Work Your Entire Core

Treat your core to these 5 mountain climber variations.


By Cori


Mountain Climbers - most of us love to hate them. They are a perfect cardio-core move to work everything between your shoulders to your knees. But while we know we should include Mountain Climbers in our workouts, it can be fun to add in some variety and even use these basic moves to work our core in different ways.

Have some fun mixing things up and working your core from different angles using these 5 Mountain Climber Variations. Using these moves, you can not only work your entire core from different angles, but you can also use some to even up the cardio intensity, work your upper body more, or even target your posterior chain AKA your backside!

5 Mountain Climber Variations

Spiderman Mountain Climbers

Spiderman Mountain Climbers are the perfect way to get your blood pumping quickly as you work on your mobility. This move will open your hips and work your core, legs and shoulders.

To do Spiderman Mountain Climbers, start in the high plank position from your hands and feet, with your hands under your shoulders and feet together. Then, keeping your core engaged, step one foot up and outside the hand on the same side so you’re in a nice low spiderman or runner’s lunge. Try not to let your butt go way up in the air.

Beginners will then quickly step back into plank and then step the other foot forward into a lunge on the other side. Move as quickly as possible, stepping your foot all the way outside your hand. More advanced exercisers will jump from lunge to lunge.

The faster you jump between lunges and the less you pause on each side, the harder the move will be. Still try to keep your butt down and make sure to land in a lunge with your foot outside your hand each time.

Mountain Climber Row Push Ups

If you want to work your upper body, your back, chest, arms and shoulders, while killing your core, you’ll want to do the Mountain Climber Row Push Up. This hybrid exercise combines three killer moves for a full core burn!

To do the Mountain Climber Row Push Up, set up in a high plank position with a dumbbell in each hand. Your feet will be wider apart to help stabilize, and your hands should be under your shoulders holding a dumbbell in each one.

Then from this high plank position, draw one knee in and across toward your opposite shoulder. Perform a cross body mountain climber moving slowly. Straighten the leg back out and then row the weight, on the same side as the leg you tucked in, up to your side. Perform the row without rotating or letting your butt go up in the air.

After rowing the weight up to your side, feeling your back work to row it up, lower it back down so you’re back in the high plank. Do not let your hips rotate as you row and keep your butt down.

Then perform a push up (you can do this from your knees to modify). Push back up with your body moving as one unit. Once back in the high plank position perform a cross body mountain climber on the other side.

Then row without rotating before another push up. Keep alternating sides, moving at a slow and controlled pace. Feel your abs working to tuck your knee in and stabilize as you row and perform the push up.

Mountain Climber Burpees

We all love to hate burpees so by combining the Mountain Climber and the Burpee you know you have a real winner! This hybrid move will up your calorie burn exponentially. Talk about a killer cardio move!

To do the Mountain Climber Burpee, start standing then bend over and place your hands on the ground as you jump your feet back into a high plank position. From the high plank position, perform a push up. Then run one knee in toward your chest. Straighten your leg back out and perform a push up.

Then tuck the other knee in and perform another push up. Move as quickly as possible and then jump your feet back in toward your hands and come up to standing.

Jump up at the top then jump back and repeat the push up, knee drive, push up, knee drive, push up before jumping back in and up at the top. Move as quickly as possible. To regress, take out the push ups or even do them from your knees.

Side Plank Mountain Climbers

Work your obliques and glutes with this unilateral move. By using the side plank variation, you not only work each side individually, but you also work your core from a different angle.

To do Side Plank Mountain Climbers, set up in a side plank from your hand with one foot in front of the other instead of stacked. Staying balanced with your chest open and your back engaged to support your shoulder, tuck your top leg in toward your chest. Move slowly.

Then extend the leg back out and tuck your bottom knee in toward your chest. Move at a controlled pace, making sure to keep your bottom hip up. Do not rotate toward the ground as you tuck. Also, make sure to keep your bottom hip up as you slowly alternate tucks. Complete all reps, and then switch sides.

Posterior Plank Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers can even be used to work your backside, which is key since your core includes everything between your shoulders and your knees, and down your frontside and your backside. The Posterior Plank Mountain Climbers are the perfect way to work your abs, glutes, hamstrings and back while stretching out and opening up your chest and shoulders.

To do the Posterior Plank Mountain Climbers, sit on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you and your hands down behind your butt on the ground. Then, driving up through your heels and your hands, press your hips up toward the ceiling and press your chest out.

As you bridge up, squeeze your butt and lift your hips up as high as you can while keeping your legs straight and your chest pressed out. Do not shrug your shoulders at the top as you press your chest out.

Hold at the top with your body in a nice straight line. Do not hyperextend your back. Then slowly tuck one knee in toward your chest. Tuck it in as far as you can. Then straighten the leg back out. Place the foot back down then tuck your other knee in. Feel your glutes and hamstrings working to hold you up as your abs work to tuck your knee in. Beginners can start with a tabletop variation as they tuck instead of the full Posterior Plank.

Using these 5 Mountain Climber Variations, you can get in a great full core workout. Get your blood pumping as you work your core from every angle!

Cori is the owner of Redefining Strength, a functional training facility in Orange County, California focused on helping each client find their strong. She started training and writing a fitness blog in 2011 because she wanted to empower people through diet and exercise so that they can lead healthier, happier lives.