It’s very probable you are feeling a little sluggish from overindulgence and lack of exercise after the festive season. See it as a good thing. The body needs a rest and will respond even better to training when you fire it up again.
Hopefully you are feeling hyped up about your new health and fitness goals for 2012. Whether you wish to get more toned and fit or lose weight and increase stamina, the mountain-climber exercise will help you get the results.
Start in plank or push-up position on your hands and feet. Lift your right leg and draw your right knee to your chest; then switch legs. Continue to change legs. Every time you pull your knee up to your chest, focus on using your stomach muscles to help move your legs.
You can vary the exercise by pulling your knee to the opposite underarm instead of straight to your chest. This will start to fire up your waist muscles (obliques).
When you begin executing this exercise, perform it slowly. Remain mindful of the muscles you are working and of your alignment. As you progress through the exercise, pick up the speed until you are simultaneously drawing one leg toward your chest as you switch legs, similar to the action of running. This adds a cardiovascular element to the exercise.
Ensure your hands are just in front of your shoulders or directly under them. Be careful of your wrists: If this exercise irritates them, you can bend your elbows to see if that helps, or you can work from your fists.
Keep your feet hip-width apart and your back straight. Avoid any sinking through your lower-back region. You will need to keep your abdominals engaged to help support your posture and back. Also avoid lifting your butt.
You may want to perform this exercise in front of a mirror or get somebody to check your alignment when you start practicing the exercise so you get it right from the start.
Your chest, back, and shoulders will all be working to stabilize the plank position; thus your core will get an amazing work out!
One of the most important things to remember is to keep your back straight and your core muscles (the tranversus abdominus and pelvic-floor) engaged.
Perform the slow mountain climber 16 times. Next, perform the diagonal mountain climber 16 times.
Take a short rest in between sets. Or combine the mountain climbers with squats to create a superset.
When ready, perform the mountain climbers at a quick pace. Perform for 20 to 40 seconds per set.
The best thing about this exercise is that you can take it anywhere; you only need a small amount of space to do it. Good luck with setting new goals and climbing new mountains in 2012!
Emma-Kate Stampton is a personal trainer and trainer of Pilates teachers. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.