No matter what type of workout I’m doing, my goal is to get the most amount of work in the shortest amount of time. It’s why I love a good full-body move, and never let a sweat sesh pass me by without a tried-and-true plank series. And for getting a double-duty serving of core and cardio work at the same time? Trainers say all you need to do is drop down for a set of mountain climbers.
The move, which happens to be a HIIT class staple, involves holding your body in a high plank and quickly driving one knee at a time into your chest—sort of like horizontal high knees. “This move is such a great cardio-focused core move,” says Brooke Cates, founder, and CEO of The Bloom Method. “While it’s often performed with the main drive stemming from the legs when you switch the focus to driving from the deep core and being mindful of your breath, it provides a killer core burn while also working your shoulders and lower body.”
Getting the most out of your mountain climbers requires moving at maximum effort without sacrificing your form. The trick here, says Cates, is to learn to use dynamic breathing to keep your core held steady. Instead of gripping your core and taking shallow breaths into your chest, you’ll want to take deep breaths all the way down into your diaphragm. “This provides better core function and strength to build muscle and deeper oxygen delivery to the muscles,” she says, which in turn helps you push harder for longer.
To get it right, you’ll want to be sure to keep your shoulders stacked directly over your shoulders and your back and hips flat, creating a straight line from the top of your head down to your feet (otherwise known as perfect plank form). Doing so will ensure the work comes from your core rather than your hip flexors. Start slowly to make sure you’ve got the movement down, then speed things up to add in a cardio burst. To amp things up with an extra bit of oblique work, pull your knee to your opposite elbow, twisting your body slightly with each rep. To get it right, follow along with the video below—and be ready to get moving.