your body in the pushup position as you move your feet. Target your oblique muscles by bringing your knee toward the opposite elbow when performing a mountain climber. Because mountain climbers are a cardiovascular workout, your heart muscle also receives a workout.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.