EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
*Where I come from there are no mountains, but we call these mountain climbers. The movement of the spine you’re about to enjoy reading about is my own personal addition to these bastards. It asks for more strength and more skill than what are traditionally done as ‘Mountain Climbers’ in fitness, so there.
HOW TO DO IT
GET DOWN! – It’s the start position of a push up. Sternum in line with the hands. Arms straight. Body in a straight line, no sagging. Iron Spine.
BRING ONE KNEE INTO YOUR STOMACH, FLEX YOUR SPINE A TAD – bring the knee in and squeeze it into your stomach. Allow the spine to flex just a little to wake up the abdominals. Our favourite posterior tilt of the pelvis is back. – If you can’t control these, you can do it with Iron Spine (spine still) throughout. Then work on this extra bit of movement as you get better.
PUT IT BACK WHERE IT CAME FROM – Back to your start position. Hips have stayed still, spine has to extend back to its neutral heaven. Pelvis too.
DO THE OTHER LEG – otherwise it would be lopsided and a bit too strange.
REPEAT UNTIL YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH – when you can no longer do it with perfect form, that’s your lot.
HOW IT GOES WRONG AND HOW TO MAKE IT GO RIGHT
YOU GOT TOO MUCH WEIGHT IN YOUR FEET – So you can’t control the move as well. It usually happens because your shoulders and arms are struggling, its often accompanied by a nasty hip hike. Remember its an upper body move, not just Abs, so if this is you, put the weight forward and if you can’t stay there, regress with less reps, more rest etc Never do a bad rep.
YOU CAN’T CONTROL YOUR SPINE – Classically, one may sag into an over arched spine position or a massive hump back. It’s part strength and part control. The fix is to work on ‘The Cat, The Camel and The Skill of Thoracic Extension’ as well as your plank and push up position and of course some pelvic Tilts – man I love a pelvic tilt. Then it’s simply a case of starting with low reps and building up. Make sure you’re not out of breath on these until you’ve mastered them.
YOU LET THE HIPS DROP – For many reasons, usually accompanied by an over-arched back as an inevitable consequence. It happens because the brain wants to move the hips down so you don’t have to work very hard. It defeats our purpose though, so find the point that takes work and get good at it.
YOUR HIPS RAISE – The same but the opposite of above. Keep practicing, find the point that’s hard work.
GOD AWFUL POSTURE – with a hump back & your spine all over the place and you’ll never get the most from these. If you don’t start perfectly, you won’t magically improve in the middle. Work on all the spine awareness drills and do these with positive intention.
ARMS BEND – Usually when you’re tired or not concentrating. Watch your elbows, make sure they don’t move throughout. That’ll help. Plus get stronger too, that will make it easier as you’ll have a better body.
LACK OF INTENSITY – These can be easy if you do them half heartedly and without focus. See these as purposeful self torture, make your body has to fight to control them. Find the positions of challenge and practice until you can dominate them… that’s how we get stronger.
CRUCNH – EXTEND – Focus on the pelvis and lumbar spine. Don’t let the pelvis move up or down in space, simply focus on a crunching and an extending pattern.
THE CHEST DOESN’T MOVE – If it does, you’ll compensate and lose style marks. If the chest stays where it is, your arms and shoulders will have no choice but to do their part.
PLEASE TORTURE YOUR ABDOMINALS NOW – If you get it right, you’ll feel like you’re voluntarily torturing yourself.
KNEE SOMEONE HARD – I’m not a violent man. I don’t knee people. Except for bad referees or tourists. But visualising this seems to help people add intensity to this manoeuvre.
Push Up Mountain Climbers
Hanging Leg Raise
Static Top Position Push Ups
The Cat, The Camel & The Skill of Thoracic Extension.
WHY DO THIS TO YOURSELF???
ABS PRIMARILY – As we go through a set of this we have a variety of trunk stabilisation demands. Our Abs have to work. Not just the superficial, but our deeper stabiliser thingys. We get all the good work of the classic Plank, but the Hip Flexors are forced into action too and the dynamic nature adds another element. Sit Ups and Traditional AB Crunches are high risk manoeuvres and are nearly always a bad choice in terms of effectiveness and safety. If you crave AB work, start with these and L-Sit stuff. Your abs will look better and your less likely to herniate things.
SHOULDERS AND ARMS – Your shoulders, chest & arms are called into duty at the top of a push up. Just like they are here. As you bring your knee in, more weight shoots forward and you have to work even more.
So these are great when you have little strength left in the upper body but want to do a little more, they are great if you want to work your Abs hard and they are great if you lack the strength for push ups but want to build up with similar exercises. These are easier than push ups but will work the same muscles in a static position.
MOTOR CONTROL AND GETTING MORE-ATHLETIC – getting good at these will make you stronger and teach you to control your spine while moving fast and while working hard. If you struggle with hip position in Planks and Push Ups, these should help.