Try elevated mountain climbers for a cardio burst

Everyone remembers mountain-climbers from elementary school gym class. But in these versions, there is no kneeling on the gym floor. Elevated mountain climbers will burn calories, elevate your cardio and tone your arms and legs.

Today’s video is part of our series on high-intensity cardio burst exercises. These are great exercises to get your heart rate going. Tema with Potentia Personal Training is going to show you how to do mountain climbers. All you need is yourself and a stable elevation to hold and balance your weight. In today’s video, Tema is using a workout bench, but you can use a sofa, coffee table or stairs. If you’re outside a park bench would be great. Don’t be intimidated: we’ll show you three variations that go from easy to more difficult (go at your own pace) and will help you build your cardio while strengthening your arms and legs, too.

Mountain climbers starting position

Place your hands firmly on the bench, feet close together a stride away. Lean forward so that your shoulders are directly above your wrists. You want to find a neutral position wherein your butt in not sticking up in the air and your pelvis is not sinking toward the bench. Keep your body in a straight line by keeping legs straight, squeezing your glutes and pulling in your navel.

Mountain climber 1 – parallel set

From the starting position, raise your right knee toward your right elbow, then lower it. Now bring your left knee up toward your left elbow, then lower it. Repeat these knee raises as if climbing a mounting, moving off the balls of your feet; not flat footed. Right knee raise then left knee raise equals one repetition, and you want to start by doing 10 reps.

If you found exercise #1 easy enough, and want to up it a notch and really get your cardio racing, you can do a fast-paced set of 10 mountain climbers. These are the same as the previous exercise, which really is a warm up, and are done at a quick jogging pace. The faster the pace the more stress is placed on your lungs and heart and so the greater the cardio burn.

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Mountain climber 2 – diagonal set

The next variation on the mountain climber exercise develops more of your obliques, the muscles on the sides of your abdominals. For this version you will do everything the same as before, except you will bring your knee up to its opposite elbow.  So, raising right knee to left elbow and left knee to right elbow.

As before, you can begin with 10 reps at a walking pace and then increase the pace to burst speed and crank out 10 more reps.

Mountain climber 3 – combination set

If you feel like you want to do more, and you have the wind to do them, you will combine the above sets into one fuller exercise. For this you will begin with knees straight and then diagonal, alternating legs. Begin with 10 reps (one rep being right knee foreword, left knee forward, right knee diagonal, left knee diagonal). Then do 10 more reps at burst speed. You will feel the burn and love it!

Sets and reps

If you don’t like counting reps, an alternative is to just set a timer for a specific period of time, like 30 seconds, and do as many as you can in that time. Even short times, if done as a burst, will ramp up your cardio and show marked improvement in no time.

Mountain climbers are great exercises on the ground, like in the old days, or using an elevation like in today’s video, to tone those legs, arms, and abdominals as your increase your cardiovascular capabilities.

Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.