Move of the month – Mountain climbers

Emma White - Certified Personal Trainer | 24 Jun, 2023

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Each month, I'll highlight an exercise move that is great to include as part of your workout routine! Next up...

Mountain climbers

Dead Bug

How to do it

  1. Start on the floor in a high plank position – hands directly below shoulders, tummy pulled in and legs firm, so there is a straight line from the top of your head down to your heels.
  2. Move your right knee up to your chest, touching your big toe to the ground.
  3. Return your right foot to the start position, then repeat the move with your left leg.
  4. Try to get into a rhythm so you're almost running on an imaginary treadmill on the floor in a horizontal position.
  5. You can either aim to do 20-30 knees raises or keep the move going for 45-60 seconds before resting. Repeat 3-4 times as part of an exercise circuit.

What it's good for

Mountain climbers are a fantastic all-rounder. They're not for the faint hearted if you get some speed into the move, but if you can hack them, they'll work on your core stability, upper and lower body strength, as well as being a great cardio move. Depending on how fast you move your knees up and down, you can really get your heart rate up with this exercise. It’s important to engage your core throughout to give you stability, so you should feel this move in your abs and lower back too. Your arms, chest, shoulders and upper back are also engaged to help hold you up, and your legs provide support and movement throughout – so this really is a full body move.


  1. If you're a beginner, you can bring down the intensity of this move. Instead of essentially running horizontally, slowly bring one knee to your chest and keep your foot hovered off the ground. Return that foot to the start and bring the other knee to chest slowly. This helps work on core stability and strength, with less cardio effort.
  2. If on the other hand you're smashing mountain climbers, you can make it harder. When you bring your knee into your chest, touch your toes to the ground, then jump switch your feet in one quick move so the foot that was in towards your chest is back out straight, and the other foot is brought in. This requires more power, as you almost bounce between positions. Ensure you're keeping your bum down and abs engaged throughout.


  • Ensure your hands are directly below your shoulders with your elbows and wrists aligned.
  • Keep your abs engaged throughout to avoid a sagging lower back or poking your bum in the air. To get the maximum benefit to your core, you need to keep your bum down and abs tight.
  • Remember to breathe throughout this move, as it can be tempting to hold your breath!

How NOT to do it

The main thing is to avoid sticking your bum in the air and jumping your feet forwards and backwards with an arched back. This can put strain on your lower back, but will also make the move less effective. To get the full benefit to your core, upper and lower body strength, aim to keep yourself in as straight a line as possible throughout.

Emma White (Certified Personal Trainer) has always loved fitness. She's passionate about the many benefits of regular exercise, particularly the positive impact on mental health and overall quality of life, as well as how it provides the key to successful weight management.

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