Mountain Climbers Exercise: Low Impact Cardio Safe For Bad Backs

How often have you tried introducing a new form of cardio into your program only to find yourself navigating a two-week-long flare-up a day later? 

The mountain climbers exercise is a common exercise seen in boot camp and group classes all over America but feared by anyone with a sensitive back or currently navigating life after surgery. 

The mountain climbers exercise can be intimidating but instead of just telling you to not do it lets break it down from the perspective of someone with a bad back and give you some powerful options to make this wonderful low impact cardio exercise fit you better! 

In this video, I am going to break down the mountain climbers exercise and give you 4 ways you can modify the exercise to fit you better. 

You will get 3 fast action tips and one bonus tip if you stay till the end! 

Are Mountain Climbers Bad For Your Back?

This is a great question and something you should of course ask yourself before you get into any form of cardio you havn’t done before. 

Mountain climbers (compared to something like the Burpee) are not bad for your back. 

In fact, if you are going about the mountain climber the right way, you would agree with me that these are not as bad for your back as they may seem. 

It all comes down to HOW you’re doing this exercise. Like most exercises in the gym for sensitive backs, it’s all about the coaching and how you’re being taught the movement.

If you really want the exercise to work for you in your pursuit of pain relief and return to your normal life you can’t just copy someone else’s form or fall back on what you were taught years ago by that random personal trainer. 

What Part Of The Body Do Mountain Climbers Work

The Mountain Climber exercise is one of those exercises that kills A LOT of birds with one stone. 

Not only are you building core endurance, shoulder strength and endurance, upper and mid-back strength, and endurance you are also hitting your cardiovascular system as well. 

You can make this exercise work for you a number of ways by adding a weighted vest to get more shoulder work, you can add ankle weights to challenge your body’s ability to maintain perfect form while increasing the weight of your legs being moved. 

On top of that, you can vary the time you set out to do them for each training session. 

My personal suggestion while you get a grip on how these are going to impact your low back is to start with 2-3 sets of 45 seconds and work up from there! 

How Many Mountain Climbers Should You Do?

This is where the fun really comes into creating the perfect workout program for you to follow. 

You have the freedom to custom make how you choose to follow your selected exercises. 

So when asking how many mountain climbers you should do there are a couple things to consider first. 

Is this your main source of cardiovascular training? 

If so. 

I would work up to 10-15 minutes of mountain climber intervals maybe 1 minute on 1 minute or more off. You can do this 2-3 times a week.

Are you looking to just add this to your workout as a circuit-style exercise or workout finisher? 

I would stick to 2-3 rounds of a 45s-1 minute on with a 45s-1 minute off. 

Will Mountain Climbers Build Your Abs?

This is a great question because Mountain Climbers are not necessarily looked at as an ab exercise but in fact, this is a great way to hit the core in an indirect way. 

What this means is while you are hitting your lunges, shoulders, legs and back with this exercise you are also hitting the trunk as a whole. 

So, will mountain climbers build abs? Oh yeah! Especially if you are doing these exercises with perfect form and really try to emphasise the trunk activation the entire time. 

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2 thoughts on “Mountain Climbers Exercise: Great Low Impact Cardio!

  1. As a person of having the same problem for apparently being almost half of my life now. I am thankful for having to read this blog that you shared about having this workout executed properly for those who have chronic back pains. Having chronic back pains is definitely not a joke and not a good situation to be in.

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