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Mountain Climbers for Abs and the Core, Essential Bodyweight Exercise

Updated: Apr 17

Mountain climbers are a great exercise for the core and abdominal muscles. They work multiple muscle groups, require some co-ordination and get the heart racing. Before we go further, a word of caution: check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine and always work-out within your limits. A personal trainer can also help with technique and specific skills.

Mountain climbers primarily target the rectus abdominis (the six-pack) as well as the obliques (the muscles on the sides of your waist). They also engage your hip flexors, quads, and shoulders to some extent. Unlike traditional sit-ups they are less likely to hurt the back.

How to Practise a Mountain Climber

This is the basic movement:

  • Start in a plank position, with your hands placed shoulder-width apart and your arms fully extended. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels.

  • Bring your right knee up towards your chest, keeping your foot off the ground.

  • Quickly switch legs, bringing your left knee towards your chest and extending your right leg back.

  • Keep switching legs, moving as quickly as you can while maintaining good form.

  • Aim for 20-60 seconds of continuous movement.

  • Maintain good form. Keep your bum don and don’t lean back on your arms – keep your shoulders stacked above your hands.

Finding it easy? There are plenty of progressions that can turn up the difficulty. I like to put mountain climbers at the end of a bodyweight workout that involves other push, pull and squat exercise that also engage the core and upper body.

Alternatively, try a seated knee tuck. This targets the abs without the cardio element.



Proper diet, nutrition and sleep are all vital for growth and recovery so to make maximum progress and justify the investment of your time and energy, do not ignore other elements of your health.

Strength training is essential for long-term health, it cannot be ignored. Cardio exercise (running, cycling swimming, dancing...) is also necessary. Alternatives to traditional calisthenics exercises include yoga or animal flows. These provide excellent workouts that involve strength, mobility and flexibility. Not sure what exercise you want to do or might enjoy? Experiment. Sign-up to local trial classes, meet new people, explore the opportunities and have fun!

Stay Healthy


mountain climbers exercise

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