Your fitness goals and current fitness level will largely impact how many mountain climbers you can/should do in a day. We provide some benchmarks and guidelines to help you work out many many you should do.
Reviewed by Brian Richards, CPT, CSCS. Last updated 16th December.
So, you have been exercising consistently for awhile now. Maybe you have hit a plateau or maybe you have gotten bored with your exercise routine. Either way, if you are looking to crank it up a notch, you should definitely program mountain climbers into your day.
Can there be such a thing as too many mountain climbers? You might be wondering, “how many mountain climbers should I do a day?”
Mountain climbers can be worked into your day in a few different ways. This could be as your actual strength or cardio based workout, as a part of your warm-up routine, or as a quick break in the middle of a busy work day. But, how many mountain climbers should you do a day? Well, if you decide to include mountain climbers in your daily exercise routine, aim for 20 to 60 seconds of high intensity intervals. With 20 to 60 seconds of work, you should be able to complete 30 to 100 mountain climbers.
Repeat that 3 to 4 times and you can get 400 mountain climbers under your belt for the day. However, that is not recommended for every single day. Now, if you decide to work mountain climbers into your warm-up routine, a more realistic volume of mountain climbers would be 3 sets of 20, or 60 repetitions. These mountain climbers can start slow, then increase in intensity as you near the end of your warm-up.
Now, if you decide to throw mountain climbers randomly into your day, outside of your workout or warm up routine, then aim for 100 mountain climbers a day. This would be a perfect number to spike your heart rate and give you a jolt of energy in the middle of a stressful work day.
If your goal is to crank up your training a notch or speed up weight loss then you should aim to follow the progressive overload training principle, even with your daily mountain climbers.
Progressive overload is one of the most fundamental principles of strength and endurance training. Obviously, if you do the same thing over and over again, you will stop seeing results. When following the progressive overload principle this will not happen as you are consistently increasing the demand of your muscular and cardiovascular systems.
Bottom line, in order to continue to get stronger, faster, or increase your weight loss, you need to continually progress your workload. There are so many ways to do this and it all depends on your current training program. But here are some ideas to get your mind on the right track.
Increase volume by adding time, sets, or repetitions
Increase intensity by moving through the workout faster
Increase load by adding more weight
Increase the range of motion that you are moving through
Add eccentrics, isometrics, or increase time under tension
Progressively Overloading Mountain Climbers
Let’s look at how you can apply the progressive overload training principle to your daily mountain climbers.
First, start with the basics, really good form. If you can complete 50 mountain climbers with good form then you should be able to progressively overload with no issues. In order to follow a clear path, let’s say you start with 3 sets of 20 seconds, all out intensity, mountain climbers. You challenge yourself daily with this for one week, roughly 90-100 mountain climbers a day. As the days pass, this starts to get easier and easier for you. In order to avoid plateauing we need to progress this daily routine.
So, next week you may add another 2 sets for a total of 5 sets of 20 seconds, all out intensity, roughly 180, mountain climbers. Instead of doing this every day, you may do this 3 times a week. On the remaining 4 days of the week you can progressively overload your mountain climbers by changing other factors; by adding weights to your ankles, performing crossover mountain climbers to increase the demand on your core, or add sliders under your feet.
Those are all examples of ways to progress your daily mountain climbers to avoid plateauing. It is difficult to say exactly how someone should progressively overload as there are so many ways.
Follow these Guidelines
Don’t do the exact same workout every day for more than a week.
Keep track of your progress so that you don’t accidently decrease your workload when you are trying to increase it.
Make sure you are progressing different variables; volume, load/ resistance, intensity, range of motion, etc.
But remember, you do not need to change multiple variables at one time.
Ensure you have good form before progressing.
Be patient and don’t overload too much, too soon.
Example of Daily Mountain Climbers
Here is a look at what a week of daily mountain climbers, using the progressive overload principle, could look like:
Monday: 100 mountain climbers for time.
A good starting point.
Tuesday: 5 sets of 20 seconds all out mountain climbers
Increases the volume.
Wednesday: 100 mountain climbers for time with 2 pound ankle weights on each leg for time.
Increases the load/ resistance.
Thursday: 5 sets of 20 seconds all out mountain climbers with 2 pound ankle weights.
Increases the load/ resistance.
Friday: 1 minute of work, 1 minute of rest, mountain climbers with sliders for 10 minutes.
Increases the total amount of time/volume and level of difficulty.
Saturday: 150 Crossover mountain climbers for time.
Increases the intensity, more volume to do while trying to match your previous times, and your range of motion.
Sunday: 5 sets of 30 seconds all out crossover mountain climbers.
Increases the overall volume and your range of motion.
Hopefully this example gives you a good picture of the variables that can be manipulated or progressed in order to continue to challenge your mountain climbers. All of these examples are less than 10 minutes of work and could be easily worked into your busy schedule. If not during a workout, then on your lunch break, while the kids are napping, for an afternoon pick me up, or to relieve stress from work.
Are You Up for the Challenge?
If you are unsure where to start, begin with 30 days. Do some version of mountain climbers every day, for 30 days, and re-assess your fitness and your goals. What improvements were made? How can you continue to incorporate mountain climbers into your routine and how can you progressively overload them in order to have continued results?
What are the benefits of mountain climbers? There are so many, full body, benefits. Mountain climbers increase your heart rate, make you sweat and work all major muscle groups. They can help you improve strength, endurance, and help you with weight loss.
Should I work out everyday? The American Physical Activity Guidelines from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommend 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity per week. This would equal roughly 20 minutes of activity per day. But you may benefit from a longer, more vigorous workout a few days a week to help meet your goals. That being said, at least some physical activity per day goes a long way!