Bodyweight exercises aren’t always known for their intensity. You can max out on situps and pushups and squats, but you’ll probably need to burn through a ton of reps to get a sweat going.
The most glaring exception to this is the burpee—but not everyone is going to be willing—or even able—to add sets of the high-impact movement to their home workout routine. Instead, keep your hands on the ground and opt for a lower impact, high-intensity bodyweight movement: the mountain climber.
“If you’ve ever found yourself in a group fitness class or perusing the web for a bodyweight workout, they pretty much all include mountain climbers,” says trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S. “Trainers throw them in to amp up the intensity of training sessions.” Atkins continues that the exercise is good for developing both strength and cardio capacity.
You might not have the strength to pull off a mountain climber—at least not a perfect rep, which takes core and shoulder strength, along with the proper posture. Check out how to nail the right form here.
But first, get your foundations solid. “You first have to master the strength of the exercise before you add speed,” says Atkins. She designed this bodyweight circuit to bolster your mountain climber muscles, but it can also serve as a solid standalone workout for active recovery days if you’re more advanced.
Perform each exercise for the prescribed amount, resting as little as possible.
- Push-Up (5 to 10 reps)
Good for: Arm strength to keep you up
- Shoulder Tap (10 to 20 reps)
Good for: Balance and arm strength
- Plank Hold (30 to 60 seconds)
Good for: Core strength
- Squat (10 to 12 reps)
Good for: Leg strength
- Elevated Glute March (12 to 20 reps)
Good for: Hip strength and mobility
- Supine Hip Flexion (12 to 20 reps)
Good for: Hip mobility and strength
Take on the circuit for 3 to 5 rounds, depending on your experience. If you want to add full mountain climbers to the circuit, perform them for 30 seconds at a time.
Want to learn more moves from Atkins? Check out our series full of her workout tips, Try Her Move.